(This article is the third in the "Quiet Guy in the Sports Bar" series, written in a present tense historical fiction format. The "Quiet Guy" manages a Football Bowl Subdivision college football poll from his perch at a local sports bar, working with and commenting on the reality of the day in the universe of the college game.)
I just cannot stop thinking about this. It's too scandalous to ignore.
Summer school session III doesn't begin until early July. It won't hurt my students if I set my English literature syllabus revision aside for the afternoon.
I cruise my Apple laptop into the ether of the Internet. Pulling up blogspot.com to my West Virginia Football blog, I re-discover my latest entry, a March 4, 2011, number, an opinion on the Dana Holgorsen lovefest sweeping West Virginia. I'm in favor.
That's why I must address this. How's the view from under that bus, Dana?
Monday June 6, 2011. 11:00 am
The writers at Mad Men couldn't dream it up.
I can see Desperate Housewives' Bree Van de Kamp regularly pulling an arrogant, passive-aggressive stunt like this one.
That's fiction, folks. What I'm about to tell you could be reality, albeit bizarre, if it is indeed true.
Let's assume it is, for now.
You'd have to dig far, wide, and deep to find a woman like the real desperate housewife, Bill Stewart's bride, Karen Stewart, who so blatantly played the Higher Ground card in the name of saving her husband's flimsy tenure as West Virginia University's head football coach.
I write this review of what could be a real-life movie, beating film critics to the punch:
Bill Stewart is a very like-able type of football coach whose aw-shucks search of the ultimate platitude got in the way of a) nailing an all-important signature road win, and b) keeping butts in the seats in Morgantown.
Oliver Luck is the cerebral WVU quarterback hero who returned to serve as the school's athletic director.
Three seasons beyond the game of his wildest dreams, his 20 point shellacking of Bob Stoops and third-ranked Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, Bill Stewart is relieved of his duties as WVU's head football coach by his direct supervisor, Oliver Luck.
Or, maybe not.
The young Jedi master of offensive college football, Dana Holgorsen, is snatched from the Big XII Conference, hired by Luck as the head coach in-waiting who will take over after Stewart completes his season-long victory lap around and around and around. And around.
In the annals of college football, Luck's Rube Goldberg arrangement, allowing Stew to exit gracefully while taking advantage of Holgorsen's magic, is peculiar. It may work, for this Oliver Luck, Rhodes scholar finalist, Houston Oilers quarterback, attorney, and general manager of a championship soccer team, is a man with a history of accomplishment.
Holgorsen's Achilles' heel could be his penchant for the party. Imagine that. Try to find something wrong with it, and you can't because Holgorsen is a) not married, b) not in trouble with the law, and c) a winning football coach. He, too, has a history of doing his job well in spite of, or may be because of, his nightlife. Nothing succeeds like success.
Here's where it gets twisted.
Fact: Karen Stewart stands by her man. Not much wrong with that, either. Supposition: she had about as much of Party Boy as she could take. Rumor: Karen narcs on Holgorsen to the Scourge of West Virginia football, sportswriter Chuck Landon of the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch, and the esteemed alumnus of Marshall University.
I can see this happening. Landon's blind love of WVU's rival, do-no-wrong Marshall is nearly as pathological as Karen Stewart's loathing of Holgorsen. Let's say they conspire, Landon writes his scathing piece revealing Holgorsen's abhorrent alcohol consumption and subsequent "unacceptable" behavior. Ms. Stewart and Landon high-five, justifying their actions by deeming Holgorsen's demise as another victory for clean living.
Act III of the film has yet to be written, since I'm waiting for the real reality to check in.
Driving from the University of Charleston campus to downtown's Two Dozen Plus One, I review in my mind the blog I submitted. It bordered on libel, although I took enough care to point out that which is supposition and rumor, and that which is reality and not reality.
Final analysis: I didn't post anything worse that other bloggers are writing. Better still, I think I've matched the traditional print media. That's a nice crowd to hang around with
A choice angled parking space helped me beat the lunch rush hour crowd by seven minutes. I found a perch next to, of all men, the Quiet Guy. He's in his regular spot, looking at the middle of the 25 taps below the big flat screen, and has been on his cell phone since I arrived. I order a burger and chips. GQ's is half eaten.
GQ lowers his iPhone to the bar and pushes the red button to hang up. "I just read your piece" GQ says. "Great job. You're Bricker, right? Mason Bricker."
"Correct," I say. "And, you're..."
"Just like your friends, call me GQ," he replies with a smile.
GQ? Is he in the witness protection program? I grin and nod in capitulation.
"Okay, GQ. You had the Mountaineers thirteenth last week. What say you?"
"Out. Gone the way of Ohio State," he says.
"Interesting, man. West Virginia didn't violate NCAA regulations, though. If Oliver Luck is guilty of anything, it's attempting to override common sense."
"Yes. And, even though Ohio State is in a much bigger hole than West Virginia, I think the Bucks will, with pretty awesome irony, pull themselves out sooner and for the better."
"Think about it. Ohio State has a much, much firmer foundation, built playing championship football for a hundred years. The Buckeyes have infinitely deeper pockets, too. The Mountaineers talk in millions of dollars. Ohio State's reach is measured in billions.
"Not one seat of the 104,000 in the Horseshoe will be vacated because of Jim Tressel. Not one. Hell, Columbus has survived Woody and his sucker punch, and Earle Bruce. Comparitively, you watch West Virginia on television and in the second half you see too many empty seats.
"It remains to be seen how well WVU has absorbed this body blow. The worst thing any college team can suffer is dissension in the coaching staff. Mason, it's going to take months to get over this one. And, they'd better hurry. I have Louisiana State at eighth—for now—but several rating services are calling for LSU to play in the BCS championship game. They're visiting Morgantown September 24, which will be here before West Virginia fans know it. That's big time Southeastern Conference football, and Oliver Luck will be watching the Mountaineers fans hit the exits at halftime."
"That's ugly," I say.
"The ugly truth," GQ says.
"What's your Lucky 13 look like now?"
"Texas Christian, Boise State, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Stanford are the Top Five."
"Still sticking with the Frogs and the Broncs."
"I'm giving them one chance, Next five are Florida State, Nebraska, Louisiana State, Alabama, and Texas."
"Got some studs awaiting."
"That's right. Finally, I round it out with Penn State, Florida, and, ta-da! Wisconsin!"
"Big Ten is wide open, don't you think?"
"Yes," GQ says. " Now, here's your burger, and you'll be able to do something with which the West Virginia brass will have great difficulty."
"And that is?" I ask.