In Texas, It’s Still 10 to 9

January 3, 1984

In the 48th edition of the Cotton Bowl, our beloved Bulldogs were pitted against the bovines of Texas in a game that matched the consistent high-quality play of the SEC against but another flash-in-the-pan SWC team. The long, little dogies were ranked #2 and we were ranked #7 after an inconsistent season. The heifers were seven and a half point favorites.

I could go on and on about the impact of having Herschel “untimely ripped” from the womb of UGA, but that would make me sound bitter and give rise to Mulva’s argument that he should have stayed in school and gotten his degree. My argument being that $5 million dollars over three years was going to be worth more than his criminal justice degree fell on deaf ears. We’ll just have to see how it turns out. I can say that Mulva has developed a white-hot hatred for one Donald J. Trump. She is displaying a surprising amount of vitriol for an otherwise pious woman. I’m sure she’ll mellow out as time goes on.

Anyway, I was out of my beloved’s sights having been called into action for an emergency situation at The Fill Up and Go truck stop in Bossier City, Louisiana. It was a great opportunity to tryout my newly acquired Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am on a straight road. Amazingly, fate had placed me within striking distance of the Cotton Bowl.

The emergency involved stolen property. As mentioned before, Daddy was a gambler. While on a streak he had “acquired” a vending business that serviced the machines in men’s rooms all over the South. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that sell combs, salves, creams and, uh, protection. Protection is a big business, particularly in Louisiana. Daddy had scored his share of the protection game from some poor fool that didn’t know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

The fellow that serviced the machines for Daddy never looked quite right to me. He was a cock-eyed fellow named Will B. Cheatun. Turns out Will B. figured he could just rip the machines off the walls and carry them on to another location and start his own business. So, there I was on New Year’s Day with my task completed and a mere180 miles from the Big D. I could drive back home in time for Monday night prayer meeting at the Full Gospel Original Church of God, or I could follow my passion.

I arrived at the Texas state fair, site of the Cotton Bowl, and marveled at the sight of the largest phallic symbol I have ever seen, Big Tex. I spent an inordinate amount of time floating in a sea of orange trying to negotiate for a ticket below the price of a car payment. Failing, I checked into the Dew Drop Inn and pondered my options in their well-appointed lounge. I awoke the next morning to grasp that I had fifteen minutes to kickoff. I quickly returned to the scene of the crime to join a gathering around a TV that could have been Philco’s first model.

In spite of all the hype and hoopla, the game birthed the phrase, “two mules fighting over a turnip.” God knows I love a defensive struggle, but with Erk gone on to Ga. Southern, I feared for the worst. The locals have me bleeding through the ears from the sound of their constant bleating “OHHHHHH”, at every missed opportunity. Long story short, Kevin Butler kept us in the game, it was 3 to 3 at the half.

Texas scored two more field goals in the second half and I was getting that sinking feeling. With 4:30 left in the game, we were down 9 to 3 and were forced to punt once again. It was then that the first of two miracles occurred. Miracle number one, UT fumbled the punt, and we recovered. Miracle number two, QB John Lastinger stretched out his legs on a 17-yard scamper and Kevin Butler sealed the deal. The Junkyard Dawgs hunkered down one more time and dashed Texas’s hopes of being considered for the #1 spot.

What with discretion being the better part of valor and the sounds of “give me 3 steps” echoing in my brain, I couldn’t leave the bar and town quick enough. The grin on my face lasted for a good week. We were ranked #4 at season’s end which was pretty darn good for being without Herschel. As a bonus, for the rest of my life whenever someone asks me what time it is, I will say, “In Texas, it’s still 10 to 9!”

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