?The Humpty-Dumpty Factor. The argument goes more or less like this: Yeah, well, so maybe Fred's O.K., but if we were to keep him, we couldn't really respect ourselves since we've pilloried the guy so much already. "I don't believe," says Kelly, "you can ever put Humpty-Dumpty back together again."
?Hooking Horns. According to
Dave Campbell's Texas Football, Texas had the SWC's third-best recruiting class in 1985 but slipped to fifth last spring. With Akers' future uncertain this season, the Longhorns were hemorrhaging in the recruiting wars. Akers did shake up his staff over the winter, bringing in seven aggressive assistants, but it was too late. "Everybody tried to tell [Fred] he had a bunch of dunderheads recruiting," Inside Texas
quoted one source close to the team, "and the reason he wouldn't listen is that he's a dunderhead, too."
?Booster Shots. The three schools that have outrecruited Texas in the '80s—A & M, TCU and SMU—have all allegedly paid their players, while at Texas the booster presence is benign enough to control. In fact, if it hadn't been for the exigencies of Title IX and inflation during the early '70s, the school might never have started accepting booster largess at all. The TLEF contributes only $600,000 annually, just 7% of the men's athletics budget. Several deep-pocketed Orange-bloods turned on Akers a few years ago when they thought that he had mismanaged funds they had raised. But an internal probe cleared the coach of any wrongdoing, and the fire-him-or-else threats from people like Rankin were largely just cries of wolf.
But disaffection with Akers extended well into the rank and file. Before the TCU game a few weeks ago, Scott Wilson, Mike Powell and Kurt Zeitler gathered in the parking lot outside Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. They're not petulant petromoguls but garden-variety Longhorn fans, workaday Texas grads with nothing to withhold but their approval. They were grilling Akers over smoldering mesquite:
"I've seen every game Fred Akers hasn't coached here."
"He has no imagination."
"He can't maintain discipline. I don't know how many times we've been penalized for having 12 men on the field."
"It's become standard procedure to call timeout after a touchdown to decide what to do with the extra point."
"When your All-America tight end has to take 15 hours in summer school just to stay eligible, it's not something that just happens. It's something that's been accumulating."
"It wasn't just the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Texas Tech. Against Stanford our guys got into two or three fights."