While Charlie Strong is still mucking out Mack Brown's aerie of gilded geldings -- and that's just football, no word yet on who will clean the Auggiean Stables -- some people seem to think we were better off on the Moxiewagon, rumbling through a denuded and mathematically-absurd Big XII to a bowl game and the mirage of redemption.
Or at least, I hear that there are such fans. I don't read BON for the comments section, and the only reason to head to Shaggybevo these days is for the bouncing boob avatars. Unless you are aggie, in which case you go nutpicking through the comments of a Texas blog after defeating Arkansas, like some jilted slump-buster dragging a new boyfriend to a party in the hope someone notices but when they do it's even more humiliating.
Even Coach Strong cannot turn Eloi into Morlocks overnight, however, and so we're in for a long, dark ride through bat country. Deal. Unless you have a time machine.
Have you a time machine, sir? Do you really want to go back to last year?
You can't go back. You don't want to go back. Back to a defense that made football guys cringe, cringe the way that you do when you read the phrase "clitoral paper cut." You want a real defense, a defense that will stop people cold like a green light in Williamson County. We're not there yet. You want Brown and Gray ("The Beige Attack") to run people over, even though they have a Pop Warner offensive line. You want Swoopes to be as trigger-happy as a cop in a dog show, even though he's working with a Charlie Brown passing tree. I figure that the new staff's offensive meetings probably look something like this, these days.
This Saturday will be hard. It's bad. How bad? My contacts in Longhorn Band tell me they've bought some Arvo Pärt sheet music. Yes: that bad. But the long-term fans, i.e., not the people who annoyed us during the 2009 season, know that some really good football is coming.
Just keep telling yourself that on Saturday. You'll need it.
And, in case you need a laugh, here's something I dashed off early this calendar year after watching way too many bowl games. I didn't know what to do with it, so I'll inflict it on you.
SHIMMERING DISSOLVE AS WE CUT TO --
A bowl game intro video. Beads of sweat in slow motion. Shallow depth of focus. Somewhere, a steel-string guitar bends into chord, an empty football field in flyover country comes into view. With the sprinklers running, for some reason. In slow motion. The voiceover announces an abstraction. Then, an adjective. Then, a third word chosen from a motivational poster upcycled as a dartboard. Tough sounding words. Images of a hard life. Because yours isn't hard enough, apparently, to be part of this bumper crop of testosterone and heartburn, conjured out of laterite by sheer force of will.
DISSOLVE TO OVERHEAD SHOT -- courtesy of Good Year ... even though the game is in a dome.
The wizened Mask of Football fades into view. It speaks:
MUSHGERBER: We are LIIIIVE from Screw You, Taxpayer, Stadium in Rustover, Michigonsin for the thirteenth Toll Booth Associates Lawn-Dart Bowl between between the St. Judas Ethnic Slurs and the Bloated State University Endangered Quadrupeds! But first, for those of you who don't know where you are: our national anthem!
Some idiot drowns an eighteenth-century drinking song in nostalgia until it ought to be played by Commander Scott on bagpipes while they shoot Spock into a planet. And our Flag is still there. Military hardware whistles overhead and the fans watch it all on the GajillioTron, screaming.
The last known living Endangered Quadruped slumps in its cage, despite the best efforts of its handlers, who alternately poke at the beast and squint into the distance though a haze of cheap vodka and sexual trauma.
MUSHGERBER: We'll be right back after this!
PROGRAM NOTE: Blondie and Baritone promise to feel the news at you, right after the game!
And then, the violence begins: two men assault your intelligence. Mushgerber's death mask opposite a blonde foetus in a jar --
MUSHGERBER: Settle down, folks! It's going to be a gully-knocker!
FOETUS: St. Judas, star player, number 32 Inclement Fallous, very important for their players to play, Mush.
MUSHGERBER: Watch out for this guy, folks! He is from a town! Just how do they run the ball with Fallous, Dr. Ist?
CGI ILLUSTRATION SHOWS NEON SILHOUETTES OF FIVE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN CROUCHED IN VIDEO DARKNESS
AYN L. IST, Ph.D.: Well, Mush, the Ethnic Slurs' running game is just deep down in their DNA at St. Judas, it always has been ...
POV ZOOM DEEP INSIDE ONE LINESMAN'S OUTLINE, MICROSCOPICALLY SHOWING A SYMMETRICAL DOUBLE HELIX, WHICH LOOKS JUST LIKE DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID ... IF YOU'RE A COMPLETE FUCKWIT
AYN L. IST, Ph.D.: ... and they just explode in the running game ...
PHONY DNA OBLIGINGLY EXPLODES
AYN L. IST: ... and that's what makes this team unstoppable. Mush?
FOETUS: You either have it or you don't.
MUSHGERBER: Thanks very much, Dr. Ist! And here we go!
ON THE FIELD: two lines of humanity slam into a slurry of humanity. A whistle blows. Some of the humanity rights itself. Some does not.
FOETUS: Fallous getting up very slowly, Mush.
MUSHGERBER: [in funereal tones] You don't like to see that happen. Here it is again, in slo mo. Oh, that's terrible.
FOETUS: Hate to see that happen to a kid like Inclement. Here's another angle.
MUSHGERBER: Such a great story, this kid. He played high school football.
FOETUS: Man. I'm not sure how Fallous can get up from that one.
MUSHGERBER: Folks, we're going to take a break.
DISSOLVE AS A HUSH FALLS ACROSS SCREW YOU, TAXPAYER STADIUM
We return to Screw You, Taxpayer Stadium, to the sound of some hack composer simulating a marching band with a cheap-ass MIDI trigger, a PC with more viruses than a Bangkok tween, and $23.77 worth of pirated software, camera looking past a helmet on the field at the vast, enclosed space. Said helmet may or may not still have a head in it.
DISSOLVE TO THREE BLOBS OF ADIPOSE FAN TISSUE, CLAD FROM BLOAT TO FLUFF IN BSU'S ICONIC "[TRADEMARKED] 'n [COPYRIGHTED]." THEY REALIZE THEY'RE ON THE GAJILLIOTRON AND THEIR FACES SPLIT OPEN INTO LEERS OF FLEETING RELEVANCE AS WE CUT TO --
MUSHGERBER: We have an update on the condition of Inclement Fallous, folks! We go now LIIIIVE to our sideline reporter!
BALL OF HAIR: Mush, they're taking a look at Inclement's leg here on the sideline, retaping it. They've taken the rest of him to the locker room for evaluation. Don't know if we'll see Inclement again this half. Mush?
FOETUS: The Slurs are going to need that leg, Mush.
MUSHGERBER: Looking good, Ball of Hair! Ain't she something? And another time out, we'll take it with 'em.
COMMERCIAL: [the voice of a man so manly that he has a speech impediment; he intones ... ]
"Sailor Ripley and a dominatrix."
"Sailor Ripley, a dominatrix, and a harness."
"And a safe word."
"And a tiny toy cow."
WE RETURN TO THE EYES OF THE QB, LOOKING AT THE MEDIA TIMEOUT GUY WITH THE DAY-GLO FIST, SILENTLY PLEADING TO EITHER ALLOW FOOTBALL TO HAPPEN OR DO SOMETHING ELSE WITH THAT FIST
MUSHGERBER: OK, here we go! Fourth down!
The QB reads the initial signal: a picture of Mack Brown's face on a tote bag, signals to his teammates with Qabbalistic handsigns, they are set ... but no snap, the QB steps away from the line and looks to the sideline, which signals to the box, which scrutinizes footage from the blimp, which runs the defense's positron emissions through a 1977 Mattel Classic Football, which signals back to the box, where someone is screaming at the sideline ...
… the QB takes the snap, backpedals, only to be snowed under by several angry blurs of the wrong color …
MUSHGERBER: Let's hear the call now from referee Yokel!
ROID YOKEL: "AFTER TH ... LAY - PERSONAL FOUL [PEEL OF FEEDBACK] ... THE DEFENSE, NUMB ... 9 RIPP ... GUY'S HEAD OF ... ING HIS MOTHER MEAN ... UGLY - SIX HUNDR ... D SIXTY-SI ... ARDS - LOSS OF INCARNATION ... - FIRST DOWN!!!"
By now, you've switched to bourbon and dimly recall going to the half with ...
BALL OF HAIR: Coach, how are you going to deal with the loss of your best player?
COACH BAW: Weejes'gawtagettumupin'
HALFTIME - embalmed Spasmotronic CelebriGolem wheezes out medley of tunes made famous by commercials in your grandparents' day, atop the neon flashes of his corpse-support system. Thousands of conscripted teenagers jerk shiftlessly in the semidark, nearby, in compliance with the terms of their various plea bargains.
After this, it's all a bit hazy. You black in, somewhere in the fourth quarter to the sound of ...
FOETUS: BSU did not need that, Mush.
COMMERCIAL: Ambiguously Latina Lady brings a Nissan RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWR