It’s Time to Crack the Coconuts

Somebody has to win the Big Ten this season.

via Shatel: Statement season starts with Wisconsin – Omaha.com.

Just because it happened to be on TV yesterday, I will mention the film “Pagan Love Song” (MGM, 1950).

I could not avoid catching a few moments of this forgettable musical before I left for work, and my first thought was that it must be one of Hollywood’s most subtly racist movies — the movie is fairly overrun by mumbling natives, and the protagonist Hazard Endicott (played with broad-grinning, G-rated sex appeal by Howard Keel) confuses Mimi Bennett (Esther Williams!) (I know!) for a Tahitian native throughout a series of “Three’s Company”-esque meetings.

My second thought was to ruminate on Mr. Endicott’s oft-stated wish in the film: “I just want to rest,” he said, Todd Rundgen-like, while sitting in the sun.

Mr. Endicott didn’t want to work. Anyway, his native servants told him his native neighbors would do that for him. Ironically, that sloth is part of what propels him toward the wow-is-she-pretty Ms. Bennett.

It is — and as stretches go, this is not so bad — not unlike the forces at work right now in college football, nudging Nebraska toward a championship in the so-called Big Ten — or so we are led to believe. The Huskers won’t have to do any of the work; their neighbors will do it for them.

“Somebody has to win the Big Ten this season,” The Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel writes.

He will never be more right.

We have observed in this space the inexplicable rebound in optimism about the Huskers’ prospects, and followed its roots to the poor competition among their conference peers. Mr. Shatel sees it more clearly than most.

“To make history in their second Big Ten go-around,” he writes with unacknowledged ostentation of the Huskers, “they simply must get out of their own way.”

Go back to the porch, in other words, and wait for a dozen sarong-wrapped extras to render your coconuts for you.

Tonight’s game against Wisconsin is the first opportunity for Nebraska to embrace its own sloth. But as Mr. Shatel himself notes, “It’s not a very compelling formula.”

No, it’s not; not in “Pagan Love Song,” either.

Mr. Endicott’s final misstep before beginning to properly woo the nubile and dazzling Ms. Bennett is to show up at a party in native dress. As he sheepishly allows himself, showing not a little bit of leg, to be introduced to linen-suited party guests, one of his native servants arrives — hilarious! — wearing a suit.

As parties go, it is not unlike the game against Wisconsin. Each team will be wearing alternative uniforms. Nebraska’s is like something out of a Judge Dredd comic; players will have a giant N stamped on their chest. Mr. Shatel refers to the crass, transparent attempt to sell jerseys as “an Andy Warhol fashion show.”

So that is where Nebraska is left, perched on the beginning of a semi-memorable run to mediocrity. If only it can keep from depantsing itself.

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