In part one of our off-season series illuminating controversial college football issues, AaronFullen (Georgia Sports Blog guest reporter) takes an in-depth look at the life and times of the modern snake oil salesman. Joining us for an interview in panel format are three giants in the industry: Phil Fulmer, Tommy Tuberville and Urban Meyer.
GSB: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Coach Fulmer, let’s start with you. It’s been called an elixir, a health tonic and a flowery euphemism for a big bag of unmarked bills. Phil, what is “Snake Oil?”
Fulmer: It’s all of that and more, really. It cures rashes, shingles, diphtheria and other common ailments. It gives you pep and improves your disposition. Heck, with enough snake oil, you can ensure that South Florida studs with questionable academic credentials and no interest in Tennessee can be in Knoxville in the Fall. It’s powerful stuff.
GSB: Indeed. Coach Tuberville, how did you get your start in the snake oil business?
Tuberville: That’s a pretty good story. Just like in a respectable business, in this business you have to start at the bottom and work your way to the top. In the snake oil business, starting at the bottom means going out into the field, catching the snakes and milking them for their magical oil.
GSB: So, you caught snakes and milked them?
Tuberville: I was the best. You see, the key to catching a snake is finding the snake. Because God blessed me with certain anatomical “advantages,” I could hear a snake breathing at a range of two and a half miles. My bosses used to say I could hear what a snake was thinking.
“God blessed me with certain anatomical “advantages.”
GSB: Coach Meyer, you’re a relative newcomer to the snake oil business but are widely considered one of the industry’s rising stars. Talk about the marketing aspects of the business.
Meyer: Sure. To succeed in this business you have to be the top 1% of the top 1%. For instance, a few weeks back, I told the press that our running backs were awful and that we’d find a way to play without one this season. Some might see those remarks as the ravings of a MAC coach in over his head. But it’s all marketing. The day after that story was printed, I sent a case of snake oil and a reprint of the article to the top fifteen high school running backs in America.
GSB: Coach Tuberville, last year, you recruited a wide receiver from Georgia who was convicted of being an accessory to felony robbery and discharging a firearm in a crowded place. He spent his senior year under house arrest with a monitoring bracelet on his ankle. How do you get a kid like that past the administration and into your university?
Tuberville: Simple. We’ve all had times when our wedding rings get a little too tight around the finger. But use a little soap and water, and that sucker slides right off. The same principle holds true with a dab of snake oil and an ankle bracelet.
They don't just GIVE these away. You have to earn them.
GSB: Coach Fulmer, a final question about your program: It seems you have players convicted of assault every day. You allegedly had a booster pay Tee Martin, and you turned in Alabama to get immunity. You allegedly accept recruits with fake diplomas and your players don’t attend class. There are well-compensated street agents running around Miami and you lost to Vanderbilt last year. How do you explain your continued employment in the snake oil business?
Fulmer: Even the best salesman has a bad quarter every now and then. But when you’re not moving enough product, heads have to roll. The key is having plausible deniability.
GSB: In this case, plausible deniability is Randy Sanders?
Fulmer: I’ve heard him called that, yes.
Plausible deniability in action
GSB: We’ll wrap up with a question for Coach Meyer. Coach, you’ve talked about needing to get the top 1% of the top 1% of recruits to really succeed in
Urban Meyer works the crowd at a medicine show.
Meyer: Look, man. I’m no math wizard; I’m a snake oil salesman. It’s a whole bunch of kids.
GSB: So how do you know when you’ve found a “point-zero-one-percenter?”
Meyer: It’s the intangibles, really. For instance, we have a kid coming in this fall who put his fist through a car window about a week ago in Tampa. We have another kid coming in who has been banned from participating in high school athletics in the state of Virginia. I’ve met with and sold snake oil to a lot of high school football players and their families, but I’ve never sold snake oil to a kid that was banned by a state before. How does that even happen? Clearly, we knew we had to have him. He’s a one-in-a-thousand or one in twenty-five thousand or whatever kind of kid.
“Meyer is awarded Salesman of the Year”
GSB: How’s his marksmanship? Does he have experience handling assault rifles?
Meyer: You can’t really know that kind of thing about a kid until he gets to Gainesville. He’s shown he has all the tools.
The Georgia Sports Blog wishes to thank our panel of snake oil salesmen for their time. Shower time.