College Football Fables

By  |  October 28, 2014
"after erich sokol," 9"x8", mixed media on somerset, 2014, Katherine Sandoz "after erich sokol," 9"x8", mixed media on somerset, 2014, Katherine Sandoz

The Student Trainer Who Cried Wolf

The student trainer was responsible for keeping the field house free of any wolf sports agents and wolf boosters who might offer the players lurid gifts. The trainer became bored easily. "Wolves!" the trainer said one day, to see what would happen, and the coach came running. The next week, the trainer did it again. "Wolves! Wolves!" he said, and the coach found nothing and was again very angry. Then one day, the student trainer saw a wolf booster passing out thousands of dollars to athletes. "Wolves! Wolves! Wolves!" he cried, but the coach did not come running. In the midst of the NCAA investigation, the trainer confronted the coach.

"Why didn't you come?" the trainer said.

The coach responded, "Because the wolves pay us not to."

Moral: They should probably start paying the student trainers, too.

The Black Bear and the Ferret

A black bear brought his cubs to his alma mater for a home game, and the cool autumn day was a tonic to his soul, despite the fact that a drunken, redneck ferret a few rows up kept screaming obscenities throughout the game, making remarks about the coach and the coach's female relatives that could not be repeated in the presence of a minister. The black bear tried to ignore the ferret, for the black bear had spent many happy years on this hallowed ground and wished to succor the hearts of his own small cubs, so that they, too, might learn to love this place. He poured a little hooch into his Coke, hoping to renew the fleeting gladness in his heart, but the ferret kept on. As an alumnus of this institution, the bear felt he needed to uphold its standards, so he turned around to confront the ferret. "Did you even go to school here, you damned hillbilly ferret?" said the black bear. "Naw, I went to school on your momma," the ferret said. So the black bear ate the ferret. Later, at the trial, it was revealed that the black bear had not completed his degree and so was not technically an alumnus.

Moral: College is harder if you drink a lot. 

The Coach and the Golden Kitten

The coach was highly regarded for recruiting the finest athletes for his program. His secret weapon was a group of female student ambassadors who hosted recruits during their campus visits. These fine young coeds were exemplary in every way, taking athletes on tours of campus, hosting receptions for them in the student union, and introducing them to other girls at fun, wholesome parties. One such ambassador was extremely good at her job. She wasn't especially beautiful, but clearly she had a gift—if a recruit interacted with her at all, you could bet he would be on campus that fall. Did athletes find her attractive? Was it her charm, her wit? The coach had to know her secret, so he called her into his office.

"How do you do it?" he asked. "I must know."

She closed the door and stepped closer to his desk. "What I do is, I show them my kitten," she said. "Do you want to see it?"

"Yes, very much," the coach said.

She reached into her purse and lifted out a small kitten, the most beautiful golden calico the coach had ever seen.

"It's a lovely animal," the coach said, "but I still don't understand how you use it to convince the athletes to come to school here."

"Touch it," she said.

He touched it, and the kitten stood up on its hind legs and began singing show tunes right there on his desk. It sang, and danced, and really worked the room, from "Cabaret" to "Send in the Clowns" to a walloping, show-stopping "Greased Lightning." The coach was enraptured by the performance and overcome with joyful weeping.

Then the student scooped up the kitten and put it back in her purse.

"No! Encore!" the coach said. "Anything; I'll do anything. I must see the kitten again."

And then she said, "That's how I do it."

Moral: Plausible deniability. 

The Ass and the Deer

An American deer and a European ass were watching the big game. The American deer was really into football, while the European ass was more of a soccer fan, or as he called it, "real football." Throughout the game, all the ass did was go on and on about how much he hated the American version. "It is so violent," said the ass. "Your athletes, they suffer catastrophic physical and mental damage and are rewarded for many animalistic behaviors."

"Shut up!" said the deer. "The game is on."

"This virus has infected your children, your culture, your institutions of higher learning, which have nothing to do with sport in Europe. Could you imagine American football at the Sorbonne? Ha!"

"Dude, I cannot hear the game," the deer said, throwing a small buffalo wing at the ass, who suddenly fell to the floor and wailed, writhing and holding his knee as though it had been blown off by small-arms fire.

"Man, I'm sorry, are you okay?" the deer said, and the ass got up and they watched some more of the game.

Moral: The World Cup is not so bad. 


The Possum and the Professor

The possum, a graduate student in visual anthropology, had dinner with her professor, who was her thesis adviser and also her lover. They sat around drinking Pernod and listening to Mingus and soon the conversation turned to the university's failure to admit students ready for serious academic study and its unwillingness to effectively celebrate the achievements of the faculty. They discussed the rampancy of plagiarism, of capitalist hegemonies, and the dissolution of the democratic enterprise as represented by the whoring of the university to the athletics-media complex, etc.

After that, they did peyote.

Moral: Always go to office hours. 

The Honors Student and the Grasshopper

An honors student and a grasshopper were freshman roommates. The grasshopper immersed herself in the vibrant cultural life of the university. She went to parties, pledged a sorority, tailgated during home games, and sat in the student section with her locust boyfriend, cheering for the team. All the while, the honors student was sitting in the dorm every night studying and reading graphic novels. The grasshopper was worried that her roommate was depressed. Soon, the fun days of football were over and it was time for final exams. The grasshopper, having frittered her days away in carnal reverie, realized she had a paper due and had no idea what to write. "I will ask my roommate for help, because she's an honors student," she said to herself, but when she got back to the dorm, she found a note from her roommate saying she'd dropped out and moved back home.

Moral: Graphic novels are usually a cry for help. 

The Tortoise and the Business Major

The tortoise and one of his fraternity brothers, a business major, were at the fraternity house celebrating after a big win. "I bet I can outdrink you," the business major said, and so they decided to see who could drink a whole keg first. The tortoise took small, purposeful sips from his keg, while the business major put his mouth directly around his keg's nozzle and drank with great fury, assigning a pledge to continue pumping until the keg was empty. Soon, the business major blacked out. When he woke up many hours later, he got to his feet and found his keg was still very heavy but the tortoise's keg was completely empty. "Dammit I lost," the business major said. Nearby, the tortoise was resting comfortably on a sofa, dead from alcohol poisoning.

Moral: Recent studies have shown that it is statistically impossible to distinguish between patients who have experienced brain failure due to a high BAC and certain business majors.

The Two Old Coots and the Hen

Two old coots stood beside a cyclone fence, watching the scrimmage of a small local college team. "Things used to be different," the first coot said. "Sure did," the other coot said. They reminisced about a time when the players wore leather helmets and coaches wore neckties, an age free of scandal and money. "These days, they even let girls play," the first coot said, pointing at one girl on the field. "I'll be damned," the other coot said.

"This is the women's rugby team, you idiots," a nearby hen said.

Moral: Title IX.

The Big Donkey and the Baby Donkey

Big donkey was looking forward to his son's visit that weekend. Life had been rough since the divorce, and big donkey felt like he might lose his son, not being there for him every day, unlike his ex-wife, who had begun to brainwash baby donkey with lies about him, such as that his side of the family were all jackasses, which was true, technically, but still hurt. Big donkey had a fun weekend planned, including a cookout, and throwing the ball around, and watching the Stallions play on TV that night. Big donkey had even bought a Stallions jersey for baby donkey. It was #10, the number of their starting quarterback, Squinty Poole. Oh, how baby donkey loved Squinty.

Big donkey got the house ready for baby donkey. He turned on the sports channel, set out some snacks, put the giftwrapped jersey on the table. Then he heard something terrible on TV. Squinty Poole had been arrested!

One report said public intoxication. Another said he'd been found naked inside a church. On Twitter, blurry pictures had surfaced of Squinty in a compromising position, attempting to breed with what appeared to be a small foreign car. Squinty would be kicked off the team. Baby donkey would be devastated!

Then, a knock at the door. It was baby donkey. Big donkey wasn't ready to have to explain to baby donkey why his football hero had chosen to mate with an automobile. More knocking. He could not have his boy wearing the jersey of a Stallion of such poor character. He turned off the TV. He hid the jersey. He opened the door.

"Hey, son!" big donkey said, trying to put a smile on.

"Did you hear about Squinty?" baby donkey said, already wearing a #10 jersey that his mother must've bought him. "That Squinty's one crazy son of a bitch!" baby donkey said. Big donkey just stood there, shocked at his son's language, while baby donkey walked in and turned on the TV, where the reporter was announcing that the star quarterback would only be suspended for one game. "What a relief," baby donkey said. "We're going to whip some ass!"

Where had his son learned to talk like this? What sort of donkey was he becoming?

"Look at me," baby donkey said, as he began to hump the coffee table. "Who am I? Hey, guess who I am!"

Moral: This kind of thing never used to happen.

Harrison Scott Key is a contributing editor at Oxford American. His writing has been featured in The Best American Travel Writing, the New York Times, and Outside. His first memoir, The World’s Largest Man won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and his second, Congratulations, Who Are You Again?, was released on November 6. Watch the trailer for his new book here.