Friday, December 09, 2011

'What about the shillelagh?'

My friend J.M. called last night to tell me that one of my all-time favorite people, former UT football coach Johnny Majors, was on "SportsTalk" on AM 990 helping predict the winners of this year's bowl games (with David Keith!).

I chuckled when Majors picked North Carolina State to lose its bowl game, saying: "NC State's been kind of a yo-yo team all year."

For some reason, it made me think of one of the more bizarre and hilarious moments from his final "Johnny Majors Show" with John Ward in 1992. Near the end of the program, Majors had been quite serious, thanking a tearful Ward and others. And then, out of nowhere, he says what sounds like, "What about the shillelagh?" (pronounced "shil-lay-lee") and throws his pen.

Ward starts laughing and says something like, "Never again!"

I have no idea what Majors was talking about.

A shillelagh is an Irish cudgel or club, traditionally made of blackthorn or oak. Well, that doesn't tell me anything.

J.M. says he remembers the winner of some football game getting a "shillelagh trophy." That's exchanged by the winner of the Notre Dame/Purdue football game each year.

Sounds more plausible, but if that's the reference, I have no idea why Majors would bring it up during such a serious moment or why Ward then said, "Never again!"

Must have been an inside joke.

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