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Buckeyes and Sabermetrics
American Pie
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A lot of people have offered various interpretations of Don McLean's "American Pie".  It is one of my favorite songs, and I noticed one time that I could come up with an off-the-wall interpretation relating it to OSU football.  Basically, this interpretation is that McLean was prophesizing about the Buckyes.  Obviously, this was not the case, and I offer this in the spirit of fun.  The italics are the lyrics of the song:

A long, long, time ago

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile

And I knew that if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance

And maybe they'd be happy for a while

The fan is sitting in some time from 1990-2000.  He remembers back to 1978 when Coach Hayes was in charge.  The music either represents the music of TBDBITL or is a metaphor for football success.  So McLean could have either played in the band or played football, and done it well.

But February made me shiver

With every paper I'd deliver

Bad news on the doorstep

I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died

In February 1979 the reality that Woody will not be coach anymore strikes him, and he reads it in the paper and it makes him sad.  The widowed bride represents the football team left without their coach.

So bye, bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

And them good old boys were drinking whiskey in Rye

Singing this'll be the day that I die, this'll be the day that I die

McLean says goodbye to the old American values that Woody stood for.  Woody drove a Chevy pickup in the mid 70s, which will be useful again later.  The levee is figurative for wins, national championships, etcthey are not frequent anymore.  Or it could be a real levee somewhere on the Olentangy.  Ohio was one of the states that originally produced whiskey.  Obviously they're not too pleased about this.

Did you write the book of love and do you have faith in God above

If the Bible tells you so?

Now do you believe in rock and roll, can music save your mortal soul

And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Rock and roll again symbolizes the Buckeyesdo you believe that they are the most important thing in life or that it is God and traditional religion?  Woody caused some people to question thisthere is a great picture of some fans at Ohio Stadium with a sign that says "God is alive and coaching at OSU".

Well I know that you're in love with him

Cause I saw you dancing in the gym

You both kicked off your shoes

Man I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin Buck

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck

But I knew I was out of luck the day the music died

I started singing 

The early parts of this verse don't seem to add up, but the end is brilliant.  The writer is a Woody disciple with a pickup truck just like Woody and the carnation is the state flower of Ohio.  But he is out of luck when Woody gets fired.

Now for ten years, we've been on our own

And moss grows fat on a rolling stone

But that's not how it used to be[/i]

This is 10 years after the firing of Hayes--1988.  John Cooper is in his first year at OSU, and success is starting to build for the rolling stone(michigan)which used to not happen.

When the jester sang for the King and Queen

In a coat he borrowed from James Dean

And a voice that came from you and me

But while the King was looking down

The jester stole his thorny crown

The courtroom was adjourned

No verdict was returned

And while Lenin read a book on Marx

The quartet practiced in the park

And we sang dirges in the dark the day the music died

The jester is Earle Bruce, and the King and Queen are Woody and Anne Hayes.  Earle sang for them, and they liked it!  Woody and Anne both continued to support the program, even though they would have been justified to forget it givven the crappy way they were treated.  Earle is described as a jester(a fool)he was criticized for not dressing sharply enough, but that is the coat he borrowed from James Dean--a tough guy, a real man.  Earle sang for us because we could relate to him(as we could to Woody).  But the King looked down(died) in 1987.  When this happened, the jester stole his thorny crown(due to criticism and scrutiny) as the clear leader of OSU football.  Now we jump ahead from March of that year to November, when Earle was fired.  There was court action, but nothing stopped the firing of Bruce(no verdict).  As this happens, Lennon reads a book on Marxobviously depicting evil, probably michigan studying their past and people like fielding yost and tom harmon.  The quartet practicing in the park could include QBs like grbac, henson, brady, and griesie, or a group of traitors to Ohio like howard, woodson, grbac, and massey, or even the fab five minus webber, who left early.

Helter skelter in a summer's swelt

Where the birds flew off with a fallout shelter

Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass the player's tried for a forward pass

With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

This verse relates to Cooper's first season at Ohio State.  The birds have flown off with his fallout shelterafter winning the first game and being carried off the field, he had little room for a "honeymoon".  The players are trying to advance the Buckeyes, but Earle is not involved and is beaten up from his fight with the administration.

Now at halftime there was sweet perfume

While sergeants played a marching tune

We all got up to dance but we never got the chance

Cause the players tried to take the field

The marching band refused to yield

Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died

We started singing

The sweetest part of the game for fans now are not the game itself, but the halftime shows.  TBDBITL plays, and the people get up to dance, but don't get to.  At the Syracuse game, the band was told to refrain from playing Hang on Sloopy because the press box was swaying.  The players could never overtake the glory of the band when the game resumed.  What was revealed?  The team was not its former self and the Horseshoe was getting old.

There we were all in one place

A generation lost in space

With no time left to start again

This generation of Buckeyes is lost, unable to recapture the glory of the past, and there is no time left for them to do it either.

So come on Jack be nimble

Jack be quick Jack Flash sat on a candlestick

Cause fire is the devil's only friend

Jack refers to John Cooper, his flashy teams, and his inability to stay out of the fire.  Cooper was constantly under siege for something.  The devil represents michigan, of course, and this fire is their only friend.

And as I watched him on the stage

My hands were clenched in fists of rage

No angel born in hell

Could break that Satan spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night

To light the sacrificial rite

I saw Satan laughing with delight

The day the music died

He was singing

The "him" on the stage is NOT John Cooper.  Cooper was a lousy coach, but was a genuinely nice man and cared(and still does) about the Buckeyes.  Him is Satan, who occupies the lowest ring of hell, which in Dante's Inferno is reserved for traitors.  Two choices here--bo schembechler or gary moeller.  Either one is profiting from OSU's trouble and the author is enraged by it.  Not even an angel born in hell, i.e. a Buckeye from michigan, could break the spell of defeat to them.  (Note that it would be an angel born in hell, Craig Krenzel, who would break michigan's success in 2001).  The flames climbing high into the night are from the dumpster fires that were common on campus after the losses to those degenerates.  Satan is laughing with delight at the whole thing.

I met a girl who sang the blues

And asked her for some happy news

But she just smiled and turned away

Likely Anne Hayes, who turned away(died) in 1992.  That was the last link to the days of Woody.

I went down to the sacred store where I'd heard the music years before

But the man there said the music wouldn't play

The store is just a frillthe main point here is that the music, the success, the victories, the destruction of evil, just weren't happening.

And in the streets the children screamed

The lovers cried and the poets dreamed

But no a word was spoken the church bells all were broken

Here, there is just general sadness in Columbus and Ohio.  The victory bell is broken and won't ring anymore, at least not against michigan.

And the three men I admire most

The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost

They caught the last train for the coast

The day the music died

And they were singing

The Father is Woody himself, who died.  The Holy Ghost is Paul Brown, who died in 1991, and because he left OSU during the war and never came back, was always kind of a lost coach and had a mystique about his OSU days.  The Son is Earle Bruce, who moves on toward the west coach to coach at Northern Iowa and Colorado State.


Very depressing, but very poignant.  Now happy days are here again, with Coach Tressel playing the role of Coach Hayes(although insufficiently as all mortals would do) and Maurice Clarett working on joining Harley, Horvath, Janowicz, Cassady, Griffin, Byars, and George at the very highest levels of greatness.