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Revealing The Whole Nine Yards About Tune-Up Teams
Tune-up: Noun; Inspecting a device, plan, or design to prove its reliability and solve weaknesses when found. Most Americans tune-up their golf games while some get their cars tuned-up from an adopted family member: "Eddie," their neighborhood mechanic. "Eddie" always has grease underneath his nails--a sure-fire, dead give-away to show regular folks that he is a true blue mechanic. In America today, it is obvious that we are not the trusting souls that we once was when JFK was in The Oval Office.
Tune-up is used often prior to, during, and after the first Saturday in September which is a hallowed day for all college football husbands and boyfriends, and an unsure number of knowledgeable females. These fans use a secret code to ask who is playing our alma mater on the first Saturday? That's easy. Some college from "Donkey Ears, Missouri," (not a real college). No sighs of relief are ever heard from the people who might be worried about their Division I college team (their alma mater) facing such a devastatingly powerful team as "Donkey Ears University." A certain laughable situation. And reason for drinking before the "big game" (quotes signifies sarcasm).
I am a football fan. I became a fan of The Crimson Tide from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1966 when Joe Namath was lured (by William Paul "Bear" Bryant, head coach) from Beaver Falls, PA., to be the Tide's next powerful quarterback. Namath was smooth talking, nice looking, and lived to enjoy his fame, fortune, and a name worthy of an autograph. After he graduated from Alabama, he was lured by Sonny Werblin, Jets owner, who was willing to do whatever it took to get him. On this day in 1965, Werblin signed the Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to a contract reportedly worth $427,000, which was the highest rookie contract in pro football history . I remember clearly when Joe Willy, obviously not a master of business and the NFL, run into a sticky scene (as Joe would have said) when he and a few bud's invested in a New York nightclub, "The Bachelors 3," which the commish Pete Rozelle, took exception with because Joe was one of the three owners of this said nightclub which was the first dating nightclub and rose to meteoric proportions in a few months. And now, there is a sense of tolerance from current NFL boss, Roger Goodel, because he doesn't make surprise inspections (now) if he even suspects that a team is playing with under-inflated balls. You think that I'm being cute--but not so. I am being very attentive and serious with this hub.
Sometimes I hate watching and following college football. Why? It's those doggone'd tune-up teams and the very idea of whomever started negotiating tune-up teams to play their powerful, hungry dogs to massacre their lowly-touted team, but to take home a million bucks or so. This the gospel from former South Carolina Gamecocks' head coach, "The Old Ball Coach," Steve Spurrier who said in so many words when he said in an interview when he coached The SEC's Florida Gator, "Heck yeah, we'll get them here next Saturday, beat their butts and send them with a million dollars." Do you ever cringe when you watch a team such as The Florida Gators, with former Alabama defensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, whom, with a predestined knowledge, you know that the Gators will, with little trouble, trounce the designated tune-up team of choice and win so easily, that McElwain puts his starters on the bench to let his second and third stringers get in some playing time.
Except for Saturday, Sept. 2, when my team, The Crimson Tide played against an equally-tough Florida Seminoles in Atlanta's Mercedes - Benz Stadium and beat them 24-7. None of us really knew which team would really win. I loved the outcome, but loved it (the game) more for Bama playing a gridiron equal. This game, I believe, that head coach, Nick Saban and assistant coaches, did this scheduling on purpose to one, be brave enough to let their freshmen players get in a real game against a real team. And to shut the mouths of people (like me) who love to gripe about how a team like Bama or The Gators can even hold their heads up during a prophetic blood letting against some smaller college and make money for their college. Right or wrong, something in my gut always burns when the first of college football season starts. Or maybe it's only gas due to me eating a lot of (hot) hotwings in an eatery that I will not publicize. I am not a capitalist. But the name of my favorite out-of-town eatery begins with Buffalo.
When I really stop and think about looking from the outside concerning tune-up teams, I get feelings of both a tingling faith and a sure hope that (some) of our tune-up teams do and will fight a good fight and even with a hefty paycheck, I am prone to believe that our tune-up teams are not just about making easy money. They do, like their rivals in Division I college pigskin, have that common thread that binds both teams with that burning sportsmanship that makes these teams grow into men of character. Such a classic film leaps to this old mind: 1940's "Knute Rockne, All-American," with Ronnie Reagan, "George Gipp," and Pat O'Brien as Knute Rockne. Everyone remembers that halftime speech . . ."Win one for the Gipper." In my final hours of life, I am going to severely regret not starring in a film about my career in HubPages: "Kenneth Avery -- American Hubbist," and my number two regret: Not owning a 1957 Chevy two-door with a white top and red body. No girl could have resisted me if I had owned this machine.
I would assume, and this is only an assumption, that the head coach of any given tune-up team does know what it feels like to face pressure. One being, which of the Division I elite college football teams to be the sacrificial lamb on some Saturday in late September.
This same head coach of the same tune-up team does not have to really get charged up when talking to his team before any Division I team. His tune-up team already knows that they are going to lose--and sometimes badly. But there is that one trait that the coach can instill on his team: Letting losses help you build endurance. I like this one.
Tune-up teams do not have any super-star athletes. And when was the last Heisman that a player from a tune-up team won? Are you getting the gist of this piece? Oh, an up and coming quarterback, "Lance Filbert," can and many do have stellar seasons, but that only comes when the tune-up team's record is 7-5-0. It could be worse. And has been. This same tune-up team had identical 0-12-0 records last year and the year before.
Teams, and I am not talking your garden variety tune-up team, say, Ivy League schools--Harvard or Yale, they never get to compete in Division I play. I suppose that if Harvard or Yale had a bigger number of students, the president of these colleges could have a sit-down with the powers-that-be in the powerful, wealthy Alabama's, Georgia's, and Tennessee's. But these very respectful Ivy League teams do have their strong fans who will face most any weather to see their team not lose more than three touchdown's. And these same fans will don their wool scarfs, taxi driver caps, and fill a thermos with some New England soup of the week or maybe some vintage wine and go to the big game and tailgate with other Ivy Leaguers. Oh, about halftime, these loyal fans are pretty much ready to hit the pubs and celebrate their Colgate and William and Mary teams and shout, "what a great game," although they know that their team lost a humiliating five losses in a row. I've figured out why these folks are mostly in a great mood: Vintage liquors and imported beer when mixed with success, money, and other friends like these folks who also love to nibble at expensive pub dishes can only expect to have great times.
As a rule, there are far more head coaches fired in Division I coaches than in Division II and III. What I am trying to delicately to say is: a head coach in any Division II or III school would have to do something really, really awful just to be reprimanded by the college president. Think about this. When Mike Price was hired by the late Mal Moore, Athletic director, Alabama, Price was found out to be boozing beer with his pals (out of camera's view) during a charity golf tournament. The same source, Sports Illustrated, ran a lengthy story about Price and a few male friends having some gorgeous female company in their motel room. Price was brought up to Bama President, Roger Sorensen, and with a short discussion, broke the news on Fox 6, WBRC, Birmingham, Ala., that Price was fired. The funny thing about this was Price, although let go, still has the BEST win/lose record: 0-0-0, of any previous or present coaches. But at least he did not lose any games.
One question that (I assume) a high school recruit to some tune-up team asks is: "If I sign with your team, will I see some early playing time?" This tune-up team would probably stand and throw his arms high in the air yelling, "You bet, 'Jimmy Joe.' In fact, after spring practice, I may put you as out starting quarterback! Can you live with that?" Just what is "Jimmy Joe" supposed to say at this point?
I'm closing the doors here with a tone of high respect for tune-up teams. I will say here that all fans of tune-up teams are NOT losers. They are fine folks. The fact is that these faithful fans of tune-up teams are not used to having a winning season to speak of. And the worst thing is seen in my psychology of thought about a tune-up team's fans always knowing their team is going to lose on every football Saturday, this is not what scares these folks. It is that time sparkle of time when for some reason or happening, maybe one decision is made (by some depressed head coach) without thinking takes this tune-up team from having losers at the end of their team name in the newspaper and now thought of as a winning team. I would imagine that the pressure can be very tough to keep their tune-up team turned winner upon that ivory pedestal.
As long as there are football games with higher and upper tier teams, there is always the distinct possibility of a startling upset. I can share two right now. There are more.
Coach Watson Brown took over as head coach for UAB in 1995 and held the position through the end of the 2006 season Brown's most-memorable moment was when his UAB Blazers won 13-10 at Tiger Stadium. Brown was in tears as he talked about this upset to the press.
The 2007 Appalachian State vs. a then-coached Lloyd Carr, Michigan football game was a regular season college football game between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and Michigan Wolverines. It was held at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on September 1, 2007, and was the first game of the season for both teams. Incidentally, this lone upset helped Michigan's boosters and alumni, to take a harder look at why Carr's team allowed such an embarrassing loss. Carr later resigned after this 2007 season.
What feels possible for Caylin Newton, Cam's baby brother, and Howard suddenly looks quite a bit different than it had before this weekend began. The Bison went to UNLV as 45-point underdogs late Saturday night. They left with a 43-40 win that goes down as one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
All college football teams have teeth. The Division I teams, Bama, Florida, Michigan have sharp teeth and how to use them. While the Division II teams do have sharp teeth, they do not use them as quickly and wisely as (above) Michigan and Howard.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery