"What are you laughing at? Huh? Those wires, that's the thermostat. They don't want it off, but with the right tools, you can get it off. Those beer kegs hold up the speakers. The light got broken by something. Boy, Hatfield threw a fit when he came in that time. It wasn't so bad, was it, J.R.? Now we've got a Nerf basketball court. This is the hoop, and those stains on the wall, that's blood, where guys have taken some hard fouls.
"Over there, though, I think that's just a banana that somebody threw. Of course, here's my pride and joy. [Cherico reaches into a pile of trash and pulls out a partially inflated, life-size doll.] This is Tiffany. A girl on the Softball team I coached this summer told me she had a date for me. She said, 'Her name's Tiffany, she's a partier, and she loves guys!' I said, 'O.K.!'
"You know, before I came here I thought there would be nothing but hillbillies in Arkansas. Outhouses and stuff, people talking slow, like straight out of Deliverance. But there are a lot of nice people here. [A grasshopper jumps across the rug. Cherico arranges a bundle of dirty clothes into a pillow and lies down on the floor. Brown appears to be dozing underneath a mound of clothes on Cherico's bed.] That's my pet grasshopper. J.R.'s always bringing home things. Had an Easter bunny once. A tree frog. It had suction cups on its feet and could stick to anything. Rats. Dogs. One day I was in the shower, and J.R. opens the door, hands me a dog and says, 'Wash it.' Who knows where he finds them.
"I remember I had some jerky for one of the dogs. Some of the players wanted some, they thought it was beef jerky from a bar or something. They insisted, so I gave it to them. They ate it. 'Jeez,' they said, 'that wasn't so good.' I think it must have been horsemeat.
"I'm always pulling tricks on my teammates. They did get me back last year, though. They taped me to the goal post, brutally, right over my hair and everything. Then they took pictures of themselves with me.
"Joking around makes the time go by. Agnes was our good friend and pet. When it was cold she'd crawl into one of our beds. You got used to it. J.R. had some rats, and they kind of disappeared. No big deal. Then one night we heard this scratch, scratch, scratch at the water bottle J.R. had taped to the leg of his bed. He turned on the light and there was the mama rat, but it got away. So we went back to sleep, and then there was that scratching again. The rat ran under the dresser, and J.R. stuck his hand in there, and the thing got mad and bit him. So J.R. put on a ski glove and pulled the rat out, and then we moved the dresser and there was a nest made out of all the things that had disappeared from our room—underwear and socks and hats. J.R. was so mad he fed all the rats to Agnes one after the other.
" Hatfield told us we had to get rid of 'that big worm,' or we were out of school, so we sent it back to Kansas City. But really, the only thing we ever did really wrong was the Beer Can Run-In two years ago. And the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon did that. They put the cans in our room. That's our story, and we're sticking by it.
"I have grown, though. I've mellowed. I was crazy when I first got here. Fireworks. I mean, just the smell of them gets me excited. We had this tiny bathroom in our dorm suite and it was all cement, and one day I was sitting on the John and a firecracker rolls under the door. There's nothing you can do—it goes off and you're deaf. I'd lock J.R. in there and toss in firecrackers. Then bottle rockets. Those were something. But now these new rooms have smoke alarms so you can't do those things.
"I'm getting older and wiser. Last summer I worked at the Charter Vista Hospital, a drug, alcohol and psychiatric care facility, and I learned so much there. I enjoyed helping people. But it was scary seeing these young kids hooked on drugs. I don't believe in steroids, and I've never tried cocaine. The honest reason for that is my biggest fear is that I'd enjoy it, and if I enjoyed it, that'd be all she wrote.
"I just think that in a lot of ways we need to get back to the good old days. When big business comes into college football, that's where it goes down the tube. We need to get back to when it was a game, when it was fun. When I leave I want people to say, he played well because it was fun. Not for TV. Not for money. Not for the Lombardi Award, or any of that junk.