Then it's off to see former athletic director Edward (Moose) Krause, the Dome's legend-in-residence, to say "Hey!" and to be sure that Krause is wearing the cowboy hat—size 7?, a number committed to the Rolodex of Brock's mind—that Hoss sent him a few months back. "When I think it's getting old, I send him a new one," says Brock. "He always offers to pay for it, but we don't let him. I can't tell you how many yards a halfback made, but I can tell you Moose Krause's hat size."
Now it's time for some random glad-handing, some "Hiya, Hoss!" backslap-ping and some high visibility for the green blazer, which Shirley, who once managed a boutique in Fort Worth, calls "awful." As Brock works a thicket of Domers, Jim Ray Smith, who has accompanied him on this trip, looks on admiringly. "See what he's doing right now?" he says. "Some of 'em he knows, some of 'em he doesn't. But he just grabs 'em and hugs 'em and hollers at 'em."
Brock's courting of Boston College and Flutie for the 1985 Cotton Bowl remains one of the great impresario jobs in modern sports. A week before bowl-invitation day, BC had beaten Syracuse to add to its bowl luster. The hallway outside the Eagles' locker room after the game looked like the Fruit Salad Bowl, with perhaps a dozen scouts milling about. " Bill Flynn [BC's athletic director] went into the men's room with I the Sugar Bowl's] Mickey Holmes, and you could see Brock's heart sink," says the
Boston Globe's Ian Thomsen, who witnessed the scene. "But it turns out Flynn just had to relieve himself. Then suddenly Flutie comes out of the locker room dressed and laughing. He puts his arm around Brock and they walk away. It was like watching some chess match where one master moves his rook, and-pow! That was his moment: With the whole bowl world there, the greatest player in the country put his arm around him. Raquel Welch looked at all the guys, and chose him."
Hoss says he laid the groundwork weeks earlier, visiting with Flutie and hearing that he liked Texas and didn't like domed stadiums—the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, for instance, where the Sugar Bowl is played. Flutie hardly made the decision himself, of course. "It was as much developing a relationship with Bill Flynn and [BC coach] Jack Bicknell and [BC president] Father Monan," says Brock. "But it sure is nice when the star of the team has an interest in going to Texas. I just told 'em if you come to Texas and don't have a good time, it's your own damn fault."
An even finer moment would take place a week later, when BC, which by then belonged to Brock, took on Miami, which had agreed to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Now, Brock likes nothing more than smashing the Fiesta's pi�ata, especially if they've been chasing the same teams. For two days Hoss had been trading barbs at various functions with the Fiesta reps, who were openly exulting in the press box as Miami pulled ahead of BC late in the game.
Brock shot them a glare when, with 28 seconds left, the Hurricanes scored a touchdown to take the lead 45-41, and one Fiesta Bowl rep literally bumped his head on the press-box ceiling. What happened next—the Flutie heave with six seconds remaining, which somehow found its way into the arms of Gerard Phelan, giving the Eagles the most improbable 47-45 victory—has been replayed many times. But no one has Hoss on tape, losing all strength, turning a mottled white and slumping forward in his seat. 'They say if I'd a had a cigar in my mouth I'd a swallowed it," says Brock. "I tell you what: The Hoss got in the last taunt. But I tell you what else: I did it with class."
Brock is bright enough to know when he's got a poor matchup—Georgia-Arkansas in '76, for example—and honest enough to admit it. At least in private; among bowl scouts, seldom is heard a discouraging word, unless the topic is a national championship playoff.
It's that infernal possibility that Brock, along with the Orange Bowl's Steve Lynch and the Sugar Bowl's Holmes, tried to head off in August 1987, with a position paper entitled: POSTSEASON BOWL GAMES: AN AMERICAN TRADITION. It's a 10-page, self-interested piece of propaganda that credited the current bowl system with having generated $49 million for college football in the 1986-87 bowl season, and it more or less suggested that anyone advocating a playoff has been watching too much March basketball.
"[Lynch and Holmes] got better minds than I do," says Brock. "But I know how to steam it in there. At one time Walter [Byers, the former NCAA executive director! wanted a playoff. But we talked, and Walter reversed his field 360 degrees." He means 180 degrees, although a conversation with the Hoss can get one's head to spinning.
In fact, on the subject of a playoff, Brock is less dogmatic than many bowl folk, who seem irrationally protective of the current system. "You show me a playoffs the best thing for college football, Hoss, and I'll go along with it," he says. Of more concern to him are what he considers some bowls' fratricidal tendencies. For instance, it drives Brock crazy that the NCAA refuses to regulate how many bowl games are played on New Year's Day.