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In Praise of Salty

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How Desiderius Erasmus responds to last week's call for Stallings to be fired.

CKS ain't nothin' to fuck with...
CKS ain't nothin' to fuck with...
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Following the buzzer beating, 17 point lead evaporating, confidence eroding loss to Mississippi State, resident basketball sage/law-talkin'man Tom Stephenson penned the following article: It's Time for Vanderbilt Basketball to Make a Change.

In this, he laid out a logical, empirical argument for why David Williams should look for a new head basketball coach at the end of this season.  In it, we saw such damning evidence as recently he has been worse than Jan van Breda Kolff (KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!") and viewed Stallings' statement following that game as the final straw in a frustrating season (said statement summed up by The Tennesseean):

Stallings both apologized for and vented about his inability to get through to his players. He said some players may be "too nice" or self-centered or have their own agendas. And he said the team, himself included, did not handle "crazy (preseason) expectations" well.

Of course, immediately after all Anchor of Gold readers  sent their pitchforks and torches out the be re-sharpened/re-oiled (me, too... it was convincing!), we beat a pretty mediocre Georgia team and followed that with an ass-stomping of the Gainesville Jorts Consortium on their own court (and with referees they clearly provided themselves).

Also, this happened:

So what in the ever-loving tarnation is going on with this team; with this coach???

In times of great confusion, we turn to 15-16th century Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, of course.  Specifically, the essay he wrote in 1509 addressed to Sir Thomas More: In Praise of Folly.

First, let's begin with Folly's general dictum:

"The chief element of happiness is this: to want to be what you are."
- Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Has this team followed this dictum?  Certainly.  As a collection of talented, yet maddeningly inconsistent players, they have consistently shown themselves to be talented, yet maddeningly inconsistent players.  And Coach Stallings?  Well, the man who once told Wade Balwin IV he would "fucking kill you!!!" following a minor showing of poor sportsmanship as Wade clapped at the UT Basket-Chuggers during the end of game ceremonial handshake... well, after calling his own players uncoachable brats, let's just say he's still as salty as ever.  He passes the Folly/Popeye dictum with flying colors.  Clearly, they all want to be exactly what they are.

Flipping the pages randomly until my finger stops, I came across this gem:

"Just as nothing is more foolish than misplaced wisdom, so too, nothing is more imprudent than perverse prudence. And surely it is perverse not to adapt yourself to the prevailing circumstances, to refuse 'to do as the Romans do,' to ignore the party-goer's maxium 'take a drink or take your leave,' to insist that the play should not be a play. True prudence, on the other hand, recognizes human limitations and does not strive to leap beyond them; it is willing to run with the herd, to overlook faults tolerantly or to share them in a friendly spirit. But, they say, that is exactly what we mean by folly. (I will hardly deny it -- as long as they will reciprocate by admitting that this is exactly what is means to perform the play of life.)"
- Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Prior to the past two games, this would tend to support the contentions of the FIRE STALLINGS camp.  Stallings was a great coach, but this talented team just isn't up to snuff, and he has, honestly, dropped off a bit in the past few years, so we adapt and search for a new coach, right?

Well, had we lost to Georgia and the Jorts, clearly.  However, we emphatically yelled "Walsh, you suck!" (also "Noah is ugly!"), so we now must push our perverse prudence to the side and adapt once more.

In other words, do not fault Stallings for being salty and calling out his players mid-season for no apparent reason.  Rather, applaud him for recognizing their limitations, adapting himself to his circumstances, and offering his players the option of taking a drink or taking their leave.  Well, against Georgia and the Jorts, they drank that proverbial milkshake.  They drank it up!

(Flip, flip, flip, land):

"...it is a sneaking piece of cowardice for authors to put feigned names to their works, as if, like bastards of their brain, they were afraid to own them."
- Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Oh screw you, Erasmus!  Some of us have jobs we need to keep!  I can't have my damned weiner kids asking Jeeves about what I type into Alta Vista!  Get with the times, man!

(Flip, flip, flip, land):

"And what is all this life but a kind of comedy, wherein men walk up and down in one another's disguises and act their respective parts, till the property-man brings them back to the attiring house. And yet he often orders a different dress, and makes him that came but just now off in the robes of a king put on the rags of a beggar. Thus are all things represented by counterfeit, and yet without this there was no living."
- Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

This seems fitting, too.  Let me explain: Postmodern theorists tell us that ontologically speaking, we are no more "a person" with a singular, consistent identity, but rather a collection of selves - which self we choose to show, or which self comes out in a particular situation is no more "who we are" than any other version.  As Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage," and Stallings can play the role of the salty coach better than anyone currently coaching.  Look around... sure there are plenty of sassy coaches (Pitino, Calipari, and Bruce Pearl come to mind), plenty of no-nonsense coaches (Coach K and his cadre of disciples), and plenty of "cheat to win/harbor a known pedophile on your coaching staff for decades" coaches (okay, the latter only applies to Boeheim that we know about, but the former is legion, with such hall of fame notables as Roy Williams, Larry Brown, Calipari, et al leading the charge), but salty coaches?  Where are our Gene Keadys, our Bobby Knights, our whomever that Rutgers guy was who repeatedly pelted his players with basketballs, insults, and ethnic slurs???

I can think of but two examples: Kevin Stallings and that Waste Management Union Leader who coaches the South Cackalacky Game Penises.

Why are these roles no longer valid?  Social progress?  Pish posh.  The robes of the times will be exchanged so often so as to render them meaningless.  Wear your salty robe, Stallings, and wear it well.  All these robes are counterfeit, but without them, we have no life!

Or something like that...

(Flip, flip, flip, land):

"The Stoics define wisdom to be conducted by reason, and folly nothing else but the being hurried by passion, lest our life should otherwise have been too dull and inactive, that creator, who out of clay first tempered and made us up, put into the composition of our humanity more than a pound of passions to an ounce of reason; and reason he confined within the narrow cells of the brain, whereas he left passions the whole body to range in."
- Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Read this again and tell me why we should not offer Kevin Stallings a lifetime extension?!?!

Are you not entertained?!?!?!

Salty Stallings, consider this your praise.  Keep threatening to murder your point guard.  Keep saying your team is a bunch of hot garbage babies who won't listen.  Tell the damn kids these days that their music is too loud, to stay off your lawn, and to wear less complicated shoes!

Pass the damned salt.