Coach's Corner

by Andy "Coach" Cotton

"Jesus Christ, Dad," says the daughter, scrunching a cherub- like face into its most revolted scowl - the little urchin is only 12 - "You look like Forrest Gump." Two hours before, I was restlessly pacing back and forth past the Wooten Barber Shop, a UT landmark specializing in the freshman flat-top, overwhelmed by an urge, contrary to my staid, Taurean nature, to change stuff.

A few years ago, in the heat of irrepressible transmogrification, I cut my hair. I was advised (unwisely, it turned out) to leave "a little on top," so as not to over- shock my babe. The little puff of hair was seriously geekish. Even with my over-active sense of paranoia considered, I don't believe my haircut had anything to do with the eventual demise of our romance, however, I would not have slept with me. She tried to be polite, but her twitching lip gave it away. I must have triggered some kind of vomit reflex. A few days later, she appeared on my doorstep, her long, black hair butchered.

Anyway, I'd been obsessing about this for a while. I ran the idea of a total butch cut by everyone I knew. Absolutely no one was for it. Nobody. Desperate to hear what I wanted to hear, I arrived, alas, at road's end: The tranquil domicile of Jacqueline, president of the South Austin Chamber of Commerce (SACC). Overly enthusiastic to the nth degree, she helpfully offered the idea of a cranial tattoo. Jacqueline keeps three pet rats, a Mr. Crunchy, Skinny, and Rocky, caged in her "living room." Affirmation from such a high ranking official as Jacqueline is precisely what I needed.

On my third pass of the Wooten Barber Shop, a gentleman in a white coat - a barber, I presumed - came out on the sidewalk and identified himself as Ken. "Son," he called me "son." "Do you want a haircut or what?"

Kristie, being civil, allows that I look more like The Coach is supposed to. People rub my soft head. I feel wind against my scalp. I run my hands through the fuzz. Before, I loved to sweat and toss my wet hair around. Sweating through fuzz is better. A prominent local wit/home fixer is certain my love life will improve. "Neo-Nazi, militia-types," she says, "who cook a mean Spam and eggs, will be flocking to your..." My what? My Saab? Better go down to 04 and find an old camper and jungle fatigues. I'm sure Jacqueline knows where to find some.

The tepid response to the baseball wild-card set-up: attendance. Where big crowds should be, in Milwaukee, for example, only 13,000 attended an important game with the Rangers last weekend. This allows two possible conclusions A) Baseball has outdone itself in stupidity, a lofty goal I would have thought difficult to achieve; or B) the hostility to the strike is much deeper than I believed possible. It will take a year or two to find the truth. The wild-card thing does nothing for me, either. The public is stupid - surely the Tyson fiasco proved that beyond any doubt - but we demand, at least, titillation. A vicious, unrepentant, convicted rapist fighting a cute, goofy, white guy... a car crash maybe... something, anything to stir up the testosterone. Watching Texas, with a 2-8 record over the last 10 games, play a "big game" against a Brewer club, 2-8 over the same span, is just not any fun... even by Milwaukee standards. Does anybody get stoked over a "fight" for the last wild-card position in a late March NBA game between Miami and Boston? We will buy shit if it's got the odd chance of sex, and we'll forgo the sex if there's a reasonable chance for blood, but we will not pay money to be bored. It's damned un-American!

The women's finals of the U.S. Open was the best sporting event I've watched in a long time. Two gritty, determined champions (did you see those eyes?) - each with a plethora of personal demons to overcome, each playing at the absolute top of their games, each finally facing one another. It was all there: drama, guts, and flash. The determined, stoic Graf, playing her first real challenge in two years, and the wacky Seles, blasting and hammering away from both sides, unthinkably in the finals of the Open after a two-year lay-off. Competition, pride, searing talent mixed in two unquenchable wills to win. Thanks for the reminder; these days, it's too easy to forget what sports is supposed to be about.

I'd like to say, if I see the name "Deion Sanders" anymore, I'll puke. However, within 24 hours on any given day, I'd die of dehydration. Sore-ankled cornerbacks don't occupy most of the front page in many civilized areas, but, well, what can I say? A devout Cowboy-hater can only take a deep breath and look to the future. Jerry Jones is, most assuredly, mortgaging the future of his team with this insane bid to prove he can do it without Jimmy Johnson. Losing seasons in the future, sweet though the thought may be, don't help the bile rising today. We can only hope, somehow, the Dallas Deions manage to find a way not to make it to the Super Bowl. Unlikely though it seems, stranger things have happened... somewhere... I think. n

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