Let me tell you a story about a football coach.
It begins in Kentucky, where the coach -- just 30 then -- spends two years soaking up knowledge from two of the brightest, most gifted minds the gridiron has ever seen. Together, he and his mentors push the boundaries of what is possible on the green grass of a football field, almost as if they re-imagined the space itself. They make beauty happen each Saturday, churning out record after record on the offensive side of the ball -- enough to fill an entire Rasputin's, and the neighboring Amoeba's. Quickly, the entire Southeast learns to dread, to fear the pair of words that mark their arrival: Air Raid.
The coach follows one of his mentors south after that stint, but even though the scenery and the conference are different, the results remain the same. There are new colors bleeding into the Lubbock turf, new defenses, new schemes to be conquered by Stick, Cross, Mesh, and Four Verts. They are.
Bowl berths follow. So do bowl wins and NFL talents. Awards, too, including one for being the nation's top assistant in 2006.
Eventually, though, the coach catches the same bug all young coaches do -- the incessant, gnawing desire to pave a path alone. His pulls him away from Texas, and he finally splits off from his mentor, looping through stops at cities named Tucson and Rustin, finally settling down in Berkeley, California, the place he has had his eye on for years, the place he calls his destination job.
Accompanying him through all this is a new partner, one who helps refine the Air Raid by strapping a tank of nitrous to its playbook. The effect is multiplicative, explosive, taking the scheme to brand new heights, although the high-tempo engine sputters and struggles at first in its West Coast home. Still, the pair continue to work diligently, tweaking and twisting at every detail, until 16 games of tinkering later, when everything looks to be in high gear.
But as chance -- and intra-conference scheduling -- would have it, the coach has to host his mentor in his first season in Berkeley. It is the kind of emotional narrative the sports pages love, but it comes at the wrong time for the coach. The newly christened "Bear Raid" is still in its infancy, nowhere close to the ruthlessly efficient point scoring machine it currently resembles. That game ends with the mentor victorious by a 44-22 score; the coach's team, too wounded and still too young, suffers their 4th of 11 losses.
Four games into his second campaign, all signs point to the coach now turning the corner, and Saturday, he gets his rematch; his second chance to usurp his master.
He does not plan on failing again.
Not with the bag of tricks now deeper than ever.
Not with a running attack that his mentor's offense could never dream up.
Not with his chosen signal-caller playing well enough to surge up every 2016 draft board in existence, and even several that aren't yet.
Not with first place in the Pac-12 North now on the line, and the title of The King in the North awaiting the victor.
He's coming. Expect him.