Every Southern school deserves a good ol' boy running its football program, yet a Brooklynite, Gerry DiNardo, now roams the sidelines at LSU, where just three years ago Alabama-born coach Curley Hallman baffled reporters by describing a quarterback competition as "wide open as a case knife in a barroom brawl." At Texas, Darrell Royal—inventor of the cliché, A tie is like kissing your sister—ran the conservative wishbone offense and ate barbecue with Willie Nelson. Now the Longhorns are coached by a buttoned-down Midwesterner, John Mackovic, who throws long on fourth-and-short and looks as if he would rather invest in pork than eat it off a rib.
Arkansas's Danny Ford still drives his pickup and feeds the cows at his South Carolina ranch, and nobody can weave a tale like Florida State's resident Bubba, Bobby Bowden. But when it comes to good ol" boy verbiage, Dykes, who grew up in Ballinger, Texas (pop. 4,207), leads the posse. Spikeisms (with translations) include: "The hay's in the barn" (Everything's done); "Put on the hogs" (Roll out the red carpet); and "The chicken plays a role in eggs-and-bacon, but the pig is committed" (Hard work in practice pays off in games).
"I'm from around here, and I use a lot of expressions I grew up with," says Dykes. "You gotta be yourself. If you're not yourself, you're not anything."
Madison Square Garden organist Ray Castoldi's recurring nightmare goes like this: He walks into his Enfield, Conn., living room, switches on the TV to watch a New York Knicks game and is hit with a stunning realization. "They are playing at the Garden, and I can hear music in the background, and I'm not there," he says.
Castoldi (left) has reason to worry about job security: Organists have largely disappeared from NBA arenas. Castoldi is one of only two full-time organists responsible for all the music at a team's home games. (The other is the Portland Trail Blazers' Paul Nelson.) Teams now opt for deejays who can crank up rap and rock with the touch of a button. "There is so much you can do today with tape and CD players and computer hard drives that contain hundreds of sounds," says Steve Letson, vice president of operations for the Mavericks. "It doesn't make sense to pay someone to play the organ."
Even the 34-year-old Castoldi, perched in his 10-by-12-foot cage near the Garden ceiling, has to punch up recorded music from a computer; fans aren't satisfied if they don't hear stand-bys like Rock and Roll, Part II (a.k.a. the "Hey!" song) as well as his organ tunes. All too often a spectator will see him after a game and say, "I didn't know there was still somebody live playing the organ up there!" And Castoldi will wince.
The palming call came back from the brink of extinction last season when the NBA took one look at Philadelphia 76ers rookie Allen Iverson and figured that if he carried the ball any more blatantly, he could back up the Eagles' Ricky Watters. The league instructed its refs to crack down on palming—cradling the dribble, a traveling violation—although Iverson and other hot new point guards such as the Minnesota Timberwolves' Stephon Marbury and the Toronto Raptors' Damon Stoudamire still palm on virtually every possession. These kids can keep their dribble suspended in midair for so long, it has a hang time.