"As Pete Carroll was running off the field for halftime last year, Fox Sports Network caught him laughing. Laughing, apparently, at the Arkansas Razorbacks."
Thus saith Wally Hall in the sports section of today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. You can always tell when a big sports event is on the local horizon, because Wally always tries to stir the faithful up by demonizing the opposition. The most recent example of this was his incessant attempts to make Bernard Hopkins an unrepentant thug next to the "good" Jermain Taylor. It is his basic shtick.
The problem with demonizing USC's Pete Carroll is that he has the general reputation for being a pretty laid back and affable kinda guy. At least by the relentlessly humorless standards of Division I football, that is. After all, Bernard Hopkins did time. Granted, Pete Carroll did coach the Jets at one time. Still, the analogy is hardly apt. In any event, Wally, undeterred as he is by reality, elected to contrive a controversy where none had existed previously.
The column starts out with a quote from Razorback Defensive Coordinator Reggie Herring about last year's 70-17 shellacking by the Trojans in which he said: " I've never been a part of anything like this and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Some of it was self-inflicted and some of it was flat-out helplessness. We couldn't stop them."
Get it? The Trojans were unstoppable. Herring wouldn't wish the experience on his worst enemy. The Razorbacks were helpless in the face of such an onslaught.
And mean old Pete Carroll was laughing, or as Wally bravely put it, "laughing apparently" as he was leaving the field at halftime leading 42-10. Not only that, SC scored its last touchdown on a pass with two minutes to go in the game. A pass!
"Contriving a controversy" is the windier way of saying that Wally is just making stuff up again. Pete Carroll certainly doesn't have that reputation for bad sportsmanship, at least not until he got shived by Wally. As was alluded to earlier, Carroll is a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. By all accounts he is overjoyed to be at USC and away from the NFL. He is frequently described in the media as "boyish" in his demeanor. And Wally's got him practically in a black top hat and frock coat and twisting a handlebar moustache as he is heading for the locker.
Who knows why Carroll was "laughing apparently?" Did anybody from the Democrat-Gazette ask about this alleged incident during their interviews with Carroll this week? Nope. For all we know somebody said something funny on the sidelines. Maybe he was genuinely relieved that a game that looked, on paper, like it could have been a struggle turned into a rout. Maybe he was "apparently laughing" because the game at that point was, indeed, a laugher. We don't know and neither does Wally.
And another thing. I had an old professor who used to say, "Mean what you say and say what you mean." If Wally Hall thinks that USC ran the score up that awful night in Los Angeles he ought to man up and write, "Those bastards from USC shouldn't have run up the score on those poor boys from Arkansas, being helpless as they were, and now's our chance to get even." He should have wrote something like that instead of making stuff up about Pete Carroll.
But that's not Wally's style. He would rather rely on shtick and upon contriving a controversy where none existed previously. In other words, he would rather make stuff up to rile the faithful.