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  • About Jack Strickland

    Jack Strickland is a retired AP writer who was nominated by our newspaper for The Pulitzer Prize. His writing about Florida prisons, cancer victims, sports, and just plain folks is a special treasury for readers. He is active in the war against cancer. He, himself, is a survivor. As a reporter he covered many of the major stories in Florida. He lives in Gainesville where he is an advocate for cancer patients of all ages. Jack finds special joy in getting sports stars and teams involved in the care young cancer victims. He claims that the athletes benefit from the involvement as much as the patients. He says he managed to miss many tackles as a football player long ago, and learned that defeat can be temporary and serve as the foundation for success.
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    Jack Strickland's Florida Tales...

    Football season is uproarious time for players, fans and coaches

    September 15, 2013

    Statewide

    By Jack Strickland

    Football season is here. It brings out the best and the worst in rabid sports fans everywhere. Pranks pulled by loyal supporters on opposing fans are sometimes more entertaining than the action on the field. The 2013 football season is off to a great start.

    The University of Kentucky is known for it’s basketball championships. Football is an also-ran in Lexington. But, this year Wildcat fans came out of the woodwork to give their football team a memorable opening game against the lowly Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.

    WKU recently hired Bobby Petrino as their head football coach. He is the former coach at the University of Arkansas which is an SEC powerhouse.  While he was there coaching Arkansas toward championships, he became the object of a national scandal when he was involved in a motorcycle accident, near Fayetteville.

    He wrecked while riding his lovely young secret mistress on the back of his motorcycle.  With assistance from the highway patrolman assigned to provide security for the Razorback football team, he tried to cover up the accident and the affair. He lied to the press and the Arkansas administration. Their investigations ultimately caught him red-handed. The Razorbacks fired him and ran him out of the state of Arkansas in disgrace.

    The opening game between the Wildcats and the Hilltoppers was played at a neutral site in Memphis. Kentucky fans seized the opportunity party hardy as they piled on and razzed Petrino.

    They organized a biker escort for the buses carrying Petrino and his football team. An estimated 75 motorcycles with skimpy bikini clad Biker-Babes riding on the back were everywhere in Memphis. They provided an escort to the Stadium for the buses carrying Petrino and his Hilltoppers. The action may have riled up Pertino and his team. They were underdogs. They came out of the gate ready to play and whipped Kentucky decisively, 35-26.

    The Florida-Miami game always has it’s enterprising rowdy fans. This year the Gators outplayed the Hurricanes but turned the ball over six times. Miami won 21-16.

    Florida fans were outraged. For a change they did not attack their coach after the loss.  They demanded immediate corrective action against the team chaplain. It was his fault, they said, that the Gators gave the ball away 6 times and threw the game away. They demanded that the Chaplain stop taking the team to church where they were learning “Biblical Ball”—that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

    Miami fans showed no sympathy. Their victory celebration adopted the theme of the old award winning musical, “Moon over Miami”. As the Gator team buses pulled out of the stadium after the game, Miami fans who may have enjoyed too much to drink, gave the losing team a Miami salute. They turned around, dropped their pants, and mooned the Gators.

    Georgia fans love to hate South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier. He despises Georgia and cherishes being routinely voted Georgia’s most hated man. He works hard to preserve that ranking. The feud is long standing and has it’s roots in Spurrier’s college days at Florida fifty years ago.

    Georgia fans pulled out all the stops, last week, in razzing Spurrier in the build up for the week’s premier nationally televised game against South Carolina. They photo-shopped a variety of Suprrier pictures to show him in poses that were less than complimentary. Spurrier has always has a lot to say and the loss to Georgia on Saturday was probably far more painful to him than any of the of the Georgia pranks.

    Georgia’s victorious send off message to South Carolina was a cartoon depicting The Georgia Bulldog with a death grip around the neck of the South Carolina Game Cock as the chicken was slammed into a cage. The caption read, “Back to the coop, coot! And, shut your beak!”

    When John McKay was coaching the dismal Tampa Buccaneers during their win-less season, post game news conferences were always gloomy. After a game when the Buccaneer’s play on the field was exceptionally poor McKay was asked what he thought of the team’s execution. Without batting an eye he responded, “I’m in favor of it!”

    Norm Van Brocklin was a legendary football player and coach. Some of his records still stand. Throughout his career he provoked a contentious relationship with the press. He didn’t like what they wrote about him and his players and the sportswriters didn’t like him. He rarely passed up an opportunity to tell them the media how much he despised their work. 

    Late in his life as football injuries from years gone by began to take their toll he considered knee and hip replacements. He said he was also considering getting a brain transplant and was looking for a donor. He said he wanted the brain of a sportswriter. That way he would be assured of getting a new brain that had never been used.

    Stay tuned. The kickoff of football season signals great entertainment both on and off the playing field. Opening week indicates that it is going to be an entertaining season that is going to be a bunch of fun.