Concerning the

forward pass, Woody Hayes once observed, "Only three things can happen. Two are bad." The eccentric Ohio State coach wasn't a pioneer of the West Coast offense. It was a perilous weekend here in the River City. According to the local media, only two things could happen if you left the toasty hearth, for anything, under any circumstances. Both would lead to a lingering, painful death. Any motorist imprudent enough to sally forth in his vehicle would, before reaching the corner drug store, careen wildly out of control on the thick ice, taking his life along with a buff cocker spaniel trying, valiantly, to protect a small tot, also crushed by the careless albeit dead motorist. A stroll to get your paper would result in a horrible, painful case of frostbite. Who was that poor, pathetic, frostbitten woman the newscasts dredged up, displaying her disgusting swollen hands, face, and arms?

The Broken Spoke, once-upon-a-time, played a key role in the implosion of my marriage. It's a long, ugly tale. Once I mentioned Don Walser, playing at the Spoke, to a friend, no amount of cajoling, pleading, or manipulating could talk her out of going. I wasn't too crazy about returning to this scene. Old memories flooded back but the dingy place looked and felt good. Dives like this, now almost extinct, were once commonplace in Austin. It was packed with survivors of the deadly weekend.

Before I finished my first Jack and coke, the entire club emptied onto the dance floor to do a queer "dance" called the Chicken. Adults, many of several decades, were on the floor, quacking. Hands held over heads, moving them like you do to make a puppet duck on a wall. Not being an acolyte here, I presumed this was a representation of a chicken beak. Everyone was shaking their booties, in unison, as dancing fowl might do, folding their arms beneath armpits, pretending to fly, flapping appendages in a rapid, birdlike fashion. A dance like this must help save marriages. Picture the target of your inappropriate lust bobbing up and down like a palsied, undignified Yosemite Sam. Case closed.


Loud, obnoxious, bully,

boor, mean, arrogant, and ugly red sweaters: Say the name Bobby Knight, that's what comes to my mind. A friend or close associates may tell you this public image is unfair. Beneath the bluster is a pussycat. You gotta live with the image you create. Knight certainly deserves his. He seems to personify the win-at-any-cost coach, a person all too common on the sports landscape. Then, a few weeks ago, the Indiana University basketball icon demonstrated that there is a spending limit on winning and there is, finally, a price he will not pay.

One of Knight's star players was arrested for beating up his girlfriend. Knight could easily have justified this "mistake" or "slip" by his star forward and written the whole thing off as a "valuable learning experience" for the kid. He could have castigated the media for blowing the incident "out of proportion," unfairly trying and convicting an unfortunate child before his rightful day in court. By the time the team got to Iowa City, the next week, the whole thing would be forgotten. Such is the cynical, exploitative nature of big-time sports, circa 1996. Had this occurred, would you have been surprised? Not me.

Instead, after seeing the police report, he summarily kicked the kid off the team. He did, regardless of points-per-game or rebounds, what I view as the right thing. Bobby Knight must live with his ugly image. Let's give some credit. He has run -- with never a hint of scandal -- a highly visible, wildly successful, big-time basketball program for 30 years. No accusations from jealous Big-Ten coaches of cheating. No ugly exposés from the press. Knight's wounds are public and self-inflicted. His program is honest. He won't justify a wrong in exchange for a few wins. He has shown players and observers there are limits. Actions will have consequences. For this, I applaud Bobby Knight.

I must have seen a worse basketball game, somewhere, than the Texas overtime loss to Oklahoma. I'm thankful I can't remember it. The game was ugly, and horribly played and officiated. The fact is, this team is not very good. Their best players are too young and inexperienced. The old ones are not so good and inexperienced. Center Sonny Alvarado is all guts and hustle, but has no inside game. This puts him in good company with all the other forwards and centers who have played for Penders. However -- and this is saying something -- this team has less of an inside game than any other edition of the Runnin' Horns. No inside option leaves nothing but three-point shots. Unfortunately, this is not a strength either. No inside game, wildly erratic outside shooting: a bad basketball combination. When the threes are dropping, as they were against North Carolina, the Horns can look great. All too often, the SWC's worst shooting team fills the sky with a carpet-bombing barrage of grotesquely off-target shots. They shoot often, from any angle. Usually, they miss. This can turn a game ugly very quickly. The team hustles and plays tough defense. It's just not enough. Penders has already begun his yearly media campaign to get his team into the NCAA tournament. This year they don't belong. n Write me: coach@auschron.com

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