The Comeback

Here’s what happened: We got cocky.

The Crimson Tide came out of the gate this year looking as hungry as ever, destroying the Trojans without needing so much as a single Homeric reference from us to do it.

Meanwhile, Wish I Were at Egan’s came out flat, sloppy and entitled. We looked more like 2009–10 ‘Bama: unbelievable talent, no question, but where was the execution? Where was the leadership? Where was the drive?

Before you knew it we’d been whipped. We left Rob alone on an island in coverage and got beaten by Stephen Garcia. Three weeks with just Dix Pix posts? We were on the mat.

In retrospect, it’s all too easy to see why. In its first year, Wish I Were at Egan’s essentially won the National Championship of college football blogging. We racked up more than 500 followers (think about that … 500 humans who apparently want to read our … writing … ). We had more than 75 posts. Barry developed an entire advanced stats system for rating game day beers that got licensed by Fivethirtyeight.

We rode into the offseason and told each other, Yeah, sure, just give me a few weeks off and then we’ll get back to the workouts. The onomatopoeia drills. The ACC rap slams. P-90X poetry. We’ll get back to it, but first just one more case of champagne. Just one more weekend in Cabo.

We didn’t see each other much in the spring. There was the occasional group text during March Madness. We all assumed the others were taking care of business, doing finger drills on the keyboard. Making football jokes to their partners.

And we were busy. Barry signed a seven-figure deal to write sponsored content for Boulevard. Oliu expanded the UAEDFL to Australia (nailed it) and then Venezuela (whoops). Browne opened a brewery and financed it through a 30-year naming rights agreement with Draft Kings. Luke spent most of his MacArthur money on a single weekend back in Ames. Juan took the AD job at Clemson.

Rob, meanwhile, scaled new heights. He constructed an online gambling algorithm that shut down Irish curling and briefly owned four Cayman Islands. He and Anthony Bourdain spent three weeks in Morocco. Michelle invited him to the White House. He hit rock bottom on a Tuesday at a 3–6 poker table at the Pearl River Resort, only to bounce back by June. On Independence Day, he was sitting in a luxury box at the All-Star Game, throwing peanuts at Jeter.

And later that night, after the All-Star Game, after doing whatever it is people do after the All-Star Game (baseball stuff), he sat alone in his hotel room, looking out the window at the skyline of whatever city hosted the All-Star Game this year. He wept. For there were no more worlds to conquer. And he shivered in fear that his teammates were not as prepared as him for the new campaign.

And so that’s where we found ourselves this afternoon. Title repeat hopes in shambles. Four Dix Pix posts sitting all by themselves on the scoreboard. Our heads hanging, no one making eye contact with each other.

And Charles Robert Dixon stood up in the middle of the goddamn locker room.

And he laid the smack down.

I wish I could recall more of the speech. It was everything you’d hope for from a senior leader. It was, by turns, inspirational, fear-invoking, funny and a little bit gassy. I remember looking over and seeing Browne pound a fist into his palm, look at Rob with squinting eyes, and make a quiet “hmmph” sound of determination.

We stormed out of that locker room ready to take on the world. No one even minded John Wingard’s towel whips for once.

So that’s where we are today. We know we failed to live up to our own expectations. We abandoned our Process. But today, we start again.

This is the pivot in the sports movie. This is where our fans start to believe again. This is where the comeback begins.

(Or could be the last post ever … we’ll see … )