I've Got A Secret (Or) Say It Ain't So, Joe

Hey, you. Yeah, you over there, the funny-looking one. Come here for a sec, will ya.

Listen, I gotta tell you a little secret, ok. But, but listen, you gotta promise that you ain't gonna tell no one, because I promised Joe I'd keep quiet and all. I shouldn't even be tellin' you, but gee, just one person. Aw, he'll never find out, now, will he?

You see, the other afternoon--Wednesday I think it was--I was talking to Joe, Joe Restic, the football coach. Anyway, me and Joe, we're old buddies and all, and he told me--well, he didn't really tell me, because he never tells you nuthin', you have to read between the pauses--but he told me that Harvard was gonna finish first this year.

"Well Mike," he said, "let me tell you. Mike, let me tell you." And then he told me.

First he told me about the return of Jim Curry, who has the kinda talent that attracts proscouts to Cambridge. That's for his passcatching. Jim punts and kicks field goals for dessert.

Then he told me 'bout the defense line, with the two All-Ivies, Baggot and Kaye. Bob Baggot, the crazy dude from California on the weak end, Charley Kaye, the big guy in the middle. He told me about Russ Savage, second-team All-Ivy and underrated, and Steve Kaseta, captain and no slouch himself.

"At linebacker," Joe said, "we're talking about Russo (Frank), we're talking about Jason (Joe), we're talking about Goodreault (Joe), we're talking about Beling (Craig)." Then he mentioned a few others whom we're talking about.

Now Joe, he has this habit of makin' the same thing sound both good and bad, like he's an optimist and a pessimist at the same time. Nasty little habit, you know, because his real thoughts tend to get buried upstairs, with all the xxxxx's and ooooo's.

Why just last year, when he had to talk about a team others picked to finish first, he frowned. Nah, being the frontrunner, that ain't for Joe. Not his style, you know what I mean. Best to lay low, you see, play it cool for a while, and then sneak up on everyone around October or so.

But this time around, yup, this is for Joe. His ballgame, so to speak. The preseason predictions, you see, they got Harvard picked for third and fourth, so nobody'll be watching ol' Joe and his boys just yet. But you just wait, and remember two years ago, and if come the Dartmouth game, if Harvard ain't up there causin' trouble, then you can just say you never spoke to me.

So even while Joe's tellin' me about all his problems, I know that inside, he's just sittin' there smilin'. "The durability of the backs," Joe says, pointin' to a problem area. "That could be a key for us."

So I sit there and nod, but I'm thinking, "Joe, what are you feedin' me? Tommy Winn ain't here no longer, but Chris Doherty is, and Bob Kinchen is, and a few others is."

And then Joe talks about the quarterback, who is Tim Davenport, who I seem to remember once hung up 21 points in one quarter and almost pulled a miracle off against Princeton two seasons back. Naw, no worry here.

Joe next passed right by the offensive line with hardly a sound. Maybe he didn't want to say nuthin', but he didn't have to, 'cuz even I knew that Bruce McKinnon and Mike Clark were back, which is two more guys than was back in '76, and even Rod Carew, you know, the baseball guy, would take two for five and not hassle.

The only area left was the defensive backs. Yeah, Joe was hit pretty hard here by graduation, but he's got a few guys--John Tuke, Paul Halas, to mention two--who ain't exactly patsies back there.

So now Joe's gettin' ready to excuse himself, 'cuz he's got meetings and all with the other coaches to go to. These guys, they're always meetin' about one thing or another. Probably has somethin' to do with that multiflex, you know, those funny formations of Joe's where everyone runs in different directions.

That Joe, he's an inventive one, alright. Nuthin' strightforward bout him. Gotta be different, a real devious sort, who doesn't say what he thinks nor thinks what he says. The kinda guy who gives you the once-over when he shakes you hand--and what a handshake it is--while all the time sizin' you up, as if you was the opposition or somethin'. Nah, he'd never admit it, but he's got it made this year.

I mean just look at what he's got. First there's Curry. At least a touchdown a game. Larry Hobdy, he can catch that football, too, and Davenport, he can wing it. So the offense--assuming that is, enough backs stay "durable" (just threw that in for you, Coach)--will score the points, while the defense beats up on the other side of the line.

Of course, the defense is the main strength, and it will have to give the offense a little time to mature as them coaches like to say, but all things considered, it could be a lot worse.

Check out the schedule for instance. The first four games, why, it's as if Joe made it out himself. Two non-league games, and while I ain't gettin' on nobody's case, Columbia and Cornell ain't exactly what you'd call the cream of the crop. At least not this year.

But anyway, where were we? Oh yeah. So Joe's fixin' to leave, and go see some movies or somethin', but before he does, he's gotta say a few things--part of his job I guess--about the league's powers, Yale and Brown.

Yeah, Joe says, they're the teams to beat, or somethin' like that. They gotta be reckoned with, since they won last year and all, so here's Joe reckonin' with 'em, but I know--since me and Joe are old buddies and we discussed these things in the past--I know that Joe's all happy inside.

He's just thinkin', yeah, we'll play it cozy for a little bit, let Yale and Brown get a little fat around the temples, but when the time comes, why Joe, he'll be ready for 'em. You just wait and see.

Now remember, don't you go tell nobody that you spoke to me, 'cuz if Joe finds out he'll get all huffy and puffy and he might never speak to me no more, O.K.? But come November, and Harvard's up there fighting for the title, and then later, when they win, you remember you just remember what I told you here today. You just remember that you heard it here first, that Harvard's gonna win it all this year.

I'll be seein' you now, O.K.?