I would like to be your next men’s football coach
A cover letter to the University of South Carolina Athletics Department
I would like to be considered for the position of head coach of the University of South Carolina men’s football team.
As head coach I will stamp around on the grass and wave my arms at the officials. I will whisper sweet nothings into a sort of headset. I will turn to a television camera once per game and mouth the words “Go Cocks.” My eyes will be icy, my lips resolute, my tongue a quiver of devastating bon mots.
In press conferences my tone will be arch yet folksy. I will appear disdainful of all questions and speak only in the most general sense about the literal “outcome” of the “game.” These are trifling concerns to men like me, who study the way of the ball. I seek to understand the ball the way an explorer understands the sea, to caress the ball the way a lover soothes his lover’s brow, and to nurture the ball the way a mother fox nurtures her cub. I invite the “fans” to join me as pilgrims on the journey. What is the end zone, really, but a stand-in for sublimated desire?
My coaching philosophy is this: An open hand is the nest of a ball. I will repeat this saying to my football squad again and again, forcing them to ponder it like a koan. An open hand is the nest of a ball. An open hand is the nest of a ball. I will repeat the phrase until the words become syllables and the syllables contain no meaning. An open hand is the nest of a ball. An openhand isthenest ofaball. A no penha ndisth ene stofa ba ll.
My experience is considerable. I am an alumnus of the university in question, where I attended for academic reasons (couldn’t get into UNC). As to the sport of foot ball, I have seen the 1971 film Brian’s Song on three occasions and cried every time.
As to the matter of pay, it has been brought to my attention that my predecessor earned $4.2 million per annum, which came out to $2.1 million for every win he delivered in the current season. I am a shameless scab in the coaches’ union and will accept a yearly living allowance of $1 million, plus a steady supply of absinthe and a goose-down pillow for my coaching-bench.
You see, I don’t do this for the money. I love the game — the snap of the leather, the bombast of the symphony playing Strauss in the stands, the smell of a well-oiled lawnmower manicuring the pitch. I understand the sport on a phenomenological basis, the way a midcentury continental philosopher might have understood an apricot cocktail. I can’t get enough of the “ball game.” (I have taken to calling it the “ball game;” I think this will be one of my catchphrases.)
I have attached my curriculum vitae and a facsimile of my unpublished manuscript, a Lacanian analysis of a dream I had about the late Paul “Bear” Bryant. On a related note, I should mention here that I cannot wear a visor for religious reasons.
You will also find attached a list of references. I ask that you not contact them until you have achieved ego death.
On a more serious note, I released a new episode of the podcast over the weekend. It’s an interview with Marvin Pendarvis, my district’s representative in the South Carolina State House. We talked about fatherhood, the eviction crisis, Black Lives Matter, and the necessity of pursuing progressive politics in the American South. I came away from the conversation with a sober understanding of the task before us. I hope you get something out of it too. Click here to listen. I’ve attached a short preview below.
As always, thanks for reading. You can help support my work by sharing your favorite pieces with your friends or by signing up as a paying subscriber. For $5 a month, you get access to subscriber-only content, including everything in the archive and every newsletter and podcast I publish going forward. The Wednesday editions will remain free for everyone.