The open comment threads here at Dawgsports during the recent College World Series were clearly a huge success, smashing previous comment records and providing an opportunity for everyone to celebrate (and ultimately commiserate) together. Thanks for making it happen, every last one of you.
The discussion of managerial fashion begun by commenter loran smith (a/k/a Watson) during Game 4 elicited some thoughtful remarks from the rest of the group on the subject. And it reminded me of something that I've noticed over the past 10 years, something which I hardly noticed at first, but which bugs me a little now.
It is this: why don't college football coaches wear a dress shirt and tie anymore on game days? I mean, I'm not the arbiter of gridiron fashion or anything. But I remember when I was a kid that Vince Dooley, Pat Dye, Bear Bryant and every other (at that time, at least) larger-than-life college coaching legend wore a by-God, choking in the heat, knotted with sweat, necktie.
I saw a piece on Sunday Morning on CBS recently by Ben Stein, who was as alarmed as I that fashion experts say the mens necktie is going the way of the dodo and the Edsel. Stein, by the way, attended junior high with Sylvester Stallone and high school with Goldie Hawn, before becoming a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. That has nothing to do with football coaching attire, but it is something you probably didn't know.
Stein pointed out that donning a necktie once signalled to others that you did not work with a shovel or a pick. It symbolized organization and class.
It is this last trait that I always associated with necktie wearing college football coaches. Coach Dooley and his cohorts were among the first generation of made-for-television college coaches, and they dressed accordingly. You got the impression that they were wearing a white dress shirt and tie because they were going to work. Taking care of business. And when the game was done, the shirt would be soaked in sweat, the tie would be askew and partially unknotted, and there would be no doubt that the ole coach would have gone out and filled in at left guard if he had to. Because he was serious about the business of football.
Subliminally, as a poor but proud youngster growing up in south Georgia, I associated neckties with a) weddings, b) funerals c) courtroom appearances and d) football games. In other words, forever in my mind, you wear a necktie whenever and whereever serious business is being transacted.
The Lesson? Serious people win National Championships.
Now, I turn on my television and see golf shirts. Golf shirts of all varieties. Even Coach Richt is not immune to the short sleeved and ventilated menace. I know, part of it is the multimillion dollar sponsorship deals with Nike and other athletic apparel manufacturers. But when I see Steve Spurrier standing around making that face that looks like he's suffering from acid reflux, I can no longer tell whether said gastrointestinal malady is occurring during a bout of bad quarterback play or immediately following a flubbed chip onto the 11th green.
Will someone please get this man a pepcid and a servicable quarterback, ASAP?
Sartorially speaking, the Evil Former Genius looks the same on the golf course as he does on the sideline coaching against his school's hated rival from the Lake Hartwell School for Kids with Alleged Family Connections in the ATM Business. And that's just not right. College football is serious business, and nobody over the age of eleven ever really looks serious in a windbreaker. Unless I suppose it's a black windbreaker.
Admittedly there are exceptions to every rule . . .
When did college football coaches throw off the mortal coil of the necktie? When did it become cool to actually stay cool on a football Saturday in the South? I'm not certain of the exact date, but I think either Ray Goff or Terry Bowden is to blame. At least that's who I'm blaming. You may excoriate Gene Stallings or Danny Ford if you feel so inclined.
But I for one would love to see coaches go back to the buttoned down look. I think it might be an effective "throwback" motivational tactic for a coach, an exceptional alternative to overplayed white-outs, green-outs and fuscia-outs. I think that today's football players, accustomed to seeing their coaches dressed like they're about to run to Home Depot to pick out carpet, would get the serious message that the old-school coaching attire conveyed. Who's with me?