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It's Now or Never
Steve Rushin
December 13, 2004
When notre dame fired football coach Tyrone Willingham last week after only three seasons in South Bend, the school wasn't merely giving its disgruntled fans an early holiday gift of canned 'ham.
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December 13, 2004

It's Now Or Never

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Take a woman to a Washington Wizards game and you don't hope for a second date. You hope for a second quarter. The Wizards held a speed-dating promotion at the MCI Center in which single men got exactly 12 minutes to impress their blind date before having to change seats and try again with another woman. Not only do NBA fans date four women during a single game, but they also duck T-shirts fired by air guns while acrobats cartwheel past and indoor blimps fly overhead and dancing girls grind to an incessant bass line, the league being panicked that the briefest lull might make spectators lose interest in the entire enterprise, like medieval kings shouting at court jesters, "Off with their heads!"

Mercifully, there are still a few oases of patience in sports. The Chiefs' starting quarterback, Trent Green, threw one ball in his first five NFL seasons. Quarterback Drew Brees, in his fourth season, has become an MVP candidate for the 9-3 Chargers, even though the team drafted Philip Rivers to be Brees's replacement. Chauncey Billups was drafted by then Celtics coach Rick Pitino in 1997 and was traded four monthsinto his rookie season. Today the Pistons' guard is the reigning MVP of the NBA Finals.

Genius is not always a hothouse flower. Sometimes it takes years. The unknown Helen Hooven Santmyer published her No. 1 bestselling novel, ... And Ladies of the Club, when she was 87. By that standard, 77-year-old Joe Paterno deserves at least another decade to turn things around at Penn State.

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