REPORTER 1: Hi, Coach.
REPORTER 1: So you’ve got Arkansas this week, Coach. With a freshman quarterback under center, what is your defense going to …
TUBBY: I’ve about had it with this playoff deal.
REPORTERS: *look questioningly at each other*
REPORTER 1: Uh, Coach, we didn’t mention the playoffs.
TUBBY: You didn’t? Because I’ve had it with the current system. Based on the results the polls this week, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s completely impossible for an SEC team like ours to win a national championship.
REPORTERS: *wait several long moments*
REPORTER 2: Why is that, Coach?
TUBBY: Because our conference is just too damn tough. There’s no way anyone can go undefeated in it. Have you seen our schedule? Florida beat Kentucky by 19 points at home and their fans have such high standards they’re willing to create a deep division between their two quarterbacks just to up the challenge factor! We can’t hang with that.
REPORTER 1: You can’t?
TUBBY: Nope, and how about Georgia? They beat Colorado, and if you follow college football, you remember what they did to Nebraska in 2002. Alabama handled a Hawaii team that’s always dangerous on the road, and their quarterback is so good just two names aren’t enough to represent all his talent. Going undefeated is a complete pipe dream, like say horrible-tasting ice cream that’s been flash-frozen into tiny spheres and stays frozen longer.
REPORTER 2: Um, yeah. But Coach, your team went undefeated just two years ago. You’re telling us, here on the record, that your current team isn’t good enough to do what they did?
TUBBY: Oh goodness, no. Compared to 2004, our team is the Pop Warner team that has all the parents saying afterward “Oh, they played so hard! A for effort!” We almost lost to a team playing a wide receiver at quarterback. They may deserve to be ranked second, but they don’t have any hope of going undefeated.
REPORTER 1: OK, well, speaking of the polls, Coach, remember in 2003 when LSU got won the national title game with one loss? Why couldn’t that happen to your team?
TUBBY: Because the polls will never, ever vote us into the top two. It’s going to be USC all the way. Their schedule is a joke—Oregon? So they rolled up 500 yards on a defense that’s better than USC’s. Big deal. Cal? You saw what Tennessee did to them. There’s no way back from that. And the Trojans are rolling through their competition, you guys have seen that. They’re not going anywhere in the polls.
REPORTER 2: Um … right. So what you’re telling us, Coach, is that the system that produced Tennesee in ’98 and LSU in ’03 will never work for SEC teams?
REPORTER 2: And that the message for your team is that not only are they not good enough to go undefeated in this conference, but that even if they did, it wouldn’t matter?
TUBBY: You’ve got it.
REPORTER 1: Wow, Coach. Just … wow. Very motivational for your guys, I’m sure. OK, putting that aside, Coach, what do you think of Arkansas?
I should have gotten this up earlier in the week—this is how Tubby’s rant read to me the minute I read it—but on the other hand I’m even more steamed about it now. It’s not that difficult an idea to grasp: getting worked up over the polls ISN’T worth it. The way USC has been playing and given the amount of sympathy an undefeated Auburn would have generated, there’s absolutely no question Auburn would have been in the BCS top two if they’d kept winning … hell, they’d have been in it this week. But nonetheless, Tubby was so bitter about his team getting slighted this week (and still, obviously, in 2004) that he took the podium days after the standings were released and told everyone who’d listen he was less concerned with the week’s opponent than what might happen at the end of the year.
This sort of attitude is, in a euphemism, cow excrement. How hard is it to actually take things one game at a time? How difficult is it to keep your lip buttoned and tell your kids to only worry about the things thy can control and that everything else will take care of itself? How tough, really, is it to assume things will work out for the best instead of throwing a hissy fit the same week your team is taking on your own personal bogey team?
I don’t blame Tubby for being frustrated. We all still feel the sting of 2004 and we all have been irritated at seeing poll after poll come out with an inferior USC team ahead of us. But the way to channel that frustration is to make sure your team is so prepared for this week’s game that they’ll leave the pollsters no choice, not to go to the press and whine that if you don’t get the
Now, as I posted Saturday, this is part of Life with Tubby. Prosperity and expectations are not going to be handled well. Lesser opponents are not always going to be focused on properly. These are things that, with our current (and future for as long as I can see) coach, we’ll have to accept. But forgive me for being much, much less than happy about it.