clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Alphabetical, Week 5: You don't need a plan to fire a man at the airport

New, comments

Bret Bielema's head will leave a crater, Alabama has applied its 60-minute arm bar, and Paul Pasqualoni is still staring at you.

Christian Petersen

Avenged Sevenfold. Lane Kiffin was fired in an airport parking lot, and Paul Pasqualoni was probably just dropped off at a local bus station to fend for himself. It is September, and college football is already firing people. That is not what is important right now. What is important is one man, alone in the rain, keeping the demons at bay in the midst of a 55-17 throttling of his team by Stanford.

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." That's a quote dropped in the lyrics of "Bat Country" by Avenged Sevenfold, referencing Hunter S. Thompson's reference to a Samuel Johnson's quote about one solution to life's agonies. It is also this Washington State fan, stuck in the rain in a hopeless downpour of points and cold water from the heavens, dulling the pain of his existence with popcorn and quite possibly a flask or two of fierce firewater somewhere on his person. He now joins the Pained Red Raider Fan as co-consul ruling all of fandom. He understands what love means: devotion unto unto death or Seattle, whichever comes first.

Big Balls Lane.

"Raoul’s idea of a tender love scene is to burn down a whorehouse." -- Jack Warner

USC once fired John Robinson by answering machine, so in comparison firing Lane Kiffin in the parking lot of LAX counts as tender handling by the Trojans' administration. Lane Kiffin was 4-7 in his last 11 games as USC head coach. He was unable to find a defensive solution in the very short time afforded him, or at least one capable of preventing Arizona State from putting 62 points on them in Tempe. His recruiting was dragging. His sole value as a coach for the neutral observer was his obvious detachment from the situation on the sidelines and the occasional bemusement at his often brilliant and erratic playcalling. (For example, taking Marqise Lee out of formations when USC got into the endzone, but leaving him in to return punts.)

There was also the time he dressed as a giant condom during a 2011 game with Oregon.


California. Example of his perpetual doofness: his turn this past weekend as a troubled young coach in a scene found on the editing floor of some long-lost episode of The O.C.

COACH KIFFIN enters. He is lit by the dawn sun as he walks the beach. Thoughts trouble his mind as the wind tousles his hair. A dog walks with him. He picks up a stick and throws it into the ocean. The dog waits, hesitating. COACH KIFFIN urges him in.

KIFFIN: Go on, boy! Go on!

The dog bounds in. A shark surfaces. It attacks the dog. COACH KIFFIN walks away. A RANDOM BYSTANDER yells at him.

BYSTANDER: Aren't you going to get your dog? He needs help!

KIFFIN: That's not my dog.


Devilment. A lot of speculation focused on precisely what finally prodded Pat Haden into firing Kiffin: the beatdown at the hands of a team USC beat for a decade straight, the injury to Lee, the 28-point third quarter in which the Sun Devils had the ball for a bit over three minutes and scored four times.

It was during that third quarter that Pat Haden reportedly summoned the principals involved to the ASU visitors' locker room and decided that Kiffin was done, and if not on the spot, then as soon as they could get him to a place where he could get a reasonable ride home. That doesn't seem like an exact execution of a well-thought-out plan. It seems like someone tired of seeing the same car crash over and over again. It seems like someone who, after working with Lane Kiffin, just really, really wanted to fire Lane Kiffin.

Executive Theory. Figuring that part out is a matter of post facto justifications for what was probably an emotional decision more than anything else. Lane Kiffin's hallmark as USC's coach had become not just the occasional disaster, but the variety of those disasters: the helpless struggle of the Stanford game last year, the blowout loss to Oregon in 2012, and maybe most damning of all, the 21-7 fiasco at the border in El Paso in the Sun Bowl where something like a fight happened in the locker room and something definitely like a loss to a middling ACC team happened on the field.

And that's just last year, before we get to Wazzu winning a game with 10 points on the board in Los Angeles while fans openly called for Kiffin's head. Before whatever that was Saturday night. It's not like USC didn't have reasons for firing Kiffin. I just don't know if reasons had anything to do with the timing. You certainly don't fire someone in a parking lot as part of any plan, or at least any plan that does not involve an insane amount of spite from one party to the next. That's not in any management book we know of; then again, neither is leaving a termination notice on an answering machine, or hiring someone whose chief résumé line is "seems to elicit particularly bitter terminations by employers."

Fidus Achates. A best friend. This is Utah State's:

His name is Steve Wiley, though he goes by the nickname "Nightrunner" for reasons you probably don't want to know. He used his own truck to pull the Utah State equipment van at one point. He is a better fan than you will ever be, and his mullet is like flowing elvish gold falling from the wellspring of his magnificent skull. Utah State beat San Jose State easily this weekend, and yes, Chuckie Keeton did attempt to complete a pass while missing a shoe again, because that's kind of his trademark at this point.

Guard. Georgia Tech only ran for 129 yards against the Hokies and had more passing yards than ground gains against the Virginia Tech defense. If you see Paul Johnson openly weeping on a streetcorner in Midtown Atlanta and drinking furniture varnish from a paper bag, know that this is just how he copes. After a few days grieving outdoors, he'll snap back and be at work by Tuesday like always. (You know this is fiction because it involves Paul Johnson being capable of tears.)

HOLD PLEASE. Don't fire Willie Taggart yet, even if USF is exploring the depths of negative achievement.

Punting a ball two yards comes all the way around from "error" and goes into "could you even punt a ball straight up in the air if you tried, and if so could you shank it directionally, and not just pop it up overhead?" Bad football has its own grandeur, and USF's 2013 season is a Taj Mahal of it, built of only the sturdiest shanks, interceptions, turnovers, and blown assignments.

It would be unfair to point out this was one of seven punts on the day for USF, while Baylor has punted all of seven times in the 2013 season. Fair happens twice a year, and this ain't one of those days, USF.

Incognito. Aaron Murray could walk around unrecognized for a shocking amount of time at most SEC campuses, which is really weird for someone entering the late prime of his career as Georgia's best passer since David Greene and as the winner of the latest defense-free SEC shootout in Saturday's 44-41 win over LSU. Murray is about to pass Greene, the all-time leader in SEC passing yards, and take away the answer to the question you would win a lot of free beer in bar bets with: "Who is the all-time leader in SEC passing yards?" (No seriously, it's still David Greene, for the moment.)

Japes. A practical joke, like the one you can play by showing someone the all-time SEC passing leaders, then insisting the quality of quarterback is just as high as anywhere else in any conference. Casey Clausen is ninth! That's not good!

Knightro. The helmeted mascot of UCF, a school that -- judging by its school commercial -- is a very large skate park in Orlando built around an attractive fountain. It also has a football team that continued the SEC's nasty stumble through non-conference games by pressing the Gamecocks to the brink in a 28-25 victory, forcing Steve Spurrier to do his least favorite thing in the world to survive: running the ball, which he did 24 times in the second half out of the I-formation with Mike Davis. Old age is hell.

Leglock. To explain exactly why 25-0 is the most Ole Miss/Alabama score possible:

  • Twenty-five means you might've racked up points on defense, which Alabama did with a safety. The safety is the most Alabama play because it bypasses the pesky offense altogether and allows the defense to take over the vulgar act of scoring points away from them fancyboys on offense. The ideal Alabama football game involves the tasteful scoring of a single touchdown or field goal (preferably) on the opening possession, and then the slow running of the clock for the remainder of the game in between defensive possessions.
  • Per the Book of Bryant, Alabama scored its first nine points with three field goals.
  • Zero points allowed by Alabama means the Tide allowed Ole Miss's offense to do nothing they wanted to do, making them cry with their arms pinned behind their backs.
  • The combination of the two scores made for excruciating viewing and almost no real action on the field, reducing the game to a quarter and a half of actual competition followed by a long montage of Ole Miss being crushed by heavy objects.
  • None of this happened quickly, because football is supposed to be plate tectonics, not godless basketball.
  • This is all Alabama has ever wanted from any football game. It's why Nick Saban is the most Alabama coach of all time.
  • Ole Miss suffered heartbreak after the success of beating Texas and the raised expectations that followed, which is all perfectly in character, too.

Thus, 25-0 is the perfect Ole Miss v. Alabama score, a sign that things are snapping back into machine-like form in Tuscaloosa. We are all doomed, and nothing can save us.

Macrocephalic. Having a very large head, as in Bret Bielema in the most literal sense of the word.

If he had not caught himself with his hands, the pavement would have looked like a meteor strike at the point where his head impacted the pavement. Bielema may also be the ruddiest man we've ever seen, as if he just sleeps with his face slammed between the plates of a George Foreman Grill he uses as a pillow.

If he had not caught himself with his hands, the pavement would have looked like a meteor strike.

(Oh, and given the length of time he was a bachelor before getting married, Bielema totally owns a Foreman Grill. Maybe like three of them for emergency heaters when he forgot to pay the gas bill.)

Nonchalant. The only disturbing part about watching Texas A&M at this point in the season is how nonchalant you might be getting watching Johnny Manziel throw the ball. I don't don't even flinch anymore when he throws a prayer up in a crowd in the endzone. Someone's there: we just know this now, or assume Mike Evans will swoop in like a bird of prey and abduct the ball from defenders like a dachshund puppy snatched straight off the leash. (Which he did, and will continue to do.)

Ocala. That dachshund/bird of prey scenario actually happened to someone I know. Why yes, it did happen in Florida! How did you guess? Unlike Arkansas, it went without a peep or ounce of struggle, so there's that and the non-destroyed sidewalk outside the stadium as positives from this weekend, Bret Bielema.

Posin'. It's not rubbing it in if you're doing it for Mom.

Now, when Mom spray paints "STOOPS KRÜE" on the 50? Well, that's still the least of your problems as a Notre Dame fan right now. Speaking of tasteful: you have to play Arizona State this week! Best of luck, and may Todd have mercy on your soul. (He won't, as he just happily ended Lane Kiffin's career.)

Quinton. As Quinton Dunbar demonstrated, even Florida's offensive players are solid tacklers.

Red Bull. Larry Fedora allegedly drinks nine a day. If he'd consumed one for every point his team scored in the fourth quarter against East Carolina, his team still would have lost by 24 to East Carolina, and Larry Fedora's central nervous system would still be dangerously close to shorting out from energy drink overdose. That's .56 grams of caffeine.

North Carolina is 106th in the nation in total defense, gladly advancing any random opponent 231 yards on the ground per game, stats that might make you soil yourself even if you haven't flooded your bloodstream with enough caffeine to give a camel a case of East Tennessee Rest Stop Dysentery.

Staring. Let's relive the highlights of the Paul Pasqualoni era at UConn: that time they beat Louisville last year in overtime, that time they lost to Towson this year, and this:


Farewell to thee, perpetually stunned Prince of Punts.

Trailing position. FIU, still waiting in the wings, drafting behind the leaders, and just waiting to sprint out to a win at the finish. Someday. In some game.

Unwinfeated. Temple, USF, UConn, New Mexico State, FIU, Southern Miss, Hawaii, Georgia State, Massachusetts, and Miami of Ohio all still claim a shot at perfection. It's a magical year in college football when you see all of these teams, look at their schedules, and genuinely believe ALL of them could go winless on the season. (Which they could!) [Technically not.]

Villisca. A town 147 miles from Ames, home of Iowa State, who hosts Texas on a Thursday night in a classic upset special on the barrens. Villisca, Iowa happily advertises itself thusly:


Consider yourself warned, Mack Brown.

Wariness. Also on the creeping death watch: Florida State, who after sleepwalking through a game against Boston College must face Maryland, a good football team. That's their official motto: "Maryland, A Good Football Team," stated simply to remind you haters how much you made fun of them last year for not being that. (<---- Typed by someone who suggested last year that Randy Edsall was a demon that needed fresh ACLs to survive in Earth's atmosphere. I was wrong.)

Xylology. The study of wood, one of Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease's passions since he took Florida's offense for a nature walk prior to their matchup with Kentucky. He plans to continue these nature walks throughout the year prior to games, including the game at LSU. If you want to see what The Grey would like like as a swamp survival story, just film whatever happens when Tiger fans ambush Pease and company in the wilds of East Baton Rouge Parish.


The yapok, or water opposum, is described as eating mostly crustaceans, being extremely promiscuous, and having webbed feet. GEAUX TIGERS.

Ziraleet! An Arabic expression of joy made by groups of women. Relevant to this: Texas Tech comes to Lawrence this weekend, undefeated and doubling up the servings of pure unleaded masculine coaching sexuality on the sidelines for the game.


His turn-ons include JuCo transfers, showing everyone how he has Jon Bon Jovi's cellphone number on his phone, and one-game win streaks.

More from SB Nation college football:

Government shutdown has Air Force-Navy, Army-BC games in jeopardy

Who’s next after Kiffin? | Who’s next for USC?

Oregon is terrifying: the weekend’s best stats

UConn coach fired: Potential replacements

Longform: Inside Chip Kelly’s offense at New Hampshire

Today’s college football news headlines