Every year about this time, we publish a cover story on the University of Memphis football team. We've been doing it for almost 20 years, since the days when the late former Flyer editor Dennis Freeland brought sports coverage to the paper. For the last 10 years or so, Frank Murtaugh has admirably carried the ball for our Tigers coverage — both in football and basketball.
To say the least, Tiger basketball has been a lot more fun to cover recently. Bluntly speaking, Tiger football has been a mess — beginning with the final two years of Coach Tommy West's tenure and continuing through the comically disastrous Larry Porter "revolution."
Now, with a new athletic director, Tom Bowen, a new coach, Justin Fuente, a revamped Liberty Bowl, and the prospect of moving to the Big East Conference, Tiger fans are allowing themselves a bit of hope that change is in the air. Beginning Saturday, we shall see how that "hopey-changey" thing works out for them.
The art director and I talked half-seriously about making the cover for this week's issue a caricature of Lucy from the "Peanuts" comic pulling the football out from under a little cartoon Tiger kicker. But — arrrgh! — that would have been cruel.
Personally, I'm also a fan of some other Tigers — those from Mizzou, my alma mater. I was talking with my 92-year-old mom this week, and she thinks it's "interesting" that Missouri will be playing "some of those Southern teams." I said that it might be tough to win against the likes of Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina. She said, "I don't really know who's in that conference, but I think we'll do fine." Take that, SEC fans.
But any rate, football season — the South's true religion — is upon us, and other obsessions — local schools, the county commission, the city council, even national politics — are forgotten, at least for a few hours every Saturday. For non-football fans, the zoo, the parks, the golf courses, the Greenline, and the museums will all be less crowded on weekend afternoons. The weather will be glorious — crisp and sunny and dry — the endless dog days of summer finally behind us. Yes, we are ready for some football.
And if the fates are with us, the Memphis Tigers might even win a few. If not, we can always run that Lucy cover next year. Arrrgh.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."