"It's a fine line between going right and wrong. Sometimes I wonder why I've been so fortunate. My oldest brother, Boyd, influenced me a lot. He was a troubled child, but now he's a minister."
At any rate, being the thoughtful guy he is, Sanders wilted under the pressure applied by CBS and Oklahoma State officials, and he finally agreed to do the Heisman show. Sanders walked into the TV studio on Sunday morning looking as though he were about to be publicly flogged. Sitting beside Jones, he stared straight ahead at the cameras. A technician tried to position a monitor next to Sanders so that he could watch the same highlights of himself that viewers back in the States were seeing, but he told the man to turn off the monitor. Sanders, who can fall asleep whenever he feels the need, often naps through team film meetings rather than have to watch himself perform.
In an adjacent room fullback Garrett Limbrick and the Cowboys' entire offensive line waited anxiously. Sanders had said that, if he were to win, these courageous blockers should get all the credit. The gang, all seniors, knew that was poppycock, but they loved their man just the same. Said Kidder, "We asked him to come out with us the other night, but he said, 'No, I want to stay in and study.' It was probably just as well. We were in the Ginza district and got really lost on the subway."
When Peter Lambos, the president of the Downtown Athletic Club, announced that Sanders had won the Heisman—he got twice as many points as Peete, who came in second—the new heir to Simpson, Dorsett and Walker stared stonily into the camera. But next door the blockers went nuts, whooping like children. Of Sanders's indifference, Kidder said, "It's for real, it's no show. It's Barry. The other day he asked for my autograph. I asked why, and he said, 'Because I'm not better than you are.' "
Against Texas Tech, several hours later, Sanders was better than anybody. On an option pitch from Cowboys quarterback Mike Gundy in the second quarter, he broke three tackles and outraced cornerback Dean Marusak to score a 56-yard touchdown. Sanders gave the ball to the referee, walked back to the bench, accepted handshakes from Jones and a few teammates, said nothing and calmly waited to reenter the game.
In the third quarter Sanders took a simple swing pass from Gundy and turned it into a 66-yard gain. Sanders finished with 353 yards of total offense and gave the 56,000 spectators a thrilling show. "I like the way Sanders handles himself," said Texas Tech free safety Donald Harris after the game.
Hart Lee Dykes, Oklahoma State's flamboyant wide receiver—he had nine catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and one tie-dyed game towel with OSU [LOVE] DYKES on it—likes Sanders, too, but he couldn't help pondering the unfairness of Sanders's painful reign in the Heisman glare. "I like talking," said Dykes with a frustrated shrug. "I know I'd be able to deal with the thing."
So would a lot of us, no doubt. Getting there, however, is the trick. Cheers, America, the right man is standing in the spotlight.