I was fixated on the football game in front of me when my wife walked by with a basket full of clothes.
She then stopped in front of the TV.
“What is that man doing to Kirby Smart?,” she screeched, unlocking my concentration. “Is he giving him a wedgie?”
I was quite surprised by her outburst, and, also, more importantly, that she knew who Kirby Smart was.
She was referring to a man holding the back of the Georgia Bulldogs’ head football coach’s pants on the sidelines during the Bulldogs’ bowl game.
I explained to her that the man wasn’t assaulting the head coach’s underpants, but was rather holding him back so he wouldn’t go further on to the field, risking a penalty.
“Well, that’s just crazy,” she said. “The University of Georgia is paying a grown man to hang on to another grown man’s britches so he won’t run out onto the field like a dog chasing after a Buick with a bad muffler.”
She then shook her head and disappeared into the laundry room.
It was a proud moment because, first, she made a sage and funny comment, which I always appreciate. And secondly, because, again, she knew who Kirby Smart was by sight.
As I watched hour upon hour of football over the New Year’s weekend, I saw the same scene over and over again – a hired hand whose sole responsibility seemed to be to keep the head coach on the sidelines and off the field.
In high school, we called this guy the “Get Back” coach. But in high school, this guy’s role was to keep everybody – coaches and players alike – off the field and behind the sideline stripe. It was actually a very important role. During the course of a football game, it’s a natural tendency to lean in to see the action, especially when it’s on the other side of the field. If having players and coaches breaking that plane becomes an issue (and officials usually level a warning first), it could result in a penalty. The “Get Back” coach is a valuable member of the staff in high school.
At the higher levels of competitive football, though, this “Get Back” coach seems to focus on just the head coach. And nobody seems to want to solve what is obviously a problem – until now.
Thanks to a reference my wife made in her comments, I have come up with a rather easy fix that could revolutionize the game.
The solution to keep football coaches back on the proper side of the sideline is simple – an “Invisible Fence.”
With dogs, an invisible fence is installed underground with a certain boundary. The dog then wears a collar electronically connected to the system, and when the dog crosses the boundary, a safe, but stern, electric shock is sent to the collar. Not liking to be shocked, the dog respects the boundary and doesn’t try to go past it again.
With coaches, it could work the same way. Every college football stadium could install these invisible fences on the sideline, which would send a shock to the coach’s collar when they try to go on to the field during play. The collars would automatically turn off when play is stopped – unless you wanted to pull a very cruel practical joke.
I don’t know what football teams pay a “Get Back” coach these days, but it’s got to be more than $300-$500, which is what most of these invisible fence systems go for. And, unless a coach is immune to electrical shock, it would basically eliminate the possibility of a coach wandering onto the field and getting a penalty.
Another year, another societal problem solved by this newspaper column.