CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Goodbye, Coach Rod

By Jack Cawthon

"No! No! No! Oh, the humanities!" and I broke down into loud sobbing. The Little Woman (5 ft., 2 ins.), always sensitive to my emotions, especially when I sob loudly enough, hurried into the room, no doubt expecting me to have frozen up the computer again, and perhaps drippings tears onto the keyboard, which created quite a mess the last time it happened.

I could only point to the TV and between sobs utter, "Coach Rod, Coach Rod…" "Did he die?" she asked. "No, he's leaving," I was barely able to choke out. "Oh, thats worse," she shuddered as she spoke.

"Where is he going?" she asked. "Michigan," was all I could mutter. "That's terrible," she groaned, "you know how lots of West Virginians headed up there to Detroit for jobs, and now the auto plants are laying off. He'll have a terrible time finding a job!" she exclaimed.

"He already has a job coaching at Michigan." Why should I have to explain in such a time of grief why a famous coach wouldn't be applying for a job in a car plant?

"What does he coach?" she asked. "Tennis!" I'm sorry to say I snapped, knowing her lack of interest in one of life's greatest competitions, excepting, of course, the Iowa caucus. I was afraid that the people of our great state couldn't handle the terrible news I had just heard, knowing that most of the residents escape from the bleakness of poverty, political hacks, environmental scars, obesity and unhappy home lives by living uptight through the uprights.

A coach is pretty much like an emperor of old, how by our tokens of appreciation and sacrifices, especially money, he is expected to lead us into new conquests and finally unto the holy sites of major bowl games.

But, I wasn't through explaining. "I know he doesn't coach tennis," she said somewhat testily. "Wasn't he the coach in that game with some Pittsburgh team we watched on TV recently?" She spoke as if I might really know something about the game, which inflated my ego considerably.

"I know," she continued, "he was that coach with the crutches who danced around and banged them on the ground when his team didn't do good." "No," I patiently explained, "that was the OTHER coach. Ole Rod was the one who had the rather calm look on his face after his kicker missed two field goals and the team made a few fumbles. Sort of a 'oh, gee whiz, wasn't that some terrible plays?'"

"By the way," she couldn't stop talking, not knowing when she was ahead by accepting my insight and knowledge. "How come you're such an expert? Did the coach ever let you play? And if you mention those cheerleaders not allowing it either you'll have more to worry about than Coach Rod leaving."

Well, that finally did it! Just because I might not know a T formation from a Hail Mary is no reason to bring up an unhappy childhood. After all, I read a lot.

And speaking of reading, I read Bobby Bowden's book in which he recounts some of his experiences as coach in Morgantown. They weren't exactly pleasant. I have heard rumors that Bowden has rope burn scars on his neck, he came just that close a few times. Now, his son wants the same job his papa once held. Would a faithful father encourage his son back into harm's way? My theory is that the senior Bowden may have his faith tested just like Abraham in the Good Book who set out to sacrifice his son, but the Lord called it off at the last moment.

Now, I know all of you are on pins and needles wondering who my choice for coach might be, and I'm going to tell you, so pay attention: Doc Holliday. I know Doc from some great hunting camp experiences in Preston County, which won't be detailed here. He let me join in the fun just as if I had been capable of carrying the ball for some yardage, if the lousy coaches had let me play, and he never held it against me that I didn't make the team; he treated me just like I belonged there, and I'm sure the fact that I owned the land never entered in at all.

So, what I ask of you multitude of readers, all of you an elite and respected group of people, is to contact all the many people of influence that you know, especially Milan Puskar, and tell them we want Doc Holliday as our coach.

He is a good solid West Virginian from Putnam County who served under that other coach whose name I could never get right, but is on lots of billboards. He has had good upbringing also, as his dad was a circuit judge and far from a solemn old judge, as I well know from those hunting camps just mentioned.

If you think I may be a bit fawning over Doc Holliday, you are right. He once complimented my writing and said he had even framed a copy of something I wrote, but you know how coaches lie. I hope to get an autographed football and maybe a pass near the foul line if he gets the job, which proves I can be bought rather cheaply.

(Don't hold it against him that he thinks I write good, as coaches aren't supposed to, you know, be well versed in the classics.)