Football coaches don't love special quite as much as they love football, but they do find something special in special.
•Northwestern's Gary Barnett: "Ann Arbor is a special place and [the Michigan Wolverines] have a special team this year."
•Baylor's Dave Roberts: "What a special group our assistant coaches are."
•Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer after he was cited on his show for being the winningest football coach in Hokies history: "To be in there with coach [Jerry] Claiborne...and Bill Dooley...that's special. More so than the record is what we're in the middle of is what's really special."
I waited for someone to talk about his special special teams, but nobody ever did, at least not while I was watching.
"HI, COACH. YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB!
Few coaches take live call-in questions on their shows. Too dangerous. The queries used in ask-the-coach segments are mostly culled from letters or E-mail. That became an issue this fall at Colorado, where Neuheisel, who was enduring a mediocre season, went to great lengths on his weekly program to insist that he was "not afraid to answer the tough questions, contrary to popular belief." Then he took the tough presubmitted question of the week: Coach, what are the chances of a very small guy playing ball for you?
FROM THE CLIPBOARD TO THE SANDWICH BOARD
While watching The Auburn Football Review with Terry Bowden, I got to see the Tigers coach rap with a rotund parcel of cholesterol named Jimmy about Osmose-treated wood, shill for Golden Flake snack foods and Winn-Dixie supermarkets, and do two spots for Coke. Say this for Bowden: He shills without apology. When cohost Phil Snow asked him why he didn't wear his Russell Athletic cap on the sideline during the Tigers' Sept. 27 game against Central Florida, Bow-den said, "You know how it is with your people. For a TV game you have to wear your apparel. When you're not on TV [and the game with Central Florida wasn't], you don't have to wear it."
Nebraska's Tom Osborne peddles Personal Edge, a line of sports nutritional supplements; praises a local bank; does a spot for J.C. Penney; and pushes $1.66 Cornhuskers commemorative glasses from Phillips 66. The most embarrassing spiel was by Clemson's West, who is shown in a locker room giving a supposed pregame pep talk: "Running backs, I want you to run through those lines like a Ford Mustang! Defense. I want you to break through their line like a Ford F-150 pickup!" That's not the end of it, but it's all I can bear to repeat.
DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO