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Winging It, Vol. 3
DAZED AND CONFUSED
8.15.01

This just in: Preseason injuries to football players are a yearly occurrence. Also inevitable are the two very distinct reactions that said injuries elicit from fidgety football fans: (1) hand-wringing panic and (B) confusion. Like, for example, what's the difference between an ACL and a PCL? Is that the same thing as tearing an MCL?

For this RCL, such issues can be very perplexing. I know that all three problems have to do with the knee region, that all three are serious, and that all three are beyond the on-the-spot medical technique ("Put a little mud on it and get back out there, pansy") that most athletic trainers employ. Luckily, I have a modem.

In a few short clicks, you can learn that an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury results when a great amount of force is placed upon the knee in a bent position, sort of like what happened to Tony Veland. Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injuries occur when the knee is forcefully twisted or hyperextended, or when extremely weighty expectations collide with an extremely thin-skinned athlete, sort of like what happened to a certain quarterback-turned-wingback who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent and the guilty.

See the difference in the 'CLs? Good. You've just become a one-minute expert on ligament tears. But you're still not out of the woods. You may still embarass yourself at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays if you can't keep from mixing up the following:

SMU / USM
One is Southern Methodist University, an elite private school in the heart of Texas. The other is the University of Southern Mississippi, which is a public school of modest academic reputation. It costs roughly $15,000 more a year to attend SMU than USM, despite ex-Mustang Eric Dickerson's display of his high-priced education every Monday night on ABC.

KEITHEN McCANT / KEITH McCANTS
This one is confusing because both of these guys played football in the early 1990s. While at Alabama, Keith McCants' job was basically to run forward and attempt to knock opposing ballcarriers over. At Nebraska, quarterback Keithen McCant was at the helm of one of the most sophisticated offenses in the game. The main difference between the two is that Keith McCants, after a career in the NFL, is worth millions of dollars. But you can now acquire Keithen McCant for $4.99, souvenir beverage mug included.

PAT DYE / PAT JONES
Pat Dye landed Auburn on NCAA probation after a bunch of players were spotted driving new cars, flashing lots of jewelry, accepting large piles of cash while on their way to the bookie, etc. Pat Jones had the exact same predicament at Oklahoma State. Neither of them could beat Nebraska, whose players are all honest, hard-working student-athletes with 4.0 GPAs.

DeANGELO / D'ANGELO
One was a flash-in-the-pan football star. The other was a flash-in-the-pan rap star. It's difficult to say which one took a bigger fall from grace, because neither can form sentences well enough to tell us.

BLACKSHIRTS / BROWNSHIRTS
The Brownshirts were a street-level squad of roughnecks designed to overwhelm and neutralize enemies under the theory that possession of the trenches was the key to power. The Blackshirts adhere to the same basic concept, minus all of the Nazi junk, of course.

LAWRENCE PHILLIPS / WILSON PHILLIPS
Lawrence Phillips is a conflicted former Nebraska running back, while Wilson Phillips is a harmonizing 1990s pop-music trio. Their only similarity is that, after losing training-table privileges in 1995, Lawrence Phillips ate lots of junk food and became roughly the same size as Carnie Wilson. Also, please note that Wilson Phillips is NOT what you get when you cross Lawrence Phillips with Wilson Thomas.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL / LIBERTY BOWL
The Independence Bowl, played in Shreveport, La., features sixth-place teams from the Big 12 and SEC who are coming off disappointing seasons after being highly ranked to start the year. The Liberty Bowl is a climactic battle between the champions of the Mountain West Conference and the victors of Conference USA. The result of the Independence Bowl usually has more of an impact on the final rankings.

ARMY / NAVY
No difference, really. Gold helmets and slow-footed quarterbacks.

VMI / THE CITADEL
No difference, really. All-male schools with all-male cheerleaders.

ROY WILLIAMS / ROY WILLIAMS / ROY WILLIAMS
Respectively, a young man playing defensive back for the Oklahoma Sooners, a young man playing wide receiver for the Texas Longhorns, and a middle-aged man who is the head basketball coach at Kansas. Or, actually, maybe I read those out of order.

JOHN MALKOVICH / JOHN MACKOVIC
John Malkovich is an actor who starred in a film in which people take turns magically entering his head. They had to take turns, see, because there was only room in there for one person at a time. In contrast, John Mackovic's head has started booking group tours.

HAWKEYES / BUCKEYES
One is an annually overrated, disappointing team from the Big Ten who is on TV too much regardless of their putridity. The other is ... well, the exact same thing, actually.

THUNDER THORNTON / THUNDER COLLINS
The story of Thunder Thornton and his 1960s NU teammates was recently dramatized on NETV's widely televised "Husker Century" docudrama. Thunder Collins has gotten lots of ink, but is yet to appear on television for something other than a news report that uses his mug shot.

SEAGAL / SCHMAHL
Steven Seagal is responsible for VCR tapes named "Above the Law," "Hard to Kill," "Out for Justice" and "Under Siege." Jeff Schmahl is resonsible for VCR tapes named "Finished Business," "Reflection of Perfection," "It's Crystal Clear" and "Decade of Dominance."

MAC / WAC
One has UTEP in it, but I forget which one.

I-BACK / I-80 / I-CHING / I, CLAUDIUS / IDITAROD / I.M. HIPP / IHOP
Respectively, the featured back in the Nebraska offense, a cross-country Interstate highway, an ancient Chinese system of divination, the autobiography of Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius, an annual Alaskan dog-sled race, a prolific Cornhusker running back from the late '70s and the International House of Pancakes. It is possible that I-Back I.M. Hipp could compare the I-Ching to "I, Claudius" while sitting in an IHOP just off I-80 on the weekend that the Iditarod is held. But it is highly unlikely.

NEBRASKA / OKLAHOMA
Throwing a football is legal in Oklahoma but not in Nebraska.

==STEVE==
Saving the World. One Loon at a Time.
THE POND, Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.
http://www.redcladloon.com