A couple of weeks ago, Bill Connelly — Rock M Nation founder, statistical whiz kid, internet darling, man about town — e-mailed me to inform me that the college softball regular season was nearly over. I informed him that he was mistaken, that it was only February 7th, and that we had plenty of time until softball season ended. This e-mail exchange actually occurred on April 25th, I soon learned, and I began to hyperventilate.
That’s because the end of the college softball regular season means its Stubble Season around these parts, as it’s been for the last six years.
Think about how fleeting everything is on the Internet. Remember Kony 2012? That lasted, like, a week. Crying Jordan has been around for a couple of months and people are really tired of it for a reason I can’t fathom because it’s never not funny. Clay Travis has to put out a new awful column every day because his HOT TAKES do not retain heat well in the cold expanse of the World Wide Web.
And this stupid, wonderful thing about a college softball coach’s facial hair has lasted for six years.
Here is a 100 percent verifiable fact: When this Tremendous Stubble thing started, the quarterback of the Missouri Tigers was Blaine Gabbert.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start like we always do, because this is the sixth time we’ve done this, so there’s a way we always do things.
THE TREMENDOUS STUBBLE STORY
It was May 2010, and this fly-by-night website was already hurting for content. As a result, the Rock M Nation Brain Trust instituted a "Rock M Roundtable," which essentially consisted of eight guys trying to crack jokes over e-mail, and those e-mails then being published on a website. I’m not here trying to defend the editorial decisions of the past, I’m just out here telling you a story.
Long story short: Bill C. asked us which Mizzou luminary we’d like to see on Twitter (because Twitter was still a relatively new thing instead of the hellhole it is today). I replied that a good candidate would be Mizzou softball coach Ehren Earleywine, not because I was a particularly well-versed Mizzou softball fan, but instead because I — like everyone — crave being different.
Looked up a photo. This photo, to be clear:
"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."
And I don’t feel like I need to explain myself here. It really is amazing facial hair. "Tremendous stubble" is a perfect way to put it. GREAT JOB, ME FROM THE PAST, GOLD STAR.
This, for some reason that is lost to history, precipitated this blog attempting to become Best Bros with Coach E. We more or less publicly shamed him into acknowledging our existence, and from there, the Best Bros were born.
A year later, we tried to
cover our own narcissism do something meaningful with our newfound relationship by turning this into the Tremendous Stubble Charity Drive.
And what is the Tremendous Stubble Charity Drive? Let’s get into that with the help of this giant header.
THE SIXTH ANNUAL ROCK M NATION TREMENDOUS STUBBLE CHARITY DRIVE
For the sixth consecutive year, we’re proud to raise money for the MU Children’s Hospital, which does science stuff to make kids who are sick no longer sick. Trust me, I’m a doctor.
WHAT WE’RE ASKING OF YOU
For such an insane concept — a charity drive inspired by a man’s beard — the idea is actually pretty simple: you pledge a certain amount for every game that the Mizzou softball team wins in the Women’s College World Series. If you didn’t know, the Tigers are once again hosting a regional and will be taking on BYU, Louisville and Nebraska in that regional. If they win that double-elimination round-robin-type thing, they’ll advance to the super regionals, where they’ll probably play Michigan. If they beat Michigan, they’ll go on to the Women’s College World Series, where things go bananas.
For your charity wagering information: To win the national championship, the Tigers would have to win no fewer than 10 games and no more than 12 games.
That’s not even to mention the prop bets. Oh, the prop bets. This website is entirely comprised of degenerate gamblers. That’s the only explanation.
In addition to pledging a certain amount for each Mizzou win, you can pledge a certain amount for literally anything. So, if you want to pledge $5 for every Mizzou strikeout, go for it. If you want to pledge $10 for every Mizzou stolen base, go for it. If you want to pledge $100 for every time Coach E does an in-game interview while wearing a "Make Mizzou Softball Great Again" hat, be my guest.
As always, we ask that you announce your pledge in the comment section. Not only does it help us keep a running total of how much money we’ve raised; it also gives all of us nerds something to check up on during our quad-hourly visit to this here Internet domain.
If you’ve never commented before, sign up for the free account. You would not be the first person to sign up for this site because of Tremendous Stubble, and you certainly won’t be the last. Our community is weird, but in that kind of Boo Radley kind of way where we look scary but in the end we’ll come out and murder a racist for you.
And here’s my usual Gift of the Maji thing: it’s not about how much you give, but rather that you give. I know for a fact that The Beef is actually the screen name of a former Cabinet-level politician (hint: it rhymes with Mondeleeza Dice), so expect a large donation from The Beef. I am a lowly sportswriter who is using the free Internet at my local library to write this, so I cannot give much. Both are valuable contributions.
With that, I have the distinct pleasure of kicking off the Sixth Annual Rock M Nation Tremendous Stubble Charity Drive with the first pledge:
I, ghtd36, pledge $5 for every Mizzou win in the Women’s College World Series, and an additional $2 for every strikeout by a Mizzou pitcher.
HOW TO DONATE
Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that for now. We’ll settle up after Mizzou’s championship parade in which me and Bill C. and RPT and The Beef and maybe a few others IF YOU ARE LUCKY all hang out on a float with Coach E and sing the entire "Frozen" soundtrack top to bottom and laugh. We’re donating directly to the MU Children’s Hospital, and they’ve got accountants and stuff, so you’ll get a charity receipt and everything. YOU HEAR THAT? CHARITY RECEIPTS! HAVEN’T WE DONE WELL, BOY-O’S?!
HOW WE’VE DONE
Are you ready for this? Are you ready for the silliest number in Internet history?
Ahem. Thirty-seven thousand dollars over five years. Off an Internet comment.
And that’s not to mention that we have a lactation room named after us...
...and the late great Bill Carter will soon have a room named in his memory.
Off an Internet comment.
OFF. AN. INTERNET. COMMENT.
Last year, we blew past our goal of $10,000. So we’re upping the ante a bit. The new goal: $12,000. With this amount, we can probably start discussing renaming the hospital The Rock M Nation Tremendous Stubble Children’s McHospitalFace.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
This is kind of the fun part: we need to make this thing go viral. The only way people can donate is if they come to Rock M Nation, and the only way people can come to Rock M Nation is if they know about it, and the only way they know about it is if you tell them. If that makes sense.
So post it on TheFacebook.com. Tweet it on the Twitter. Gram it on the Insta. Snap it on the Chat. Pin it on the Trest. Swipe it right on Tinder (or the Grindr or the Bumble, I don’t know, I’ve been married for almost four years, all of this stuff is very foreign to me).
Use the hashtag #TremendousStubble, of course.
And root for Mizzou, as if you were going to do anything else.
OK. Deep breath. Now let’s discuss…
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
So coach Earleywine has been in the news lately, and it hasn’t been for rescuing puppies. Like all of you, it’s a bit of a weird feeling. I don’t know all the details and I certainly don’t have any inside information into what is actually going on, so here’s all I’ll say on the matter:
At its core, the Tremendous Stubble Charity Drive is more about the last two words than the first two words. There are jokes, yes, and there’s silliness, but in the end, this is about raising money for a good cause. So even if Coach E isn’t your favorite person in the world right now (or maybe he is!), please don’t punish sick kids at MU Children’s Hospital out of spite for a college softball coach.
In the words of Helen Lovejoy, won’t somebody please think of the children?
So here’s a story I haven’t shared before.
Last year, Bill C. and I got an e-mail. It was from coach Earleywine. As soon as I got done screaming at the highest pitch possible, I read the e-mail. It thanked Rock M Nation for the support, and for supporting a charity he cares a lot about. I have that e-mail printed out and framed in my office. You think I’m joking.
We’ve found a way to turn a silly Internet meme into something that is fun, supportive of Mizzou softball and raise tens of thousands of dollars for sick kids.
As always, we conclude with a photo from MU Children’s Hospital to guilt you into donating:
Go Mizzou softball. Go sick kids. Go #TremendousStubble.
(And, as always, we’re really sorry about all of this, coach Earleywine.)