It is late, and Bowden has been going at it all day—practice, interviews, film, meetings, dinner with the team. He sags some, but this is what he wanted all along. "You know, the coach who understands this business secretly smiles after that eighth victory," he says suddenly. "You get this sigh of relief because you'll have a job next year. There's always that side of you that says, Hang on, hang on. Get your eight. Because then you'll coach all your life."
And then you'll have all the numbers lined up for the Great Bear Hunt. A win at Alabama will give Terry Bowden his 21st victory without a loss at Auburn. His father didn't start that way. Neither did Bryant. He is on track. "I'm ahead of track," Terry corrects. "I always thought I was going to get there. Even that first year, I doubted my circumstances but I never doubted I could coach at the top level. And I never said it had to be as wonderful as it is right here."
Wonderful as this house on the edge of town, lit up like a star. There are times, when Terry dips his head or places his hand near his face, that it's like watching the father, stripped of all his years. Then there are moments when Terry is bouncing from subject to subject, room to room, disengaged like Bobby never is, not even seeing his girls, not hearing Erin chanting, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"
She is poised on the staircase—knees bent, arms back, ready to jump to the floor—and wants him to watch. "Daddy!" He keeps talking, pointing; he's in his own world, but Erin, a miniature Terry, is very smart too. "Coach Bowden!" she shouts, and Terry snaps to, like a man jolted from sleep.
"Yes?" he says. Everyone stops. The coach's daughter takes a deep breath and hops into the air.