If you think the heavyweight division of boxing is struggling to find an identity and maintain relevance in the world of sports, stop and consider the plight of the heavyweight college football coach.
Over the past couple of seasons, these jolly old souls endeared themselves to us with their facial contortions and jiggly belly gyrations. But now, sadly, many of these portly gentlemen have fallen on hard times.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons will long be viewed as the pinnacle for the OBCs. No, not the "Old Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier, but a secret union of former Christmas Parade Santas known as the "Obese Ball Coaches."
For two magical seasons, hypertension and blood sugar be damned, these hefty heroes captivated our minds the same way this morning’s Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s captivated theirs.
The collective accomplishments of the OBC over those two glorious seasons are impressive. In 2006, Ralph “The Fridge” Friedgen led the Maryland Terrapins to a 9-4 record and a victory in the Champs Sports Bowl. That same season, Charlie “Decided Schematic Advantage” Weis led Notre Dame to 10-3 record and a Sugar Bowl bid.
Then, last season, in the legendary basketball town of Lawrence, Kan., Mark “Mega Man” Mangino led the long-irrelevant Jayhawks to national prominence and a victory in the Orange Bowl.
And, in our own SEC, two OBC members enjoyed their own shining moments. Phil “The Great Punkin” Fulmer led Tennessee to a 10-4 record, an SEC East Championship, and a victory in the Outback Bowl. Meanwhile, in the SEC West, Sylvester “The Walrus” Croom guided Mississippi State to an 8-5 record and a Liberty Bowl Victory. Goo goo g’joob, indeed.
Unfortunately, in 2008, the OBC has fallen on its hardest times since the Twinkie shortage of 1985 (and I think we all remember how that turned out). Both Fulmer and Croom were unceremoniously shown the door after lackluster 2008 seasons. Kansas slipped back to mediocrity this year at 7-5. Maryland has yet to reach those heights again. And the struggles of the poor, pitiful Weis have been well documented. Although it’s not his fault at all (damn you, Ty Willingham!), Weis was fortunate to maintain his job after consecutive mediocre seasons.
So please, this month, while you’re celebrating the religious holiday of your choice, pause for a minute to reflect on the ill fates of the fallen members of the OBC. Its members are people too, just bigger. And rounder. And they probably breathe through their mouth. But they are people and they need your thoughts and positive energy in these trying times.