One of the nice things about getting older is seeing your friends’ children mature and accomplish great things. It’s especially wonderful if you don’t have kids of your own, because it basically means that you get to enjoy all that good stuff without ever having to change dirty diapers or pay college tuition.
Some of the good news revolves around these children becoming parents themselves. This news I find somewhat disconcerting because I have a great deal of difficulty envisioning women upon whom I had intense adolescent crushes as grandmothers.
Other times, the good news revolves around these children going off to amazing institutions of higher education, ranging from Stanford in the west to West Point in the east. Occasionally, their academic choices can be less than happy; the son of one couple we know – both Stanford grads – chose to attend the University of California, our alma mater’s staunch rival. It was only after a great deal of discussion that they decided not to disown him.
But even more bittersweet than one’s son going off to one’s rival is the current situation we now face as the college football season opened this past weekend. Back in my college fraternity, there was a terrific guy named Bob Picazo, who had a terrific girlfriend named Carolyn. They eventually got married and had a terrific kid named Robbie. Bob is a high
school football coach, and as frequently happens with high school football coaches, he molded Robbie into a terrific football player – a quarterback, no less.
The only problem? Robbie, like his parents, went to Stanford. So he’s now vying to be the #2 quarterback behind the guy who’s not only #1 on the team, but also probably #1 in the country: Andrew Luck. Only occasionally does Stanford get really amazing quarterbacks – Jim Plunkett in the 70s, John Elway in the 80s, not a soul in the 90s – so we are looking
forward to a season beyond compare.
This, of course, is tough on Robbie, for a variety of reasons. First of all, leading up to last Saturday’s opening game against another local rival, San Jose State, Stanford coach David Shaw had not officially named Luck’s backup; it was between Robbie and another player named Brett Nottingham. (Somewhere, I’m sure, a friend of Brett Nottingham’s parents is
blogging about him.)
Second of all, Andrew Luck is one tough player. His highlight reel shows him, during an amazing run in last year’s Big Game between Cal and Stanford, not only knocking a Cal defensive back to the ground and but also stopping for a moment to make sure he wasn’t getting back up. (You might as well be #2 behind Peyton Manning or Brett Favre.)
There was no way in hell I wanted to see Robbie play – no offense to Bob and Carolyn – because the only scenario could envision was one in which Andrew Luck had been injured.
Then the game between the Stanford Cardinal and the San Jose State Spartans started. The Spartans are not a “patsy” team. In many opening games, even as underdogs, they’ve beaten Stanford. That didn’t happen on Saturday. In fact, the Spartans turned the ball over so many times in their own territory, I realized there was another scenario in which Shaw would send in his number 2: if Stanford far enough ahead to pull Luck. I hadn’t considered that possibility because it so rarely happens.
But sure enough, when Stanford had tallied 50 points on its way to a 57-3 victory, Shaw put in a new quarterback – and it wasn’t Robbie Picazo. It was Nottingham. Not long after that, though we had set the game to record, DVR issues prevented us from seeing the last six minutes – which was when, delightfully enough, Shaw pulled Nottingham and put in Robbie.
So it turned out that there was something worse that seeing Robbie play. It was not seeing Robbie play.