In the long and theatrical history of sports, there have been a lot of guarantees that failed. Times when someone let his enthusiasm overrule his judgment and was exposed. Jerramy Stevens, for example, wrongly predicted the Seattle Seahawks would beat Pittsburgh in the 2006 Super Bowl. Those things happen.
But for sheer embarrassment, few have fared worse than Wyoming football coach Joe Glenn, who this week guaranteed a win over Utah.
D'Oh! Utah 50, Wyoming 0.
You have to give him this: His flame-out was spectacular. The Utes led 40-0 at half. Any more wrong and he'd be in the same category as the president of Michigan Savings Bank, who urged Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the auto by saying, "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty a fad." Or Albert Einstein's teacher, who said, "It doesn't matter what he does, he will never amount to anything."
Still, it was hard not to sympathize with Glenn on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
How bad was it?
"Abuse" doesn't begin the description.
All because he got a little overheated.
"I got pretty emotional last Monday at a luncheon with some students, got my big Irish mouth going," Glenn said after the game.
Truthfully, Glenn is a nice man. He has done fairly well at Wyoming (26-31), considering it has numerous challenges not the least being that it's in Laramie. He is also enthusiastic. Listen to him for five minutes and you're ready to tackle the federal deficit.
He's a genuine, feelings-on-his-shirtsleeves, positive thinker.
So it was that he found himself talking to a small group of Wyoming students this week and began emoting about how excited he was, which led to him saying he thought Wyoming would beat Utah, which led to him guaranteeing victory.
Down went his protection. He was as exposed as a scrambling quarterback. Soon, news organizations picked it up, and Glenn was bulletin board material.
Although his remarks proved embarrassing, it's not as if Glenn broke any new ground. Guarantees have been around for ages in sports.
Pro wrestling is built on silly promises. But in the real sports world, where there isn't a script, it's a riskier proposition. Things can happen to make you look bad.
For instance, the 28-yard fumblerooski touchdown that caught the Cowboys napping. The Wyoming player who let a punt hit him, allowing Utah to recover on the Wyoming 10. An audible on a fake punt that failed miserably.
Still, no one should be too hard on Glenn. The world needs more coaches who say what they think, rather than churning out the usual drivel. There is nothing less interesting than a coach droning on about his opponent's talent and how focused his own team must be.
Glenn probably didn't expect his guarantee to leak out and become news anyway.
Guarantees can sometimes even make you look smart. Muhammad Ali promised a victory over Sonny Liston and won by a knockout. Joe Namath became a legend by guaranteeing a Jets win over the Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl.
The flip side is that failed guarantees never go unchallenged. Thus in the first half, with the Utes' lead rising, fans began chanting, "Guarantee! Guarantee!" They repeated their chant as Wyoming left the field. Caught up in the the moment, Glenn flashed an obscene gesture toward the Utes when they tried an onside kick with a 43-0 lead.
Seemed his emotions were still getting him in trouble.
After staying extra long in the locker room, Glenn emerged to speak with the media, sounding properly chastened.
"You go find a crow," he said, "and I'll eat it."Yes, he ended up looking silly. His promise missed by a mile. But even without the prediction, how much more embarrassed could he be? In a certain way you have to admire a guy who believes he's going to win enough to say so once in awhile.
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