Presenting the perfect candidate for the Ole Miss opening: me
Ole Miss plays in sport's toughest division, has had run of bad coaching luck
The author has a compelling plan for turning Rebels into SEC West power
His lack of experience makes him a steal, leaves more money for assistants
To: Archie Manning and Mike Glenn
c/o Eastman and Beaudine
From: Andy Staples
Re: Job Posting
I was perusing the job board on the Ole Miss web site recently, and I noticed that you are in the hunt for a football coach. While I realize you've probably been deluged with the names of hot Sun Belt coaches and hot SEC/ACC/Big 12 coordinators, allow me to submit one more name for consideration.
Now that you've finished laughing, allow me to explain. First, despite rumors to the contrary, I am not applying for this position only because I want to break the record for toothpicks fired into the ceiling following epic meals at Oxford's Ajax Diner. While that is a consideration, it is a minor one. I'm applying because I believe I can -- as your ad requests -- "lead the operation and administration of a successful Division I football program."
Let's face it. Your program has had a run of bad luck in the coaching hire department, which is probably why the two of you are leading this search instead of Pete Boone, who was relieved of his duties along with outgoing coach Houston Nutt. You play in the toughest division in college football. If the SEC West were any more rugged, it would get called up to the NFL. Your fans are more interested in figuring out how to hang chandeliers from their tailgating tents in the The Grove than in figuring out how to win the Egg Bowl.
You need a radical hire. You need to shake up the system. You need me.
How will I win? Simple.
I'm going to cheat.
I won't break any of the laws of the state of Mississippi or of the United States of America, but I will happily smash every single one of the NCAA's arbitrary rules. Because that's the only way your program can win consistently. Sure, a coach may catch lightning in a bottle and win nine games for a year or two, but I'm coming to build a powerhouse. When I
leave for a better job after saying some mess about a pine box retire, I want a statue in front of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. To accomplish those goals, I'm going to need to fracture most of the NCAA's bylaws.
Fear not, gentlemen, I'm not going to get caught. Remember, I wrote the book -- or at least the extremely abridged version of the book -- on how to break the NCAA's silly rules without getting nabbed.
It will be an open secret that recruits who play for me can buy out-of-circulation rental cars with scrubbed titles for pennies on the dollar. Will I have anything to do with that? Absolutely not. I've never even been to an auto auction. Street agents who bring top prospects on unofficial visits will find that envelopes full of cash have jumped underneath their hotel room doors. I won't know where they came from, and neither will anyone who works for me. Recruiting service operators who pay high school coaches to bring vanloads of prospects to unofficial visits they could never otherwise afford will get a little something extra, too. From where? I don't know. I'm just a simple reporter-turned-football coach. Players on campus will find cash in their mailboxes. Where did it come from? Mom? Santa Claus? How should I know? All I know is that it won't be traceable.
Now that I've outlined my recruiting philosophy, let's talk football. Obviously, my coaching experience is rather limited, though I was 1-1 as a Powder Puff coach in high school. As a player, I was quite possibly the worst walk-on offensive lineman in the history of the Southeastern Conference. My playing ability -- or lack thereof -- really shouldn't matter. Your last coach was a two-sport athlete at Arkansas and Oklahoma State, and a fat lot of good that did him when his offense was rolling up seven points against Vanderbilt.
I plan to be more of a CEO, anyway. Since you'll get me for a steal because of my lack of experience -- I can be had for as little as $1.5 million and a Cadillac -- you can spend big bucks on coordinators. We'll spend more on the defensive coordinator, because in the cyclical SEC, defense is king at the moment. We'll load up the defense with our best athletes and pray they can force some turnovers and get the offense the ball inside the opponent's 25-yard line a few times a game.
On offense, we'll use a power running game that allows us to plug in backs and linemen from Mississippi's junior colleges. That also makes us less reliant on the quarterback, because even if we're cheating our butts off, it's still going to be tough to recruit elite quarterbacks until Archie's grandsons go to college. We don't need anything complex. This won't sell tickets, but it might win games -- and winning games sells more tickets than anything.
I'll naturally take all the credit when my top-flight assistants coach my well paid players to victory. I'll win every press conference. You won't have to worry about me handling the media like Illinois coach Ron Zook, whom you gentlemen may recall as the guy Boone tried to hire before he hired Ed Orgeron. I'll have the members of the Fourth Estate eating out of my hand with jokes, stories and folksy, homespun goodness. They'll be so entertained that they won't even remember to ask why my starting tight end has an SUV with rims that can be seen from space.
I'll even get the bloggers on my side. You guys are from another generation, so you might not understand the importance of this. But these are the tastemakers who snarkily set the tone the rest of us unwittingly adopt. Early in my tenure, I will hold a press conference during which I shove a stuffed version of the new bear mascot into a wood chipper. I will then proclaim Admiral Ackbar as the new Ole Miss mascot. This is not a trap. I assure you that this single act will earn me a lifetime of goodwill with some of the most important people in sports media.
I'll also portray the image you want in your football coach -- at least for a little while. I'm happily married, with no scandals or skeletons in my closet. I have a smokin' hot wife and two adorable kids who will make my media guide family portraits irresistible to the recruits' mothers who require something more than hard cash, a house and a no-show job to convince them that their sons should matriculate at Ole Miss. Of course, when I spend all my time talking to those recruits instead of my wife and children -- hooray, unlimited contact -- the missus probably will take up with the man who cuts the grass. At this point, I'll ask for a raise. Alimony isn't cheap.
You'll be more than willing to pay at this point. And if you won't, someone else will. If I can string together a couple of 10-win seasons in Oxford, I'll be the toast of college football. Everyone will throw money at me. I'll take the most lucrative deal I can get. And after I leave, someone might get talkative and explain exactly how I won all those games. The NCAA will certainly hammer me, but I'll have more money than I could ever spend. I'll write a book, hit the public speaking circuit and then retire to Aruba.
You'll be left to pick up the pieces, but only after Ole Miss has collected millions more in booster donations. The crash will be hard, but the ride will be worth it. And besides, will you end up any worse off than you are now?
I realize I'm a non-traditional candidate. But where has traditional gotten you? Gentlemen, you have a chance to redefine your football program -- and get a truly awesome mascot in the process. I eagerly await your call.
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