Agony, Glory | National Review

Agony, Glory | National Review

Brian Kelly, then Notre Dame’s coach, during a game at Stanford, November 27, 2021 (Darren Yamashita / USA TODAY Sports)

When the college-football season began, it was hot and humid, in most of the country. Soon, the season will reach its climax, with the playoffs. I have hosted a sportscast, exclusively on college football: here. Usually in these ’casts, we hop from sport to sport. But this one has a focus.

“We”? My guests are two of the regular gurus — David French and Vivek Dave — plus a ringer, Rahul Danak. More on ’hul in a moment. We discuss Michigan vs. Ohio State, and Alabama vs. Georgia. Those are past games. Also the upcoming games, of course. Then there is the question: Should coaches leave their teams after the regular season, leaving someone else to coach the bowl game? This happened at Oklahoma and Notre Dame. One second, Brian Kelly was at ND; the next, he was down at LSU, sporting a southern accent. (Kelly is from Massachusetts.) A related question: Should athletic departments fire their coaches in the middle of the season? They did this at LSU.

Further questions: Are players right to refuse to play in bowls, lest they get injured pre-NFL? How about Nick Saban, chastising his team’s fans — Alabama fans — for being spoiled and fickle, with a sense of entitlement? (I could have hugged him.) And so on and so forth. A lively, informed, and offbeat podcast, with three great talkers and guys.

Rahul and Vivek are relatives of each other, and very close friends. Yet they went to different universities: Michigan and Michigan State. For 20 years, they have had an unusual, and sometimes brutal, tradition: After any Michigan–MSU game, in football or basketball, the alum of the losing school has to call the alum of the winning school. This is known as the “concession call.” The loser has to call the winner immediately. Also, the winner can keep the conversation going for as long as he wants — be it five minutes or three hours. The loser has to hang in there. He has no choice.

One year, after a particularly heartbreaking — indeed, shocking — Michigan loss in football, Rahul called, as the rules require: but he requested a 24-hour grace period. He could just not go through with the conversation. Vivek, in his mercy, granted the 24 hours.

In our podcast, David recalls his own heartbreaking moments in sports — including Christian Laettner’s shot (known as “The Shot”), which allowed Duke to beat Kentucky in the NCAA basketball tournament of 1992.

The agony, the glory — that’s sports. Anyway, our discussion, once more, is here.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.