'Tis the season to be jolly, and, here in the U.S., watch football games, especially college bowl games. Every year more of them appear on our screens. With the media talent pool stretched thin, two seldom used TV sportscasters are given the assignment of covering the newest, most obscure, least important bowl game.
“Hello sports fans. This is Greg Gumball coming to you from fabled Waterproof Stadium in the heart of beautiful Dry Prong, Louisiana. This hallowed old structure is the picturesque setting for this year’s first annual No Hope Enterprises Motivational Bowl.
“Today’s game will pit the always tough Fighting Snipes from the Sam Houston Institute of Technology, led by head coach Jimmy Bob White, against coach Thomas ‘Gimmie’ Moore and his formidable Jackalopes from Southern Oklahoma Baptist.
“Both teams come into the game with impressive records. Sam Houston was 6-5-1 against community junior colleges while Southern Oklahoma went 7-5 against the point spread run at Rick’s Redneck Retreat.
“We’ll be getting insightful analysis of today’s eagerly anticipated game from our color commentator, the one-time special teams specialist and all-district honorable mention from Middlebrow High School, Allan Michael.”
“Thank you, Greg Gumball, and hello to football fans everywhere. This should be a real battle between teams with contrasting styles. The Jackalopes of Southern Oklahoma feature a ball-control offense built around the talents of team’s 5’4”, 145 pound, senior running back, Cedrick ‘Say What?’ Sullivan.
“Operating out of coach Gimmie Moore's famed Broken Bone formation, the diminutive Sullivan has pounded out almost six-hundred yards in four seasons with the Jackalopes. No doubt Say What? would have racked up even better stats had he not been wracked up by a series of painful, crippling injuries while running up the middle in his first three seasons.
“This year, he’s begun to improvise, running a lot of end sweeps. But these sweeps are so wide he goes out of bounds on almost every carry. Sometimes a really quick defensive back can catch him first, but Say What? has been running with a real sense of urgency this season.
“While the Jackalopes run, the Snipes fly. Quarterback Rod ‘The Reel Thing’ Coker, who passed for over 1200 yards this season, leads the offense. Unfortunately, about half of those yards came on interception returns. But when he's hot, he's hot.
“You know, Greg Gumball, everybody’s talking about Reel Thing's favorite target, split-end Tyrone, ‘Spear Catcher’ Jones. Although Jones isn’t blessed with blazing speed, he makes up for it by running erratic, broken pass routes, leaving defensive backs bewildered and out of position.”
“That's great, Allan Michael. It sounds like this game's got all the makings for a great offensive shoot-out.”
“You could be right, Greg Gumball. But both teams have defensive units which could play significant roles in the game's outcome.
“The Sam Houston Institute of Technology Snipes have one of the biggest defensive lines I've ever seen. Anchored by 5'7" 353 pound nose tackle, Buford ‘The Blob’ Grossman, the Snipes' defensive linemen are simply awesome. But despite that incredible size, they're unusually slow.
“That combination should make it hard for the undersized Jackalope offensive linemen to execute any of their favorite weapons, such as leg-whips and holding. And since the Snipes use either five or seven down linemen with outside linebackers who often act like defensive ends, the Jackalope's elusive running back Cedrick ‘Say What?’ Sullivan may spend a lot of time heading for the sidelines.
“Southern Oklahoma Baptist counters with a defensive unit that features some of the wildest linebackers in the business. The leader of the group is 6'2" 167 pound senior, Anthony ‘Nasty’ Nasturtium.
“I tell you, Greg Gumball, those guys are just plain mean. According to defensive coordinator Sam ‘The Body’ Breaker, they don't rely on any traditional defensive schemes. Instead, they just hang around and clobber anyone who happens to come nearby. In a recent game, they managed to cripple three members of the school’s marching band who hung around a bit too long after half-time, a couple near-sighted game officials, and a little old lady who’d made a wrong turn while trying to find the restroom.”
“Sounds to me, Allan Michael, like that could spell trouble for the Snipes' great pass receiver, Spear Catcher Jones.”
“That's right, Greg Gumball. Despite rumors to the contrary, Jackalope defenders aren't stupid. They do know the difference between playing tough defense, roughing the passer, personal fouls, and manslaughter. Now whether they care about those differences, well, who knows?”
“How's the kicking game, Allan Michael?”
“You know how it is, Greg Gumball, all kickers are a little strange. Well, so is the kicking game for both teams.”
“That's great, Allan Michael. Fans, we'll be right back for the kickoff after this pause for commercials, public-service announcements, station breaks, and dead air.”
“This dump’s falling apart, Gumball. Can somebody fix that draft? I'm freezing my buns.”
“Me, too. Hey, what about some coffee over here?”
“Who picked these teams anyway, the humane society?”
“Nah, the bowl committee. They’re all former International Olympic Committee members. For them it was an easy choice. These were the only schools willing to pay the price needed to get an invitation. By the way, Cedrick Sullivan pronounces his first name SEED-rick, not SAID-rick.”
“Who gives a flying buffalo chip?”
“You do, if you don't want to go back to calling Middlebrow Junior High games. Hang loose, we're going back on the air.
“This is Greg Gumball, welcome back to Waterproof Stadium and the first annual No Hope Enterprises Motivational Bowl. Any last second comments before the kickoff, Allan Michael?”
“Just this Greg Gumball. Fans should pay close attention to my main man, Southern Oklahoma Baptist running back SEED-rick ‘Say What’ Sullivan. If he starts turning up-field before running out of bounds, SEED-rick could have a real impact on….“
Once upon a time, Rumple deWriter, was a more-or-less semi-reputable Louisiana sports columnist. Now living in Texas, he’s sunk to being a short story writer and author of unpublished novels. His wife, kids and perpetually shedding dogs try to ignore this fall from grace.