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NASCAR Talk, Starring Jerry Glanville

When I do watch NASCAR, it’s for the same reason as I watch hockey: for the fights. Or the fiery, Michael Bay-approved crash and burns, much like the one unveiled by Juan Pablo Montoya during last night’s already rain-delayed Daytona 500. Crash? Uh, I think Montoya’s breaks went out. Burn? My goodness. Part of me expected a Transformer to burst out of the flames. In summation: NASCAR is better with fire, like most things. And since this needs to involve college football in some fashion — and since it’s most definitely the offseason — let’s add Dana Holgorsen and Jerry Glanville into the conversation.

Any discussion of football and NASCAR must begin with Glanville, last seen as the head coach at Portland State in 2009. To glean some perspective on Glanville’s personality, recall that when the head coach of the Houston Oilers, he used to leave tickets for Elvis Presley at will-call. Unfortunately, Elvis was never in the building.

Elvis and NASCAR go hand in hand, in my mind: like one, like the other. Glanville, for example, is passionate about both. In fact, Glanville loved racing so much that he made it his profession; after racing in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 1992-93, when still the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Glanville drove full-time in the Camping World Truck Series in 1995, earning a tidy sum of $49,926 for his efforts.

He continued driving in the Truck Series as an owner-driver from 1996-99, and dabbled in the K&N Pro West Series, ARCA Racing Series and the USAR Pro Cup Series through 2004 before returning to the sidelines, in 2005, as Junes Jones’ defensive coordinator at Hawaii.

Glanville’s the greatest example of coach-as-NASCAR-driver at our disposal, though part of me thinks that had he so chose, Barry Switzer — whose autobiography was titled “The Bootlegger’s Boy” — could have made a few fast left turns in his day. But what if we picked from today’s F.B.S. head coaches: Who would make the best NASCAR driver?

Dana Holgorsen
Larry Fedora
Bo Pelini
Chip Kelly
Will Muschamp
Steve Spurrier
Nick Saban

Holgorsen tops the list, for obvious reasons. After dropping 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, it’s pretty clear that Holgorsen knows only one speed: pedal to the floor. In addition, I doubt that Holgorsen would ever be fazed, like a Cole Trickle, by one bad pileup. The only concern regarding his driving ability — one he shares with Chip Kelly — is that coming into pit row and driving under a caution flag might be an issue.

Spurrier makes this list because, well, no list of Southern-themed activities would be complete without him. Pelini and Muschamp would drive mad, which I think is a good thing; again, most of my NASCAR knowledge comes from “Days of Thunder.” Saban would lag right behind the leader before making a late burst for the checkered flag.

It’s far easier to make a list of the worst head coaches as NASCAR drivers, which shouldn’t be surprising. I imagine that Randy Edsall’s desire to keep the inside of his car spick-and-span would ultimately be his downfall. Charlie Weis doesn’t seem to have the stamina, though he does have some familiarity with motorized devices. Here’s a short list:

Larry Coker
Derek Dooley
Frank Solich
Tom O’Brien
George O’Leary
Bret Bielema
Bill Snyder

Not to be an ageist, but it’s probably safe to assume that Coker, Solich and Snyder wouldn’t fare as well in today’s NASCAR as they would have, say, in the 1970s. Not that I doubt Snyder’s ability to do anything: I think the architect of Kansas State’s rise could probably sneak into the top 10, thanks to some guile and persistence.

Dooley doesn’t really strike me as a safe driver. Similarly, I’m not confident in O’Leary’s ability to handle fast-moving objects. Bielema would start the race in the lead, but inexplicably, he’d need to replace the vast majority of his pit crew midway through the race. O’Brien would get to 55, move slowly into the right lane and wave for his fellow racers to just pass him, darn it.

Now, which team’s 2011 season best resembles this year’s Daytona 500? The non-stop rain reminded me of U.C.L.A., which seemed covered by a cloud all season. The fiery mid-race crash was clearly reminiscent of Illinois, which was 6-0 heading into an Oct. 15 date against Ohio State before dropping its last six games of the regular season. A sleeper: L.S.U., which experienced a big-game meltdown equivalent to last night’s fireball.

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  1. Dave says:

    Haha, gotta love the off-season posts!

    Stamina would be the least of Weis’ problems – I don’t think he could get his fat a$$ in the car!

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