To: Alabama English Department Listserv
From: Commissioner Oliu
Date: Friday, February 27, 2009
Subject: A New Hope


It is no secret that we as people lack direction; it is the nature of our being, this hope of being led, and even those we consider “leaders” still operate under a formula and a hierarchy that exists within our human condition.

This concept is never more apparent than on the football field. To say that we are “ill-prepared” is an understatement. I, for one, have failed multiple lessons in camaraderie due to my upbringing. This has been made more apparent as a result of my diminishing skills, as I do not have the explosive power off the line of scrimmage that I once had as a small child growing up in Three Bridges, New Jersey, amped up on White Mystery Airheads, throwing a black-and-orange Nerf football up at a trajectory such that I could run under the ball and catch it. One of the many handicaps of being an only child, this inability to play catch with someone until my father came home later, much later, and, depending on the season, there might not be enough daylight to accurately see the football and its flight pattern, for it gets oh so very dark oh so very early in western New Jersey during the winter. Certainly, this awkward Oliu-complete-to-Oliu ritual has had its benefits. It taught me autonomy and excellence; enabled me to make difficult catches during our contests, due to the inevitable overthrowing of myself; and allowed me to harvest and generate a Möbius loop of energy, all process held within.

This is my story. We all have similar ones, individual talents that are effective while we are by ourselves, creating our art, ruminating on theory, the battle between us and the inanimate: the computer screens we hold dear, the literature that haunts us. The betterment of the self is for the betterment of the society, certainly; I have always believed this to be true. However, due to the recent rash of disputed calls during our football games, the lack of precise execution needed on slant patterns to prevent our aching and aging bodies from crashing into each other, and the frequency with which the football sails well over our heads on out patterns, I have begun to wonder about what happens when our individual selves are not enough and yet, when we are assembled into a rudimentary system, those things that once made us strong now make us weak. Do we let the system devolve into mass chaos, a survival-of-the-fittest technique where we run into each other until all those frail of body are injured and all those feeble of mind quit? Or do we install a new plan, a new leader, a new course of action?

Then, a sign.

Jon Gruden, the former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the recently fired coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, released his first statement since being relieved of his coaching duties. According to,

Gruden said he had no doubt he would coach again whether “it’s the NFL, college, high school or, maybe, I’ll just be the best damn flag football coach in the history of Florida.”

Jon David Gruden, you are our only hope in these trying times. We, the University of Alabama English Department Football League, humbly ask you to join us and make our routes crisper, our flag-ripping more efficient, our throws more accurate, in hopes of setting our hearts free and our souls churning forward. We do not have anything to offer you except our undying gratitude and perhaps a pair of Aunt Stella’s gloves. We will also invite you to come eat chili dogs with us at Rama Jama’s after the game, but you are expected to decline. You have your heart set on staying in Florida, perhaps, but Alabama is not that different, you see. We share a border near the Gulf Shores region, and our states are both shaped like weapons: Florida a gun, and us an obsidian spearhead. Furthermore, residents of our fair state tend to do better at reality-television competitions (see Hicks, Taylor; Bice, Bo; Studdard, Ruben; Ambre from Rock of Love 2).

We hope to see you and your coaching staff


With love,
The Commissioner