'Tis the season of promise.
'Tis also the season to be unbeaten, untied and, sometimes, a bit untruthful.
It's the preseason for football teams everywhere, from the fields of Northridge to the gravel pits of Irwindale, a time to design sophisticated offenses and impenetrable defenses, to pound fundamentals into the younger players and whip the older ones back into shape.
Since few teams have as yet played a down, almost anything is possible. Just about everybody's a winner, with dreams of a postseason in their future.
For most, that is nothing more than a dream. Doesn't matter. This time of the year, all coaches sound alike in describing their teams in glowing cliches.
So as a public service, herewith is presented a Reader's Guide to a Football Coach's B.S. That's Bad Semantics, of course.
What They Say: I'm not going into camp with any preconceived notions. The quarterback job is wide open.
What They Mean: It's wide open because there isn't anybody around even remotely qualified for the job.
One candidate is so small, he can't see over his own offensive linemen. And that's in the huddle when they're all hunched over.
Another candidate is so stupid, he was told to write down all the offensive plays so he could remember them in the huddle. That he did--on his helmet. Problem was, he wrote them on the inside of the helmet.
The other candidate has a more basic problem. His arm. It's so weak, he won't call a screen play because he tends to underthrow the receiver.
What They Say: We had a great recruiting year. We got everybody we went after.
What They Mean: We weren't dumb enough to go after anybody we knew we couldn't get.
Like anybody good.
No sense in getting beaten in the off-season. There are enough losses to bear in the regular season.
What They Say: On any given Saturday (Sunday, Monday night, etc.), any team can beat any other team.
What They Mean: Hey, Cal State Colossus may have the best players in the conference, but if an outbreak of malaria wipes out its secondary, and its offensive line flunks out at mid-semester, and its quarterback is bought off by gamblers, we could stay within a touchdown or two.
What They Say: The conference is loaded with talent this year.
What They Mean: Unfortunately, we don't have any of it.
What They Say: I'll tell you one thing about this team. It'll never quit.
What They Mean: Why should it? Half the team is getting money under the table. Cars. Homes. You name it. I wish I was making half of what some of these guys are getting.
What They Say: I can assure you everybody on this team is going to give 110%.
What They Mean: Not that it matters. One hundred and ten percent of zero is still zero.
What They Say: Our fullback is brilliant. The Lord gave him all the tools.
What They Mean: Unfortunately, an owner's manual wasn't included, one that might advise:
"Cannot operate while under the influence of drugs.
"Functions better after a good night's sleep.
"Constant applications of alcohol will cause deterioration.
"Will not operate at all without occasional trips to the classroom to obtain passing grades."
What They Say: The key factor last year was injuries.
What They Mean: Thank goodness for every one of them. Without those injuries, I wouldn't have had an excuse for our 0-11-1 record and probably wouldn't be here right now, feeding you more B.S. (Bad Semantics, again).
What They Say: I never look ahead. The only thing I'm looking at right now is our season opener on Sept. whatever against the Oxnard Oxes.
What They Mean: I'd be afraid to look any further. The only easy spots on our schedule are the byes. And I'm not so sure about those.