Originally published January 9, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 9, 2009 at 03:52p.m.
In those days when Notre Dame and Southern Methodist both were prominent on the college football scene, they often drew attention because of team prayers before games. This caused columnist Dan Jenkins to ask: “OK, which gang does God favor, the Catholics or Protestants?”
An unexcelled wit with a Southwest Conference background, Dan also inquired if The Big One favored the Methodists (SMU) or the Christians (TCU) in their annual battles.
So I’m wondering if Jesus nowadays suffers a perplexing series of quandaries about where to be, and when, because of all the gratitude sent his way by top performers as they discuss their victorious feats in post-game television interviews. Loaves and fishes are one thing, inflated pigskins another.
How many times this college season have the first utterances of interviewees been something like “First I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ”? Then they analyze. Crucify me, but I think it’s become a bit much, a little out of place. (I’m no infidel. I once was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes programs, then got uneasy about what I considered some parochial excesses.)
On a day when there are a lot of games, how can even Jesus diffuse himself to favor so many guys in so many places? Is he a fan, of whom, or just a benevolent presence that doesn’t have a thing to do with how some game turns out — sincere and wishful as his athletic devotees may be about his inspiration and guidance?
Will Islamic players start citing Muhammad or Allah? Will Jewish guys hail Jehovah or Moses? Maybe it’s an expanding trend we’ll have to accept. But like those FCA overkills, it leaves me queasy.
• When Carl Peterson took over the Kansas City Chiefs football operation in 1988, he asked the inimitable broadcaster Bill Grigsby, once a Jayhawk Network throat, how to lure more customers. Grigs said he’d go out onto the Plaza and start putting pairs of ducats under windshields to get people interested. Grigs, who seldom lets the facts spoil a good story, said that for a long time he’d go back and check and somebody would have added two turn-back tickets with the original duo.
You’ve heard the same bit about Kansas and Kansas State in their leaner days. Peterson and Grigsby kicked that gag around for years. Except the ousted Peterson hasn’t been chuckling much lately.
• I’m as good at reading contracts as I am at accomplishing 20-foot pole vaults, but as I understand it, Kansas football coach Mark Mangino’s incentive package produced an extra $75,000 for KU’s Insight Bowl victory. Last season’s BCS bowl appearance and various coach of the year honors provided a Mangino bonus of about $175,000. But that was before Mark’s current contract of $2.3 million a year with incentives was instituted.
The new deal opens the door for some $675,000 in yearly bonuses for achievements and ticket sales in the through-2012 pact (for $2.3 mill per). There’s also a retention payment of $1.5 million if Mark remains KU coach through Dec. 31, 2012.
But as I read it, the bonus for the ’08 season is about $75,000. Not bad for a Pennsylvania kid who paid a lot of dues to get where he is.