News item: Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer e-mailed a 300-word letter to season-ticket holders and fans acknowledging that the Volunteers' 5-6 record is "disappointing" and that "no one is happy about our season."
"We grossly underachieved offensively, and special teams were erratic at best," wrote Fulmer, who announced he will be conducting an offseason audit of the program. "No stone will be left unturned and no question left unanswered as to what went wrong."
Nothing says sorry -- and restores fan confidence in a sagging sports operation -- quite like an impersonal mass e-mail.
Indeed, Page 2 applauds Fulmer's electronic missive. For one, it makes him an inbox peer of the people with PARIS HILTON NICOLE RICHIE PHOTOS and that Guy Who Really Needs Money To Get Out Of Nigeria; more to the point, it beats the alternative.
Namely, manning a dunk tank in downtown Knoxville.
What if the rest of the sports world followed suit, using e-mail to connect with -- and grovel before -- irate fans? The results might look like the following:
Subject: WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR
Dear Detroit Lions fans,
Thank you again for your continuing support. Given our 4-7 record and embarrassing Thanksgiving Day loss to Atlanta, I understand your growing frustration. This season has been disappointing. No one involved with the team -- including myself -- is happy with our play.
We have grossly underachieved offensively. Our quarterback play has been erratic at best. We have failed to take advantage of the weakest division in pro football, in which the Vikings have tripped over a Whizzinator on the deck of the Naughty Boat and the Bears can't score a touchdown unless Brett Favre throws them another ill-advised interception.
I promise our team will improve. We will be conducting an offseason audit. No stone will be left unturned. Keep the faith and understand that the best is yet to co
---- MESSAGE TRUNCATED. ERROR #15: USERNAME "CoachMooch" IS INVALID. ADDRESS DOES NOT EXIST OR HAS BEEN DELETED FROM MAIL SYSTEM "Lions.nfl.com" ----
Subject: RE: WE LOVE YOUR NEW LOOK
Your kind words mean a lot. I appreciate your support and loyalty during a trying time for our ball club. Walk tall. We'll be back in championship contention soon.
To answer the questions in your original message:
1) I wear my leggings for warmth, not reduced aerodynamic drag;
2) No, I have never considered silk, though you make it sound quite comfortable;
3) I have no idea if black leggings go better with a plaid schoolgirl skirt or a black micro-mini. Never thought about it. Maybe I can ask my wife. Sorry :(
4) I'm pretty sure garters are prohibited under the new league dress code. Also, there's no way your suggested French Maid outfit would fly. (You're right that I could afford the fine.)
Hope that helps. Keep pulling for the Purple and Gold!
From: THE DESK OF DR. TOM BENSON, SENIOR MANAGER, BILLS AND EXCHANGE
Subject: YOUR URGENT ATTENTION REQUIRED
I sincerely write to seek your cooperation and trust to enable my colleagues to carry out an urgent business opportunity in my department. I work with the Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, I am currently the senior manager of bills and exchange at the foreign remittance department. I have an urgent and confidential business proposition for you.
On June 21, 2001, an Australian oil consultant/contractor vis National Petroleum cooperation Mr. Ali. B. Ashraf made a numbered time (fixed) deposit for twelve calenderer month of the ownership rights to the New Orleans Saints football club, valued at US$718,000,000.00 in my branch. On maturity, I sent a routine notification to his forwarded address but got no reply after months we send a reminder and finally we discovered Mr. Ashraf died from an automobile accident.
On further investigation, it was clear that he died without making a WILL.
Mr. Ashraf did not declare any next of kin or relations in all his official documents including his New Orleans Saints ownership document in my bank. According to Nigerian banking law, after five years, the money will revert to the ownership of the Nigerian Government.
My proposal is that I am looking for a municipality who will stand in as the beneficiary. This is simple. All you have to do is immediately send me the details of a municipal bank account and stadium anywhere in the world for me to arrange a team transfer. The New Orleans Saints will then be moved to that municipality for us to share.
This transaction is risk-free guaranteed. I have been looking forward to hearing from you.
DR. TOM BENSON
Subject: RE: ALL-STAR MUSICAL ACTS
Dear Professional Basketball Fans,
NBA action is truly fantastic. And that starts with you, the people in the seats. Each of you makes our great game even greater.
Having read your messages and letters, allow me to address your common concern. Big N' Rich will not be performing at the 2006 All-Star Game. Nor, for that matter, will Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney or any other act who swears by tight jeans and cowboy hats -- unless, of course, Andre 3000 adopts a honky-tonk look.
Last year's show was disappointing. No one was happy about it. We are conducting an internal audit to determine why Kelly Clarkson, the Goo Goo Dolls and LeAnn Rimes were featured acts while the likes of Kanye West, Usher and even Justin Timberlake were conspicuously absent.
In addition, I would like to extend a personal apology for incorporating Rob Thomas and Coldplay into the 2005 Finals. My bad.
Our audit is well underway. No stone will be left unturned. Heads will roll.
You saw what we did to Ron Artest.
Subject: SORRY I'M NOT STEVE SPURRIER
See subject line.
Subject: SORRY URBAN MEYER ISN'T ME
See subject line.
Subject: SORRY MY RECORD IS THE SAME AS STEVE SPURRIER'S
Subject: NO MORE CONFUSION
Dear Cavs fans,
Please accept our sincere apology. In order to enhance your game-night experience, the staff at Quicken Loans Arena recently introduced "The Diff," a large electric number in the middle of the scoreboard that shows the point differential between the Cavs and their opponent. This was done to spare fans the difficult, tedious task of subtracting Cleveland's score from that of the opposing team.
Unfortunately, there still seems to be some confusion, particularly regarding + and - signs.
To rectify matters, the Cavs organization is proud to announce that "The Diff" will be scrapped immediately and replaced by "Mr. Emo." Rather than baffle fans with difficult-to-figure numbers and point totals, the Quicken Arena scoreboard will now feature a giant face, "Mr. Emo," who will smile when the Cavs are ahead and frown when the team is trailing.
Rooting for the good guys just got a whole lot easier. Remember: Smiles are good, while cheering harder will turn that frown upside down!
Subject: GET WELL SOON
Terrible news about the operation. Hope your recovery is going well. All of us at the company send our condolences.
Also, our legal department has advised us to inform you that appearing on the cover of "Madden '06" is not the basis for punitive or compensatory action against Electronic Arts or any of its subsidiaries, as curses are supernatural phenomena and not admissible as evidence in a court of law.
P.S. -- If it's any consolation, we're putting T.O. on next year's cover.
Subject: MEA CULPA
Dear USC boosters,
We have grossly underachieved offensively. Our special teams are erratic at best. In fact, I would like to highlight four incidents for which I take full responsibility:
1) In taking a 28-7 first quarter lead over Arkansas, we held the ball for just 1:32, allowing the Razorbacks to thump us in time of possession.
2) We failed to cover a 38 1/2 spread against Arizona, winning by a razor-thin margin of 42-21.
3) Before defeating Washington State, we fell .0007 behind Texas in the BCS standings.
4) In the second quarter of a 51-21 victory over Stanford, Reggie Bush rushed for no gain. In retrospect, it is clear that I called for the wrong blocking scheme.
In order to make sure that gaffes such as these do not continue to plague our program, we will be conducting a top-to-bottom offseason audit. No stone will be left unturned, no question left unanswered as to what went wrong. We will find our mistakes and correct them.
Bush totaled 513 all-purpose yards against Fresno State. He should have been closer to 1,000. This is unacceptable.
I will not rest until Trojan football is back on track. You have my word.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.