Serious Dee 

Randy and his friend from Atlanta talk ’Bama football

Randy and his friend from Atlanta talk ’Bama football

By Randy Horick

You know,” began the voice at the other end of phone, without bothering with an introduction, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.” “In that case, I’m so glad I’m sitting down,” I said. Given the time of day, and the fact that temperatures in north Georgia that were too cold for golf, I knew it was my friend Dee from Atlanta before I even picked up the phone.

“I know who Alabama is going to hire to replace Dennis Franchione.”

“Thanks so much for allowing me to scoop the wire services on this one.”

“It’s gonna be Watson Brown.”

“As in Watson ‘1-and-10’ Brown?”

“Yep.”

“Does Alabama know about this yet?”

“He’s got all the qualifications. One, he’s right there in Birmingham. Two, he couldn’t recruit at Vanderbilt, and he won’t have any scholarships to recruit anyone at Alabama. And, three, he’s already used to coaching programs that weren’t far from death.”

“That’s some pretty powerful thinking. Did you have to take your shoes off, or did all this just spring out naturally?”

“You can see that Watson is the logical choice.”

“On the other hand, your Google search isn’t going to turn up many hits with ‘Alabama’ and ‘logical’ in the same sentence.”

“If it’s not Watson Brown, then I’m giving the nod to Danny Ford.”

“I thought he was dead.”

“No, just in Arkansas, which is the next best thing. You’re thinking of Charley Pell, that other ex-Clemson guy—and Charley was too much of a cheater for the good folks at Alabama, anyhow.”

“My bad.”

“But Danny’s definitely available. Of course, he’s not real smart—remember, he was the one who told Sports Illustrated, ‘I don’t read no books, ’cept I might look at a cookbook’—but he does have experience with probation. And he’s got the most important qualification of all.”

“What’s that?”

“He played for the Bay-uh.”

“I imagine Abba-bama is aiming a little higher in the tree than where Watson Brown and Danny Ford are sitting.”

“Oh, sure they are,” replied Dee. “They had to check to see if the fax machine was off because they figured they’d get résumés from Gary Barnett and Bob Stoops as soon as the news about Franchione got out. They think Tyrone Willingham wouldn’t mind using the kitchen door to their country clubs if it meant he could coach at ’Bama.”

“Well, a black coach would be a bold move for them,” I suggested. “They could hire Dennis Green.”

“Yeah, it would be a bold move for George Bush to kiss Saddam on the lips, too, but it ain’t gonna happen.”

“Well, if you’re just throwing names out there, my choice would be Terry Bowden.”

“Ooh.” Even Dee sounded impressed. “I like it. I think even Auburn fans would understand that message.”

“Well, it’s the same message they’ve always sent. It just involves more than two words.”

“We’d have to find out whether that car dealer who runs everything at Auburn has veto power over Alabama, too. You don’t suppose he slipped some extra money to Franchione to give him more incentive to take the A&M job, do you?”

“No amount of money could induce me to live in College Station, Texas.”

“Please. If I waved $2 million in front of your nose, you’d move to Starkville, Mississippi, and eat calf fries with a smile. Besides, there are worse places than College Station.”

“Name one.”

“Somalia.”

“In the U.S.”

“I can think of five just in Texas. But Franchione wasn’t relocating for the cultural life at A&M. He didn’t want to be wading through all those extra truckloads of manure the NCAA is about to dump on Alabama’s head. They might even get the death penalty if it turns out they lied to the investigators.”

“Franchione knew about their troubles when he took the job.”

“Yeah, but you know they told him it wasn’t as bad as he’d heard.”

“Are you saying the Alabama people lied to their own coach?”

“I think they saw it as a justifiable fudge.”

“Are you saying that, just because they’re cheaters, Alabama would lie?”

“Your quickness on the uptake still amazes me.”

“Because, if you are, I have to say that you’re a cynical person, my friend.”

“Well, excuse me, but I prefer to think of myself as one of those glass-half-full fellows.”

“When did you quit rooting for Vanderbilt?”

“For example,” continued Dee, ignoring the bait, “at least Franchione won’t have to worry about moving expenses.”

“How’s that?”

“After the Tide fans burn down his house, all he’ll have to do is call his insurance company and pick up a check.”

“I was wrong. You’re an incurable optimist after all.”

“Are you coming down for the Peach Bowl?” asked Dee.

“Tennessee and Maryland. Hmm, I think I have to move the compost pile that day.”

“I can get tickets.”

“Do the police know that?” I knew that Dee, who has a DiNardo-esque way of saying “I hate those people” after he utters the name “UT,” would attend a UT game not involving Vanderbilt only if he planned to act as a provocateur.

“Instead of a press conference, they should have a weigh-in,” said Dee, alluding to Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen, the one coach in America who’s demonstrably larger than Tennessee’s Phil “Big Orange” Fulmer. “By the way, you media boys have punted the ball once again.”

“How’s that?”

“I saw a story the other day about UT’s recruiting class of ’95—the one that had the 7 percent graduation rate.”

“That number was a little misleading.”

“Boy, I’ll say. You had to read down into the story to find there was some good news people just completely ignored.”

“Which was?”

“It turned out that also only 7 percent of that class have done any significant jail time. So far. Is it just me? I think most people would expect a higher number.”

“It’s just you.”

How it looks from the La-Z-Boy

Titans 27, Patriots 23

Steve McNair is your daddy. Rich Gannon and Michael Vick may be named the league’s MVPs, but a few voices in the wilderness are finally giving McNair some long overdue acknowledgment as one of the best players in the NFL. He’s almost surely the toughest.

On Sunday, he not only once again carried the Titans on his back, he knocked down everybody in his way—including would-be sackers (twice) and (once) his own teammate, Eddie George, who even had the advantage of a running start. Against Indianapolis, he orchestrated the Titans’ two biggest offensive plays: a scrambling 30-yard strike to Drew Bennett on a third-and-long and an improbable backfield escape that sustained Tennessee’s final scoring drive.

Now, the team that started 1-4 has won seven of eight and will capture the AFC South by winning its last three games. That will be no small task, especially with next Monday’s looming visit from the defending Super Bowl champions, who also are scrapping for a playoff berth.

New England’s airpower will sorely test the Titans’ defense, and the Patriots have the secondary to smother Tennessee’s receivers. But even with the defensive wizardry of their coach, Bill Belichek, the Pats will have no solution for McNair, who, it says here, will find a way to wriggle out the W.

New England’s airpower will sorely test the Titans’ defense, and the Patriots have the secondary to smother Tennessee’s receivers. But even with the defensive wizardry of their coach, Bill Belichek, the Pats will have no solution for McNair, who, it says here, will find a way to wriggle out the W.

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