MONROE, La. -- Somebody get The Rock.
Four hours before the I-A season kicked off, Todd Graham summoned the inspirational slab that will help guide Tulsa football this season.
While his Golden Hurricane noshed on the pregame meal, a GA fetched a 30-pound flat piece of stone. Ten Commandments? No, 109 words chiseled into faux granite.
"I want my guys to play better than they actually are," said Graham, a former East Central (Okla.) defensive back.
If an inscribed tablet manufactured by a cemetery headstone company can do that, maybe Graham is more of a miracle worker than he seems.
The 42-year-old head coach wants to make Tulsa the next Boise State. He wants to do it with a crazy-ass offensive philosophy. He wants to do it with trick plays. He wants to do it with freshmen. The first career catches by Tulsa receivers Trae Johnson and A.J. Whitmore went for touchdowns on Thursday night.
He wants to beat the big boys. First slugs first, though. Tulsa's season -- one that it hopes ends in Louisiana (namely the Sugar Bowl) -- started in Louisiana with a 35-17 thrashing of Louisiana-Monroe.
"He tells us that we're going to go undefeated," Whitmore said.
That's Graham wants to do while inviting the world in. Two cameramen and a reporter were in the pregame locker room documenting every move The Rock made.
The Rock is not a good talker, but it does say a lot:
The Rock represents years of hard work and sacrifice that young men have put forth in their journey to victory. Each grain of this rock represents a Hurricane football player that has come before you and for those who will follow. The Rock signifies our commitment to approach competition with a hard edge mentality every day. Our championship dedication allows us to belong to something larger than ourselves. Similar to this rock our championship program will last forever. This Rock belongs to the hardest working most disciplined best-conditioned football team in America. The Rock is our program and all that we stand for. The Rock is Golden Hurricane football.
Graham has had The Rock in some form or another since 1995 when he coached at Allen (Texas) High School. It travels with Graham's teams like an extra equipment bag -- on flights, in the locker room, on the field during the walk-through.
Sure, it's hokey but so is half of college football. Cast your minds back eight months.