Suit him up coachHe’s a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate
By: Malamute, 20 February 2003
Can you make an atomic
bomb out of a match stick or turn a dust devil into a tornado? How about
turning a white lie into a lie as long as Pinocchio’s nose? Or can a neophyte sportswriter
morph himself into a Joseph Pulitzer overnight?
Anything is possible.
First you need to set the scene if you’re into becoming
So, what if a rival newspaper, the Seattle Times, sets
the scene for you with
its “Coach Rick Hamlet”
editorial concerning the UCLA coaching job vacated by the firing of Bob
In that paper, an anonymous editorialist says that it’s okay for Mike Price, who
runs a clean program, to walk away from the Cougs, while the shifty-eyed
(Rick) Neuheisel, who is always scanning the
crowd for someone to schmooze next, is looking for another stepping stone.
He tells the Huskies to bid Rick Neuheisel farewell and
find a coach who wants to say around.
Now, you need to find a
smoking-gun to cast Mr. Schmoozer as Mr. Opportunity. Every one knows Neuheisel doesn't run a "clean" program. If that sounds too harsh, let's say
he's bent a few minor rules with the NCAA during his coaching career at
Colorado and Washington. The Slick Rick stuff is
legendary. That's a given.
The firing of Steve Mariucci as coach of the San
Francisco 49ers is dogging the Huskies' coach, and could be the prelude to the smoking
gun you need, considering the head-coaching vacancy.
Enter incredible, inexplicable serendipity. Call it a
It’s Sunday and you’re lollygagging about, reading a
newspaper inside the Alaska Airline departure area at the San Francisco
Airport. You’re returning from vacation and need to write a column for
Monday’s newspaper. Although you have a deadline to meet, the “idea bank is
several quarts lower than” your (401)K. Your new boss is all set to hammer
you into Mini Me.
Enter Coach Rick Hamlet, a.k.a., Dr. Evil. (“False face must hide what
the false heart doth know.” Macbeth)
He plunks “himself down in a chair about 6 feet" from
you. You never liked Art Thiel’s mug anyway and are glad for anonymity.
Then, with cochlea turned up a notch, you are able to eavesdrop on a cell-phone
conversation between Neuheisel and his mother concerning the vacant coaching
job with the 49ers, picking up bits and pieces of the conversation, though
Neuheisel has turned his back to you and lowered his voice considerably.
Later, you ask Neuheisel whether he interviewed with
the 49ers, knowing that he did. Loading your smoking gun with more ammo, he tells
you that he had cut short a vacation in Sun Valley to play golf with some
frat buddies in the Bay Area and was not seeking the 49ers job.
With gun fully loaded, Neuheisel fires off another shot.
Upon returning to Seattle, Neuheisel issues this
statement the next day, “We talk (Donahue, 49ers’ GM) occasionally about a
number of subjects. I consider him both a mentor and a friend, but we have
never discussed the opening with the 49ers.”
On Tuesday, your column appears with a mention
about the chance encounter with Neuheisel in the airport and about the golf game with the
frat buddies--but you don’t mention that you have a smoking gun.
The smoking gun is vitalized by rumors that surface,
saying Neuheisel interviewed with 49ers officials, so anonymous
sources within the 49ers organization say.
The next day, Wednesday, John Levesque, our hypothetical
sportswriter now unmasked, in a column for the Seattle Post Intelligencer,
reveals that he has a smoking gun, saying, “In a phone
call to his mother Sunday night, Neuheisel discussed his meeting with the
49ers and said: ‘It went well.’"
Two days later, on Thursday, Nuehseisel admits he
interviewed for the job and lied about it to honor a confidentiality
agreement with the 49ers.
Everyone in the media is aghast. How could Rick Hamlet
lie to us, they fume? (“Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying.”
A journeyman sportswriter wins the Pulitzer on his
first outing, the late Jim Murray might have written. He wins the Oscar
without opening his mouth. Up from the minors, he breaks Bond’s home run
record. Fresh from tour school, he has Tiger dormie with nine to play.
Can Cody Pickett win the Heisman Trophy next season?
With his kind of luck, John Levesque can. Suit him up, Coach, but be sure to stay off your cell
phone when he’s around.