Has the Season Gone up in Smoke?

Terryl Rushing

Article by Terryl Rushing Featured Author


What an ugly football weekend for Mississippians! Now, there were some bright spots: Jackson State beat Bethune-Cookman, and Delta State beat Shorter. But for Alcorn, Southern, Valley, State, and Ole Miss, the news was bad — in some cases, very bad. Lucky for them that there is no football (school sponsored, anyway) at William Carey or Blue Mountain. Space limitations prevent a rundown of the Juco scores, but I know that several schools are nationally ranked, so we’ll assume they did ok.

We attended a watch party in Northeast Mississippi, where a full afternoon and evening of college football was on tap. This was a little different from parties I’ve attended in the past, where audience participation consisted mainly of beer guzzling and swearing. This was an older crowd; some beer guzzling occurred, and there was more swearing than might have been reasonable necessary; however, among the crowd, were a cancer patient undergoing chemo, a man with Parkinson’s disease, and another man with PTSD. Each of them had a valid prescription for medical marijuana, and each of them had taken a dose that afternoon.

It wasn’t a full-blown Cheech and Chong movie (“Dave’s not here”), but it did take me back to the 60’s. I’m not a fan of pot, personally, since it always made me feel stupid. I have a gift for doing things that make me feel stupid without medication, which is much cheaper. Predictably, though, during the course of the evening, these people, who all have legitimate reasons for their prescriptions, managed to sound, well, stupid.

The first game of the afternoon was Mississippi State and Arkansas, which was a heartbreaker. On the positive side, though, apparently the ghost of Mike Leach slapped the offensive coaches upside the head, and they went back to the Air Raid passing attack, which nearly worked. The funniest part of the game was when none of us was paying close attention, but we heard somebody say, “At the risk of sounding like Mike Leach…” Was it Coach Arnett? Heads popped up from their cellphones all over the room with a chorus of, “Sounding like Mike Leach is a good thing, you idiot.” “You wish you sounded like Mike Leach.” “Your mama sounds like Mike Leach.” After that, there was a discussion of South Carolina’s team name, which doesn’t merit repeating, even in a newsletter for lawyers. Nothing to see here; let’s move on.

There were no Southern graduates in the room, so we only followed that game to see that they lost to Arkansas State by a respectable margin. Then there was the game that caught the attention of the nation, seemingly, Colorado vs. Oregon. I guess you could call Coach Prime a Mississippi ex-pat. After the game, somebody remarked on the irony, after all the AFLAC commercials, of Prime getting beaten by ducks. This set off the — what shall we call them? Stoners is not really accurate; lets just call them “medicated,” as opposed to the other watchers, which we’ll refer to collectively as “drinkers.” Here’s the conversation of the medicated:

“That’s not a duck; it’s too big. It’s a goose.”
“Geese aren’t white; they’re gray and brown. And they honk, not quack.”
“Why do they call it a quack? It sounds like an “aack.”
“I can make that sound, listen.” [Proceeds to sound like he’s hocking up a loogie.]
“Isn’t Oregon close to Canada? Do they have geese?”
“Do they have ducks?”
“Why are the Oregon ducks green?”

Thankfully, we switched to the Ole Miss game. No need to dwell on the disappointment, but I thought the Rebels looked pretty good in the first half. Unfortunately, different teams came out after halftime, and our medicated friends decided that it had something to do with a booby — trapped visitor’s locker room.

“Saban gassed them.”
“No, that would smell; he put something in the water.”
“Wouldn’t that show up on the drug screen?”
“I had a drug test once, and I peed all over my hand.The officer got really pissed.” [At which point the medicated all had a big giggle that pretty much lasted through the rest of the game.]
“Maybe Saban turned them into zombies.”
“If zombies eat brains, why are they so dumb?”
“Because they only eat the slow ones.” More giggles.

Ole Miss was pretty much simulcast with LSU/Arkansas, which some thought was a sacrilege, but was a surprisingly good game. Hog calls and Boudreaux jokes may have detracted some from the sanctity of the contest, but only the LSU fans minded.

Then came, for me, the big game of the night. I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Houston, so I root for all Mississippi teams. From my mother’s blue collar, Catholic family, though, I learned to pull for Notre Dame. It was the only college team anybody felt allegiance to, there being no college students in the family until me. We didn’t understand the importance of minor league football and concentrated on the pros.

Notre Dame let us down. I’m sure my family had their rosaries out on that last drive, but they were to no avail. After the final drive, there was much discussion of the defensive misalignment, and one of the medicated spoke up.

“If God loves Notre Dame, then why didn’t he send an angel to tell the defensive coordinator that the lineup was bad?”
“God doesn’t care about football.”
“Sure he does; remember the Immaculate Reception?”
“That wasn’t God.”
“God loves football; that’s why he gave us beer.”
“Do they have football in heaven?”
“It would be touch football.”
“I went to heaven once…”

That stopped conversation, not because of the unlikelihood of anyone’s getting all the way to heaven and living to tell about it, but due to the unlikelihood of this particular person’s reaching the Pearly Gates under any circumstances. So we all dried our tears, wiped Cheeto crumbs off our shirts, and went home. In my case, I delivered the medicated to their proper destinations. Then I went home, poured a healthy glass of wine, and sat back and asked myself,

“Why are the Oregon ducks green?”

And, as we later discovered, God needed to send an angel to tell Coach Freeman that yes, against Ohio State, you really need to have eleven people on the field.