As you may have heard, former Tulsa football coach Todd Graham abandoned his Pittsburgh Panther football to coach at Arizona State University after only 11 months at Pitt. Even better, he told his players by sending a text message (from a phone, I wouldn’t want anybody to confuse this with an actual handwritten note) to an assistant, whom he instructed to forward the message to the players. Yes, he sent a second-hand text.
In some ways, the second-hand text makes sense. You don’t want to actually have to explain your actions by sending a direct message that could be replied to, especially when you’ve pulled off such a daringly jerk move by leaving your third consecutive “dream job” after less than a year. I won’t get into that too much, as Pat Forde wrote an excellent explanation of that situation (found here). What I do want to get into is how Todd Graham has apparently fallen into a trap where there isn’t a whole lot that people won’t believe about him anymore.
Back in March, I wrote an article about Todd Graham leaving his new post as head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh to return as an assistant at Tulsa (Todd Graham Steps Down From Pitt Head Coach Position). This ridiculous article was meant as an early April Fools joke, as was its equally ridiculous follow-up (Todd Graham Reverses Course, Decides to Stay at Pitt). The basic intent of these articles was to use real stories of crazy stuff Todd and his wife had done and said to support a more crazy story that I completely made up. A lot of people read the articles, I was banned from a Pittsburgh message board, and a good time was had by
all a few.
Yesterday I decided to check my site stats after making my first post in several weeks. To my surprise, despite not having written anything in a month, I had about a thousand views in a 24 hour period. I started to look at where people were coming to my site from and found that pretty much all of the views were from message boards where random people had posted links to the Todd Graham articles and presenting them as fact, meaning that there were people who began to believe things from a random website they found. Not just any random website, one called “CorndogCountry.” Here are some of the things from the artcles that people believed:
- Todd Graham would leave Pitt after a month to take an assistant role at Tulsa for 1/10th the money he was making at Pitt.
- The University of Pittsburgh pays their basketball players a salary
- Penn State coach Tom Bradley colluded with Graham in negotiations to become the Pitt head coach in order to receive a chunk of Graham’s renegotiated contract.
- Todd Graham may have had his team chaplain at Tulsa distribute equine growth hormone to the players.
Of course, belief of those items is a bit more understandable once you see what were some of the true (or at least actually reported) items in the article:
- Todd Graham said his wife Penni threatened to leave him if he left Tulsa
- Todd Graham used bathroom breaks during negotiations with Rice to call and negotiate his upcoming deal with Tulsa
- Penni Graham used her Twitter account to mislead Tulsa fans of Todd’s whereabouts while he negotiated with Pittsburgh
- Todd claimed his team’s win over a 4-5 Notre Dame team was the greatest win in the history of Tulsa football and actually had that written on their Hawai’i Bowl rings (where they played Hawai’i, not Notre Dame), despite the fact that Tulsa has had wins over top-10 ranked arch rivals Houston and Arkansas, an Orange Bowl victory, as well as countless other victories that would clearly rank higher.
- Todd Graham is a jerk
So what does this mean? Well, I suppose it means you can no longer legally write satire about Todd Graham, as there’s pretty much nothing people won’t believe he did. This is especially sad for me, because it means I’ll have to shelve my “Todd Graham goes on a nun-murdering spree” article that I planned to post over the weekend. Oh well, you’ll just have to re-read this article about Todd Graham framing Tulsa player Damaris Johnson for shoplifting before the season.
Today I was leaving a work related white elephant party at the Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley when fate handed me a great opportunity to impart justice upon the parking lot. Not just any justice, but the special type of justice that is equal parts trivial, asinine, and glorious. Despite starting a new job, taking the professional engineer’s exam, and getting married this year, I can honestly say rising to this occasion is easily the highlight of my year. Let me take you through it.
As I walked out of Pyramid into the parking lot holding my white elephant gift (which I will not divulge because it is soon to be re-gifted to somebody who may read this), I noticed an SUV sitting in the narrow aisle between rows of cars. I was curious at this behaviour, as the SUV was several hundred feet from the entrance, and nobody appeared to be leaving their parking spot. I was even more curious when I noticed that a small sedan was sitting behind this SUV.
“Surely he can’t be holding hostage that car stuck behind him until somebody happens to exit from the entire parking lot,” I thought. But as it turns out, that was exactly what he was doing.
This may not make sense, as you’re probably wondering how somebody can claim dibs on the first spot that opens up in an entire parking lot. Well, the parking lot at Pyramid has one entrance and exit, which are adjacent to each other, and only four rows of cars with two narrow one-way lanes between them. This makes the route from entrance to exit look like a long rectangle, which you can pretty much completely block off by parking your car anywhere within.
This next part is my best guess of how the situation I walked into came about. I assume the guy in the SUV had taken a trip around the parking lot and noted that it was full. However, instead of leaving the lot and parking in any of the readily available street parking right next to the bar, this fellow decided he would loop back into the parking lot and park his car right behind the first few parked cars, ensuring that he would have the open path to the first vacated spot in the entire lot. However, in the meantime, some poor sucker pulled into the parking lot and got stuck behind this guy, forcing him to sit and wait and robbing him of the opportunity to leave the parking lot and park some 40 feet further away on the street like a normal human being.
As I walked to this car, I unraveled this sequence of events in my head, generating an appropriate amount of personal disdain for this particular individual. As I neared my car, I realized that this jerk was actually parked a few feet ahead of my car, meaning that it would be the hostage sedan, and not the douchebag SUV that would get to lay claim to my soon-to-be vacated spot.
“Fantastic,” I thought.
But as I approached my spot and the SUV began to realize he had made a critical mistake, he began to reverse, placing his dumb self directly behind my car.
“Still not far enough, he will have to give up” I thought.
I was wrong. As I passed the front bumper of the guy’s car he had still not abandoned the idea that he could get my spot. I decided to walk to the passenger door to drop off my items first, thinking the extra few feet would force him to realize it was time to give up. It did not. In fact, he began looking out his window at the car behind him, motioning for its driver to back up so that he could claim my parking spot. The driver of the hostage car glared forward at the douchebag and shrugged his shoulders as he lifted his palms towards the air, contorting his face into the most fantastic grimace that displayed the perfect mix of confusion and annoyance. I’m pretty sure if his face could talk, it would have said “Are you freaking serious?”
And so hostage car, seeing that the tables had turned unexpectedly in his favor, refused to back up. While I was on board with the hostage car’s cause, I realized that Mr. Hostage is probably not as big of a jerk as Mr. SUV, and that he would likely be the one to yield in the impending standoff of who was going to give up on the spot in order for me to be able to back out my car, which at this point was blocked in by the SUV.
It was like the end of a movie where the bad guy, despite being thoroughly beaten in the film’s climatic scene just prior, rises up unexpectedly one last time to kill the hero, but then the hero is equally unexpectedly rescued by that other character that disappeared without explanation 20 minutes before. And then the hero is all like “I thought you were gone” and the other dude is like “Well, blah blah witty statement” and then there’s the scene where they tie everything up or set up a sequel and then the credits (sometimes populated with outtakes or crappy little scenes where they tie up even more loose ends).
“I could be that other dude!” I thought. Actually, I didn’t think that because I only just now created that long winded analogy after several minutes of labored thought, but you get the idea.
I dropped off my gift in the passenger seat, closed the door, and then began to walk back to the front door of the bar as if I was just dropping my stuff off, making sure to hit the lock button on my key twice so the Civic honked and SUV dude heard it. Douchebag SUV driver immediately drove forward, completely frustrated at the apparent false alarm. As soon as he did, I turned around and ran back to the car, where the former hostage was still sitting in his car. I pointed and waved to him as if to say “We did it!” He then smiled and saluted me. Let me reiterate, he SALUTED me, probably because I had obviously just executed the most devastatingly brutal blow to evil on behalf of good in the history of mankind. In Star Wars terms, it was kind of like I punched the Death Star into a million pieces with my fist. It was that amazing.
The downside of this was that I then got stuck behind the SUV while he waited on another car to leave its spot. Luckily, this car was actually already leaving so I didn’t have to wait long. Even better was when the SUV realized he couldn’t fit into the new spot because his dumb SUV was too stupidly big to fit in normal parking spots. The SUV then left the parking lot and drove off away from Pyramid, meaning not only did I make sure the right guy got the spot, I saved the people inside the bar from having to interact with SUV dude on any level. If the folks at Pyramid only knew what I did for them, it’s safe to say I’d probably have free drinks for life. Of course, I don’t do good for the recognition or the free drinks, I do it because somebody has to fight the little battles.
So sleep well tonight my readers, because I’m pretty sure that SUV guy was the reason anything bad happens ever, and nobody will ever have to worry about him again. The end.
Well, there goes my Thanksgiving break.
I will have 5 days off for Thanksgiving this year, and thanks to the University of Tulsa’s football showdown with 8th ranked Houston for the C-USA West Division title the itinerary looks like this:
Wednesday and Thursday: Think about Tulsa vs Houston
Friday: Watch Tulsa vs Houston
Saturday and Sunday: React to, internalize and digest results of Tulsa vs Houston
For the game Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel called “Conference USA’s version of LSU-Alabama”, with the winner clinching C-USA West, a berth in the C-USA title game, and potentially C-USA’s first ever berth in a BCS game should Houston win, how could you expect anything less. In fact, I suppose I’m going to spend a large portion of tonight writing this, so we can go ahead and say my brain is on loan to this game for a full week.
Hey, at least I have this planned out in advance.
One of the first posts I wrote when I started this think examined my best and worst memories of TU football, and Houston games from the last 5 years accounted for one of each. That post also makes a reference to the 1968 Tulsa-Houston game in which the Cougars defeated the Golden Hurricane 100-6. Many would believe this game is the genesis of the hate that runs so deep in this rivalry, and to an extent they’re right. By halftime, Houston had yet to score 76% of their eventual points (there’s an easy calculation, mark that as one positive of a 100 point defeat), and it took 49 fourth quarter points by Houston over a TU squad decimated by the flu and playing backups of backups (perhaps even Dr. Phil) to reach their final total. To this day, Houston remains the only team to have scored 100 points against a Division 1 football opponent, and the game is still periodically brought up by Houston fans as an example of an epic beatdown or by Tulsa fans as an example of an epic display of poor sportsmanship by then Houston coach Bill Yeoman. However, whatever people’s thoughts were on this game, it did not occur in a vacuum.
I’m going to do my best Joy Hakim impersonation and take you in my time machine. We’re about to go back to a time when the Beatles were still together and Tulsa and Houston still had nationally relevant football programs. In fact, we’re going so far back that Tulsa was actually only 10 years removed from being in the same conference as Oklahoma State, Texas and Rice were in the same league, and even Oklahoma and Nebraska called themselves conference-mates (yes, that far back). Set the clock to 1967.
“But isn’t Houston nationally relevant now? They’re ranked 8th in the country!”
OK, now you’re just interrupting, but if you must know the answer, no, they aren’t. Like the University of Hawaii in 2007, Houston is a team that has been the beneficiary of an extremely light schedule, giving them an artificially high ranking that may allow them into a premier bowl game. As a Tulsa fan, I can’t particularly fault Houston, as we tried the same trick in 2008, backing out of a marquee home and home series with Texas Tech in order to play a rebuilding Arkansas team instead. Not only did Tulsa lose to Arkansas, Texas Tech added insult to injury by struggling to put away Tulsa’s cupcake replacement, Eastern Washington, in the season opener. Houston beat Tulsa 70-30 that year, perhaps a proper punishment for then Tulsa coach Todd Graham’s short-sighted attempt to inflate his own accomplishments by de-clawing his schedule.
But I digress, back to 1967.
Much like 2011, Houston entered Tulsa ranked in the top 10. Unlike this year, Houston already had two losses, but managed to hold a lofty ranking based on a schedule that included Florida State, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and wins over 3rd ranked Michigan State and 5th ranked Georgia. A win on the November 25th season finale in Tulsa would guarantee Houston a top 10 ranking. This was especially important as 1967 marked the last of a 6 year stretch where the AP poll only included 10 teams, meaning a loss would leave Houston completely unranked.
It was clearly Houston’s year, Sports Illustrated had even published an article on Bill Yeoman, and there were hardly enough data points to lend the SI curse any statistical merit back in 1967. Yeoman’s “Veer” offense had Houston in the second year of a three year run as the nation’s leader in total offense, a distinction that current Houston coach Kevin Sumlin’s teams have earned only once (2009).
Tulsa on the other hand, was coming off a 54-12 loss to North Texas, and had lost 3 of its last four overall after starting the season 4-0. On top of it all, Tulsa had gone into the Astrodome the previous year and lost to Houston by a score of 73-14. 1966 had also marked the first time in several years that none of a trifecta of Tulsa legends; Jerry Rhome, Howard Twilley, and Billy Guy Anderson had been on the sidelines, and those guys weren’t walking through the door in 1967.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing all of this if Tulsa hadn’t won.
Tulsa defeated the Cougars 22-13, which marked the last time Tulsa defeated a top 10 team (Edit: I stand corrected, Tulsa defeated 7th ranked Arkansas in 1971). Predictably, Yeoman wasn’t feeling the love, and famously refused to shake Tulsa coach Glenn Dobb’s hand, remarking “Wait until we get you back in our place next year!”
So the story goes, the next year Yeoman scored away at a Tulsa team lacking 15 of 22 starters, posting 7 touchdowns in the final quarter in an attempt to erase his own failure the year before. Unfortunately for Yeoman, destroying teams full of third stringers and players unfit to see a football field did not earn you a top 10 ranking in 1967; However, since this is the strategy Houston has employed to gain their current top-10 ranking, I guess you could make the argument that Yeoman was simply 44 years ahead of his time.
It should be noted, despite book-ending the 1967 loss with two huge victories by a combined score of 173-20, Yeoman’s lifetime record against Tulsa was only 8-7. Perhaps Tulsa wasn’t ever really as big of an underdog as people thought , which is one of several parallels that can be seen between the 1967 and 2011 versions of TU-Houston (Tulsa’s current team is a 3 point underdog as of this writing).
This Friday, November 25th, Tulsa will take the same field against the same team with the same top-10 ranking as the one they beat 44 years ago to the day. As Henry Ford once said, “Those who can not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Let’s just hope Kevin Sumlin and the Houston Cougars aren’t reading this.
Waco, TX – Realizing that their school had just scored the most notable victory in the history of its sports program, Baylor students and officials were exuberant in their celebration of Baylor’s continued unwarranted existence as a member of the BCS elite. In fact, despite having maintained their status through legal wrangling that by all rights should have splintered the Big 12 conference immediately, Baylor actually ended up causing the conference to make reforms that would not only stabilize it in the near term, but would also put into place revenue sharing model that would put money earned by conference powers Texas and Oklahoma directly into the pockets of lesser performing conference schools, like Baylor.
In terms of historical significance, Baylor’s victory is by far the fourth biggest in Big 12 conference since its formation, rivaled only by National Championships by Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska. Said Oklahoma Head Football coach Bob Stoops on the development, “It just goes to prove the old saying ‘It’s better to be litigious than good’”.
When asked for comment, Baylor President Ken Starr said “In terms of an underdog story, we blow Rudy out of the water. We were only here in the first place because Ann Richards was an alumna, shoot, even Rice had about as big a claim to being in the conference as us, and now we’ve gone from perennial cellar dweller to perennial cellar dweller. OK, it doesn’t sound that impressive when you put it like that. Sorry, I’m just excited to have something to talk about other than Bill Clinton’s sex life.”
Norman, OK – In a move likely to open many eyes around the country, Oklahoma announced it would be joining the PAC-12 retroactively, effective March 31st, 2010. The announcement means that Oklahoma will get to claim a share of the 2010 PAC-10, which it will share with the University of Oregon, which had previously been the sole recipient of 2010 PAC-10 conference champion honors. Said OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione of the move:
“(PAC-12 Commissioner) Larry Scott made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Our fan base was getting tired of piling up the same Big 12 trophy over and over, and Larry stepped in and gave us an opportunity to immediately trade one of those in for something different.”
For their willingness to share their conference title, Oregon was awarded Oklahoma’s 2003 Big 12 South Title, as well as Oklahoma State’s 2007 Insight Bowl championship trophy.
Oklahoma faces The University of Tulsa later today. Due to scheduling constraints relating to the Sooner’s conference move, Tulsa will be playing on behalf of the University of California Golden Bears, who host Fresno State University at Candlestick Park in San Francisco tonight. A Tulsa win would give Cal the inside track in the new-formed PAC-13 North Division.
It is yet to be decided whether Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State will officially join the Sooners in the move, stay tuned for more details as this story emerges.
Auburn, AL – In an unprecedented move, Auburn University has terminated the tenure of Head Football Coach Gene Chizik after his school nearly lost to the Aggies of Utah State, despite his being only one game removed from winning the BCS National Championship.
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs defended the move in a statement released shortly after the Tiger’s loss to Utah State:
We at Auburn University strive for excellence, and our fans will accept no less from our football team. This move follows the precedent set with Coach Tuberville that culminated with last year’s National Championship. Though we do appreciate the good work Gene did for us, I have made it abundantly clear as far as coaching moves are concerned that past accomplishments are in the past, and have no bearing in current decisions. Gus Malzahn will assume to the role of Interim Head Coach, and if he is someone that looks capable of leading us to another championship either this year or next, we may consider retaining him as head coach when the season concludes.
Stunned college football analysts blasted the move as short-sighted, but were quick to acknowledge that the Tigers have thrived through coaching turnover despite the apparent quality of the coach brought in to coach them. Chizik had been 5-19 at Iowa State in the two years he coached there prior to coming to Auburn.
Analysts also noted that it was primarily the defense, Chizik’s specialty, which failed the Tigers in Saturday’s 42-38 Tiger victory. Said Sports Illustrated contributor Stewart Mandel, “It was never really clear if Auburn’s success really ever belonged to Chizik to start with. I think a lot of people in Auburn were looking for an excuse to dump Chizik for Gus Malzahn, who is widely viewed as the offensive mastermind that was responsible for their national title. Today was the perfect example of that sentiment, as Malzahn’s offense scored two touchdowns in under a minute to rescue Chizik’s under-performing defense, which allowed 38 points to the third best team in Utah.”
Gus Malzahn was grateful for the opportunity, noting that he had spent much of the first four years of his college coaching career deferring the bulk of his glory to Chizik as well as former Tulsa coach Todd Graham, both of whom he referred to as “Compulsively ego-driven credit takers”.
In the end, it’s just another day in the SEC, where coaching seats never cool down and neither do the expectations of the men who occupy them.
Norman, OK- Who says Kickers aren’t real football players? Tress Way may be one of the best punters in Oklahoma Sooner football history, but he is about to fill a role nobody ever thought he would occupy, Offensive Lineman.
Emergency medical personnel responded to In The Raw Sushi near the University of Oklahoma campus late Friday night. Paramedics on the scene told reporters that many members of the Sooner’s O-line were having a private, after-hours party at the popular restaurant when all suddenly became violently ill after consuming large quantities of spicy tuna rolls. University doctors on the scene confirmed that the player’s symptoms were consistent with those of patients suffering from acute Mercury poisoning, and that consuming large quantities of raw fish in a short amount of time could easily sideline seemingly invincible 300 pound linemen for up to two days.
Casualties of the fishy fiasco include nearly every backup offensive lineman on the team, as well as nearly every available option the Sooners had at right tackle, including Daryl Williams, Tyrus Thompson, and Lane Johnson. Though all are in good condition and will certainly recover, none will be available for the season opening contest against the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa. This created an overnight quandary for head coach Bob Stoops, who had to find a suitable replacement for the Right Tackle position in short order. Enter Tress Way.
“Tress is a kid who has tremendous talent, as you know,” said Stoops. “What most people don’t know is that he was out every day during the summer busting his butt in O-line drills, just on the off chance that he would get to see some mop up duty. I guess Saturday will be his lucky day, because he’ll see a lot more than that.”
Many may recall similarly glowing comments from Stoops on Way after the Junior had been voted team captain. Stoops noted then that Way was not your usual punter, but never filled anyone in on what was until then a secret dream of Way’s that only he, Stoops, and offensive line coach James Patton knew about. Patton had this to say about Way in an unreleased interview taken during summer workouts:
“Tress may be 6 foot 1 and not even 220 pounds, but he has the soul of an old lineman. It killed him that he never got to try out his true position in high school due his size and the fact that he went to what is basically a football factory in Union, so we let him work out with our guys during the Summer. He’s actually really good, he’d work in a pinch if we had an emergency. We even submitted blocking stats for him to EA Sports so he could use himself on the line in their college football videogame.”
Many in the room during that interview didn’t believe Patton until he pulled out his cell phone, which contained footage of the video game version of Tress Way (#36) manhandling 6′ 3″ 273 pound Tulsa Defensive End Tyrunn Walker (#94).
When asked if the video was an accurate representation of Way’s skill, Patton replied “No, he would’ve held that block until the Quarterback got rid of the ball.”
So as Sooner nation sleeps on the eve of the start of another football season, the fate of Oklahoma’s #1 ranking, and perhaps shot at the title, hinges on the very narrow shoulders of a lanky kid from Tulsa. Before retiring for the night shortly before 4 in the morning Saturday, a weary Bob Stoops had this to say to the small group of reporters who had flocked to his home to cover the breaking news:
“We’re going to be OK. It’s just Tulsa. I’ve really got to get to sleep.”