[Cross blogged for Leland Quarterly]
Ah, September, that magical month when young men’s thoughts turn to flights of fancy, when young and enterprising Stanford minds dream of school supplies and dorm decorations, of hours spent indoors on Saturdays staring deeply into the eyes of an classics textbook, of mouthing along with those sultry tones of their secret lover—the eyes, after all, are the windows of the soul, sayeth Plato in the Phaedrus—a time when classes commence, when schooling starts, when summers cease and the dormant Stanford campus bursts once more into an autumn springtime of education, erudition, and enlightenment.
Oh, and also college football season starts.
As Stanford students, we have a particularly exciting reason to look forward to this most hallowed of fall traditions—namely, our team is probably going to be really, really good. I think so. You think so. And a lot of other people think so, too.
And with great power comes great public relations. More has been written, blogged, sung, prophesized, and otherwise ballyhooed about this year’s team than I’ve ever seen. To help you see through this blinding limelight, I present the first Gridiron Rhetoric.
Stanford faces their first opponent of the season today (though if you didn’t know that I’m curious why you’re reading an article with the word “gridiron” in the headline): the San Jose State Spartans. The Spartans, coming off a 1-12 season, are not generating much in the way of mainstream press, especially not compared to the hype machine that is 2011 Stanford football. So, for the time being, I’ll focus on Stanford’s press clippings.
To summarize a lot of articles at once: if I read one more “as luck and Luck would have it” pun I’m going to go all Kevin Moen on some sports reporters.
I get it, we have a great quarterback whose name also happens to be a fantastic pun for a game based on skill, training, and perseverance. But the sheer number of articles and writers that continue to use this pun baffles me. It’s not beating a dead horse—it’s beating a horse to death.
Why is Luck the only one to get the pun treatment? What about our backup quarterback Adam Brzeczek? To remedy this problem, I propose a few alternative players punsters can wordplay with:
- Kevin “Tiny” Danser, our 6’6”, 288-pound offensive guard
- Griff “No Relation” Whalen, one Whalen of a wide receiver
- Usua Amanam, a/k/a Usua Omnomnomnom
- Shayne Skov. There’s no pun here. You just write “Skov” as loudly as possible and narrow the margins so it looks like a mohawk. For example:
Finally, a look at some rhetoric from around the internet:
- SJSU Spartans Ready for #7 Stanford—the headline exhibits a textbook use of the rhetorical fallacy of false premise
- A look at Stanford’s recruiting hurdles—some well-deserved hubris from Coach Shaw lurking at the end, as well as an impassioned statement from President Hennessey about the importance of “college” versus “football”
- Stanford is more than Andrew Luck—on the dangers and inaccuracies of metonymy
- Andrew Luck Gamefilm Review: 2010 Big Game—includes my favorite thing ever written about our quarterback, a simple sentence surfacing from a sea of syllogism: “Andrew Luck is good at football”