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Richard Pennington (리처드 패닝턴)

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Texas Longhorns / Football History A to Z

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This is going to sound like the deal with Big Earth Publishing and the Trivia Teasers series, but here goes. I had done some editing for Maple Street Press, a Boston-based company, and one thing led to another. Jim Walsh, the president and managing editor, agreed to publish my book on the history of University of Texas football, a topic that—it must be admitted—had been covered a few times before. I was well equipped to write it; I had been on and around the UT campus for about 35 years, I knew a lot of the old-timers, I had dug deeply into research materials pertaining to Texas sports history, and I intuitively understood the culture. My blood was about as orange as anybody’s. Like I said in the book’s preface, I respected the traditions of other schools, but I’ll take Bevo, Smokey, Big Bertha, the Longhorn Band, “The Eyes of Texas,” the best-looking helmet in college football, Clyde Littlefield, Bobby Layne, DKR, Earl, Ricky and Vince. I can’t help it—I love the Horns.

Nevertheless, this was no rah-rah book about my alma mater. Frankly speaking, I have been somewhat ambivalent about UT ever since my arrival on the 40 Acres in the fall of 1971. The school, so big and impersonal, seemed to embody assembly-line higher education. Make no mistake—I was not one of the most brilliant scholars ever to earn a degree there. I am one of almost a half-million living alumni, so how unique can I be? The discerning reader would have noticed a similar ambivalence within this book. UT was not above using ringers in the 1920s, like a lot of other schools. We dithered when it came to integrating the football team, engendering a “racist” reputation that may or may not have been deserved. The athletic department has an annual budget of more than $100 million, and it seems that many of the changes made to Memorial Stadium in recent decades have sought to ensure the comfort of fat cats.

In A to Z, I wrote about one of the fattest of the fat cats, Jim Bob Moffett. One of Darrell Royal’s players in the late 1950s, he went on to establish Freeport McMoRan, one of the world’s top extractive companies. I described how Moffett and his colleagues had found the mother lode, the biggest deposit of gold and copper on earth in a remote part of Indonesia. They made a mind-boggling amount of money but in the process dropped more than 100,000 tons of toxic waste into local rivers daily for a quarter-century. Forests were denuded, and villagers were displaced and sometimes killed by the Indonesian military which was in cahoots with the company. Moffett used some of his wealth to support the UT athletic program and the university as a whole—a building on Speedway was named in his honor—and some people found the whole thing disconcerting. Blood money, a few critics called it. I dare say not many sports books contain such information.

For most of a year, late 2006 to mid-2007, I worked like a maniac. In addition to my job as a web content writer at a law firm in Austin, I had to meet deadlines for this and four of the Trivia Teasers books. All were done on time, and all came out well. I take that back. I had some disagreements with Walsh and the lady he assigned to do copyediting. Of the five photos on the cover, two were also used in the interior as part of chapter intros. This made no sense to me. A more egregious mistake was made on the cover where Bevo’s horns were cut off for the purpose of saving space. I tried to explain to Walsh that this was a terrible idea since Aggies and other UT opponents had long made hurtful “jokes” about sawing off the horns of our mascot. My views obviously did not prevail.