Coach's Corner

Yanked back untimely from his idyll in the Rockies, Coach is sucked into the "debate" over college football's pre-season polls.

Mike Hogan, accountant to Austin's Granola Mafia, sits sphinx-like across a conference table piled high with tax folders and documents from his many late-filing clients. Boxes, piled to the ceiling on all four walls, give the room a distinct claustrophobic feeling. It's mid-July in the year of 2000: the hottest summer on record in the state of Texas.

I'm in the process of pitching Hogan a fanciful, whimsical scheme. A plan 30 years in the making. A plan brooded on for many hours of many years of many summers, summers that will shortly, I fear, kill me. I'm consulting with Hogan (the most conservative person I know), half-hoping he'll talk me out of this insanity. Tell me to get a grip. Suggest I stay indoors and avoid any more sun. But instead his poker face is nodding, ever so slightly. Is it possible, I wonder, as I ramble on about negative cash flows and the (always popular with accountants) quality of life issues, that he approves of this ridiculous scheme? If Hogan likes this idea, I'm thinking, I need to find a more sensible accountant.

My plan is exquisite in its simplicity. Its goal is focused and clear: to escape Austin summers. I propose to basically strip the various mutual funds I've been saving in for all my adult life and buy a home in Vail, Colo. Well, not a home exactly, because when you start using words like "home" when referencing Vail real-estate, you've already crossed the $3 million threshold. It's half of a humble duplex -- what in Vail is referred to, in real estate speak, as a "single-family dwelling."

As I drone through my long list of rationalizations I hear Hogan saying stuff like, "not too bad an idea," and "tax benefits," as opposed to tax consequences, which is the only word I've ever heard Hogan utter after the word tax. The tiny room seems utterly quiet now as I launch into my final, fail-safe argument, about "paper money not doing anything to make me happy, but this house …" The hum of the overworked air-conditioning is excruciatingly clear. I feel the pain of the burned, brown grass, just outside the window. As I finish at last, Hogan mutters something about "diversification of my portfolio." Hogan's crazier than a shit-house monkey. He thinks this is a good idea!

Back in the present, I sit, staring with glazed eyes out at the August browness of what's left of my front lawn. The temperature creeps over 100. Both my dogs refuse to leave their cages. My wife went to "take a nap," three hours ago. Last Sunday, I was sitting creekside, smugly checking the daily highs in Austin. On Monday, Kelly called. She was hysterical. The dogs needed immediate surgeries, and Roxy wouldn't be able to walk without help for six weeks, and Floyd's sutures had ripped and were bleeding all over the floor and the snot-nosed tech at the vet blamed her, and to top it all off she had to start teaching ungrateful fifth graders next week, she hadn't made a lesson plan or fixed up her room and where, where, wherethefuckwasIIII?

I was, of course, "playing golf, honey," but that explanation, though quite truthful, didn't go over that well at all. It was made fairly clear staying in Vail -- quality of life issues notwithstanding -- wasn't an option … at least if I wanted to remain married. So, here I am. …

I'd hoped to escape the inane August pre-season college football polls this year, what with the Vail Daily sports team covering fly fishing totals in Gore Creek this week, but God wasn't going to let me off that easy. No sir. It's probably a once-in-a-decade occurrence for me to agree with a football coach… particularly one from UT. However, Mack Brown's comments about the idiocy of preseason polls, calling them a farce with the sole purpose of "selling newspapers," couldn't be more correct. The staggering proliferation of polls is another of the frightful consequences of 24-hour-sports-talk. The polls provide mindless fodder to rile up cell-phone Charlie in Cedar Park.

My first (and last) comment on a pre-season poll concerns Oklahoma and their preseason No.3 ranking. I suspect they're as overrated this year as they were cloaked to us last August. Has any team -- ever -- without a known QB, been so highly thought of? I'm dismayed at how quickly experts forget the amazing contributions of Josh Heupel. When he's mentioned at all these days, it's dismissively, as if he was a fluke and it was always really about OU's defense. What bullshit! For four critical, Big-Time games last fall -- against each of the Big 12's football monsters, starting with the total destruction of a good Texas team, followed by Nebraska, K-State, and A&M -- Heupel was so good it was really scary. Eerie. Whatever. I don't have the right words. Those four games were the OU season and the reason for its fantastic rise from ashes to emperor. True enough, Heupel, whose courage in the pocket caused him to take a horrific beating, wasn't the same at the end of the year, but it didn't matter. His magic pixie dust had settled over the entire squad. As fall turned to winter, the defense carried its sore-armed quarterback. A light load indeed, considering how far he took that team.

What's a good defense without a QB? I call them Texas A&M.

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