I was prepared to write a 1500 word column with the week seven picks integrated, but then I witnessed a Joe Bugel-esque coaching performance by my kid’s soccer coach. I have been stewing about it all day long and thus, I only have time to explain what happened.
So, here goes. First off, Joe Bugel was a hell of a nice guy, a real charming man that the players adored. As you can imagine he was a “player’s coach”, but not just that, he was more like a buddy to his players. There was no separation between coach and player, they were essentially drinking buddies. Now no one likes to lose friends and have people dislike them, especially coach Bugel, so he went to extremes to make sure everyone loved him.
I give the Bugel background for context, if I merely wanted to point out shitty coaches, I have a plethora of choices, from Romeo Crennel to Bo Pelini to Norv Turner to Jason Garrett to Andy Reid to Scott Linehan to Mike Martz to, well, you get the picture. Bugel is different than these coaches because he didn’t want to hurt anyones feelings, he wanted his players to like him and if they like him, he thought, then they would produce for him. Trouble with that is you don’t put players in a position to fail because you want them to like you.
For the benefit of the reader here is some context around the specific soccer team, this “alleged coach” coaches. First off, they’re one of the more talented teams in the state, possibly the most talented. The team’s has one extraordinary athlete, who is a top five player in the state and two other high-end players. The remaining eight players are more than adequate “role” players. So, it is a good team, but that has not translated into wins. In fact, “the coach” has seen merely a single win on the young season.
But the team has had success this year. They lost in the finals of a very tough tournament earlier in the year. Problem is they weren’t coached by “the coach” but rather a couple non-soccer pedigreed, yet soccer knowledgeable parents. . .
Yeah, you guessed it, one of them is me. And no I never played soccer which means that I cannot be part of this exclusive “soccer guy” club. Which infuriates me, because you can be a successful football coach without ever playing the game, but soccer, if you haven’t played its like, “Oh, my, you never played? Really? Wow! He can’t be in our queer club then.” First off, “soccer coach”, the game isn’t that complicated. I mean, “oooo, wow, soccer coach did you just tell your players to execute an over-lapping run. BRILLANT!” And secondly, in my book if you’re a Gen Xer and you actually played soccer beyond like pee-wee age, it was because either a. you were too big of a pussy to play football; b. you sucked at football and couldn’t make the team or c. both. So, I guess you can say “soccer guy” has been re-born with the onset of the sport’s popularity in this country and he is pulling a Ronald McDonald Miller “now I’m popular” scam. Not buying it!
. . .Anyway, so “the coach” resents the success the parent coaches had and refuses to ask them what went well. But with another tournament looming with similar teams, this gives “the coach” a chance to prove themselves.
This, finally, brings us to the point of this over-stated rant – the Joe Bugel move. After dropping the first game of the tournament to, oh by the way a team that we have beaten soundly three times in a row, “the coach” asks a parent, “why can’t we get a win?” Not sure the parent is qualified to answer the question because they never played a minute of soccer. But nonetheless the question is asked by “the coach.” Now wouldn’t you think that if “the coach” was given the chance to win a game that they would pull out all the stops? Yeah, me too!
Well, maybe not at the expense of a player being upset with her. Fast forward to today, with a spot in the finals depending on a 3-0 win (don’t ask, it’s a screwy points system that awards a point for seemingly every time you head a ball, have a corner, etc.), “the coach” performs well leading the team to a 2-0 halftime lead.
Now raise your hand if you think a 2-0 lead is insurmountable? Hmm, no hands. That is correct, in fact, a 2-0 lead in soccer at halftime is probably the football equivalent of 14-0. We just witnessed, less than a week ago, a team come back from 24-0 at halftime. So clearly a 2-0 lead at halftime of a soccer is not insurmountable!
But let’s say it was, the team still needed to win 3-0, therefore, they still needed to push for that third goal, while tighten down the defense to allow nothing.
Since this is technically a football column, I am going to describe what happened in football terms and I will use the 2012 St. Louis Rams as my example only if they were coached by Joe Bugel:
Kicker Greg Zuerlein: “Coach Bugel, remember when you said I could get some reps at quarterback in a game? Well, please, pretty please can I go in at quarterback to start the second half?”
Coach Bugel: “Sure Gregor, not a problem!”
Missouri Running Back Marcus Murphy (requested to come up by Bugel for depth): “Coach, I haven’t played in this game yet. I am seriously considering not coming out with you for beers after this game.”
Coach Bugel: “Marcus, come on, you’re simply not ready for this level. But if it means your friendship, you start at running back in the second half.”
Coach Bugel: “OK, guys let’s keep up the good work. Here are a couple more changes – (OT) Wayne Hunter, I’ve seen you tackle on Bradford’s interception, very impressive, now let’s see if you can cover, you go to cornerback. (WR) Brandon Gibson, you go to linebacker, remember, plug the middle and make all the calls. (WR) Chris Givens, head to nose tackle, stay low, man, stay low, you’ll be fine. Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson and Chris Long, to the bench. Let’s go get’em guys!”
Yep, that’s effectively what “the coach” did today – put the three best players on the bench, started two players at forward that couldn’t score a goal if the net was empty and placed two players back on defense that had never played the position before. When I saw the lineup, I pissed myself, but before I finished the score was already tied 2-2. Then, and only then, did “the coach” decide to put the best player back in the game at their normal position (Center Mid) but no other subs.
I am sure you can guess what happened next, the best player has a run towards the potential tie-breaking goal, but one of the out of position players gets in the way, actually stealing the ball from the player and then weakly kicking it to nowheresville, which leads directly to a goal for the opposition. 3-2, bye-bye finals! Only now is everyone is back in their normal positions.
The final? 3-3, the best player, only the normal starters on the field, broke through and scored a goal to tie, but such little time remained, that is how it ended in a tie, which essentially ended all hopes of a championship this weekend!
In a life full of bad beats related to sports, I have never been more pissed off than I was today. And that my friends is the reason why you didn’t 1500 words of “why we should put David Wilson in the Hall of Fame right now.”
The “SuperContest” picks:
Dallas (-2.5) over Carolina – There aren’t many times when you can actually get value on “America’s Team”, this is one of those times.
Minnesota (-6.5) over Arizona – On Thursday, I dubbed this weekend, “Favorite’s Revenge”, though I might be tempted to change that to “Shitty Soccer Coaches Revenge.” I cannot call this Arizona team correct, but for some reason this feels like a terrible match-up for the Cards.
Cincinnati (+2.5) over Pittsburgh – I cannot pick the Bengals correctly, either, so it makes sense to make them one of my top five picks this week, right? Look, next time you go 10-4 in a week you can question my methods!
St. Louis (+5.5) over Green Bay – This is based solely on the idea that Greg Zuerlein take exactly zero snaps at quarterback.
Tampa Bay (+2.0) over New Orleans – Please, why are the Saints favored? Because they beat a team that just blew a 24 point halftime lead? Plus, they won’t have Jimmy Graham to trot out as a decoy this week because of a badly sprained vagina, ankle.
The “Rest of the Winners” picks:
Tennessee (+3.5) over Buffalo – Two bad teams, give me the points.
Indianapolis (-2.5) over Cleveland – Yeah, Cleveland is better than Indianapolis. And that second lineup “the coach” put out there today gave us the best chance to win.
NY Giants (-5.5) over Washington – If I didn’t already “survive” with the 49ers this week, this would be my survivor pick. There is way, way too much being made of the Skins owning the Giants last season.
Baltimore(+7.0) over Houston – Unless Ray Lewis’ pre-game cheer is worth four points, I don’t see how the Ravens are getting seven here. Bottom line is most defensive players are Plug and Play ready.
New England (-10.5) over NY Jets – It’s either a Jets out-right win or a Patriots swift ass-kicking. I will go with the latter.
Oakland (-6) over Jacksonville – Dumbest line of the week, but since I know “Sharps” move the line and this line moved, I am left no choice but to jump of the bandwagon.
Chicago (-6.5) over Detroit – “Favorite’s Revenge” finishes the week with a win and manages to clear .500 for the first time this year.
Colin Wynner does, in fact, call winners!