In 2001 the Drive-by Truckers ("DBT") released "Southern Rock Opera."
It was an amazing album – a double-record concept about the rise and fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley wrote all of the songs. It was a breath of fresh air out of a stagnant southern music scene – a three-guitar punk/country band playing thoughtful songs like their lives depended on it. [Insert Stock Footage of screaming rock crowd]
I can't find a video with the original band -- sorry -- but if this song doesn't make you yearn for high school then I feel sorry for you
But trouble followed success (cue a montage of pool tables, cigarette smoke, lines of cocaine, “Layla” slide guitar). One of the band’s original guitar players left under a cloud. The band scoured the earth (or North Alabama) for a replacement. Eventually they settled on Jason Isbell, a 22-year old guitar prodigy. That made him about 15 years younger than Hood and Cooley.
And Isbell brought it. The band’s next record, “Decoration Day,” was actually named after the finest song that Isbell ever wrote. The record after that, “Dirty South,” also featured some great Isbell songs. There is no doubt that he reinvigorated the band and brought a more professional approach to what they were doing. He was more melodically sophisticated. His playing was smoother. His voice was better. He actually hit and held notes.
I think this was Isbell's best song and one of DBT's finest
Then something happened. I can’t explain it. Isbell’s wife took over as bassist for Earl (which was an unspeakably bad personnel decision on a par with promoting Akina). Isbell wrote one of the worst songs that I have ever heard in my life on the “A Blessing and a Curse” record. Just awful. It's like he quit trying. Or thought he was bigger than the band.
This is the musical equivalent of our second half defense in the UCLA game
Soon after, Isbell left the band. Fans were despondent. Everyone thought the band was done. But everyone was wrong. The band was great before Isbell joined and has enjoyed more success since he left (I won’t say that they're better – SRO was the pinnacle for me - but their better than they were during the end of the Isbell era). Meanwhile, Isbell went from a breath of fresh-air to a stale fart, churning out tired 70’s era arena rock with a generic bar band. Sometimes that’s how these things go.
You see it now? Muschamp did some wonderful things for us while here. He was a breath of fresh air. Then something happened. I don’t know what it was, but it was this year. Maybe he got impatient. Maybe he’s been figured out. All I know is that despite the metrics people like to float (yeah, YPG we did alright, but that’s also because we defended a lot of short fields), the defense this year was pretty damn pedestrian. They flat-out rolled over, repeatedly. They had a knack for giving up long drives at the absolute worst times (beginning of halves, when we needed momentum). They couldn’t stop the run, ever. The safety play was terrible. The linebackers struggled to shed blocks. The pass rush was anemic. The personnel decisions were bizarre (a one-legged Acho over a healthy Hicks???). I mean, Muschamp kind of shit the bed this year. Yeah, I said it.
But He Bled For Us!!!
Then, following his worst coaching year, he was offered one of the four best jobs in the country right now (I’d put it even with Alabama, Texas, and Ohio State). So he took it. The right move for him, for sure. But not exactly the end of the world for Texas. It’s not like Muschamp was a world-beater whose defense would have single-handedly won a national title but for the anemic offense. At least not this year. He’s a football coach. A young one who has never had the responsibility or magnified attention that comes with a high-profile gig like the one he’s just assumed. He’s following the most successful coach in Florida history. He’s going to have to recruit with the filthy crooks in the SEC. Good luck with all of that pal.
We all know there was internal dissent this year. Is it possible Muschamp undercut Mack with the players? Sure. Is it possible to have an insurgent in your own camp and succeed? I’d wager not. Now I’m not saying Muschamp did anything wrong, but if there were opposing internal sides then it is safe to say that they have now both been purged.
Our song to you Will
We’re going to be fine. I’d take a 15% worse defense for a 15% better offense. I’ll bet you anything that we get at least those percentages. I have no idea whether Muschamp will make a great head coach. But I know that Mack Brown can be and has been one. He had a bad year – and he responded appropriately by cleaning house. Let’s see if he’s still got the energy to re-boot the program and revive our fortunes. Last time he did it we got a national championship.
Folks, the sky isn’t falling. The season before last we were in the national championship game. The season before that we were a dropped INT away from playing for a national championship. This past season we sucked. As a result the program is undergoing wholesale changes. As it should. This Muschamp thing is just a bit more change.
I’m going to trust Mack to get it right. He’s done it before. I was as pissed as everyone else about this season. But Mack has done the things he needed to do since the season ended. You wanted Davis gone and he is. You wanted MacWhorter gone and now he is. You wanted Mad Dog gone and hopeuflly he soon will be. (ed. note -- I think he will be soon) You wanted Kennedy gone and hopefully he soon will be. (ed. note -- again, I think he will be soon) ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Seriously, let’s play out the string. Next year is going to be better than this one was.