Friday, December 30, 2016

Cracker Barrel Country: TWTW's Orange Bowl Preview


Danville, Kentucky -- Michigan football's renaissance can be chalked up to one man: Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh is America's coach, a coach of the people. No man in college football has better intuition than Jim. At a time when it would've been politically expedient for a man teaching in a liberal snowflake bubble town like Ann Arbor to be seen eating kale or driving a hybrid car, Jim took a stand for American family values and fine dining.


Jim felt the winds of change in the air. He correctly intuited that America is no longer a Chipotle country, or a Panera country. America is now a Cracker Barrel country. Jim knew this: just as the Crack Barrel ethos propelled Donald Trump to the presidency, it is now poised to make the Michigan Wolverines winners of back-to-back bowl games. 

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Cracker Barrel is a restaurant (and old country store) where deep familial bonds of love are formed over hot plates of meatloaf and country fried steak. As a man who has dragged his children kicking and screaming to numerous Cracker Barrel establishments across our fine nation during family road trips, I can vouch for the restaurant's ability to nurture relationships. Kids love the gift shop, and the plump blueberries snugged tenderly into each buttery pancake. Adults like myself love the rustic, cozy atmosphere and great decorations, which are a throwback to simpler times. 

The best part about Cracker Barrel is that they don't try to shove robots down your throat. You won't find any of those annoying, gimmicky touch-screen tablet devices that are now all the rage at Chilis and Applebee's. Chilis and Applebee's love to plant these things on your table in hopes that your child will steal your credit card and pay $20 to play Angry Birds while you aren't looking. 


Not only are these tablets prone to abuse by unruly children, they also put perfectly suitable human employees out of a job. These tablets detach restaurant-goers from their fellow man by making face-to-face interaction with other flesh-and-blood human beings unnecessary. 


Cracker Barrel has resisted this technological onslaught. Cracker Barrel values old-fashioned human interaction. If you want to entertain yourself at Cracker Barrel, you have to play a simple, non-electronic game like the pioneers of old. It's not as flashy as Angry Birds, but the pegs game teaches kids the value of concentration, perseverance, and mental stamina. 


Mr. Harbaugh, a brilliant tactician on the football field, coaches like a guy who has completed the pegs game a few times. Yet Harbaugh's most shrewd tactical decision may have happened off the field when he decided to take his team to Cracker Barrel. The family that eats together, stays together. The family that eats Cracker Barrel's famous "Sunrise Sampler" together, triumphs together. It's no coincidence that Michigan football began to win again after hiring a coach who understands the restorative power of a hearty helping of hickory smoked country ham. 


Contrast Mr. Harbaugh to his counterpart from Florida State. Folks, Jimbo Fisher cannot win. Jimbo's wife left him after cheating on him with one of Jimbo's own wide receivers, landing a hefty divorce settlement in the process. Like Jimbo, I am also a coach (of my nephew's little league team) who has been through divorce. However, if my wife cheated on me with one of the kids from the team I coach, you can bet I'd have the decency to retreat from the public eye. Jimbo should have the good sense to get out of college football while he can.

Harbaugh and the Wolverines made quick work of the Florida Gators last year in the Citrus Bowl; I predict a similarly decisive victory over the Florida State Seminoles. When Jim faces Jimbo, don't bet against Harbaugh. Don't bet against the man who has Cracker Barrel on his side.