“Ain’t nothin’ but a fig thing, Baaaaaaby!” Tony Alford grabbed the cup from Diaco’s hand and jammed it into the ice machine. Atop the Guglielmo Athletic Complex, on the small lawn Brian Kelly had installed for the very purpose, the Notre Dame head coach and his assistants grilled steaks and reclined into the over-stuffed blue and gold cushions over the wicker lounge chairs.
Brian Kelly, cigar in his mouth, grilling tongs in one hand and Sam Adams in the other raised the bottle and started speaking. “That was a nice win, gentlemen. To winning.”
“To winning,” the coaches repeated and drank.
“BK?” Chuck Martin asked. “You really think? Did you get a look at The Brick after the game?”
Diaco walked over and threw his arm around Martin. “What’d ya mean ‘you really think?’ That look on Jack’s face had nothing to do with the game and everything to do with that giant nut he owes BK now every year. Salud, BK.”
Again, the men raised their drinks and toasted. Kelly pushed at the edge of the sizzling steaks, turned the corn cobs and the baking potatoes. He wore a smile on his face as he thought about having achieved, in one day, the announcement of his contract extension, an opening day win and his two-hundredth victory as a head coach.
Almost on cue, Jack Swarbrick stepped onto the lawn as he silently exited the private elevator. Noticing the men starting to stand up, he waved them off. “Sit. Sit, boys. Brian, come walk with me, please.”
Kelly rolled his eyes to Tony Alford and handed him the tongs. “Jesus, Jack, you wanna go up in my tree fort extra privacy?”
Swarbrick walked past Kelly and away from the group, his voice, as was becoming his habit, a low semi-whisper.
“Brian, don’t let this contract thing set the wrong impression. We’re more than happy with many of the aspects of yesterday’s performance, but…”
Kelly interrupted him, putting his hand on Swarbrick’s shoulder, smiling wickedly. “But you and I know that if the New Orleans Saints call me, I get to go, is that it?”
Swarbrick recoiled and straightened his mussed collar. “Payton’s going nowhere and you’d never get along with Loomis, Brian.”
Kelly took a swig from his beer. “Again, Jack, what the fuck? Why did you come up here with an ass tighter than someone interviewing to be the head of ResLife? I know you didn’t get 59-9, but we weren’t exactly playing Central Fucking Michigan.”
Swarbrick shot back, hissing now. “And you have no idea the fucking pressure on me, Brian. We’ve got Gameday and all that clap-trap on Saturday, and I’m still dealing with the SEC. Clemson beating Georgia was nice, but it would have been better had TCU beaten LSU and oh! If Rice could have…”
Kelly drank again and laughed. “If Rice had won, Jack, everyone would have said A&M was still pretty much a Big 12 team.”
Swarbrick paused. “Maybe. Maybe. And we got to play a lot of our freshmen yesterday.”
Kelly joined Swarbrick at the lawn’s edge, along the topiary that hid the place from view from campus. “Jack, I know that you’re dealing with shit that I don’t even want to get paid to deal with, but would you relax and enjoy the moment for a second.” Almost on cue, a coed in yoga pants walked between buildings.
“I don’t get paid to live in the moment, Brian. My today was planned three years ago. The only reason we’re having this conversation is because I need things to happen today and Saturday that will impact where we’ll be in three years.”
Kelly glanced behind him, pleased to see Denbrock and Alford who were joking over their food. “Jack, we should have put more points on the board, but Davaris came up lame on a touchdown pass and we couldn’t kick a field goal to save our lives.”
Swarbrick nodded. “Beat Michigan, Brian.”
Kelly patted Swarbrick’s shoulder. “Fuck Michigan, Jack.” He turned and began walking back to his men, singing. “Ain’t nothin’ but a fig thing, Jackyyyy.”