Do secrets within the team leave you feeling anxious? In March especially, yes, they always do.
Just in time for the SEC tourney we learn that Cal has had an epiphany and has made a tweak to the team, to the offense, to the defense, to the something. What it is, we have not a single clue. He's even sworn the team to silence but promises our fanbase that we will instantly notice what it is on Friday evening. Wait until Friday evening, he says.
Not so fast Cal, I hope I can get to the bottom of this first. How, you ask? Did you forget I have friends in high places? Yes, ones in really high places. It is the off-season for football after all and who's to question whether The Bear might have access to some insight on other things.
Why not take a little trip to see if we can find any answers.
I quietly slipped into the room we have all come to feel welcomed in and looked for signs that today's visit was at an opportune time. Consideration was always a good thing, my mother had always taught. There were no audible sounds coming from his room and as had been the case before, I thought someone would be along shortly, so I would wait.
As I had often done, I took stock in my surroundings. The room was dimly lit as it always was, and the down home settings were exactly as I had remembered. The place was not overly neat, but was tidy. I remember wondering if Bear had someone come in and straighten up occasionally or if if took care of it himself but then I realized that was probably one of the silliest things ever to be thinking about in this place.
The doors of the room had always been closed except when someone was either coming or going and as I listened closely for footsteps out in the hall, I heard a commotion coming from a closet in the far corner of the room. The door to what I thought was a coat room was ajar, and it appeared that the sounds were coming from the other side of the closet door. I inched closer and realized those sounds were voices and I knew it must be another room. Was Bear in there, I wondered? I listened discerningly.
It did not sound like my friend Paul was talking though. My thoughts raced that I might blow my cover if anyone found out that I visited my friend to occasionally talk football. Worse even yet would be that Bear might be busted for letting a mortal in to visit, so I proceeded with caution and sat exceptionally quiet and listened.
Someone was definitely watching a basketball game in the other room because I could hear the sweet sound of Chuck Taylor's squeaking on a hardwood floor. Some of you all know the sound. I heard Chuck's but I suppose they were Nike's. Regardless the sound is the same, even when out of this world.
As I allowed my mind to concentrate more on the conversation and less on the squeaks I found myself edging even closer for easier listening. I soon realized that these were very familiar voices, but it certainly had been a while since I had heard them. One was none other than the unmistakable Voice of the Wildcats and it sounded like he was taking calls from listeners because honest to God, I heard someone say, "I'll hang up and listen." I wish you could have seen my reaction.
He spoke to the caller and said, "Yes, more team play is crucial at this point. Friday is the start of the SEC tournament for the Cats and next week begins do-or-die time in the NCAA tourney."
A raspy voice spoke up and said, "Cawood, you always call it like you see it and I've always liked that about you. I always said when you see one of our teams dogging it, by God, burn 'em, and you always did."
Oh my, oh my! I quickly realized that this is Adolph Rupp and Cawood Ledford talking about our present day Cats! I almost screamed out in my excitement but I remembered to keep it cool and protect my cover, so I continued to listen.
"Hello, Cawood. What is this secret tweak Cal keeps talking about?" the next caller asked.
"Well, Bobby", Cawood said, "It appears he went to war on that one. Calipari knows that Wildcat fans have questions and he will try and provide them with answers if possible."
"Cawood, If he is smart he will try to do exactly that" Coach Rupp spoke up and said in a voice that sounded very sarcastic when he said it.
I turned to the person sitting beside me and told her that the two of them sound just like a sound byte of reading the blog today. Uhhhhhhh ... what just happened? Then I quickly knew there was good reason for this person going unnoticed for an unknown period of time. This felt very normal because while I had been listening to this conversation, the woman that taught me to love blue until the day you die, my grandmother, had been quietly sitting right there beside me, but was now holding her side from laughing at my 'uh oh' moment.
My heart lit up as I remembered the many times we 'watched' Cawood and many others discuss our Cats. And believe me, we didn't just watch, she was involved in the conversations. She had answers to a lot of the questions that the callers asked too ... and this woman would talk to the radio like everyone could hear her.
I just knew this wise woman would know the secrets of the tweak that Cal had forgotten to implement. She put her arm around me and said, "No, child, I do not know for certain. We all have guessed as to what it is but sometimes those guesses are simply what we armchair coaches think need to be fixed. We'll find out soon, won't we? And one more thing, young a2, remember that we'll be okay, we will certainly be okay."
While I may not have received a special revelation of the secret tweak before Friday's game, I actually gained so much more. I found reunited assurance that Blue is always worth staying behind because we have traveled far too far to ever turn around.
Thank you, a2#1, for reminding me to keep saying 'Go Big Blue' ... until the day I die!