Columns » John Brummett

President, coach, pesky Internets

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You should worry about your Razorbacks. But you probably should worry more about your country.

The similarity between the president and the football coach — it’s uncanny.

Both men are embattled. Both have made total messes. Both offer excuses. Both eschew blame. Both insert single-vowel syllables into the middles of words, one to nuclear and the other to Malzahn.

Neither can well withstand transcription of their extemporaneously spoken words, either by rules of logic or subject-verb agreement.

One is losing his elder mentor at the end of the year. But the other still has Cheney.

One’s parents live in Houston. The other is called Houston — last name Nutt, middle initial D., supposedly for Dale but maybe really for Dubyah.

On Sunday some of our Stephens Media newspapers in Arkansas published something the approximate size of the New Testament. It was the transcript of a 72-minute interview with the coach, not the president. It was about how things have become thoroughly gummed up, not in Iraq, but in what they call the Razorback Nation.

There’s sectarian unrest in Razorback Nation. You have Malzahn-ites in Springdale. You have pockets of Nutt-ites and Wally-ites. You have improvised stink bombs ignited remotely by the computer send buttons of Nutt-ite radicals.

Remember those presidential debates in 2004? Bush lost the first to John Kerry when, in response to criticism of errors in Iraq, about the only thing he could think to say, time and again, was, “It’s hard. It’s hard work.”

Here was the coach as transcribed Sunday from the interview last Tuesday: “You had two young quarterback that are — it’s hard.” A couple of breaths later, he said, “You’ve got a freshman that’s seeing for the first time the speed of the game — that’s a hard situation to be put in.”

Bush speaks so clumsily that David Letterman makes him a nightly shtick. So Nutt also said, “Our best friend was our tailbacks.” And, “There is two things that happened after the USC game.”

Hard is what a sixth-grade English test might be, apparently.

Remember that second debate when Bush referred to the “Internets?” Remarkably, the coach complained in the interview about the effect on his family of “Internets.”

If these guys switched jobs, would anyone notice?

Less obvious or thorough is the likeness of John White, the UA chancellor, to another president.

White stressed to reporters Saturday that Houston’s Cheney — that’d be Frank Broyles — would not have been fired “today” if he had not announced his retirement as athletic director to the board of trustees.

What about some other day?

To “Clintonize” is to say something deliberately phrased to be narrowly precise while inviting a false broader impression.

It turns out that “Clintonizing” can be kind.

What appears to have happened is that White and a majority of the trustees had come to believe three things. One was that Broyles was ultimately responsible, and in some cases directly so, for rampant problems. The second was that the athletic department needed a less politically visible and more managerially proficient chief executive officer. The third was that Broyles did not deserve to see his 50 years of celebrated work defiled by the ignominy of forced ouster at 82.

White, the trustees and some big boosters got word to Broyles that they wanted him to retire on what would appear to be his own terms, and that he could take the rest of the year as a victory lap before getting emeritus status.

But he was made to understand that if he got his back up, he would risk that the board majority might do what it didn’t want to do.

All’s well that ends well.

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