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The Epic Mistake I Made Today

Can't continue to mentor kids the way I do if you don't get chance to laugh at my expense
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Over the past 20 years, I have spent a lot of time mentoring young men and women. 

One thing they will tell you if you happen to cross paths with a few of them is that I am a big believer in not having a fear of making mistakes. They're one of the best ways to learn, and if you share them with others, they learn also, so everyone gets better.

If you're not making mistakes, you're either the second coming of Jesus or you're just afraid to try hard at anything. As I tell those kids, you can say the ABCs all day and not mess up, but have you really accomplished anything by not making a mistake?

The best mistakes are the ones that come with a great story. 

If you can laugh at yourself about it, then great. If others can have a laugh at your expense, even better.

This is one of those mistakes. 

After another stint in the hospital doing my best to imitate a person who's still alive, I began the day like anyone else who has to miss a few days of work – with a mountain of things on the to-do list waiting on me.

There I was with a to-go coffee cup of chocolate milk in hand instead my usual tub of caffeine because the person who usually dispenses my usual liquid awakedness wasn't able to make it in this morning and the poor guy having to cover had no idea how to make any food or drinks on the menu.

Feeling bad for the guy, I settled for a pre-made muffin and the aforementioned hand-mixed chocolate milk in a coffee cup.

That should have been my first warning that my brain, already foggy from the previous two days' events, would not be functioning at full focus.

As I plowed through my list, a press release announcing the new basketball schedule popped up in my e-mail.

Knowing my partner, Andy Hodges, was tied up covering football practice at the moment, I figured I would do a quick breakdown of the schedule and address how it might impact some of the ways Razorback basketball coach Eric Musselman approaches the game.

There was LSU, twice in the first six games, Kentucky in Game 2 on New Year's Day, which oddly has no bowl games this year, and Florida, a constant thorn to the Razorbacks in Game 3. 

Clearly Musselman was going to need to adjust his typical approach of getting his team settled by Jan. 20 or an SEC championship might not be in the cards.

So in the midst of 1,000 interruptions, the story got done, and as I posted it, I sent a text to Hodges telling him I had an idea for a follow-up and that I had some questions to see if I had missed something from the SEC offices.

He got back to me quickly, letting me know he had gotten tied up in a meeting with the guys at the Fannation offices about testing some things out on our site, and he'd call me in a bit. 

By the time Hodges was free, I was in desperate need of lunch and also needed to drop off something for my daughter to eat after school before diving into a four-hour color guard practice, so I was pretty deep into a relatively long drive to the nearest Braum's.

If anyone has ever had the pleasure of speaking to Andy, you know it will be several minutes of shooting the breeze over a wide array of topics before you remember why the two of you convened.

Thus, I had covered the 10 miles to my destination before I remembered to ask him about something I noticed while diving through information for my story.

"Hey, I noticed while I was working on my story that the league has decided not to do games on Saturdays and Tuesdays anymore," I said. "Do you have any idea when that came down or have any background information on it?"

He was confused, but apparently not surprised to have not gotten the memo of any changes as it's not out of the ordinary for a sports league to make changes and explain later.

However, when I mentioned all the games were on Sundays and Thursdays, which seemed like a horrible financial decision, the light bulb went off in Andy's head.

"That sounds like what they do for women's basketball," Hodges said. "They usually play those nights. You sure you weren't looking at the women's schedule?"

That's when it dawned on me. I was in such a hurry and had so much going on, that I didn't process the opening line of the release. 

Keep in mind, I was 10 miles from home and in the midst of ordering double cheeseburgers. I don't have access to anything from my car. 

"Andy, I need you to go take the story down and also all the social media," I said. 

Now, Hodges is 65 and was clearly enjoying the mild panic I tried to keep out of my voice. He wasn't about to do anything quickly.

He uttered something my brain didn't process that was an old colloquial phrase involving kicking something that basically meant let's not go taking things down before we confirm a mistake has been made.

In other words, he wanted to go read the press release and fully soak in the glory of reading what he already knew would be confirmation that I had misread the women's schedule as the men's.

He got a great laugh out of it and explained how happy he was to finally have me mess up so he can hang it over me when he makes his next mistake.

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It was a moment he had waited 23 years to experience (EDITOR'S NOTE: "Uh, no"), and between the expletives in his sentences and the glee in his voice, it was everything he had hoped it would be.

Fortunately, the story hadn't been out in the cyberwebs for too long. If Musselman, who is surprisingly quick when it comes to sifting through anything on the internet that might pertain to him, happened to see the story, he was probably terribly confused. 

Here I was talking about a New Year's Day game with Kentucky and how it fell on a strange day where no bowl games would be taking place, but, would instead go against a daunting NFL slate. 

Eric Musselman-Gonzaga

I specifically chose this photo for the social media and teasers because it's how I imagine Eric Musselman if he got a glimpse of the story I did before I pulled it down.

As I told Hodges, had I just caught the first two letter of women's, it would have told me what to do right away instead of posting.

For those who wonder why I didn't process that Sundays and Thursdays are the nights the women's teams play, I have covered as many Dallas Stars hockey games as I have Arkansas women's basketball in my 25 years of doing this – one.

I have a long list of things for which I am responsible for as coverage and women's basketball is not on my list.

That is something Hodges covers with a passion normally reserved for the highest levels of football when it comes to traditional beats, so those ladies get a quality of coverage few women's basketball teams get. 

It's much like asking a husband if he knows the schedule of another man's wife and kids. It's not on his list and not part of his responsibility, so it's off the radar.

Anyway, while I know a lot of people in this world go out of their way to hide their mistakes, especially in this business, I am proud to let you all know I messed up. I couldn't mentor another kid in good faith if I hid from it, felt ashamed, or didn't learn from it.

Those of us in the media are humans too. 

If you're going to mess up, do so gloriously and hope no one gets hurt in the process. I know I did, and I hope you got some enjoyment at my expense.

I certainly know Andy did, and as much as I owe him for everything he's done for me along the way, it was worth it.

Arkansas Divider

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Arkansas Divider

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