February is a barren, wintery expanse of football game-less squalor.
It's the prelude to another crippling scandal. February is sweet basketball frosting masking a cake baked with styrofoam peanut flour. It's manufactured anticipation over a spring scrimmage to avoid accepting the harsh reality that kickoff is further away than the Mars Rover.
In Ann Arbor February is the sister month to September, where each houses Michigan's recent Recruiting National Championships and Heisman Trophies respectively. FOIA requests are filed in February so stories about them can be written in May.
Yeah, it sucks here. But moping isn't never a good look, so snap out of it. You're from Ohio - there are two things you don't give a damn for and the other one is whiners.
We're all in this offseason together. Let's get Situational!
THE DESTINATION: SOCHI
The Winter Olympics were once adorned with charismatic speed skaters, skiers and Team USA defeating communism in the greatest hockey game every played. Over the past decade they have devolved into a more expensive version of the X-Games, but with sequins.
If you're religiously tuning into this spectacle you're basically just changing your vantage point for watching never-ending snow from your window to your television during this winter of endless goddamn school closings. This clearly makes winter the lesser of the two Olympicses.
But what the Sochi games have brought us for the first time since 2004 - when the frantic Grecians finished cleaning up Athens about ten minutes into the Summer Games - is a glimpse into how the most corrupt sausage this side of FIFA is made.
The Russians have managed to turn pooping into a spectator sport. They've made washing your face a dare and drinking a glass of water something out of Fear Factor. The sites are still unfinished, there are stray dogs everywhere and the local cuisine is all served in the ass.
Sochi will serve as a two-week lesson in how just how good things are in Youngstown, which has all of Sochi's grit - but with an animal shelter, drinkable water and rectum-optional lemonade. The most interesting character in the Sochi games is Sochi herself.
And that makes these the best winter games in recent memory. Ask yourself - where were the last ones held? Lillehammer? Vancouver? Yugoslavia? Great Wolf Lodge? No one knows, and don't say you do. Google is lying to you. Viva Sochi.
THE LOCKER ROOM DISTRACTION: MICHAEL SAM
Perhaps your unshakable views on sexual orientation were formed by a book issued to goat herders during the Copper Age. Maybe they were shaped by a Lady Gaga song from 2011. It's also possible your conclusions were also reached sometime in between, in which case your influencers are booooring.
What's most interesting about Missouri DE Michael Sam, who would like you to know that he's gay, is that he's named after two linebacker positions he doesn't play. A blocking tight end named Split Flanker would be just as enchanting. Regardless, The Situational isn't published to shake up your hot gay takes. It's here to talk about distractions.
Distractions. Having a gay teammate with access to a locker room full of partially-dressed sculpted gladiators is distracting...or maybe it isn't. Maybe that conclusion is exclusively dependent on the distractee's own evolving or static tolerance of a gay teammate. It's just as silly to assume Sam's homosexuality could send all of his teammates into uproar as it is to think any locker room is completely sterile ground for distraction breeding.
What we do know is Sam's Missouri teammates all knew he was gay last year. The Tigers won 12 games for only the second time in school history with that distracting knowledge. Sam was voted the team's MVP. So we have hard evidence that his homosexuality wasn't a distraction, which carries significantly more weight than the assumption that it would be.
Besides, you're from Ohio - there are two things you don't give a damn for and the other one is defenders who refuse to wrap up and tackle. Sam isn't one of those guys. [Right now you're naming some in your head who play or played for Ohio State and you should stop it. It's distracting.]
Personally, I'd find an openly gay teammate no more distracting than a teammate who refused to make me a fried chicken sandwich on a Sunday out of fear of besmirching the Creator. However, I'm just one person. In the NFL Sam will find 52 other snowflakes to distract or not distract.
What shouldn't be distracting are Sam's intentions. What will he look at in the locker room? How will the best defensive player in the SEC treat this kind of toweled man access?
It's quite possible Sam fought and worked his way to the top of amateur football and into NFL drafting circles because [gasp] he is just really driven to be an excellent football player. There are easier ways to see bulging male muscles in the raw, like opening your Internet browser or attending any 11W staff poker night. So yeah, working your way to the top of your physical craft is easily the least convenient way to cop a look.
Anyway, distraction is kind of a cop-out. Locker rooms are on the lookout for exactly two types of unwanted pathogens: The untalented (ugh, those people) and the cancers. Those are the guys you GTFO before they cause too much collateral damage - not a guy who was open with his teammates, played better than any of them and was chosen by them as the best of them.
Give me 53 Michael Sam-types to play at various positions, including at the Mike and the Sam. You can keep your 53 Ray Smalls. I find those guys distracting.
THE BOURBON: KENTUCKY GENTLEMAN
There is a bourbon for every situation. Sometimes the spirits and the events overlap, which means that where bourbon is concerned there can be more than one worthy choice.
Back on signing day I learned that Kentucky - the traditional basketball power Kentucky - had a hell of a recruiting haul in football. It took a whole bunch of good players from Ohio, which is to say it stole guys who would normally end up at Michigan State, Minnesota, Syracuse or wherever good in-state players who don't make it to Columbus normally go.
Besides, you're from Ohio - there are two things you don't give a damn for and the other one is Kentucky football. UK has always made football sense geographically, but that's it all it had: Being close to Ohio.
Suddenly it has the look of a young, burgeoning power. Enter the appropriate Situational Bourbon for UK football: Kentucky Gentleman.
KG is one of the lowest shelf (see: cheapest) bourbons on the market for a couple of reasons: One, it might be the youngest one produced today, which means it's less expensive to make and turn over. Two, it's a blend which at a primitive level means it meets the 51% threshold for bourbony goodness - and that's it. The other 49% in blends is, um, something else. In KG's case, it tastes like it's cut with hospital grade rubbing alcohol. There's bourbon in that bottle, but it's mixed with the cheapest shit they could find to fill the rest of the bottle.
Being young and blended makes it barely bourbon, but not everyone can afford even the okay-stuff so it has its place. The problem is that beneath its bourbony exterior and fancy name, it tastes...ugh...I'll defer to this kind review:
"burned, salted, burned again, and somehow f*cked to death."
Kentucky Gentleman also renders you in a state of agony the morning after consuming it - regardless of quantity - which leaves its drinkers wondering exactly what they saved by choosing it over a safer, still-cheap Jim Beam, for example.
The boner killer for your elated Kentucky Wildcat football fan intent on buying futures in a program which has lost 34 games since the last Winter Olympics is that his beloved team will always be the football equivalent of Kentucky Gentleman.
Consider that its roster is still 49% swill and will always be forced to play against a whole bunch of superior products. Its shelf in the SEC has long been kept below eye level, and creeping into the shelves above it would only happen temporarily or by accident before the natural order sent it back to where it is properly stocked.
There's a Kentucky Wildcats football program in every conference. The Kentucky Gentleman tips its cap and quietly mutters something about how it's always nice to look in the mirror. This serves as a strong do not buy for both the Kentuckys Gentleman and Wildcats.
THE PLAY-OFF: WOODY HOLIDAY
Here's Wayne Woodrow Hayes lecturing on apathy for two minutes. Listen specifically for the part where he imitates a campus stoner trying to get you to smoke a joint with him:
Woody would have turned 101 this Friday, which means we've now celebrated his birthday 26 times without him. He arrived in Clifton on Valentine's Day 1913 and had a greater impact on the state of Ohio than any of the imaginary martyrs for whom the holiday he deserves to overshadow is named.
That's right. Valentine's Day isn't also Woody Hayes' birthday. Woody Hayes' birthday is also Valentine's Day. Somehow Ohio's greeting card industry players haven't caught up to this; perhaps next year 11W Dry Goods can issue Woody valentines in time for you to show your sweetie how deep your love is.
In the meantime, feel free to print any of these Valentine-themed Woody quotes for the special someone in your life. Hell, Hallmark already has enough of your cash.
We've thought of everything. You work to hard and deserve a break. Besides, you're from Ohio - there are two things you don't give a damn for and the other thing is contrived holidays.
One last thing: Woody's protégé Bo Schembechler was born on April Fool's Day. Since Michigan football has imported literally every person that has made it relevant over the past 50 years from Ohio, it should probably begin looking into rebranding April 1.
There's your Situational. We'll be in the foxhole with you throughout the offseason. Go Bucks.