By Dr. Don Newbury
Uncle Mort, who has survived (he claims thrived) for 90 years down in the thicket, sent Thanksgiving greetings in a note delivered by the bread truck driver who lives in our neighborhood.
I knew Mort would call around the first of the year, if for no other reason than to re-cap the bowl games.
Sure enough, when 2008 was but a few hours old, he called….
“Most of the games were as predictable as the sunrise,” Mort opined.
He pointed out that two vivid bowl memories were provided by non-players of two Big 12 member schools--Texas A&M University and the University of Texas.
“They were doozies that alumni would like to forget as soon as possible,” Mort said….
“Texas A&M brass, and the rest of the civilized world, found no humor in the Aggie yell leader’s suggestion during a pre-game pep rally that Penn State Coach Joe Paterno was ready for the casket,” Mort charged. “To the administration’s credit, the yell leader was sent home to mail in his yells.”
My old uncle then shifted to the Texas game, where a young man said to be a member of the UT “football operation staff,” treated Longhorn Coach Mack Brown like a step-dad.
Mort re-set the scene, where the live ball was bouncing crazily toward the UT sideline….
“That kid, who turned out to be the coach’s step-son, has been playing too much fantasy football,” Mort laughed. My uncle joined the rest of us in amazement as the staffer inched toward the ball, as if to “shoo” it away from the sidelines, toward the eager clutches of a Longhorn player.
Officials called on re-play cameras--for 12 minutes, no less--to determine if he touched it. The point should be forever moot. The offender, along with several coaches and dozens of players, accompanied him on the field of play.
“I blame the NCAA for the kid’s boo-boo,” Mort asserted. “Rules are rules. When coaches or players cross restraining lines, flag ‘em for unsportsmanlike conduct. Forget the warning stuff….”
Mort said that teams might need to consider hiring a coach to monitor restraining line encroachment.
“This reminds me of what the late Abe Lemons said years ago when he wanted to name two additional members to his coaching staff,” my uncle laughed. “Lemons, one of the most colorful of all basketball coaches, claimed what his team really needed were a psychologist and a hair-dresser.”
Whatever, since the kid’s inexplicable act cost the Longhorns’ a touchdown, he can forget about whatever plans he may have to succeed Brown as UT’s head football coach….
My uncle switched gears. He was still talking football, but now about a UT-OU game played in Dallas a half-century ago.
Only in recent years has Mort been able to laugh about the escapade, when all was in order for him to be an eye-witness to the Longhorns’ battle with the Sooners.
For years on end, he had listened to the game described expertly by the late Kern Tipps, arguably radio’s all-time best grid reporter….
His friends in the thicket, tired of hearing of his hopes to one day see the game, took up a collection.
They bought him a train ticket, booked a hotel room and provided a game ticket.
Upon Mort’s arrival in Dallas, revelry had already begun. It was everywhere, and he was an immediate joyful participant. He wobbled toward his hotel when the hour already was wee….
When he waked, the clock showed 9 a.m. He thought there to be plenty of time for room service breakfast and a quick read of the Saturday morning newspaper.
A half-hour passed. Mort was flustered; he called room service again, asking why it took so long to scramble eggs.
“Oh, we’ve got the eggs ready,” the attendant answered. “But SATURDAY papers aren’t easy to find on SUNDAY morning….”
Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: email@example.com Call: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.