Right now is that time of year we are all in college sports limbo. Basketball ended months ago, and football is still over a month away. It is a dead period for fans itching for news on their favorite college teams and players. Louisville fans are no exception, especially since we have so much to look forward to. We try to find news when we can, and recruiting and practice updates are always good for a fix, but it only can hold us over for so long. Therefore we pass the time the best we can. I, personally, need very little to keep myself entertained. My mind is like any other guys; I constantly think about sports and quotable movies. One of those movies, Happy Gilmore, one of my all-time favorites, happened to be on the other day. As I am watching it, I am also scrolling through my phone watching for any breaking U of L or other sports-related news. I then began to think, “It’s been a while since there has been any conference re-alignment news.” And no, I do not consider Syracuse leaving for the ACC “breaking” as we have all known that for a year. As I continued watching Happy Gilmore, I noticed how several moments in the movie parallelled conference realignment as it has related to U of L. Let’s start with this clip via YouTube.
“Don’t worry, Grandma, everything’s gonna be all right. Hey, look at this place! Silver Acres Rest Home. Hell, it looks more like a country club than a nursing home…nice grass, nice people…and I hope you brought your bathing suit! I’m tellin’ you, this place is perfect. You’re gonna make friends in no time.”
We all know this quote. Well…at least the guys, or a good majority of us, do. This is the classic mini-speech Happy Gilmore gave to his beloved grandmother as he dropped her off to the nursing home after the bank took her house. Happy represents the U of L administration. Just as our conference was taken over by the Big 12 and ACC, Grandma’s house was taken over by the bank and no one is happy about it. In this scene, Grandma, just as your average U of L fan, is nervous and reluctant about what is to come. Yet, just as she places her faith in Happy, we have placed our faith in Tom Jurich and his administration. Directly after this heartwarming little pep talks, we meet the other half of the U of L fanbase, AKA the “Meesta!” lady, who dives onto the car screaming, “GET…ME….OUTTA HERE!!!” This is the part of the U of L fan base who is in constant panic mode. The we-are-going-to-die-in-the-Big-East crowd. The crowd that has no faith in the administration or Tom Jurich and takes all-too-seriously the talk on message boards. Happy freaks out and dumps a bag of fast food on top of her, shouting, “Here! Just eat that! Leave us alone!” He is doing this just as John Marinatto dumped schools like Houston and SMU on us, saying, “Here! Just take Houston, SMU, and Central Florida! See?! They’re good! Now leave me alone!” Sorry, John, these schools are not an upgrade, and while it is a nice effort, Happy, leftover fast food is not a meal for a crazy woman or any person.
Happy, of course, knows this Silver Acres Rest Home is a significant downgrade from his grandmother’s house, just as the U of L administration knows the Big East of new is not the Big East of old. Happy and Tom Jurich are both trying to make the best of a bad situation for Grandma and the U of L fanbase, just as they should. Yet, they are both doing all they can to make sure they take care of their parties the best as they can. Happy is going to do everything he can to get his grandmother’s house back, and Tom Jurich is going to do everything in his power to put U of L in the best situation possible. Sure, we could settle for being the big fish in the Big East, and as Happy’s girlfriend Virginia (who somehow amazingly looks hotter today in Modern Family than she did twelve years ago…good for her) says, with all that Happy has earned on the tour, he could afford her a really nice condo. Yet, it is not the same. His granfather “didn’t build no condo with his bare hands.” Tom Jurich basically built the U of L athletic program we see today with his bare hands and he will not settle for anything but the best for the program he has built. This program has accomplished so much since he has been here, and not just in money sports like basketball and football. Soccer, Swimming, Track, Baseball, Volleyball…it’s tougher to name a sport that has NOT succeeded underneath his leadership. Do not expect the man to go down without a fight. Happy did a lame Subway commercial. Jurich still has some cards (HA!) left to play.
Of course, as there is with any story, there is always a villain. In Happy Gilmore, it is the leading money maker on the PGA Tour Shooter McGavin. For U of L’s quest to get into the Big 12, it is apparently University of Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds. They are both sinister in similar ways. Shooter sees Happy as someone who could steal his thunder. He sees him as a threat and he certainly does not want to share the wealth. He will try all he can to sabotage him. He even bought Happy’s grandmother’s house just to spite him. Dodds is also someone who does not want to share the wealth. Whether it is the Longhorn Network or Big 12 revenue in general, he wants a huge share of money, and despite being called the Big FREAKING 12, he does not see the need to have more than ten teams. He acts like money has nothing to do with it, but don’t spit on our cupcake and call it frosting, Dodds. We know what you’re doing, here. The guy plays the PR game just as Shooter does (“I tell ya, the real winner here is the city of Phoenix…every time I come here it gets harder to leave…makes me wonder if you’re putting something in the water! Ha!”), but we know who he is. Don’t try to hide it. Another enemy, yet extremely less powerful, is West Virginia. The one thing they have going for them is that the Big 12 picked them solely because of football and they were basically groveling at Dodds’ feet to let them in. In this analogy, the best fit for West Virginia is Donald, the bucket hat-wearing imbecile who heckles Happy with the shout of, “You suck! Ya jacka–!” The guy is basically Shooter’s errand boy and does whatever he wants him to do. Shooter does not like him….heck, no one does, but he is so desperate to be accepted, he is willing to do anything to seek approval, just as West Virginia was willing to do anything to get into the Big 12. Dodds just needed West Virginia at the time. West Virginia fans want to believe they are buddies with other Big 12 teams, but we all know that is not true. It was just business, West Virginia. You can wait for them at the Sizzler all you want, but no one likes you.
Of course, neither Happy Gilmore nor U of L is without its allies. Both have a strong, intimidating supporter that may not be able to overcome Dodds or Shooter, but can certainly challenge him (Oklahoma for the Cards, Mr. Larson for Happy “And YOU count on ME waiting for YOU in the parking lot!”). Both have a nice-mannered veteran supporter who is a little weirdly nice (Kansas, or at least its fans on message boards, for U of L and Gary Potter for Happy). Finally we have both a great looking and ultimately supportive fan base (U of L’s fan base, Happy has Virginia as the great looking and supportive fan base). We even both had an older supporter trying to do whatever he could to help us along the way (Mitch McConnell for the Cards and Chubbs Peterson for Happy). Sure, not all U of L supporters were fans of McConnell’s politics. Happy was certainly not a fan of Chubbs just “easin’ the tension” for him on the golf course (“It’s all in the hips”). Yet, both were willing to do whatever they could to help them succeed.
In the end, whatever happens for U of L happens. Happy got his Gold Jacket and Shooter got the snot kicked out of him by Mr. Larson (“I believe that jacket belongs to Mr. Gilmore!”). Will U of L be a winner in conference realignment? Will Tom Jurich be able to play the ball where it lies and make an unbelievable put over a collapsed media tower? Happy could do it…I think Jurich can as well. Whatever happens, he will do all in his power to put U of L in the best position possible. He has worked too hard to do anything else.