I've got a crush on Mike Leach. I don't want to go on a date and eat cheese fries with him and watch planes take off from Lubbock or anything but I'm not going to pretend I don't like him anymore. We aren't in 8th grade. So I'm coming clean. My football team, the Tennessee Vols, has never had a coaching search in my life before and it's perfectly normal for a grown man like me to have a coaching crush on another grown man. I'm not going to try and hide the fact that I get a little rush in my chest every time Texas Tech highlights come on or that I feel butterflies in my stomach when Mike Leach answers questions about his offense. You know how it is, one moment you're drinking beers as fast as you can to try and make the memories of Tennessee's loss to Wyoming disappear and the next moment you look up and watch Texas Tech score touchdown after touchdown against Oklahoma State. Touchdown after touchdown without their players being touched. I'll admit it, it was breathtaking, I couldn't speak. Like being 14 all over again and watching Steve Spurrier's Fun ‘N Gun offense move up and down the field. One moment I'm contemplating committing hari kari with a bayonet attached to the end of Davy Crockett's musket and the next minute, I'm imagining the Tennessee River outside Neyland Stadium as one glorious fusillade of pirate ships. Black pirate flags taken over by orange, women dressed in orange-pirated finery-cutlasses sheathed in their orange garters. Maybe even a coach (you, Mike, you!) on the sideline wearing a coonskin cap. It could happen, I'm not just dreaming. Maybe it's because we're both lawyers. Or because we both like pirates. Either way I can tell, I just know, that we're made for each other, Mike. I didn't know it in the past. Oh, there were hints, like the Michael Lewis article for the New York Times , our mutual affinity for Daniel Boone, and the fact that you graduated from law school and realized you didn't want to really be a lawyer. Or even the fact that the first book I ever got specially ordered was Look Out for Pirates.
I'd been obsessed with the book for months, checking it out over and over again at the local Goodlettsville Library. Finally my mom ordered it for me as a birthday present. From Walden Books at Rivergate Mall. Ordering books back in those days was a big deal. I still laugh at all the people who complain about Barnes&Noble and Borders killing independent booksellers. Please. When I grew up Walden Books was the only bookstore within twenty miles of my house. They had like forty-five books in the entire store and 18 of them had to do with cooking. (The other 27 were Bible reading-guides.) Getting a decent book was a laborious process. After weeks of asking your mom if the book was here yet, you got a telephone call, your book had arrived! That day I walked into Rivergate Mall in Goodlettsville, Tennessee positively giddy with excitement. There it was, my very own book. Wrapped in brown-paper behind the desk. The employee handed it to me and I ripped it open. The glorious blue cover, the swords, the pirates, the sunken treasure. It was all pretty spectacular. Just like your offense Mike, just like your offense. And now, I can't help but hope we've come full circle. I'm rooting for you to lose Mike, but it's nothing personal. Come Saturday night I'll be hunkered down in front of my flat-screen television. I'm cutting out pictures of you and drawing hearts on them, Mike. My wife won't let me put them on the ceiling but I'm keeping them in a trapper-keeper by my nightstand. Oh, and I'm not wearing any pants during the game. I hope you don't mind. Pants are just so constricting. You're the dreamiest, Mike, the dreamiest. Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be, my pirate? Coughs. I might have gotten a little carried away there. On to the breakdown of the rest of the most intriguing games of the weekened. Michigan at Ohio State (-21)- Rich Rod doesn't want to you watch this game. He thinks you suck because you care so much about a stupid football game. Why don't you go repair cleft palates or circumcise babies or give all your time and effort to ending the discord between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq? That's what Rich Rod does every morning. As soon as he finishes internet hunting with the click of a mouse (I have no idea why but I'm convinced Rich Rod is big on internet hunting), he hops in a plane, flies to Africa and spends the day digging wells in the fetid heat. Without even taking his malaria pills. And all you people want him to do is win football games? You sicken Rich Rod, sicken him. Seriously though, wouldn't it be great if Michigan boosters filed suit on behalf of West Virginia to try and enforce the original West Virginia contract and send Rich Rod back to Morgantown? Even if the suit immediately got dismissed because there was no privity of contract, I think this would be a great move by a Michigan-fan lawyer. Washington (-7) at Washington State- Signs your football team is in disarray: your most hated rival comes to your house to play, they have not won a game all season, have fired their coach, and...Washington is still favored by a touchdown. That's low, really low. You know what's lower? Washington has a bye week after this game before they play Cal. So the entire team has to sit around for another week and wait to finish out the season by getting the shit kicked out of them. Remember when the bully yelled he was going to kick your ass just as the bus pulled away to begin Thanksgiving break, and then you spent all of Thanksgiving terrified because you knew the bully meant it? Washington's bye week before Cal is the college football version. Michigan State at Penn State (-15.5)- Penn State wins the Big Ten with a victory here. Is it just me or since the Iowa loss is it like Penn State doesn't even exist anymore? If you'd told Penn State fans before the season started they'd win the Big Ten, they'd have been ecstatic. Now, they're kicking snow drifts and hoping that Iowa kicker dies of lockjaw. Meanwhile, Michigan State might be the only bright spot in the entire state of Michigan. The auto companies are imploding, Michigan and the Lions are a combined 3-18, AI isn't working for the Pistons, it's fucking cold, and no one has enough money for Christmas. And now the Spartans are going to get kicked in the teeth as a prelude for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to arrive on Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-6)- Last night while I was watching Georgia Tech rush for 472 yards, 472! (They passed for 46. That stat-line is like something from 1954. If you're Miami do you just burn the tape from this game?), I kept seeing the score for Pitt and Cincinnati flashing on the screen. For about five minutes I thought this game was taking place on Thursday Night and I was trying to figure out how I'd missed this fact. Then I remembered the NFL was back on Thursdays again and that for six weeks out of the year Rich Eisen was relevant. (Isn't it funny how much the NFL Network overhypes the Thursday night game after it's over? It's the only reason the network exists. It's really kind of pathetic. They remind me of the kid I knew in elementary school who took a family vacation to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and spent the next year telling everyone stats about Fort Campbell.) Anyway, Cincy wins the Big East if they win this game. Lose and the championship will come down to Pitt.-West Virginia. The internet is alive with rumors that Brian Kelly will be the new coach at UT. I don't buy it. But if he is, here's a tip for the rest of the SEC, we just hired a coach who married a woman named Paqui. Do with this what you must. Tennessee at Vanderbilt (-3.5)- Vanderbilt has never been favored over Tennessee in recorded history. I'll be there writing a book. Another fun fact, Tennessee and Ohio State are the only two schools to never have lost 8 games in a football season. Vandy is favored to make this the worst season in the history of Tennessee. Yep, this is my life. Oregon State at Arizona (-2.5)- Oregon State's march towards their first Rose Bowl since 1965 continues...maybe. Don't you know that Mike Riley stays awake at night watching film from their opening game of the season, a 36-28 Thursday night loss at Stanford? Win that game and all he'd have to do is split his final two to end up in the Rose Bowl. Oregon State has won 8 of the last 9 over Arizona. Can they make it 9 of 10? The 'Hoff hopes not. Florida State (-1) at Maryland- If Maryland wins they retain control of the Atlantic Division. If they lose...who the fuck knows. Remember when you played little league and every kid had to bat? Even the kid who used his baseball cap as the fin on the shark he made out of dirt in the dugout? Yeah, whoever wins the ACC is officially this kid in the BCS. Utah (-7) v. BYU- True or false, Utah is the Beehive State? Utah is currently #7 in the BCS and can complete a perfect regular season with a win over BYU. Something they haven't done since 2005. You'd think this will get them in the BCS. Hopefully against Cincinnati. So ESPN can do the math and realize they just paid $20 million for this game. That's more than Pam Ward's penis cost. Texas Tech at Oklahoma (-6.5)- I can't wait to watch this game. No matter what happens you know this game is going to be entertaining. Bradford and Harrell, Crabtree and Iglesias. It's like Christmas in November. Only with more alcohol and less pants.