A New Springtime
As I suspect may be typical of late-awakening loves, my deliverance came in an unexpected form.
College football wasn’t something I was accustomed to taking seriously. The schools I had gone to tended to have pathetic records, and even if I were masochistic enough to watch them get thumped week in and week out, the games were rarely broadcast on TV.
Attaching myself to a college I had nothing to do with struck me as being in equal parts silly, arbitrary, and desperate. Also, the players were forever graduating. How could you properly bond to a team over that short a period of time?
Then Pete Carroll came to town. LA might not have had a professional football team, but I decided maybe USC was close enough.
I started watching some of their games, and following the program as it was rebuilt. Almost before I knew it, I was watching every game, I knew most of the players' names and particular talents, and I was cheering them on to national championships.
Had there ever been a May-November romance, I wondered, as idylic as this one?
The relationship eventually disintegrated, as I suppose is ultimately the way of such things.
The intensity and the joy were gone well before Pete Carroll hopped a flight to Seattle for his new fling with the NFL. By the end, the flow of assistant coaches out of the program had become a torrent, and the kids were acting up, with no discipline (hurting themselves with more penalties than anybody could recall having seen in a USC team), as well as no focus (big, powerful, gifted defensive players made only halfhearted pantywaist attempts at tackles), and the team began to get run over as a result.
I wanted Pete to stay and fix the mess he had created. He struck me as superficial and a bit gutless in walking away from it. More than that, I considered him a complete fool. Where else on earth could he be as thoroughly understood and appreciated--and loved--as he was in Southern California?
I wanted him to fail in Seattle. I quietly gloated whenever his fancy new Seahawks lost.
On balance, I realized I was feeling a lot more bitterness toward Carroll than I had toward my ex-wife (with whom I enjoyed one of the best separations imaginable). But then, isn’t it always the relationships that are the most intense when they’re good that are also the most intensely bad when they fall apart?