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X's + O's = Zero Z's
Steve Rushin
October 03, 2005
Fighting Irish football coach Charlie Weis scheduled a predawn haircut in his office on the eve of his first home game, forcing his tireless barber to shear, shear for old Notre Dame at 4:45 in the morning.
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October 03, 2005

X's + O's = Zero Z's

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Of course, not coming in at 4:30 a.m. didn't do Spurrier any good with the Skins, but he did win a national championship at Florida, where the Old Ball Coach proved you can dominate while still playing golf on occasion. Notre Dame won a national title under Lou Holtz, whose staff didn't golf. "If he's got golf clubs in his truck or a camper in his driveway," Holtz liked to say of potential assistants, "I don't hire him."

Those two coaches had different work styles but got the same result. You say tomato, I say tomahto. You say Van Winkle (who slept for 20 years), I say Van Gundy (who hasn't slept for 20 years).

What's indisputable is that man needs sleep. Sleep is, in Shakespeare's words, "sore labour's bath, balm of hurt minds, great Nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast." But a coach's daily feasts are all consumed from a Styrofoam clam box at a conference table, chased down by a dose of caffeine or a wad of chew. ( Pete Carroll of two-time defending champ USC guzzles Mountain Dew; Saban won a share of the '03 title at LSU while abuzz on Red Man.)

"It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night.... God gives to his beloved in sleep," says Psalm 127:2. Is that why we call them ungodly hours? Perhaps this verse should replace John 3:16 on those ubiquitous stadium signs.

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden--whose autobiography is subtitled Winning with Heart, Passion and Not Much Sleep--famously rises most mornings at 3:17. The spiritual shorthand that will most readily spring to mind this weekend while watching hollow-eyed coaches stalk the sidelines is not Psalm 127:2 or John 3:16.

It's Jon 3:17.

? If you have a comment for Steve Rushin, send it to rushin@siletters.com.

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