If three decades of watching movies has taught me anything it's that when the odds are long and breaks aren't going your way, all you need is a snappy motivational speech to get things going again. It's the magic bullet. With that in mind here's a quick collection of some movie moments that I think the 'eers - and frankly all of us - could use tonight. Some bad, some good, some great - but all of them with a familiar message. Take a few seconds off of life, sit back and join me for some laughs and adrenalin - and maybe a surprise win.
Let's start out with one that isn't on a lot of folks' radars.
"Great moments are born of great opportunity.....This is your time.....now go out there and take it."
I've always been a big Kurt Russel fan, and his portrayal of 1980 US Hockey coach Herb Brooks speaking to his team before their historic game against the USSR is some of his best work. Steely eyes, barely concealed anger, clipped speech - he speaks to a locker room waiting to explode and earn the respect of the world. WVU could use a little of that energy tonight.
Here's one that's a little more main-stream.
(skip ahead to the 40 second mark for the speech)
"We're way past big speeches.........I love you guys."
The underdog speech by which all others are measured. Beautiful in its understanted eloquence. Coach Dale admits there's nothing he can say that will make his team any better. He instead turns things over to his team before giving way to a chaplain's quick 'David and Goliath' reading and ending everything with a simple "I love you guys." You see a locker room as close as one can get and if you don't get chills watching this I just don't know what to tell you. In the wake of roster turbulence and rumblings of growing interior discord, these Mountaineers could learn a little something from Hickory and Coach Dale.
Let's get defensive:
Remember the Titans
"You BLITZ! ALL! NIGHT!.....you make sure they remember, FOREVER! The night they played the Titans."
Now imagine the power of this speech if Will Patton were sporting a backward hat. I kid, I kid. For a defense that has yet to hold a conference foe under 39, keeping the other team from crossing the line of scrimmage seems a little greedy. How about keeping someone under 5 touchdowns. A great moment in a great movie though. My favorite part is the "leave no doubt!" Patton throws on at the end - it's like he's talking directly to us! This is a good sign, right?
Not every speech is a chill-bumper, though.
Oh, wait was that not the right speech? Sorry, I couldn't resist. I wanted to use James Van Der Beek's floundering attempts at a Texas accent to rally the troops but couldn't find a good clip on YouTube of his rousing halftime speech. Instead I offer this nugget of cinematic excellence.......
"I wish I could say something that was classy and inspirational, but that's just not our style.....pain heals, chicks dig scars, but glory is forever."
Gotta give Keanu some credit here for knowing his limitations and steering into the skid with an irreverent and mercifully short pep talk. A surprising bright spot in a movie that frankly wasn't terribly memorable.
On the other side of the coin, we have this:
Any Given Sunday
"The inches we need are everywhere around us..."
If you don't watch any of these other clips, watch this one. Soak it in. For my money, it's the best written pre-game speech in cinematic history. Moving as Pacino pours his heart out talking about his failed life, but then relevant and inspiring as he explains to his downcast team that the difference between winning and losing is nothing more than simple inches and the only thing standing between them and victory is their willingness to fight for those inches. Pacino was born to give a speech like this:
"We know when we add up those inches, that's gonna be the (friggin') difference between WINNING and LOSING!.....in any fight, it's who's willing to die is who's gonna win that inch...but I can't make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look in his eyes. Now I think you're going to see a guy who will go that inch with you."
Now tell me that's not a perfect analysis of these last two weeks of Mountaineer football. So close, but missing out on that extra inch when they need it. They're playing hard, but you don't feel like they're 100% selling out. It's understandable - losing sucks and takes a toll on the psyche and it's tough to talk yourself into throwing your all into something that may ultimately disappoint you. But it's the willingness to fight with every ounce of your fiber that will determine if you win those inches that add up to victory.
Oklahoma is as talented as anyone WVU has faced in several years and besting them for 60 minutes is a daunting task. So don't worry about that. Beat them for and inch. For 5 seconds. For 5 yards. A war is nothing if not a collection of smaller battles, the battles a collection of smaller fights and fights the amalgamation of inches won and lost.
It's time to fight.
It's time to win.
So having said that I'll leave you with the greatest 'drop the mic' moment in movie locker room history.
Let's do this.