By Brandon Priddy
Last fall I submitted It’s Just One Big Game Of Throne Y’all to Outkick and was shocked at the positive response. I had mostly written it to amuse myself and a couple buddies and sent it in on a whim.
Figuring the Venn Diagram of SEC football fans and Thrones fans didn’t have much overlap, I didn’t even expect it to get published. I was wrong.
The column was wildly popular and even garnered #3 mention in 2012′s “Best of the Bullpen.” I’m not going to lie – that was pretty neat.
But one of the things we love the most about Thrones and SEC football is the evolving parade of characters that constantly come and go. Coaches are hired, new heroes emerge and when we get to the end of every season we know some heads will roll.
With all that said I thought I’d take a crack at updating our list for 2013, and even spread my gaze a little wider than just coaches and just the SEC. I mean, did you REALLY expect me to resist the chance to make a Feinbaum joke?
The New Guys:
Butch Jones – Bronn of the Blackwater
Meteoric rise was fueled by finding someone headed for greatness and latching on – Bronn had Tyrion and Butch had Brian Kelly. A few years ago they were humble sellswords or middling wide receivers coaches… now they’re addressed with a respectful ‘sir’ or ‘coach’ as they stride confidently through the centers of their respective universes. Charismatic with a quick wit, they’re likeable guys and we want to see them succeed, but we haven’t really figured them out yet. Are they truly worthy of their standing? Only time will tell.
Gus Malzahn – Ser Barristan Selmy
Their early careers were characterized by precocious starts and precipitous falls. Malzahn was famously promoted from high school coach to college head man and Barristan earned his nickname “The Bold” by riding in his first tourney at the age of 12. They reached the pinnacle of their professions – Barristan as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Malzahn as Lord Commander of a national title-winning offense and Heisman Trophy winner before they were abruptly and unceremoniously removed from service. Poor Barristan will never know the love of a woman as his service in the Kingsguard requires a vow of celibacy and a quick look at this clip makes me think sometimes that probably looks pretty good to Malzahn. Both disappeared for a year… but now they’re back.
Mark Stoops – Brienne of Tarth
She’s of the Sapphire Isle; he’s of the Big Blue Nation. Both possess an inordinate amount of enthusiasm for seemingly thankless jobs. Brienne devoted herself to Catylen Stark’s dead-end task of bringing the Kingslayer safely to King’s Landing, while Stoops has gone all in on Kentucky football. They’re quite skilled at their crafts and blind in their devotion… but by all the gods they believe. We like them even more BECAUSE they believe. It would be nice to see them succeed but those are pretty heavy odds stacked against them. Facing Florida’s defense with UK’s talent is roughly the equivalent of taking on a bear with a wooden sword.
Bret Bielema – Mance Rayder
Both took huge gambles by leaving behind everything they once knew (Mance was a man of the Night’s Watch and Bret was a Big 10 champion) to start over in a strange new land rife with opportunity. Now facing a daunting challenge that will define their legacies. Arkansas fans often resemble a disparate army of wildlings and winning a title in Fayetteville seems roughly equivalent to scaling an 800 foot ice wall with spikes and rope with the aim of launching an invasion against a heavily fortified castle.
Beyond The Coaches:
Johnny Manziel – Margaery Tyrell
Has been a scene-stealer since arrival from a faraway land to the south. Jaw-droppingly stunning whether making Alabama defenders look foolish or wearing a dress cut roughly at the navel. They’ve got that mischievous twinkle in the eye that says “I know there are a world of fucks out there, and I just don’t give any of them.” Both are sneaky good leaders and you get the feeling that we’re only beginning to see what they’re truly capable of as they enter the height of their powers. Expect more topless scenes.
Paul Finebaum – Varys
Each occupies a much bigger seat at the table than it seems they should and their rise is 100% predicated on getting other people to talk to them. If you ask their motivations, they’ll tell you they do it for “the realm” or “the fans,” but the fact of the matter is their true loyalties are 100% to themselves. Balls optional.
Mark Emmert – The High Septon
What’s that you say? You hardly remember the High Septon? It’s because nobody gives a shit what he says. He resides in a beautiful building, wears a pretty crown…and has never once made a contribution anyone can name. Last time we saw the septon, he was being devoured (literally) by the mob in the King;s Landing Riots. Doesn’t bode well for Emmert.
Jadeveon Clowney – Gregor Clegane
Their reputation for feats of freakish strength and ability to do inhuman things proceeds them, as does their enigmatic motivations. I don’t know about you, but hitting a guy so hard you knock his helmet 10 yards back while scooping up a fumble IN THE SAME MOTION is roughly the equivalent of cutting a horse’s head off with a SINGLE SWIPE OF YOUR SWORD. Personally, I think “The Mountain” sounds like a pretty good nickname for Clowney. Now I’m just going to stop because honestly these guys both scare the living shit out of me. When not watching them wreck their respective universes, we wonder ‘what exactly makes them tick?’ But of course we’re afraid to ask.
Marcus Lattimore – Lord Beric Dondarrion
They suffer awful, horrible, terrible, gruesome injuries…but just keep coming back, baby. And the realm is better for it.
The Bagman – Roose Bolton
One day, when we least expect it, he’ll step forward out of obscurity. “Hey Auburn fans, Cecil Newton sends his regards!”
Big 10 – The Others
Living up in the cold north they once developed a fearsome history and exist now mostly in legend and song. Stories circulate of their power, but it’s been so long since anyone saw them do anything of note we’re not even convinced they exist. The frightening tales aside, the reality of their existence is it’s nothing a little dragonglass or SEC speed can’t handle. Much more mortal than they’d have us believe.