“When criticizing a Catholic institution, be sure to troop out quaint stereotypes so that your comments contain vague accusations of sacrilege or apostasy, and the humorous implication that its leaders are, in fact, just bad Catholics.” At least that’s what I presume is written in the general press conference guidelines down at Arizona State. Or maybe the athletic director has one of those desk calendars that gives a new piece of advice for every day of the year. But if that’s the case, he really should have checked the calendar for October, where on the fifth day of the month it is written, “If you mess with the Golden Calf, you get the horns.”
It seems that we’ve had to cancel an athletic engagement with Arizona State because we’re joining our new conference. The same thing happened to Michigan, whose athletic director was quite literally served with papers right before last season’s game… “When criticizing a Catholic lawyer, be sure…” To Michigan’s credit (which is fleeting and flimsy at best) their official statement simply said that the Wolverines may not want, nor ever again have time in its schedule, to play the Irish. No need to worry – they’ve thrown the 30-odd-year tantrum before.
All this for a conference? And one in which we aren’t playing football? Well, we’re playing some football, but not officially playing all our football… “When conference affiliations are negotiated by a Catholic lawyer…venial and mortal games…never on Friday…” With so much spleen being vented by those we’re leaving behind, one must wonder what sort of friends and neighbors we’ll have once we’ve moved to Atlantis. Why not give our conference the name of a mythical geographic location, since geographic designations have become really quite mythical in conference names? And so here is my impression of our new Atlantean opponents:
University of Maryland – We’ll get them out of the way first, since they’re getting out of the conference. I like the name of the state; I might have named my University Mary Land, had it not already been taken. I like the Catholic history of the state. I like that their mascot has the fine Latin name “Testudo.” But I can’t say I like their judgment, since they’re moving to a conference whose Latin name would best be rendered “Naufragio” – shipwreck.
Wake Forest University – We were just introduced to these fine Southern gentlemen this past season. Wake Forest sounds like the name of a country club – and this one admits Catholics. They play football like the play golf: stately pace, no rush, light contact, no rude remarks, nothing unsportsmanlike, and complimentary baked goods when it’s all over.
North Carolina State University – Professor-Emeritus Holtz used to coach the football team here, so they can’t be all bad. Of course, I don’t think he held a professorship at that point in his career…because I’m not sure N.C. State has professors per se.
Clemson University – They have a rock named Howard. Their stadium is called something like “The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” which is nice and Biblical. I think they have a tiger. But I know their players can take a punch.
Syracuse University – For a brief period, we had that portly man who didn’t understand that a football team must also play defense if it desires to win; nor did he understand that a team cannot lose half of its games and still make the playoffs as a wildcard…because we don’t have wildcards or playoffs. Before him there was that other fellow who wasn’t any good either. Suffice it to say, Syracuse was a problem then – they will not be a problem now.
University of North Carolina – We’ve played them 18 times. We’ve lost twice. Please refer back to the discussion of the portly man who didn’t do defense or winning.
Duke University – As long as the ball is pointed at both ends and not round, I have no problem playing them.
University of Virginia – I didn’t know they played football.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – What a cool name.
Georgia Institute of Technology – They’re engineers, so you might think they wouldn’t be much trouble – like Purdue. And in fact, they really aren’t much trouble…on the field. Their fans’ behavior is another matter entirely. They like to throw fish at us. Once again, “When insulting a Catholic institution…” Yes, we eat fish on Fridays. And the Georgia Tech wrecks also like to throw booze bottles at us…Touché, Yellow Jackets.
University of Pittsburgh – The bottomless Pitt. The games go on forever and we apparently can’t escape playing them.
Florida State University – This one feels unpleasantly like an incipient USC. The Seminoles are usually a challenge and their fans are so very crass. Also just like the Trojans, they have a gelding for a mascot – and he rides a horse, too.
State Penitentiary University of Miami – Really? Meeting Miami once in a while is fine, but getting into the pool with them can only lead to us having to towel off a nasty slick that clings. Yes, we’re Catholic – we believe in forgiveness of sins. But there has to be penance first. For the Hurricanes’ own good, we’ll penance them hard.
So, on balance, it’s not a bad group of football opponents. And moving to Atlantis will be good for basketball and all our myriad athletic teams. There are a couple of unsavory characters in the bunch, but every conference has its skunks at the family picnic. Still, I feel as though I’m forgetting someone or something. But I’ve gone through all the universities and institutes of technology. Whatever could I have left out…oh, that’s right…
Boston College – I’d make a nun joke or a snide fish-eaters comment, but those are only humorous when ridiculing a Catholic institution.