Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Don't Mess With Texas"

My son and I started a tradition recently of taking in one away game each year as we follow the University of Kansas football team. This weekend we visited Austin, TX to check out how the Big 12 conference’s biggest school, and perennial football power, handles a day-of-game experience. And, not to mention, Austin is one of the more appealing college towns in the country for a visit of this type.

On Friday night we checked into our hotel, unpacked and then decided to venture out for some Tex Mex food. As we boarded the elevator we encountered a couple who were obvious Texas fans. The man had what I eventually figured out was the UT male uniform for the weekend--boot cut jeans (Wrangler, of course) covering very expensive cowboy boots featuring some exotic leather, coupled with a UT windbreaker or wind shirt in, what else, burnt orange. This gentleman also sported a large belt buckle with the state of Texas silhouetted in the middle.

His wife was duded out in tight jeans (not Wrangler but something very designer-like) tucked into over the calf, spiked heel boots. Her burnt orange sweater was covered by a sleeveless, black vest coupled with some sort of fur around the collar.

As we entered the elevator, we were greeted with a friendly, “Hey, y’all, my name’s Bud and this is Norma—you Kansas fans!?” My first inclination, given our royal blue attire, was to say, “Nah, we just like the colors” but thought better of it and said, “you bet.” Norma replied, “Well, that’s great…we were up in Laramie last year for the game up there. It sure was cold.” When I corrected Norma and said “You mean Lawrence, not Laramie,” her husband, Bud, interjected “Yeah, it was a cold one up there. Did you boys go to that game? Boy, that Colt was something that day, wasn’t he?” Bud was, of course, bragging up Texas’ all-everything, beloved QB, Colt McCoy.

I muttered, “Yeah, he’s pretty good” but Bud had already moved on in his gushing about his stud senior. “Yeah, we had to come up to this game to see ol’ Colt and Jordan in their last one at home. I’m gonna shed a tear for those two young ‘uns tomorrow night—their parents have to be thrilled.” When I asked Bud where he and Norma were from, he said “Katy—outside of Houston.” I mentioned to him that my daughter had attended Baylor and had a roommate from Katy. “Baylor, huh? Nice school, but it’s too bad they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain in the Big 12.” I, as diplomatically as I could, suggested to Bud that Baylor wasn’t too shabby in women’s basketball and that their men’s teams had done well in sports like tennis and track. “Yeah, son, but I’m talking about football—those other sports don’t count for nuthin’.”

At this point, the elevator doors opened and we tried to take our exit from Bud and Norma. But, Bud wasn’t finished. “You know, it’s too bad y’all up there in the Big 12 North can’t be a little more competitive. It’s sure lookin’ like the Big 12 championship game will be another blowout—I just hope we don’t get anybody hurt before we have to play Florida in the national championship game.” I replied to Bud that the North wasn’t too shabby, and said “If you remember, K-State beat you guys three years or so ago and ruined your title hopes.”

“Ah yeah, I know,” Bud said, “I know—but, c’mon son, that game was a joke. Major got hurt in that game or else we would’ve won…you know it and I know it.” Bud wasn’t finished as my Kansas State reference had clearly set him off. “And, if you’re a Kansas fan, what are you doin’ pointing out what your rival did against us? You know, we should’ve never let you guys into the Big 12!”

I was incredulous—here I was, standing in the lobby of a Marriott Courtyard in Austin, and I’d just been told that the four Texas schools let the Big Eight schools into their conference! I glanced at my son, whose mouth was open and his eyebrows raised, thus confirming that I had, indeed, heard Bud correctly.

“Uh, Bud, did you say ‘you should never have let us into the Big 12?’”

“Yeah, the damn administrators down here…we had a good thing going with the Southwest Conference but we needed to get rid of those brainiacs down at Rice, plus that ‘pig sooey’ crap up in Fayetteville was getting old too. That’s why we took the Aggies and Tech and decided to start our own conference. We brought Baylor in just for appearances—you have to have a private school involved, right? The Big Eight schools came to us and wanted to join because, face it, they knew that the big money was down here and they wouldn’t survive without us. Hey fellas, it’s been nice talkin’ with ya…good luck tomorrow night and y’all have a nice stay here in Austin. Norma and I need to skedaddle—we’re meeting some friends for steaks out at Lake Austin. Y’all take care.”

I stared at the departing Bud and Norma, too stunned to even consider a snappy rejoinder at the receding figures.

Don't mess with Texas, indeed...

(Editor’s note: This story is inspired by true events.)

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