Thanksgiving Weekend Restores Faith in 3 Sports Truths


By J. Frank Parnell

My faith was disintegrating. Truths I knew to be eternal were showing their age. I was this close to capitulation.

But everything came back into focus during Thanksgiving weekend. This was the trilogy I knew to be rock-solid:

1. The University of Alabama is the most powerful football program in the Southeastern Conference.

Yes, I was beginning to doubt, especially during Saturday night’s Iron Bowl. I almost gave in. I heard distant voices saying, “Gus is the messiah. Gus is good. Gus is going to shock Nick again.”

But I knew better, and I was right. Everything was as it was meant to be when it was over. Nick’s statue still stood outside Bryant-Denny Stadium, and he stands to make more than $7 million this season if the ball keeps bouncing his way.

2. No matter how many games the Mississippi State University Bulldogs win, they’re still the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.

I was about to become a believer in Dan Mullen, the cowbells, the family thing and all that. Then I remembered: Murphy’s Law should be called Bulldogs’ Law. If they were 13-0 and playing in the national championship game with 10 seconds left and a three-touchdown lead, they would find a way to wake up from the dream and let it all evaporate. Sort of like they did at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday, against a team that was shut out a week earlier. And Mullen put the cherry on top after the game in true never-say-die Bulldogs fashion: “I didn’t think we were getting in the playoff anyway.”

3. Bobby Petrino is a jerk.

This truth is right up there with taxes and death, yet I was opening my heart. Petrino was given a second chance and the University of Louisville Cardinals were making headway. They beat their rivals, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, Saturday to finish the regular season 9-3. They’ll go to a good bowl.

It looked to me like Bobby was mellowing. Maybe the Arkansas scandal was behind him. Maybe he saw the folly in jawing with coaches before and after games, and maybe he was beginning to rub a little tarnish off his reputation.

But the truth was reaffirmed. There he was, clear as day, with his hands gripping the collar of Daniel Berezowitz, Kentucky’s director of football recruiting operations, before the game. Petrino was scowling and yelling into another man’s face. No respect, no shame. He couldn’t even bring himself to apologize when given the chance after the game to address the scuffle among players and coaches:

“Yeah, that was unfortunate. That’s nothing that I like to see, nothing that belongs here. . . . I don’t even really remember all of the instances that went on out there. Way too many than there should have been.”

I wonder if he remembers motorcycle rides through the Ozarks.

thanksgiving weekend

Courtesy of @KYKernel