I have no karma and no Wagon Wheel exclusive

Brock Harrington

I had the perfect column idea, and then the last five minutes of the fourth quarter happened during Kent State’s game with Akron at Dix Stadium on Saturday.

I was going to write a parody column where I interviewed the Wagon Wheel. I was going to make the Wagon Wheel be a talkative individual who refuses to graduate even after 70-some years on a college campus, but then junior wide receiver Phil Garner dropped a punt.

Yes, I heard the Pulitzer Prize people calling Franklin Hall. I could see letters from The Onion, saying: “Hey, buddy, read your column. Loved it. Here’s a job come December.”

Man, my future was laid out for me, all because I wrote a column about a stupid wagon wheel, which probably isn’t even the original wheel from the famed “stuck in the mud” story. Then that defensive holding call on third-and-long happened, and Kent State cornerback Danny Sadler and myself were screwed.

At this point I was rethinking everything. I figured my angle would be how no one saw or thought that a team with an injured starting running back (junior Eugene Jarvis) could be competitive. A column about a team whose starting tight end – well, I guess you can call him that – senior Jameson Konz, was not playing, and will never play this season, almost beat Akron. A story about how two of the defense’s starting linebackers were out, and will be out for a long time, but yet, the Flashes still won.

Yeah, that was the angle I was going to take. Did I jinx them? No, I didn’t jinx them. I was just thinking ahead – then Akron’s touchdown was wiped off the Jumbotron.

Eureka! My column idea was created. I would throw in a quote from the Wagon Wheel, in honor of the original idea. I would talk to sophomore Brian Lainhart, who had three picks, the first Kent State player since 1988 to do that. And then a mind-boggling thing happened.

The referees decided to actually watch the replay. I was on the sideline but was on the opposite side of the field, so the only thing I could see was the ball coming out after a would-be Akron touchdown. The only thing I heard was the Akron fans chanting expletives. It was an easy catch. The Akron receiver had the ball and clearly had possession.

Damn, now the column idea changed again. The Flashes were now losing. Funny how one little muffed punt changes football games, newspaper headlines and one young journalist’s disastrous career.

But the Flashes did something they rarely do – they answered back. Now, I didn’t expect them to win, but at this point I was thinking anything was possible. Senior Julian Edelman was un-tackle-able. But, oh well, Kent State was forced into a fourth-and-long with about a minute-and-a-half left.

Ballgame. Column idea is transformed into a “Yeah they lost, but man, Doug Martin’s boys played well,” piece – basically it turned into a Chicago Cubs story (but they didn’t even play, did they?).

Then Edelman scrambled for 30 yards. Seriously, Edelman? Learn how to quit sometime. I needed a column idea, Akron fans were running out of unoriginal chants and overtime would bring more media misery.

But, contrary to some people’s beliefs, Edelman doesn’t know how to quit. The Flashes are near the end zone. For a split second, senior wide receiver Shawn Bayes had the ball in his hands in the end zone. Man, that’s a story. Bayes, who is having a terrific season, catches the game winning – nope, Bayes dropped it, and I can’t write “Kent State receiver (insert name) dropped a key pass …” anymore.

The Nate Reed field goal at the end of regulation was the most ridiculous play I have ever seen in football. The kick was blocked, but not well enough because the kick scooted over the crossbar. When the referee under the crossbar doesn’t have to move to grab the football after the kick, it means your kicker has great karma. That was my column idea: junior Nate Reed and his fantastic karma. I’ll use stats from last season and the billion quotes from Martin about his kicker.

Well, after the first overtime period, I was waiting for Nate Reed to write my column for me – remember, this all started with less then four minutes to go in the fourth. The Flashes needed another big kick from Reed to send it to a third overtime. And he missed it.

I can’t blame Reed – that’s how karma works. He probably stole a girl’s box of crayons in preschool and the powers-that-be who run this universe decided to punish him Saturday. They were probably punishing me, as I wiped off another column idea.

So, what do I write about as I sit in front of a computer in Franklin Hall?

“Well, those final four minutes sure did change things, and it was probably karma’s fault,” the Wagon Wheel said.

Contact sports editor Brock Harrington at [email protected].