Checotah (AP)—Tim Rutledge, a local meat inspector, and his wife signed a national letter of intent Tuesday morning with the University of Oklahoma football program on behalf of their unborn child. The zygote, whose given name will be Gauge Rutledge, has in effect become the youngest person ever to sign with a NCAA Division I college athletics program.
“This is a big deal for the University of Oklahoma,” said athletic director Joe Castiglione in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “Years down the road I believe you will see more and more parents pledging their children to programs pre-birth. This is a glimpse into the future of major college athletics.
“A lot of programs are focused on the next year’s recruiting class. Great programs are paying attention to the next three or four. Here at the University of Oklahoma, we are already building for the year 2029.”
“He’s got the genes,” said Rutledge. In a document provided by the family physician detailing his pool of likely inheritable traits, the younger Rutledge should be somewhere between 6’2” and 6’5” tall and weigh between 220 and 240 pounds. A preliminary ultrasound hints at the youngster’s unusual development. “Most zygotes are roughly the size of a poppyseed at the four-week mark. This baby is already the size of a blueberry.”
There’s one major complication about entering into a sports-related contract with a zygote: The sex hasn’t been differentiated yet. Gauge isn’t guaranteed to be a boy just yet—and may end up as a girl or possibly an intersex person, like world champion runner Caster Semenya. “Look, we’re not out to baffle everyone come draft time,”
Rutledge notes. “If the sex ends up a surprise, I suppose she could join the cheer squad and still play ball. But we’re pretty darn sure my Y chromosomes will dominate Brandy’s Xs.”
But the more important question is this: Will Gauge Rutledge have football skills?
“Yeah, that is certainly something you look at as a recruiter,” said head coach Bob Stoops. “There are a lot of newborns out there that have the potential to grow to 20 or 30 times their original size, but will they have the combination of speed, agility and mental toughness to make it on the field?”
Rutledge claims this won’t be a problem.
“This kid will hopefully be blessed with my size and his mother’s right arm.”
Rutledge’s wife, Brandy, was an All-American javelin thrower and shot putter in college and even earned a spot as an alternate on the 1980 Olympic team. Tim was a world class steer wrestler, but his true love was the gridiron. He started playing organized football when he was just 3 years old and was a unanimous all-state quarterback selection in high school.
Unfortunately, he lost his right arm to a threshing machine while working on his family’s farm the summer before his freshman year and never got a chance to prove himself at the next level. “We really hope that Gauge gets my wife’s right arm,” Tim chuckled.
Although Sooner fans are excited about the Rutledg’s’ decision, they have not escaped this episode without criticism. What about those who would argue that it is wrong to pre-determine the future educational and athletic path of your child’s life. Rutledge and his family don’t see it that way. “Look, if the kid wants to go to another school, or do something else with his life other than play football, we’ll listen to him. We’re still gonna make him play football for the Sooners, but we’ll hear him out.”
“It is exciting to see this kind of commitment at such a young age,” remarked Stoops. “Most kids these days are just so undisciplined when it comes to setting goals for themselves, and then you get a call one day and find out that there is this unborn child that is ready to sign on the dotted line and it kind of gives you hope. This little fella has his head screwed on right.”
Barring any foreseeable changes to NCAA regulations over the next few decades, the Sooners cannot have any official contact with the unborn Rutledge until the completion of his junior year in high school. The question is, can Stoops wait that long? There’s a chance that the youngster may never see the light of day, let alone make it to the field of play.
“Yeah, you worry about that a little bit,” said Stoops. “It’s like anything else in life, you just hope that child stays healthy for the next 18 years or so until we can bring him into the program. You hope that he grows up with positive influences around him, remains in good health, and generally speaking, you just kind of have to hope that he stays alive. “As I understand it, childbirth alone can be a very stressful situation for a kid.”
What advice would Stoops give to the unborn future star of his squad?
“Stay away from farm equipment.”