Chuck Landon: Marshall players say the darndest things
Art Linkletter was right.
Kids really do say the darndest things.
But what the late host of the former long-running television and radio show "Art Linkletter's House Party" didn't realize was the same premise applies to college kids.
Specifically, college kids who play major college football at such schools as Marshall University.
During player interviews a couple of Mondays ago, Marshall's Billy Mitchell made his first appearance of the season. The junior middle linebacker was sitting casually at a table in the Big Green Room at Edwards Stadium when I noticed him.
Now, what readers need to understand is press box inhabitants spend lots of time watching Marshall's players from afar while they're wearing helmets.
That explains being so taken aback when I saw Mitchell up close and personal. I was stunned at how much he resembles a certain person who is well-known within our state.
So, I approached Mitchell with a smile and a question.
"Hey, Billy, has anyone ever told you how much you look like West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen?"
As a chagrined smile played across his face, Mitchell chuckled mirthlessly and replied, "I get that all the time."
That led to an entertaining conversation.
Mitchell: "Oh, yeah. When my teammates' parents come in for home games, they'll meet me and ask if they can take photographs of me because I look so much like Holgorsen."
Me: What an awful lot in life.
Mitchell: "What can I say? There's nothing I can do about it."
But he tried anyway.
The very next day during Marshall's practice, Mitchell pulled his helmet off and his extremely receding hair-line with the long, straggly dirty blond hair was gone.
Not the extremely receding hair-line, of course.
But the long straggly hair was history.
Mitchell had shaved his head in an obvious attempt to minimize his resemblance to Holgorsen. Guess what? It didn't work.
Then, there's diminutive slot receiver Tommy Shuler, who hails from balmy Miami, Fla. If there's even the slightest hint of chill in the air, Shuler always shows up wearing a toboggan on his head.
Except for the coldest Monday of the season.
So, with a warm smile I asked him about it.
With a pained look in his eyes and a forlorned expression on his face, Shuler shook his head and sadly said, "Would somebody turn the heat back on?"
Good luck with that, Tommy.
Finally, there was an amusing conversation with phenom punter Tyler Williams that begs to be repeated.
The true freshman had just been added to the Ray Guy Watch List earlier that Monday and, as expected, was feeling pretty darned good about it.
Until the other kicking shoe dropped.
When I casually remarked to Williams that he had been on the same football field with Ray Guy during Marshall's 59-24 win over Southern Miss in M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Ms., Tyler's face froze in shook.
"No way," he exclaimed.
When I explained Guy was a former Southern Miss star, it had been Homecoming and the best punter in football history actually had been introduced on the field during a timeout, Williams was crest-fallen.
"I can't believe I didn't know that," he said. "Maybe I could have met him."
What's worse, it was a prime opportunity for Williams to make a connection.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "I could have connected with Ray Guy and missed out."
Yes, kids do indeed say the darndest things
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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