Mike Archer is pissed. Someone had the nerve to eat his leftover Alice Springs chicken he’d hoarded in the office refrigerator for lunch, and his defense is ranked dead last in the NCAA. This is where I find him: lounging in his office chair, angrily sipping a Diet Rite, and impulsively stroking his ‘stache. I was rather surprised when Coach Archer agreed to sit down for a little Q-n-A, after all, he’s really mean looking. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that indeed, looks can be deceiving, as I soon found out that Coach Archer’s strident faÃ§ade was purely for the cameras.
Intern: Coach, I guess there’s really no other way to begin this interview other than to say that the defense is dead last in the NCAA, right?
Archer: Yes, and no. On one hand we are dead last. On the other hand, we’re not. So it’s sort of a “pick your poison scenario.”
In: Pick your poison? Ok…I guess I’ll just move along…You’ve always been a defense guy. Who are some of the people that inspired you along the path to coaching?
Arch: I’ve always held a deep respect for Coach Schnellenberger. He taught me a lot during my time in Miami that still runs true today. Bill Arnsparger is another whom I owe my lack of successes to. However, the most inspirational person in my life is this fella.
Archer holds up an aging book caked in dust.
In: Hey, wait, is that Ghandi?
Arch: Sure is. I’ve been reading his work for a couple years now. He’s really changed my outlook on my job.
In: So Ghandi is the inspiration for your defense?
Arch: Ghandi once said, “whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.” Man, isn’t that powerful?
In: Are you sure Ghandi is an appropriate source of football inspiration?
Arch: Hell yes I’m sure. You see, football is a game of unscrupulous violence. Mahatma taught me that, “nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” So you see, there is so much more to football than just “tackling” and “hitting.”
I meticulously studied Archer, looking for any sign of a smile, proof that the joke was on me. But the more I looked the more I saw that Archer was genuinely stirred by this funny lookin Humanitarian with a proclivity for “hugging it out.” Then Archer’s piercing voice broke the silence.
Arch: Coach Brooks doesn’t understand. He thinks teaching the defense the practices of Ghandi softens em up too much…
In: Ya think?
Arch: But look at the results. We haven’t tackled anybody all year! So his message is obviously getting through to the players. And you wanna know something? I can feel his spirit on the field with my defense every game.
In: Really? So when the defense gave up 631 yards to Louisville, that was actually the spirit of Ghandi that was yeilding and not the players on the field?
Arch: You got it.
In: And when the D surrendered 558 yards to Central Michigan, that was Ghandi too, correct?
In: And the 546 yards at LSU…
In: …And 408 to Mississippi State…
Arch: Actually, that one was my fault. I left my game plan at the hotel.
In: Coach, do you seriously believe in what you’re saying right now?
Arch: Of course not. But I’m not going to work here in two months so what the hell does it matter what I say? Now get the hell out of my office Nancy pants and bring me a cup of decaf!