The narrative hook is the literary device used to hook the listener’s attention and intrigue him enough so that he keeps listening. All writers and speakers know the narrative hook.
At his July 22, 2015, press conference Steve Spurrier, also known as The Head Ball Coach, demonstrated beautiful execution of the narrative hook. He hooked us from the start of his press conference by using the powerful word, “enemies” to describe the media and negative recruiters who lie to high school football players about his alleged doddering age and impending retirement.
It seemed extreme. Yes. “Enemies” is a strong word to describe the media or opposing coaches.
Later on in Spurrier’s talk we learned “enemies” was not intended literally. It was merely an allegory that reflected his plan to quote the famous conqueror Attila the Hun:
“It’s a simple truth that the greater your accomplishments — your victories — the greater opposition, torment, and discouragement your enemies will throw in your path.
Obviously, Spurrier does not consider the media (or the lying negative recruiters) literal “enemies” in the sense of a bitter, hated foe. Rather, enemies is used here as a narrative hook and to make a point. It was a point Spurrier made very powerfully.
Unlike a lot of Gamecock fans, I like ESPN’s SEC Network commentator Paul Finebaum. I subscribe to the “Best Of Finebaum” Podcasts on iTunes. I would recommend it to all of my Gamecock friends because Finebaum conducts some interesting interviews, and callers to his show, while sometimes whacked and tilted to Alabama, are humorous and sometimes touching.
But when it comes to understanding “The Great Steve Spurrier,” as he calls him, Finebaum is a clueless goof. Finebaum took Spurrier’s use of “enemies” literally. On his show, he launched a scathing attack on his “friend” Spurrier.
Finebaum said Spurrier sounded petulant, embarrassing, sniveling, petty, and smaller. Wow! The harshness of this criticism makes me think Finebaum missed Spurrier’s artful use of the narrative hook. On The Dan Patrick Show, Finebaum even compared Spurrier to Richard Nixon.
In my opinion, Finebaum badly underestimated The Head Ball Coach. I’m not a professional writer like Paul Finebaum. Which makes me even more mystified about by why Finebaum did not put two and two together and understand the artfulness of Spurrier’s remarks.
Finebaum also said Spurrier’s July 22, 2015, Press Conference seemed impromptu, reactionary, and ill-thought out. On the contrary, Spurriers remarks were well-calculated and well-timed.
First, Spurrier had to stop the recruiting bleeding caused by “retirement” and “old age” media stories. Contrary to Finebaum’s claim that Spurrier had “effectively and eloquently put the [retirement] story to bed,” the converse was true.
Two days before, Josh Kendall, the Gamecocks beat writer for The State newspaper, wrote this:
“I think they are a program on the descent, and I think it’s going to be interesting to see how long the coach stays. There are some guys you think, ‘Yeah, he’s going to be coaching when he’s 70.’ Steve Spurrier was never one of those guys for me, and it’s hard for me to envision him coaching much beyond this if he doesn’t think he has a chance to win, and I’m not sure he’s going to have a chance to win the next few years the way he’s had it the last few years.”
This extremely negative outlook for Spurrier and the Gamecocks–one based on ageism and rank speculation–was written just five days before an important pool party recruiting weekend. Contrary to Finebaum’s allegation, this dead horse was still kicking. Spurrier was forced to find a powerful way to address the retirement and old age issues so that it would not destroy his 2016 recruiting cycle.
And it worked like a charm. It worked brilliantly. Finebaum! There is genius behind the madness. Art begets production.
The issue is not the AJC reporter Mark Bradley who Kendall quoted to espouse an opinion the Gamecocks suck and Spurrier is a doddering old man.
It is true Spurrier implied that AJC writer Mark Bradley is a Georgia homer who is an “enemy.” But that doesn’t make much sense. Bradley is not really a Georgia homer. Plus, Bradley has little impact on the Gamecocks with the crap he writes down in Atlanta.
You need to look deeper.
The Georgia homer about whom Spurrier is referring here is the Gamecocks own beat writer, Josh Kendall. You can bet Kendall knows Spurrier knows from where he comes. Message delivered.
Kendall is a 1995 graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Before he came to work for The State in September 2012, Kendall covered University of Georgia sports for the fan-site, Dawg Post, and worked as a staff writer covering the Bulldogs for the Macon Telegraph, and the Athens Banner-Herald.
Go back and look. You don’t find Kendall writing harshly negative opinion pieces claiming the Bulldogs were a deteriorating program on the downhill slide. In fact, it was just the opposite. Kendall wrote loving pieces about the Bulldogs. He is arguably a huge Georgia Bulldog homer. Why is he working as a beat writer for the Gamecocks at The State anyway? Don’t we produce journalism graduates at The University of South Carolina?
The issue here is Josh Kendall and the local newspaper. The issue is Kendall using The State to undermine Spurrier’s football program four days before a huge recruiting weekend. The issue is that Kendall is using his position as a beat writer to help his favorite SEC school, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Paul Finebaum do some research. Spurrier is a thinker and some of his shots are subtle. Spurrier’s remarks were so well-calculated that nobody in the mainstream media, including an insightful reporter like Paul Finebaum, could figure it out. But you can bet your bottom dollar that Josh Kendall knows.