by Anselmo Watkins
Not merely content with ordering his players off social media websites Twitter and Facebook, Southern California State University football coach Jim Lane Leach on Wednesday instructed his players to wear muzzles that prevent them from speaking at all.
“Whether it is on social media outlets, speaking in the classroom or even just chatting with fellow students, we’ve discovered the hard way that the guys on our team just keep saying stupid things,” Leach said at his regular Tuesday press conference. “They make inappropriate comments to women, call out the opponent with bulletin board material, make comments about injuries that opposition can use against us. They just keep embarrassing our program and this is really the only solution we could come up with.”
The ban on all talking is just the latest in an escalating series of steps implemented by the first-year coach in recent weeks as he has worked to create an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and loathing surrounding the football program.
Following a series of embarrassing Tweets and Facebook messages in early October, SCSU student-athletes were forced to attend a seminar on social media etiquette. Leach followed with the social media ban early the next week after seeing several players tweeting during Saturday’s two-hour bus ride to Utah Tech, rather than watching his designated “amp-’em-up” movie Spartacus.
“I looked up during the “I am Spartacus” scene and not a damn one of them was looking at the screen. They were all staring at their phones, doing the Twitter (sic),” he said. “How are they going to learn about teamwork if they don’t watch Spartacus?”
According to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his boss is a tyrannical megalomaniac who thinks football is the most important thing in the universe, Leach decided to ban all communication after overhearing starting quarterback Chuck Sooper telling his mother over the phone that he had “slightly tweaked (his) ankle in practice Tuesday after stepping in a gopher hole.”
“Coach is completely paranoid about giving the opponent any sort of advantage, whether it is real or simply perceived,” the source said. ” When Sooper told his mom that he had slightly injured himself, Coach Leach felt that was giving our opponent that week, the University of El Dorado, a huge tactical advantage.”
“He also ranted about the gopher thing. He didn’t want the world to think that SCSU has gopher holes on its million-dollar, Division-I, field turf athletic field,” the source added.
“You never know who is listening,” Leach said. “There are spies everywhere. Spies! They want to know what we are doing, what plays we are running. If they know about an injury, they might take advantage of it somehow. I know I would.”
The muzzles, which are made of neoprene rubber and fit directly over the player’s mouths, were distributed immediately after practice Thursday.
When asked for comment on the unprecedented move, senior defensive tackle Clyde Edwards said, “Mmmmmoph, fffft mmpt owwwt sov vootmall. Cuuh mmmph mmrrr ghg.”
“Fffffffffkkkkkkk,” he added, shaking his head.
Leach said that the muzzles would be removed for football practices and on game days “because it is important that these young men be able to communicate when it matters.” When asked if the muzzles would be removed when the players went to class, Leach said no.
“Hell, the last thing we want some of these guys to do is talk in class,” he said. “Better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a moron than to open your mouth and confirm it. Plus, we have a large number of art majors on the team and most of their work is visual.”