Previous TALES are found here: Tale #1, Tale #2, Tale #3, Tale #4, Tale #5, Tale #6, Tale #7, Tale #8, Tale #9, Tale #10, Tale #11, Tale #12, Tale #13, Tale #14, Tale #15, Tale #16, Tale #17,Tale #18.
The Fighting Whities Redux
"Mr. Bythewood, this is unacceptable. The proposed Constitution is unconstitutional! They can't just exclude women and other people from voting. It's crazy. Who would go for that? It's . . . it's unchristian, too. It doesn't make any sense! You can't treat us, women, like that. It's totally unjust, unfair. It's plain evil!" Janet Gaines said.
"Perhaps, but it is rational. And is it really unfair?" the professor replied.
"How can it not be? You can't treat people differently like this."
"People are different, though. Men and women are very different, but here's your assignment, Miss Gaines. For next Wednesday, I want you to argue in favor of the voting provision using the most rational and thoughtful arguments that have been made. Who would like to argue against the provision in the proposed constitution?" he asked looking around the classroom. A hand shyly arose from Emily Welby.
"Miss Welby it is, then. Best arguments, please. Winner gets extra credit as usual."
The topic moved on to another part of the new constitution regarding taxation.
After class, Janet, a tall, attractive girl with dark hair walked towards the student union with Kevin, her boyfriend. They were both sophomores fulfilling prerequisite courses.
It was cold in Maccabee, Wyoming though they'd yet to see any snow even though it was late November. There were a number of fireplaces in the student union for students to sit around and relax between classes. It always felt good to come out of the cold and warm up by the hearths.
The cold made Kevin miss Palo Alto, California, though. His one year at Stanford had spoiled him regarding weather and climate.
"Can you believe that?" Janet told him as they undid their scarves, unzipped their coats, and sat down on a couch near a fire.
Kevin shrugged. "I've had to do it. Now it's your turn."
Mr. Bythewood often responded to questions or challenges raised by students by then assigning them the job of answering the question or challenge themselves for the benefit of the entire class. That meant a conscientious student would have to spend extra time in the library or online researching the topic as thoroughly as they could, and then have to present carefully reasoned arguments for or against. Students were put on the spot. Janet cringed when a student did a lousy job. It seemed some people didn't care if others thought they were dumb, but not to Janet. She was always ready to prove just how smart she was and accept the laurels due her for brains and diligence.
"I'm right, aren't I? What do you think?"
Kevin didn't want to be drawn into an argument or quarrel with her. "I don't know. Let's see what the arguments are and I'll make up my mind. Hope the other girl persuades me, if you like, but you better not throw the debate."
"How can I? I have to take the position of male chauvinist pigs and win. Grrr. I hate it."
"Good thing you're not pre-law, I s'pose," he laughed.
Kevin felt that he lucked out with Janet. She was tall, five ten, for one thing, which he preferred since he was six four; and she was intelligent, probably smarter than himself, he thought, and that beat all the silly, bouncy cheerleader types who usually were attracted to him, the football hero. And right now the Wyoming Christian College Crusaders were tearing up the Mountain West conference. It was the twelfth week of the college season and they were undefeated (11 - 0), but only ranked seventh in the BCS standings.
Fans and sportswriters gave Kevin a good deal of the credit for the surge of the Crusaders into the top ten and sudden national attention, but he thought their quarterback and offensive coordinator deserved the accolades. Their strategy was relatively simple in game plans. The first two or three series they ran the ball with Kevin as the main back. If they weren't moving down the field or breaking runs into the seven to twelve yard range here and there, they shifted to passing with a variety of crossing patterns and screen plays. Here Kevin got the chance to break into the open field. He had great hands, but when the ball was dropped into him in stride, he punished safeties and cornerbacks.
The threat of passes to him held linebackers in close, which opened up the pass farther in the middle field. Their offense was superbly balanced in threats to score, and for that, Kevin had to thank Brett Allard, the senior quarterback who every major college had thought too small for the position. But he wasn't any smaller than Joe Montana or Fran Tarkenton who had been NFL legends.
Brett had pinpoint accuracy, and like Montana, had the uncanny ability to hit dump off receivers like Kevin Worley in perfect stride. The major drawback was vision of the field in the pocket, and finding the passing lanes where the ball wasn't blocked by the rushing defensemen in timing patterns. That had made him more prone to interceptions in the prior two years, but he'd improved each year. Sixteen interceptions his sophomore year, 12 as a junior, and thus far, 9.
Brett could scramble, though, and once away from the rush, he hadn't thrown a single pick, as they call it.
Kevin had originally signed a letter of intent to play at Stanford, but when he got there in the summer to start training, he was told they wanted to redshirt him. That meant sitting out a year while retaining eligibility for four years, which meant five years at college. And that made no sense to him.
It was explained to him that redshirting was to his advantage. He wouldn't have to ride the bench behind their current fullback who was expected to play for two more years. He would be more physically mature by having an extra year to train.
"Well, how do you know I won't be ready in a year to be the starting fullback?" he asked the backfield coach.
"Jackson has earned the position. He's the best we have right now."
"But you haven't seen what I can do; if not this year then the next. What if I'm better? Would that get me the starting position?"
"Look, Kevin, we have a system in place on how we develop players. You have to trust that we know what we're doing. We have a winning program here," the coach told him.
"But what if I'm better sooner rather than later? Shouldn't I get the start?"
"We'd have to see about that. There's a lot to learn before it comes to that," the coach replied.
"Okay, well, how about if we see at the end of summer training. Let's see how I stack up against the others. I mean, I'll know same as you if the other fullbacks are better than me and by how much, right?"
"Aaaah the problem is that we have to declare our redshirts according to NCAA rules before that. That's why we're talking now. We declare in July."
"Can I think about it, coach?"
"Take a few days," the coach said and patted him on the shoulder, but when he left the locker room, he was seething. Damn kid telling us how to do our job? I don't think so. He headed out to see the head coach, John Lee, and tell him they might have a problem child on their hands.
Over the next few days at practice, he could see that Jackson seemed a bit better than him, but not the other fullbacks, and the difference he saw between himself and Jackson was that he clearly knew the offense better. How could he not? But Kevin had better hands, and so it seemed to him that he should second on the depth chart behind Jackson, and not warming his fanny for a year.
He talked it over with is dad, but was advised caution: go along to get along. Everything was in the Coach's hands like a Captain of a ship. Piss him off and kiss the NFL goodbye, maybe.
"No, dad, I think they should worry about pissing me off. I don't have to stay here. I can transfer if I have to. I think that Wyoming college might still want me."
"Who knows how pissed off they might be since you went with Stanford?"
"Maybe so, but I'll bet they take me anyway. They said I was the best and they meant it," he said making up his mind what he wanted to do if he had to.
Grimes, the backfield coach, came up to him after a few days and asked him for a decision.
"Coach, I've been thinking hard about it, but I don't want to be here five years. I'll pass on that redshirt."
Grimes merely nodded his head. No point in saying anything since John Lee would have to do all the talking now.
After practice that afternoon, the head coach approached him and said, "Kevin, I'd like to see you in my office after you shower." He walked off leaving Kevin with that sinking feeling of being in deep trouble.
When he got to Lee's office, a very sumptuous space, Grimes was also there seated on a couch, arms spread out along the top of it. John Lee sat behind his fine, broad desk in a padded, black leather chair that could recline and roll.
"Have a seat, Kevin," he said nodding at a chair similar to his own before the desk. He hadn't stood when Kevin entered the room, as neither had Grimes.
As Kevin sat down and faced him, Lee said, while rocking a bit in his seat, "I'm told you don't want to redshirt this year. Why is that?"
Kevin reiterated the objections he'd made with Grimes, and then added, "Coach, I've been paying careful attention to my competition and the only player I can see calling better than me is Jackson. He's a bit stronger, we're about the same speed and quickness, but I've got better hands."
He held his up as if to illustrate how large and dexterous they were.
"So it seems to me that I ought to be in line behind him and maybe next year challenge for the position. Is that out of line? Am I overstating my ability?"
"I like a boy with confidence, son. That's one of the things we look for in our players, but the fact is you're telling me how to do my job, and that's overstepping things."
The problem he couldn't explain to Kevin was that if he beeame better than Jackson, by a little or by a lot, and sat Jackson down his senior year to start Worley, the ramifications it would have on the team. For one thing, it would just about destroy Jackson's chance of being drafted by the pro's. Then it would send a message to all the black players on the team that the coach had no loyalty towards them, and that would create tension in the locker room. The black players would grouse, start fights in practice, and ignore the coach's instructions or corrections. God knows it could spill out onto the campus and town where some players might beat up and rob some whites or talk a blonde coed into visiting their rooms ending up molested or raped. It had happened before with black players. Often, in fact. Stanford was as careful as it could be in evaluating black players but when the blacks numbered more than a few, things got dicey. Almost half of John Lee's team was black. That's why they had Grimes and other black coaches. To handle their own kind. But he couldn't tell Kevin that.
"You brought me here to play coach, and I want to play like you wouldn't believe, and what I'm seeing on the practice field you're seeing, too. I'm good. Maybe almost good enough to start."
"You have a lot of potential, son. There's no doubt of that, but besides your wants and the overall good of the team, it'll help us quite a bit if you redshirt this year. How about it?" he ended, leaning forward on to his desk, eyes fixed on Kevin's.
For a nineteen year old, he experienced pressure like he'd never felt before. John Lee's eye bore into him like God, and he could feel Grimes' lasering him from the side. He swallowed hard and said, "I'm sorry, coach, but I'm here to play."
Lee frowned deeply, sat back into his chair. "That's all for now, Kevin. You can get back to the dorm."
"Yes sir," he said rising, leaving, and closing the door behind him. He felt relieved away from John Lee's presence, but he knew he was going to pay for his decision somehow.
The coaches became cool towards him. Nothing overt was said or done especially to wound him, but their coolness communicated a message to his teammates -- he was selfish and wouldn't sacrifice for the team. It made him a pariah among many of his peers, but not all. Athletes are not necessarily dumb, and a few could be quite cynical about the men who run the game. They were there to get what they could out of their ability, and winning was fun, but many coaches are asses and jerks. They'd seen it since grammar school.
Kevin was able to make a few friends on the team, and he had his dad contact the head coach of Wyoming Christian College about transferring there.
"Do we still want that fullback from Rhode Island?" Colson asked his backfield coach, Jake Swinner, after he entered the office.
"That, uh, Worley kid? I suppose so. Why?"
"I got a call from his father. Seems that Worley isn't happy at Stanford. They wanted to redshirt him and he objected. Also appears that he noticed he was good enough for second string, at least. He wants to transfer here."
"I'll take him."
Colson shook his head. "Not if he has to sit out for a year. I need him now. Allard's a junior. I want them both for his senior year. That's our best shot at the conference title, I think."
"Well, the rules say he can transfer and play if there's a hardship. A lot of black players have pulled that one and gotten out of one school for another."
"You think Worley's mother might have heart trouble and he needs to be closer to home since he's from a poor family?" the head coach smiled.
"Yeah, well, it's a funny thing about heart trouble in women. Different parameters, not always so obvious."
"You think the Worleys would go for that?"
"They called you. They want in."
"Can we find a doctor? The NCAA may want some proof of hardship," Colson wondered.
"I say we get the parents the most extensive medical exams they've ever had in their lives. Everybody past a certain age has some kind of ailment that might be said to be debilitating, right?"
"Are we going to pray there's something wrong with their health?"
Swinner laughed. "No, but I think they might do so, God bless 'em. They want their kid to have a better chance."
"Okay. That's what we'll do."
The medical examinations for Kevin's parents turned out to be a two-fer. Both had conditions. The mother had a degenerating hip that would need replacing in the future, and the father showed signs of heart disease. The staff for the Crusaders were able to emphasize the medical problems and demonstrate the poverty of the family in order to plead with the NCAA officials that Kevin needed to be closer to home to cut down on the cost of air travel.
Tom Colson spent a few hours on the phone with the NCAA trying to schmooze and cajole. It was a delicate fence he had to straddle. He couldn't complain about the ease in which black players got exceptions for transfers and insist a white kid deserved the same break, but if he mentioned a few black players names and could throw in one white player who'd gotten an exemption, he might persuade with the right amount of coaxing and ass kissing.
The Crusaders lucked out, though. They weren't considered a top tier team and wouldn't be as scrutinized by the media if say, Alabama poached a player from LSU. That would raise a major hue and cry. Stanford might moan, but they'd get a scholarship back to use on someone else, and they had no intention of ever playing Worley or wanting him around polluting the practice field as team pariah.
That's how Kevin came to WCC and was able to start his second year.