Drop the pretense.
Play the game.
You made the bet with Florida's governor, and the Alabama Crimson Tide won the league championship — thoroughly, and in dominating fashion.
So take the oranges.
Of course, it's not that simple for Riley, whose stance as the "anti-gambling" governor has hardly weakened during his final years as Alabama's chief executive, or at least that's how it appears on the street level. Saying a majority of Alabamians does not want gambling and that it corrupts the state, Riley is steadfastly against the practice — be it casinos, electronic bingo or lotteries for education.
If it's a game of chance, Riley's not for it.
But Riley's critics aren't letting the popular and successful Republican off that easily.
Republican Bill Johnson, a gubernatorial candidate and former Riley cabinet member, has wasted little expense in accusing the governor of having ties to Indian casinos in Mississippi — a campaign claim Riley's office has vigorously denied. Attorney General Troy King has been at odds with the governor for months over the legality of electronic bingo operations in Alabama — and whose office has the final authority in the matter. That Riley did not include King, the state's highest law enforcement official, as a member of a new state task force on illegal gambling did nothing to soothe relations between them.
When it comes to gambling, Riley has taken a hard-line approach. That's his prerogative.
Yet, in the case of a harmless school-spirited bet with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Riley's stance has created an unintended, and unnecessary, issue for armchair critics and political opponents to devour:
How can a governor who has vigorously fought electronic bingo interests in the state gamble — albeit in a good-natured, nothing-harmed manner — on a football game?
For whatever reason, Riley's office stubbed its toe on the crate of oranges Crist was set to ship to Montgomery. It's an uncharacteristic misstep.
Riley's spokesperson, Todd Stacy, told the Associated Press that the governor never intended to collect the oranges, even though Crist's spokesperson said "this is the real deal." Last year, as ardent Tide fans surely lament, Riley's office went through with its obligation and sent Crist a box of tasty ribs when Florida beat Alabama.
Of course, Riley's anti-gambling opponents weren't as riled up then as they are now.
Rest assured, it didn't have to come to this. In fact, these issues aren't even related.
As governor, Riley's accustomed to steep criticism, particularly on issues as divisive as gambling in a Bible Belt state. But instead of creating an odd headline over a football wager, Riley should have accepted the good-natured victor's spoils, ignored any critics and enjoyed a photo-op when the Florida oranges arrived.
Alabama won the game. The national championship game is up next. Delight in the harmless bet.
Then he could turn his political attention back to issues that make a difference in Alabamians' lives.