Dragons live forever…. not so Aging Coaches

Puff Dragon
September17/ 2015

That recent commentary about Steve Spurrier maybe “aging out” sparked a LOTTA traffic with pretty much all of it agreeing with me. SS losing to Kentucky (in FOOTBALL!) didn’t make SS any younger.  Neither did losing his #1 QB for the season. This Saturday’s visit “between Steve Spurrierthe hedges” does not bode well for the Garnet&Black.

Paul Finebaum’s producers no doubt saw my piece deciding I was “on to something” so PF beat it to death earlier in the week. Today’s follow-up will likely be too esoteric for the inmates of Finebaum’s Asylum for the Truly Loonie.

Why in 2015, are we (me) saying HCs in their late 60s are now “too old” when history has aplenty of much older HCs – Bowden, Paterno, et al …. Pop Warner ??

The success of the Bobbys and Joes in their final 4-5 years was, to be kind, painful to watch. Before America met Jerry Sandusky (yuck, ptui) there was concern aplenty atop Mount Nittany as JoePa persisted in tarnishing his legend by “hanging around” way too long.

Factoid: Saint Dean of The Dome was only 66 when he said “No Mas”. His successor’s successor’s successor Roy TwoRings is himself now a (vertigoed and goofy to begin with) 65 for those keeping score.

Eight miles down 15-501 dwells the eeeevil exception that proves the rule – Darth Vader / Lord Voldemort hisownself coming up on 70.  There must be magic in that JustForMen.

John “The Wizard” Wooden said “No Mas” at age 65 after running out of grandchildren to give all his rings to.

Dean and Westwood’s Wizard both exited the scene well before the term “social media” descended upon America. The thought of either Dean or The Wizard thumbing a “Yo, How R U 2Day” tweet / text to a semi-literate 17 y/o does not compute.

Nor can I imagine either Dean or Wizard alighting from a freakin’ helicopter (a/k/a The Gott-Chopper) to bedazzle a cocky young PG in Fayetteville. Former Fayetteville youngsters Rusty Clark and Vann Williford woulda been shocked at such a sight. That the 2015 version of Fayetteville next superstar has ever heard of either Rusty or Vann is doubtful.

Gather ‘round young grasshoppers for yet more incredible insights into the world of Ageless Dragons and Aging Coaches.

How many Magic Dragons have there ever been? One…. according to Peter Paul & Mary. His name was Puff and he lived in a seaside Land Called Honnah Lee.

That rascal Puff meets this kid Jackie Paper and together they “froliced in the autumn mist” and have all sorts of magical adventures for a few years…. we are told. ….. but, alas:

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave, oh!

OK, so here’s the, albeit convoluted, critical analogy…. “Jackie Paper” is “The Aging Coach”. “Puff” is the endless procession of this Little Jackie Paperyear’s BFD / semi-literate blue-chipper.

Where there was only one Puff…. there are endless BFD Blue-Chippers. They are interchangeable but after awhile faceless and nameless. There may be a strange symbiosis between “Coach Jackie Paper” and one year’s Puff, but that Puff will be gone in a year or so to be replaced by another and another ….. meanwhile Little Jackie Paper gets older…. and older…. and older…. and….. the socio-cultural age gap twixt Coach and BlueChippers grows wider with each passing recruiting season….

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys (or aging coaches)

One day Coach Jackie Paper no longer wants to play pirate or “frolic in the autumn mist”…. the modern equivalent being “tweet” and “instagram” and “text” with 17 y/o semi-literate Puffs about one-named Rapp Divas and blow smoke up his 17 y/o butt about…..

All the joys aplenty awaiting him “at our incredibly awesome citadel of high academia” with robotic Libraries…. and nubile coeds…. and sticky-floored beer bars….. and nubile coeds….. and wonderful perfessers eager to impart massive amounts of knowledge…. and nubile coeds….. and banners-in-rafters….. and 80,000 Gamecock fans screaming your name in William-Brice on a Fall Saturday….. and fancy jock dorms with plenty of charging stations….. and nubile coeds.

One grey night it happens….. Coach Jackie Paper no longer cares…. to play along the cherry lane….. and Coach comes to play no more.

A 65-70 y/o Jackie Paper (with oodles of $$$$ socked away) can no longer even pretend to have anything whatsoever in common with the semi-literate tweeting 17 y/o Puffs-de-jour.

In case you haven’t noticed our society has undergone a quite dramatic seismic ®evolution in the past decade…..

More rapid that eagles the changes they came as we whistle and shout and call them by name ….. smartphones – iPads – video games – tweeting – megapixels – Blake Dodge – recruiting websites – ballcaps in duffels bags – ESPNs out-the-wazoo – charging stations – shoe deals – Wonderlics – PEDs – IPFs – selfies – Michael Sam – Power Fives – billion $$$$ broadcast rights – COAs – nubile coeds (OK, nothing new about those nubile coeds!) – one-named rappers – HDTV – Netflix – Kardashians & Caitlyn – Vice Chancellors of Diversity – Millennials – …..

Social media and the prolific coverage of “recruiting” has completely reversed the “who is in charge” between Coach and 17 y/o BlueChipper.  It’s the 17 y/o Dragon in 2015.  “How bad do you want me, coach?”  …. “what can you / will you do FOR ME, coach?”  In the “old days” the BFD was the humble recruit being ushered into The Sanctum Sanctorum – The Head Coach’s Impressive Office – when THE MAN would “close the deal” on the awe-struck youngster.  That day be long gone. Now the hat-in-hand begging coach says “if you don’t like our helmets or our uniforms…. we will change them to whatever you do like…. just PLEASE sign with us !!!  Please, Please, Please!!!.  …. THAT ain’t healthy!

I’m not one to stand by the side of the road and throw rocks as “Progress” parades by.  I’m old enough to recall Elvis’ hips on Ed Sullivan…. and the British Invasion of moptops….. and tie-dyed hippies in Haight-Ashbury….. and Adam leaving Bonanza…. and “One small step for Man…..”…. and Corvairs and AMC Gremlins and Edsels….. and New Coke….. and Leisure suits…… and the first game in Carmichael in 1965….. and DT falling from the sky in Reynolds vs Pitt….. and MaryAnn Foxe promising a National Championship on The Brickyard under Chuck The Prodigal Chest….. and Burly John & Matt & “clapping like a gay seal”…. and V “looking for someone to hug” in Albuquerque…. and finally learning to spell and pronounce “Krzyzewski”.Eskimo on ice flow

If Steve Spurrier goes 4-8 or worse will Ray Tanner be forced to “set him adrift on an ice floe”?

“Progress” and “getting old” don’t ask permission to change your life – upset the status quo – They just do.

Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

Epilogue: If you think 70-ish coaches are “out-of-touch” with semi-literate 17 y/os…. wait until we discuss how out-of-touch those not-so-lovable Fat Cats are way up in their luxury suites feasting on cocoanut shrimp with an unquenchable blood-lust thirst for Bragging Rights !!!

….. stay tuned, my friends.


I appreciate that this weekend the eyes and interest of most sports fans on the planet will be either “wherever Old Dominion is” or “amid the pines” at The Battle of The Sleeping Giants; “mine eyes” shall be on “The Friendly Confines” on Chicago North Side as my resurging RedBirds do battle with Wrigley’s Cubs.  MLB September’s “every pitch matters” ratchets up to unimaginable levels of excitement.   The fate of The NL Central hangs in the balance…. OH BOY!

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