A Sad Reflection: We Could’ve Had Justin Wilcox

Alan Lohner Humor

To our eternal shame and sorrow, Justin Wilcox said “no” when offered the head coaching job of Our Beloved Ducks. Joey Harrington, on behalf of more than a dozen other former Ducks players, pleaded to AD Rob Mullens in a letter: “There is a candidate out there who embodies both the connection to the past and the skill to get us the championship we all want.”

We’re not sure what championship Joey was referring to. We presume that he was talking about the Platypus Trophy, unofficially awarded to the victor of the Ducks-Beavers annual football game. Based on his track record at Cal, I believe that Wilcox could have led the Ducks to some Platypus Trophy championships, maybe as many as three in a decade.

Photo by Ross Sokolovski on Unsplash

“We don’t need no stupid Platypus.”

Tick, Tick, Tick…

When a college is in the hunt for a new coach, the right candidate does something called “ticking all the right boxes.” Wilcox ticked every single one them, right down the line. He grew up in Junction City, he played football at Oregon, he, he…um…well, what else do you need? If it’s good enough for Joey, it’s good enough for me.

Speaking of boxes, Joey’s letter had urged Mullens not to “find a coach outside the ‘Oregon Box.'” Junction City may not be many things, but it is smack dab in the middle of the “Oregon Box.” It may even be in a box inside the “Oregon Box,” like one of those Russian dolls within a doll within a doll.

No wonder that Joey said that Wilcox should be hired “immediately.”

Why Couldn’t Wilcox Be Pried Out of Berkeley?

This is a mystery that’s on par with the search for the Loch Ness Monster, because if you’ve ever driven into Berkeley, your gut reaction was probably to make an instant U-turn and hightail it back to the Bay Bridge. I’ve pondered this enigma, and the best I can figure is that Berkeley is a lot like Junction City. They both have sidewalks and marijuana shops. The only difference is that Berkeley has 118,929 more people, daily hippie festivals, and carjackings.

Image by fpdavis86 from Pixabay

Open audition for Cal’s offensive coordinator.

When Wilcox said “no” to the Ducks, Mullens wasn’t buying it. I mean, how often do you get the chance to hire a head football coach from a box within “Oregon’s Box?” So Mullens asked a second time, and we’re guessing he might have sweetened the pot with a free lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, but this time the Cal coach answered, “NO,” which sent shock waves through all of us Duck fans, because we thought Wilcox liked the habanero mango sauce.

Where Were You When You Heard?

It’s one of those bits of news that you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when  you heard it. I was eating a bowl of Froot Loops and watching a rerun of “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.” As you can imagine, I can no longer stomach the sight of a single Froot Loop. I’ve had to switch to Count Chocula, which as the television ads show us, is adjacent to a nutritious breakfast of poached eggs, toast, and orange juice.

Why, oh why, oh why, did Wilcox make us cry? (Nobody really cried, but it rhymes. There’s no crying in baseball or in the OBD Forum.) In a story written by Kyle Bonagura and Adam Rittenberg at ESPN, a source told them, “Justin is the kind of guy who likes to recruit kids that aren’t interested in the Recaro leather seats.”

Ah, okay. At least Wilcox had a good reason.

But Maybe There’s More to the Story

It could be that Wilcox just wants to be the next Stub Allison. For all of you non-football fans, I suppose I’ll have to explain who Stub Allison is. I can’t tell you how much that annoys me, because everyone who knows anything about college football bows reverently at the mere whisper of Stub’s name.

Stub was head coach at Cal in the days when parents were still naming their baby boys Harvey. We’re talking about that banner football season of 1937-38, when the Golden Bears last won a Rose Bowl, and some of you think that was a long time ago, just because world wars didn’t need Roman numerals then, since there’d only been one of them.

The New York Public Library on Unsplash

The birth of tailgating, 1937, Berkeley, California.

It’s hard not to blame Wilcox for wanting to be a household name like Stub. We can even envision Wilcox adopting Stub’s nickname. And come on, you have to admit that Stub Wilcox sounds much more coach-like than Justin Wilcox. Just to show everyone that we have no hard feelings about Wilcox turning us down, we’ll test drive that new nickname for him right now.

Stub Wilcox Has the Bears Going in the Right Direction

There is a lot of excitement going on in Berkeley these days, and not just because of all the vegan food carts. The credit is all Stub’s. His Bears came within a touchdown of the witless Washington Huskies. He’s won a Pac-12 conference game. He bravely led Cal on the road to battle the Colorado Buffaloes, but we won’t mention the outcome of that game, because we’d have to change the subhead above, and we don’t want to do that, because it’s getting close to deadline, and this piece isn’t going to win a Pulitzer anyway.

A number of Duck fans in this forum have said that they prefer close games. Stub’s offense scores less than 24 points a game this year. Perfect.  That makes for a lot of excitement, a lot of pacing, a lot of elevated heart rates, and a huge spike in sales of beta blockers and Xanax. The majority owner of Walgreens is a huge Stub Wilcox fan.

When Mario Cristobal abandoned the Ducks for Miami, taking his offense with him, who could have best replaced him? You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? If only Wilcox had said “yes,” that transition would have been darned near seamless. Imagine more games this year like last year’s Stanford game. More Xanax, anyone?

Let’s Party Like it’s 1937

Joey wrote a great letter to Mullens, sounding every bit like “Joey Sunshine,” as he was called by half of Detroit Lions fans. The other half called him Joey “Blue Skies.” No matter. Mullens got the pitch to the goal line, a mixed sports metaphor, if there ever was one. Wilcox tackled Mullens for a loss and that made three outs. None of us knew how desperately Wilcox wants to get to the Rose Bowl wearing Cal gear.

To doubly prove that we have no hard feelings about being jilted, we think it would be a really nice gesture if Duck fans chipped in and bought Wilcox a ticket for “The Granddaddy of Them All” this January 1 in Pasadena.

We’re sure that the entire Golden Bears team will eventually get to a Rose Bowl, just like the sun will eventually run out of hydrogen, and the day that happens, the folks who run college football will have to skip the playoff and just declare an immediate champion, and we’re betting that it still won’t be the Miami Hurricanes.

Flickr

University of Miami consolation trophy, 2022 – until the sun burns out.

For now, just to triply prove that we have no hard feelings, let’s pretend that it’s the 1937 regular season again and that the Golden Bears are undefeated midway through their schedule and the Ducks roll into Berkeley and just beat the living Bear crap out of them.

That’ll teach that callous heartless California coach.

Stub Wilcox, how dare you!

Alan Lohner
Tigard, Oregon
Top photo by Abraham Suna at Pixabay

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