I’m trying to imagine how I would feel if I paid $80 to be insulted in the most vulgar of terms for a night. Like asking for a refund, I presume.
That was the cost of admission to the Texas A&M football chalk talk for women Wednesday night. For that price, a group of female fans was fed a meal and a load of pitifully crude non-humor, with a side of condescending song lyrics. What a deal!
This was yet another failure by Kevin Sumlin’s coaching staff – at least the third significant error in judgment in the last 19 months. He doesn’t have much more room for error. The fifth-year coach, whose production has diminished annually, needs to control the men who work for him, and he needs to do it now.
There was the student assistant, Michael Richardson, who was caught on video punching West Virginia players in the 2014 Liberty Bowl when they went out of bounds on the Aggies sideline.
There was receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, who in May fired off a series of tweets about “loyalty” immediately after five-star quarterback recruit Tate Martell de-committed to Texas A&M – which then turned off other prospective recruits.
And now there is the latest, a startling throwback to Neanderthal thinking from offensive line coach Jim Turner and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Jeff Banks.
These enlightened beings decided that it would add some fun to the chalk talk by infusing a slideshow on blocking techniques with sexual innuendo. Actually, that’s insult to innuendo; this is teenage locker-room talk masquerading as innuendo.
The “pass-blocking don’ts” passed along to a room full of women:
1. Don’t let him inside
2. Keep your hips down
3. Don’t go down
The “pass blocking dos”:
1. Spread them again
2. Get erect
3. Stay erect
4. Bang him hard
There were similar slides for run blocking. Is that not the funniest thing you’ve ever read? Surprisingly, there were no porn clips built into the program.
Less insulting – but certainly still insulting – was a rewrite of the “Aggie War Hymn” fight song. That included references to dish towels and Lysol and other kitchen accouterments – stuff women really know about, right?
Of course, Texas A&M isn’t alone in sexist humor at these events. Earlier in July, Kentucky assistant coach Eddie Gran told a group of women at a clinic that the Wildcats have “13 periods at practice and women only have one.”
In general, the concept of women’s clinics is verging on obsolescence. They’ve been around for years, operating under the dubious and sexist theory that girls don’t understand football and cannot understand football without male instruction.
Fact is, a chalk talk for both women and men would be more logical, more inclusive and more modern.
If you attend a college football game in the 21st century, you see a ton of female fans. And they’re not all just there for the tailgate. (Yeah, some are, but you can say the same about some men who are blind drunk by kickoff. How much football are those guys actually watching?)
Beyond pure sexism, the construct of the women’s clinic falls under the ancient premise that if you didn’t play the game, you can’t understand the game. It’s a fallacy. Playing the game can help you understand it, but not playing it isn’t an impediment to learning it. It’s a mindset that some football people use to wall themselves off from the rest of the world, as if they are part of a privileged inner sanctum of Real Men.
It’s also bogus and outdated. And nobody appears to be a more ancient relic of Neanderthal thinking than Jim Turner.
His involvement in the A&M idiocy is doubly outrageous. He has distinguished himself as a goon of the lowest variety.
Turner was fired by the Miami Dolphins in 2014 as part of the Jonathan Martin hazing situation. An NFL investigation found that Turner did nothing to deter a hostile atmosphere among his offensive linemen and partook in hazing of one lineman, allegedly giving him a male sex doll as a gag gift.
After being out of football in 2015, Turner initially took a job this offseason at Cincinnati. Then he reversed course and went to Texas A&M in February. Clearly, he didn’t learn much during his time away.
Amid a flurry of apologies Friday night, Sumlin announced that Turner and Banks are suspended for two weeks without pay and will do 20 hours community service. He previously had administered internal discipline to Moorehead, the receivers coach who went rogue on Twitter. And Richardson, the sideline assaulter in the Liberty Bowl, was dismissed quickly after that incident.
So Sumlin has taken action when his staff has screwed up. But how many times is your staff going to screw up without it reflecting directly on the man in charge?
Make no mistake, this is a critical season for Sumlin. After a fabulous 11-2 debut season with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, the record has slid to 9-4 in 2013, 8-5 in 2014 and 8-5 again last year. The Southeastern Conference record the last three seasons is 11-13.
And there has been considerable roster upheaval, particularly at quarterback, despite major recruiting scores at that position. This fall the Aggies will have their third different starter in the past three seasons – Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight, who steps into a void left by the transfer of both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray.
Kevin Sumlin needs to prove he can still win big at Texas A&M. But before he even gets to the season opener Sept. 3 against UCLA, he needs to prove he has control of a staff that keeps doing stupid things.