Thursday, April 26, 2012

It Feels Doggone Good Being Right

Have you ever told someone in a position of authority something you knew to be true, but they just wouldn’t listen to you?

When I was a kid, I was riding in a pickup truck with a friend of mine. His dad was driving. Their dog was running around in the back. I noticed the dog popping up on his hind legs as if he were about to jump from the truck.

“Your dog is about to jump out of the truck,” I warned my friend’s father.

“No, he won’t,” the father replied dismissively.

I sat in the cab transfixed, unable to divert my eyes from the impending disaster.  Finally, the dog jumped right out of the moving vehicle, just as I said he would. I had mixed feelings. Of course, I didn’t want the dog to get injured. (We retrieved him unhurt a short time later). But it sure felt doggone good being right.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arkansas Administration Proves Praise Worthy

Recently I’ve heard some sports commentators contend that the University of Arkansas is getting too much credit for its handling of the Bobby Petrino affair. Arkansas fired the ultra-successful head football coach for covering up the circumstances surrounding his motorcycle crash and hiring his mistress to work for him. His offenses were so egregious, critics say, that the administration really had no choice but to fire him. As a long-time follower of college athletics, I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth.

The history of college athletics is littered with administrators who were more than happy to look the other way to any number of transgressions as long as their coaches were winning. In fact, I have to look no further than my own favorite college team -- Petrino’s former employer, the University of Louisville, for an example.

Faced with a similar situation involving basketball coach Rick Pitino’s affair, U of L rallied behind its coach. They gave him their unwavering support, while the Cardinals’ fan base demonized Pitino’s accuser. She ended up behind bars for blackmail, while Pitino basked in glory of taking his team to the Final Four.

Some people will tell you these two situations aren’t analogous. They argue that Petrino abused university resources and Pitino did not. But it was one of Pitino’s employees who married his dalliance when things got messy.

U of L is just one example. There are plenty more. Right up the road, Indiana University put up with Bobby Knight’s boorish behavior for decades as long as he was winning. It was only when The General lost his mojo that it finally caught up with him.

That’s why Arkansas’s actions are so commendable. Petrino was winning big there, marking a run at the national championship last year. He was expected to field another good team this year. His firing sets back the program with precious little time to recover. So let’s not minimize the Arkansas administration’s actions. My only criticism is that they ever hired a guy like Petrino to begin with, especially given his past antics.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crying Over Spilled Diet Coke

You can identify smokers not only by the smoke and the smell, but by other telltale signs, including nicotine stains and accidental burns on their belongings. Although I don’t smoke, I carry plenty of reminders of my addiction, too.

My stains are not from cigarettes; they’re from Diet Cokes. And they are not just unattractive. They can be sticky to boot.

I’ve made no secret of my love affair with Diet Cokes. I drink Diet Cokes like a person with a kidney infection drinks water. My favorites, by far, are fountain Diet Cokes. I love nearly everything about fountain Diet Cokes … the round ice, the long straw and the insulated cup that stays cold for hours. I even have a mental GPS of all gas stations in two states where I can get a giant fountain Diet Coke for less than a buck.

I’ve mastered nearly everything about the fountain Diet Coke, except one: the lid. Lids confound me. They never fit the cup. Every time I buy a fountain Diet Coke, whether at a gas station or a fast food restaurant, the lid is askew and poised to pop off like a button on Homer Simpson’s pants. It doesn’t even matter whether I put the lid on or someone else does the honors. It’s always teetering on the edge of disaster.

Engineers can design computers the size of postage stamps, but can’t seem to design a snug lid. Perhaps it’s too much to ask for 89 cents. As a result, I spend almost as much time spilling fountain Diet Cokes as I do drinking them. The evidence is everywhere, including drink holders, rugs, shirts, pants and even keyboards.

If you get too close to me, then I’m likely to spill one on you, too. So beware of the dangers of second-hand sipping.