Coach's Corner

by Andy "Coach" Cotton

I spoke with my pal Bryant Gumbel this morning. He'd called earlier, just as I was pouring some coffee. We discussed golf - he wants me to be his partner at NBC's annual tournament at Oak Hill. What he called for, though, was to invite me on the Today show. America, he is certain, will be interested in whatever insights I might provide concerning the Simpson Trial, the Middle East peace process, and Clinton's re-election prospects. At this point, I scalded my tongue, boiling hot coffee spilling down my naked chest, jerking me out of my reverie and starting my real day.

Fact is, I spend an inordinate amount of time, every day, talking to people who are not there. I interview myself on Oprah and Larry King. I'm an incredibly fascinating guest. When a listener poses an interesting question on a talk radio program, I turn off the sound and give an erudite, reasonable reply. Sometimes, I turn off the radio, I pose the question, and then I make the erudite and reasonable reply. I spin off fantastic, bloody fantasies, knee-deep in gore, on the side of justice, of course. Other times, I'm completely sensitive and New-Agey. At all times, I'm exactly what I want to be. If it comes out wrong, I just rewind the tape and start anew. In this fashion, I while away many unproductive hours. Last night I took my daughter, blissfully innocent of her father's sickness, to her first rock show; a sweet, androgynous, pre-teen band called All 4 One. While chatting in the rear with Lyle Lovett... uh, best keep quiet about that.

Discourses with contrite girlfriends, desperate to re-enter my life, casual chats with the woman I'll marry (she changes all the time).... I spend a lot of time on my book tour, confabbing with my cadre of bright, witty fans about my bright, witty book. Of course, I've yet to write the outline of the book, but hey, let's not let reality interfere. How crazy am I, really? Words like paranoid, delusional, and schizophrenic jump quickly to mind. Some unfortunate citizens are locked up for less.

I'm not a fan of University of Texas football. Like their spiritual brothers in Dallas - you know, the ones with the stars on their helmets - they embody a vague, white, institutional arrogance that rubs me the wrong way. Quietly, I root for humiliating losses in Waco or here at apathetic, soulless Memorial Stadium. Thus my confusion last week, as I found myself the only person defending the Longhorn performance in South Bend. This feels roughly akin to Johnny Cochran fixing up his sister with Mark Fuhrman. But, there you have it.

Coach Mackovic is often accused of being a poor motivator. Robert Heard, editor of Inside Texas and a fierce critic of Mackovic, suggests, "He couldn't motivate a homeless person to pick up a $20 dollar bill." Perhaps - the Irish burst on the field in a mad, hopping, frenzied blur of blue-and-gold. In sharp contrast, UT ambled out in such a disorganized, blasé fashion it looked not like the biggest game they'd played in years but just another day of practice. Chalk one up for the lack-of-motivation faction. As the Cows quickly fell behind 10-0, I gleefully noted that an ugly 52-0 slaughter seemed imminent. It didn't happen. Texas fought back, took the lead, and had a real chance to win the game late in the contest. Then, the wheels came off and the final score of 55-27 indicated a false Notre Dame domination. The next week in Columbus, this exact scenario was replayed; victim: Notre Dame.

So what gives? Who's nuts? Who's out of touch with reality? What weird ghosts do orange blood-types commune with? Or, have I, unnoticed, undetected, and most unwelcome, undergone a horrible metamorphosis, like a slimy lizard, into a Texas fan? This seems unlikely, but if that was the embarrassing rout everyone, mainstream press, radio media, Buda Bob on his cellular, and Aunt Maudie says it was, I'm a lizard.

When it comes to UT football, everyone in this state is crazier than a shit-house rat. This should not come as a surprise. I've lived here for 25 years; I ought to know better. Despite all the years and losses to prove otherwise, delusional UT fans see Darrell Royal on the sideline, Tommy Nobis prowling the 50, and UT only having to beat Arkansas to be ranked #1. Of course, you dream of an innocent time when Texas was able to ignore the fact that 48 other states played football, too. (An inconvenient reality, to be sure. Why, some even had Negro players.) Could it be those teams of yore are vastly overrated in the misty memories of Horns fans? What the hell, we're talking nutzo here so we'll let reality slide.

I should show more empathy to this syndrome. In the tawdry arena of my personal life, such as it is, I refer to the "Flaw-O-Meter." No matter how good someone is, I'll find something, a tiny blemish perhaps, maybe an innocuous, innocent but irritating little habit, some flaw, to make a person not perfect enough. Were Mackovic 10-1, sportsfans statewide would still be tsk-tsking about that stupid 4-3 defense and what's wrong with that damn cow, anyhow? Didn't the old Bevo have a lot more pep?? n

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