[Thursday bump. Not that you can't continue to pledge after games begin tomorrow, but ... games begin tomorrow! Also: thanks to the miracles of pre-recording, It appears I will be on KFRU's The Closers with SleepyFloyd7 at 4:30 p.m. CT today and also on KTGR's The Big Show at 4:25 p.m. CT to discuss Stubble Drive 2012.]
This is one of my favorite times of the year, and not just because we're going to donate a bunch of money to a worthy cause for a second consecutive year, but because once again, I get to tell the Tremendous Stubble story. And, to me, the Tremendous Stubble story represents everything that is alternately awesome-then-silly-then-awesome about the Internet.
So, once again, let's start from the beginning:
THE TREMENDOUS STUBBLE STORY
It was May 26, 2010, in a Rock M Nation Roundtable much like every Rock M Nation Roundtable: a rambling, incoherent, tangential and generally fruitless way to satiate the growing Rock M Nation community's demand for content with little to no effort. Wait, what's that? I'm not supposed to explain the purpose of the Roundtable? And I shouldn't be typing out the directives you're issuing to me? Oh. My bad.
Anyway, the question posed by our leader Bill C. was a simple and silly one: "Name the person from your school (current or former player/coach/whatever) that you wish was on Twitter more than anybody else, just for the potential day-to-day entertainment prospects."
Most Mizzou grads would say something like "Norm Stewart" or "Chase Daniel" or "dean of journalism Brian Brooks" or "What's a Twitter?" or something similar. I chose to go off the beaten path, to a guy I'd only known about on a very cursory level: Mizzou softball coach Ehren Earleywine.
A quick Google Image Search later, the wheels of one of Rock M Nation's defining memes began to turn in the matter of 24 words.
"Hey. I'm Ehren Earleywine. Yeah, my name's spelled a little funky, but what I lack in normal namehood I make up in tremendous stubble."
Now, I'm going to post a picture of Ehren Earleywine, then issue a couple of important disclaimers about Rock M Nation's relationship with Coach E. Be forewarned: the power of The Stubble has been known to short-circuit computers, so please use a surge protector when looking at this photo.
Important disclaimer No. 1: C'mon, admit it, that stubble is pretty awesome.
Important disclaimer No. 2: This is exclusively a bromance. Nothing more.
Important disclaimer No. 3: Good merciful God, that stubble is awesome.
So began our silly quest to get Coach Earleywine to acknowledge our existence and thus make our Internet bromance a reality. "tremendous stubble" became Tremendous Stubble became #TremendousStubble became a playoff beard pact for the Mizzou softball team in the Women's College World Series became Coach Earleywine becoming our super-best friend by lowering himself to the whims of Internet dorks on public airwaves.
And all of this happened in the span of, like, three days. No, seriously. That is how insane this meme is.
But -- and you can read more about what I mean by this in the story that Dave Matter wrote about the matter (PUNS!) in the Columbia Daily Tribune, and yes, I do feel bad that an esteemed journalist like Dave Matter had to write about an online community's fascination with a college softball coach's facial hair -- I think Tremendous Stubble goes a little deeper than just Coach E's whisker wizardry. This whole thing (not necessarily by design, but not totally by accident) became a kind of rallying cry for the Mizzou softball team, a way for people to easily associate with one of the most under-appreciated athletic teams that MU has to offer. And if what it takes for people to get fired up about Mizzou softball is us talking about a dude's face, well, I think Rock M Nation will proudly shoulder that burden.
All of this led to the next step in the Tremendous Stubble empire: last year's inaugural RMN Tremendous Stubble Pledge Drive. All of a sudden, it became not only a way for the RMN community to support the Mizzou softball team in the Women's College World Series, but also a way to raise money for a very worthy cause.
In the end, the Rock M Nation community donated $4,268.34 to the MU Children's Hospital. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about where this started. Now think about where it finished. Oh, Internet: you so crazy.
So that's the Tremendous Stubble (#TremendousStubble) story. Now, we're doing it again, bigger and better.
THE CHARITY DRIVE
Once again, we're going to be raising money for the MU Children's Hospital. Why? Because like a true bearded badass, Coach Earleywine likes helping out sick kids. The MU Softball team often volunteers their time and energy there, and I think we all know a family or two who relies on organizations like the MU Children's Hospital.
Not sure what the MU Children's Hospital is? Allow their website to melt your cold black heart into a puddle of awwwww:
University of Missouri Children's Hospital serves patients from every county in Missouri. With over 30 pediatric subspecialties, a pediatric ICU, adolescent unit and child life therapy, as well as teams equipped and dedicated solely to transporting infants and children, MU Children's Hospital is mid-Missouri's largest and most comprehensive pediatric health care facility.
You hear that? Kids. And they're sick. And they need your help. Don't act like you're impervious to this. You have a soul, I just know it.
WHAT WE'RE ASKING OF YOU
We're asking that you pledge a certain amount for every game that the Mizzou softball team wins in the Women's College World Series (which begins Friday, May 18th when Mizzou takes on Illinois State in Columbia).
Now, before you decide how much money to give, consider that should Mizzou win the national championship, they will have won no less than ten (10) games and no more than twelve (12) games. This, I imagine, is important in your math calculations.
In addition, one of the awesome organic wrinkles that came from the community last year was the idea of prop bets. Rock M Nation absolutely, 100% endorses and encourages charitable wagering. So, if you want to pledge $5 for every Chelsea Thomas strikeout, or $10 for every Ashley Fleming home run, or $0.10 for every foul ball (A BOLD STRATEGY IF THERE EVER WAS ONE), by all means, do it. Go nuts. I don't want to get in the way of your creativity, especially in the name of helping sick kids.
We're asking that you announce your pledge in the comments of this story. And if you're not a member but you're reading this and would like to donate...well, let's just say that if your first post on Rock M Nation is to pledge money to sick kids, that's going to earn you some major message board respect. Much more than I have, let me tell you what.
Here, I'll go first.
I, ghtd36, pledge $5 for every Mizzou victory in the Women's College World Series and an additional $1 for every Chelsea Thomas strikeout.
See? Awesome. And it doesn't matter how much you pledge. Whether you're like me and can only give a little, or you're like Bill and you have millions upon millions of Internet dollars with Spencer Hall's face on them, it doesn't matter. It's not how much you give; it's that you give.
HOW TO DONATE
We'll get more into this at the end of Mizzou's run through the Women's College World Series (meaning when Mizzou is hoisting the national championship trophy, natch), but we are changing the way that we're going to ask you to donate. Instead of collating the funds into a PayPal account, we're instead going to have you donate directly to MU Children's Hospital. In short, it's just a lot easier that way. That, and handling other people's money makes me tense. We'll get to that later, but there is one more important side note...
Look, I'm not saying we have to get there...but...well, here's this:
...if we raise $5,000, there may be an opportunity for us to name a cancer unit treatment bay or an on-call bedroom. I REPEAT: IF WE RAISE $5,000, THE "#TremendousStubble Cancer Unit Treatment Bay" COULD EXIST. If this doesn't excite you to no end, I mean, please donate, but then leave the blog premises.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
-Blow this thing up on Twitter and Facebook. Link it and link it and link it, then link it some more. And try to get powerful people on Twitter -- you know, ex-Mizzou athletes, current Mizzou athletes, that Sarah Phillips girl -- to get on board with this, too. Use the hashtag #TremendousStubble, of course.
-Tell your friends. Remember when there wasn't such a thing as "viral," but instead relied on "word of mouth"? Let's try that thing again.
-Root for Mizzou. Duh.
If you ask me (and I'm admittedly biased), this is a great way not only to support the MU softball team (one of Mizzou's best teams), support our partner in bromance Coach Earleywine, and get some help to sick kids who could really use it. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
And now, a photo from the MU Children's Hospital to guilt you into donating.
Go Mizzou softball. Go sick kids. Go #TremendousStubble.