Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is Knoxville Burning?

It makes perfect sense to go from defending Brett Favre to saying a kind word about the head coach of the University of Tennessee, right? So Derek Dooley compared his team's situation to that of the German soldiers facing the Allied assault at Normandy. This actually makes me like Dooley more. For one thing, his comments show that he has actually opened a history book and read some pages. He is aware of the Allies' dummy army that deluded the Germans into thinking that the assault was coming at Calais. How many other head coaches at major programs can you see opening a history book (or a book of poetry, or good literature, or biology? I'm not wedded to my major here.) and then showing that they comprehended what they read? These coaches are the highest paid employees at major universities. Why shouldn't they indicate an interest in learning for its own sake?

And then the mock furor from the media is just hilarious. First of all, it's a f***ing analogy! Dooley isn't saying that his players are literally soldiers in the Wehrmacht. He's not saying that his players are in a life-or-death situation. Why the hell is the media reaction inevitably so literal? And since when were military analogies off limits when discussing football?

I have an idea: let's ban the use of the term "blitz" because we don't want linebackers to be confused and thinking that they are actually piloting a Heinkel 111 over Coventry. That makes as much sense are complaining about Dooley's use of D-Day.

Second, this may be news to the morons who are turning Dooley's comments into some sort of mini-scandal, but the Germans in the pillboxes at Omaha Beach were probably not ardent Nazis. The immediate reaction from the members of the media (people whom I would guess know less about the subject than Dooley) was: World War II! Germans! Nazis! Hitler! Holocaust! Making the limited point that one's players shouldn't sit around waiting for orders like the Germans did in pissing away their limited window to sweep the Allied forces back into the English Channel does not turn his players into guards at Treblinka. There is a distinction to be made between the average German 20-year old fighting under orders and the nuts who led the world to disaster. (Yes, I know that Daniel Jonah Goldhagen would disagree.) At a minimum, there is a shade of grey here, but that would be news to people reacting to Dooley's comments.

All that said, Dooley's analogy could be better. The Germans did face a massive armada at Normandy, but they had dug-in positions, better tanks, and better artillery. Does that sound like 2010 Tennessee to you? They ended up losing because they were outnumbered, they were indecisive in repelling the invasion, and the Allies had total air superiority, which limited the Germans' ability to move their forces around. The better analogy would have been to the Red Army soldiers facing the German invasion in June 1941. That was another instance of soliders of a totalitarian goverment waiting for orders while facing an attack, only in this instance, they were also hopelessly outmatched because of mistakes that their leaders had made years before. (I guess this makes Fulmer into Tukhachevsky and his firing into the 1937 purge?) But wait, that means that the Tennessee players are all Stalinists! OUTRAGE!!!


peacedog said...

"All that said, Dooley's analogy could be better."

The word you are looking for to describe Dooley's analogy is "tortured".

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