Think Gatorade
Rich Linde

You didn’t go to a bowl, Coach? Not making seven digits? Can’t afford to buy that new Lamborghini? Your wife and kids won’t talk to you? Feel like that slob out of American Beauty? Having a midlife crisis? Women aren’t giving you the double take anymore? Never been soaked with Gatorade?

“Okay, okay,” you answer. “So I’ve never had ice running down my back or had to bang the side of my head to clear the Gatorade from my ears. I didn’t get the ax this season; that’s what counts.”

That’s all well and good, but the chopping block just might be around the corner. Here’s a bit of advice from the Spinmeister. You need to upgrade your sideline manner by copying the moves and demeanors of the guys making the big bucks. Like a doctor with bedside manner, a coach must have sideline manner. If you’re not winning, start spinning. When the TV camera is on you, be ready to break a leg next season, lest you lose the wife, the kids and, ahem, that certain admirer.

Before act one begins, here are a few things to do.

How many of you duds lead your team onto the field? I can’t hear you. I know you’ve put on a few pounds and are out of shape. Well, guys, it’s cricket to lead your troops onto the battlefield. Hello! A note of caution: Remember to get a proper start on those young studs, lest you get trampled like a runner in Pamplona.

And for Pete’s sake don’t sit around sulking before the game starts. The TV people are looking for anecdotes to fill in the gaps, so toss a few balls to the quarterback; hold a few for the kicker. Mingle with the fans. The politician you are, pick out a few photogenic kids and sign some autographs. Give a skinny kid a high five. You’re a Charles Atlas, a guy who eats Wheaties, a guy who can turn a 98-pound weakling into a real man.

Once the battle begins, never stand still. Pace the sidelines like a caged animal. I know Regis isn’t covering your backside, but look like an angry Bob Davie (former Notre Dame coach) as you ambulate. And spit a few times, your testosterone level at its peak. Always wear your headphones and microphone, continuing to jabber even when they’re on the fritz.

Okay, so you’re huffing and puffing after awhile. You can catch your breath by warming the bench during the TV commercials.

After a bad call, hurl your clipboard ala Woody and Bo, two Gatorade-soaked legends from the past. Remember to pick it up, right-side up, lest you discombobulate your QB as you talk from it. A play or two later, expect the bad guys to be caught holding.

Show the alums you’re working the refs by shouting at them from the sideline, in your loudest voice so that it is hoarse for the upcoming interviews. Never mouth a four-letter word; they’re lip readable.

Have your quarterback air out a few long passes; chasing young receivers down field will tire the fittest of officials, and they'll be more apt to make a bad call when they're out of gas. Caveat emptor. Now it's time to use your coach's challenge. Your fans will love you for it, even if you blow a timeout.

And you’re the field general who’s always thinking, so remember to diagram a phony play or two. Call a few players to your side and rapidly draw up some X’s and O’s. Never use a play hastily sketched from the sidelines.

Now signal some plays in to the quarterback. Never mind the correct semaphores, he can always call an audible.

Graciously accept halftime interviews as if you’re auditioning for the reverse role. Conducting such interviews may be your future employ. And don’t pull a Butch Davis by bad mouthing another conference, by calling them a “lesser conference.” That’s bulletin board material.

And speaking of the ‘Canes, caution your players not to bark in the tunnel before taking the field against the Huskies. Never mock the Dawgs, lest they turn rabid.

After the roof has caved in, give a Rudy a taste of the action, with an encouraging slap on his anatomy as he takes to the field. The Keith Jackson’s will love your for it.

Okay, so the battle’s lost. The bad guy has Gatorade dripping off his chin, and yours is dry. Wipe that smirk off his face by using a shocking device when you shake hands with him. Make him wince for the camera. Your grip is stronger than his; make sure the fans know it.

Here’s more spin, a ploy for dealing with the grim-faced woman with the mike in hand.

“Coach, your team didn’t seem to be in the game today. What happened?”

It’s time to dust off those coaches’ clichés. Say, “Some of those calls could have gone either way. Our kids played their hearts out. Call it a moral victory.”

“The rumors persist that you’re going to lose your job. Is that true?”

Smile, then say, “Don’t believe what you read on the blogs.” Now jog off the field and head for the athletic director’s office. Try to schedule a couple of FCS patsies next season.

Remember, after the final polls are taken, it matters little whom you’ve played; it matters whether you’ve won.

Your mantra is, “They won’t cut me loose, if I’m soaked with juice. Think Gatorade.”
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Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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