Reporter: Heartbreaking loss, Coach.
Coach: We’re disappointed, but we’re not going to bellyache about it. Our goal here at Pennsyltucky Tech University is to crush our opponents and keep our mouths zipped. That’s what we tell our players at PTU about how to deal with football games, life after college, and interviews with NCAA investigators.
Reporter: Tell us more about the kicker…the media guide says his name is Charlie Brown. It’s the first time he’s played this season, right?
Coach: Yep. Well, as you all saw in the game, our first- and second-string kickers both went down with injuries, and CB’s the next man up. He’s funny looking, wears that stripey shirt all the time, and personality-wise, he’s a real debbie downer, but jumpin’ jackrabbits, in practice that boy kicks like a mule what’s stumbled into a beehive.
Reporter: Still, that’s a big spot to trust a third-string kicker for his first field goal try.
Coach: I listen to my players. You got to trust the ones you brung to the hoedown. Our holder, Lucy Van Pelt, begged me to put CB in.
Reporter: Had Lucy ever pulled the ball away from a kicker like that before?
Coach: Not once. Lucy’s been our holder all season. Sure hands. Plus, with the stadiums so loud, other holders need to use hand signals to let the center know when to snap the ball, but y’all have heard that gal’s pipes. Her voice could cut through a windstorm two counties over.
Reporter: How did Lucy come to Pennsyltucky Tech?
Coach: PTU had those budget cuts last year, and, to save costs, hired Lucy to replace the university’s previous mental health provider. At 5¢ a session, it was a financial no-brainer.
Reporter: Yes, but how’d she get on the football team?
Coach: Her kid brother is our data analytics intern. Smartest we’ve ever had. Always bragging on his big sister, so we brought her in for a tryout. You’ve probably seen Linus on the sideline–he’s the one toting a woobie, with a thumb in his piehole, and being followed around by CB’s little sister, Sally, carrying his clipboard.
Reporter: About that, there have been questions about your recruiting–some of your players seem on the young side.
Coach: Sure, they look like they’re seven, but you should hear ‘em talk. They speak like a bunch of middle-aged barflies at a group therapy session.
Reporter: Your offense was rolling until midway through the third quarter. What changed?
Coach: One of their linebackers stepped on our quarterback’s foot. That really limited our play selection..
Reporter: Tell us about the injury.
Coach: Our quarterback’s got the legs of a deer and the heart of a lion, but the toes of a Hummel figurine. I don’t know how many times we’ve told Peppermint Patty: cleats, not sandals.
Reporter: Did you know the history between Lucy and Charlie Brown?
Coach: We’ve got 85 scholarship players and 37 walk-ons. If I tried to shove my nose in everyone’s business, that would take all my time, lead to distrust between me and the players, and reduce my plausible legal deniability concerning knowledge of their activities. I may be a country boy, but Mama didn’t raise no fool.
Reporter: Charlie Brown landed pretty hard. How is he, physically?
Coach: CB’s tougher than an under-cooked truck-stop chicken-fried steak. When the trainer got out there, CB took one look at him and said, “Good grief!” He’s a fine boy, but sometimes it’s like he’s stuck in the 1950s.
Reporter: Let me ask a question about the state of college sports, if you don’t mind. Are you worried that the new rules allowing athletes to profit from sales relating to their own pictures, social media, and so forth might change the game?
Coach: Hasn’t affected my players much. Maybe CB’s dog, though—that pooch and his damn bird hop around like a passel of squirrels on a mini-trampoline every time his blimp flies over.
Reporter: How are the players taking the loss?
Coach: Right now, it stings. Most of ‘em are pretty broken up about it. CB will pull through, though. The boy’s got one resilient, bald, round head on his shoulders.
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Andy Schocket is a historian, writer, and proud union member. He lives in the banana republic known as “Ohio.”