BELLE GLADE, Fla. -- There's a fair share of schadenfreude bubbling up on some
It is Richardson, who once verbally committed to Florida, to whom Gators fans are devoting the bulk of their attention, delighting in what must be Volunteer Nation's severe case of buyer's remorse.
They remember how the dreadlocked showman picked up a Florida hat at the press conference announcing his decision last February, only to toss it on the floor and don a Vols cap instead. They remember how, in the contretemps that ensued, Kiffin accused Gators head coach
I'm pleased to report I was able to purchase $25 of unleaded at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday at Swifty's, a convenience store on E. Main St. in Pahokee -- and this from a middle-aged gentleman wearing shoes
I'm doing some reporting in Pahokee and Belle Glade, eight miles south, for an upcoming SI story. On Saturday, these outrageously talented programs -- at least a dozen guys from each team have received D-I offers -- will play in the 39th annual Muck Bowl, a game that owes its name to the area's fertile, black soil. On Thursday night, they dressed up to attend the annual pre-Muck Bowl banquet, a tradition begun in 1984 by Dr.
The guys are forced to sit with members of the other team. A kind of icy détente held sway at some tables, although I did see pockets of actual fraternization. Pahokee's
While Richardson's arrest occasioned
You would be wrong. "I've been thinking about how much sweat and sacrifice it takes to get just one of these kids out of here,"
Patrick, a Glades Central assistant, is also the city's Director of Parks and Recreation. Every weekday of the summer, he can be found in a cramped gym just off MLK Boulevard, putting Raiders through agility drills and plyometrics, counting their reps in the weight room. On the June afternoon I visited, he interrupted our conversation to bark at the assembled youth: "You guys are NOT doing me a favor just bein' here. Now we're gonna do this [drill] AGAIN, and do it RIGHT, or we'll just make some EXTRA time to run."
Nodding in agreement from a worn sofa in the corner was
"These kids, they think just 'cause they're in Belle Glade they can't get beat. They don't understand
Beside Cook sat a giant named
No matter. One of the reasons these teams win so many state championships, why they've sent countless players to Division I and 48 (by their count) to the pros is because guys like Patrick and Jones and Cook come back to the community and keep the tradition alive. They uphold exacting standards; root out complacency and kill it at the source.
It was Hester who electrified Thursday night's banquet, deviating from his prepared remarks to "speak from my heart." Raising the subject of Richardson, Hester practically begged the young men in the room to do a better job using their heads. Citing what was at stake -- scholarships, the opportunity to play on huge stages, their very
He went on to confide that, every time Pahokee takes the field against anyone but the GC Raiders, "I want to see them win."
"Nobody deserves to beat Pahokee, or Glades Central, but us."
Thus was the purpose of this dinner served. The teams were knit together by Hester's eloquence, and by their shared sadness over a terrible mistake made by a mutual friend.