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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

P.S.R. Op-Ed

Looking for Revenue? Let’s Try a Swear Jar

The gold standard for curse-word comeuppance comes via former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick: Tired of his colorful vocabulary, Billick’s family – I believe his children set the tone – implemented a swear jar; every time Billick let loose, he had to make a contribution. Did it work? Well, Billick did say during an N.F.L. telecast last September that the St. Louis Rams “had some sex with the no-huddle offense” – so old habits die hard, or not at all, even if there’s technically no curse word in that sentence. The latest to hear about his “potty mouth” is Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who was caught by an ESPN camera screaming any number of unmentionable dirty words during the Gators’ 27-14 win over Bowling Green.

Pease coaches up in the booth, not on the field, so his anger wasn’t aimed directly at an individual player. That’s an important distinction to make: Pease wasn’t verbally assaulting a player. Was he letting one of his fellow assistants have it? Well, these guys are professionals – no jokes about paying players, please.

“That’s a little bit how I am,” Pease said yesterday, via The Associated Press. “I am a typical guy that is competitive. I think everything’s going to work. It’s nothing personal against kids. I probably got a little potty mouth sometimes, and I apologize for that. I hear it more from my mom afterwards than anybody else.”

Pease isn’t kidding: his mom wasn’t happy. “My mother said to be careful and I need to watch my mouth. I had my mouth washed out with soap when I was like 9. It’s not going to happen now.”

Alligator Army raises an interesting question – or makes an interesting point, though I’ll rephrase it into a question: Should Pease even be asked about his cursing, and should he need to address his “potty mouth” three days after the fact? Especially seeing that his conversation was private, in a sense?

Blame the enhanced television coverage, perhaps. It’s not merely about the number of games now broadcast, though that’s exponentially higher than only a decade ago, but about the nature of the telecast itself: more in-depth, more cameras, more coverage.

Remember Brian Kelly? He was caught cursing at one of his quarterbacks – it could have been any of his many quarterbacks – last September. That prompted The Washington Post’s Tracee Hamilton to remark, “You didn’t have to have an advanced lip-reading degree to tell what he was saying. And you didn’t have to look hard to see him. The cameras were right in his face for every tirade. It was must-see TV at a whole new level. The irony is, of course, that those cameras were there to make money for the school that Kelly represents, whose players he was berating.”

Curse? They’ll catch you – the cameras. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the sideline, as Kelly was last September; if you’re the head coach, as Kelly was and is; if you’re in the booth, as was Pease; or if you’re the offensive coordinator, as is Pease. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to apologize to momma. If you’re unlucky, you’ll need to address your vocabulary with the local media.

And if you’re really unlucky – especially if you’re the head coach at Notre Dame – you’ll have the National Review saying that you should be fired “this morning,” and the National Catholic Register saying that cursing on the sidelines is no “more acceptable” than George O’Leary lying to Notre Dame officials about his work and academic history.

Compared to Kelly, Pease got off easy. In fact, he got off even better: Pease has received more national attention for his cursing than for Florida’s putrid offensive performance in Saturday’s win. Want to curse a blue streak? Then watch a replay of the Gators getting pushed around up front by a MAC defense.

If Pease was hamstrung by Will Muschamp’s demands – “You can put that on me,” Muschamp said of the Gators’ offensive attack. “I told Brent what I wanted, and I wanted to make sure we played a certain way in the game.” – then you can find one significant reason to excuse his tirade. So he cursed. How long has it been since one of us did the same? Hours? Minutes? Seconds?

If the N.C.A.A. wants to fund a $2,000 stipend for student-athletes, Mark Emmert should create a swear jar. A head coach owes $5 for everyday curse words; he owes $10 for the more imaginative curses, the ones that combine one or more curses with everyday objects – you cow [fornicating] son of a [derriere place]. Coordinators owe $3 and $8 for the same infraction. Positional coaches: $2 and $5.

Then, instead of being asked why he cursed at his quarterback, Kelly will be asked why he didn’t curse more. Yesterday, Pease would have been asked, “Why didn’t you curse nine times instead of seven late in the third quarter?” The Pelini brothers could have paid for an entire program’s stipend allotment from their sideline antics during Nebraska’s loss to Texas A&M in 2010.

Or… we can understand that mom might care, but we shouldn’t. Does Florida’s fan base care more about Pease’s word choice or his work-in-progress offense? When push comes to shove, is Kelly’s cursing more important than Notre Dame’s run defense? No. And no. If they win games, coaches can should feel to curse like mother… – shut your mouth. And this is doubly true when they lose, or if Florida struggles moving the football against Bowling Green.

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  1. Gotham Gator says:

    Good thing ESPN showed a closeup of the booth and not stands. He was probably more restrained than most Gator fans.

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