Here is a little insight into how my mind works, for those who care.
When I woke up this morning, my first thought was about today’s objective of settling on a money management and budgeting software and getting it set up. Yes, I was thinking about money. Goddamn money. Because, you see, it is very hard for me to think about money without hearing Pete Bell (aka Nick Nolte) shouting inside of my head.
This, naturally, got me thinking about the movie Blue Chips and how it becomes more and more relevant with each passing year. That’s one hell of a trick for a movie to pull off. The vast majority of movies become less relevant as time goes by; not the brilliant Blue Chips.
And with the never-ending gobbledygook of college sports rules violations and scandals coming to light, especially over the past 18 months, Coach Bell’s final press conference as coach of the Western Dolphins has perhaps never been more relevant than it is right now.
It’s worth 6 and a half minutes out of your Saturday to re-watch this. (If nothing else, you get to see a slim Ed O’Neill!)
Of course, the money line is the infamous one about…money, goddamn money:
“Because this ain’t about education! It ain’t much about winning and it sure as hell ain’t much about basketball! It’s about MONEY. Just GOD DAMN MONEY.“
But the line before it, which sets it up, is equally important, and speaks to the reason why a lot of principled men end up turning on their principles when the pressure to win gets turned up. It’s not an excuse, just a valid explanation for behavior:
You guys asked me to win, and I gave that to you. Right? And the alumni are all jerking off over this win, which is the only time the alumni ever jerk off, right? Is when we win.
And I also love this line:
Some of the others kids…what’d we give ‘em? What, cars? Tractors? We gave a kid a tractor?
The subtle emphasis Nolte puts on the word tractor always cracks me up. (And of course, the kid they gave the tractor to was none other than the Bird-like Ricky Roe, played by former IU standout Matt Nover.)
The next scene in the movie, also available on YouTube, is compelling as well. It shows Bell walking out of the arena and happening upon some kids playing ball, and the old coach does what he loves to do: coach.
(Note: The first minute or so of the below video is a repeat of the video above, then it continues on.)
I imagine that even the most notorious rule benders and breakers in college sports – the Lane Kiffins, the Butch Davises, the Jim Tressels, the Jim Calhouns, the John Caliparis – can relate with this. Just getting away from all the B.S. and asskissing and gladhanding that it takes to win in college sports nowadays and getting back to the essence of teaching.
Unfortunately, as we’ve learned, the goddamn money complicates everything. That’s the point of Blue Chips, and it was true before the movie came out, when it came out, and it certainly is true now some 17 years after its theatrical release in 1994.
A lot of movies don’t stay relevant for more than a few weeks at the box office. Very few are relevant even a year or two after the release. Rarely is a movie still important a decade later. And only a select few movies could be put in a time capsule as a near-perfect microcosm of the subject it covers. Blue Chips is one of those select few movies.