Halfway around the world, standing virtually in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the incomparable Timmy Chang is just days away from throwing his first pass of the season. From my tattered sofa, I will be watching him. I want you to watch him, too.
And please repeat the following four words after me:
Timmy Chang for Heisman.
The Hawaii senior quarterback, coming off back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons, is 2,218 yards shy of breaking Ty Detmer's Division I-A career passing record of 15,031, set at Brigham Young from 1988 to '91.
This is the third consecutive season Couch Slouch has spearheaded the Chang-for-Heisman campaign. Demonstrating the depth of my influence, Chang has yet to receive a single vote from anyone on the Heisman Trophy panel.
Then again, the Heisman -- like the Bowl Championship Series -- is a faulty system. It is largely based on Eastern media hype, national TV exposure, Lee Corso's Rolodex, money laundering from special-interest groups and photo ops with Frank Gifford.
(Alas, I remain ineligible to vote for the Heisman, due in part to my controversial picketing of the 1997 award ceremony when the Downtown Athletic Club refused to serve free-range chicken at its annual trophy dinner.)
I happened upon the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Chang his freshman season while grazing on cable, and, after watching his lyrical throwing delivery and rainbow-like aerials, opened the den window and shouted to my neighbors, "He's Frank Sinatra in shoulder pads!"
In fact, owing to a somewhat unhealthy Chang obsession and a somewhat lackluster social life, I have spent most of my late Saturday evenings the past three autumns watching Hawaii games on Fox Sports Net.
(Note: Fox Sports Net is the home of "I, Max," the first TV program in history named after its host and only viewer.)
When on his game, Chang's so accurate, he can be standing on Oahu and throw a football through a tire on Maui.
Now, you may pooh-pooh the Western Athletic Conference in which Chang competes, but if you think it's a stroll in the park playing at Boise State in late October, boy, oh, boy, you've got another thing coming. Sure, some of the nation's other top quarterbacks face a tougher schedule, but Chang plays under tougher conditions:
* Most of Chang's games are played in Hawaii under less-than-optimal climes. At kickoff, it is often 75 to 78 degrees, with a slight breeze. This isn't football-playing weather, this is honeymoon-in-Waikiki weather, requiring Chang to display more focus and grit than his Midwest and Deep South peers.
* Chang's games often start at close to midnight EST. At a time when most people are fast asleep, he has to be unceasingly on-target in Coach June Jones's highly complex, Malthusian-based offense.
* Chang usually is asked to pass 50 or 60 times a game -- every time he throws the ball, the defense expects it. Imagine if every time Bill Clinton or George W. Bush uttered a falsehood, we knew it was coming; I doubt either one could've been elected to the White House.
Chang threw for 534 yards against Louisiana Tech last season and I figure he's good for, oh, 535 in the season opener Saturday against a game, gritty Florida Atlantic. My only real worry is that his head will swell. Chang was benched briefly toward the end of last season -- best I can tell, he began to believe his press clippings, which, sadly for both of us, were composed almost entirely of my columns.
Still, he should surpass Detmer, maybe throw for 5,000 yards in a single season and bring home the Heisman. I'll be with him every step of the way -- from the sofa, that is -- and lend support at public forums far and wide. On the other hand, if he lets me down, I'll make sure Timmy Chang never sets foot on the mainland again.
Ask the Slouch
Q. I am trying to convince my wife we need an HDTV. Which programming in high definition would best reinforce my argument -- coverage of the presidential conventions, the Tour de France or pro soccer? (Dave Smith; Waltham, Mass.)
A. I don't want to disrupt what appears to be a solid marriage, but it might be easiest for you just to hang out in the Sears electronics department on weekends.
Q. I heard you diss John McEnroe on radio a while back and now I see you've dissed him in your column. What gives? (Robert Silverman; Seattle)
A. Have you watched "McEnroe" on CNBC? (Actually, according to the ratings, you haven't.) John McEnroe makes Jimmy Kimmel look like Jack Paar.
Q. Who would you like to play you in "Fahrenheit 7-Eleven: The Norman Chad Story," Ned Beatty or Mickey Rourke? (Greg Abel; Baltimore)
A. Memo to Shirley: Effective immediately, I want you to screen all incoming e-mail.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask the Slouch Cash Giveaway. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!