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John Underwood
December 09, 1963
Hunting for tall, talented athletes, the college basketball coach becomes the sharpest-toothed tiger in the jungle
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December 09, 1963

Go Get 'em, Coaches!

Hunting for tall, talented athletes, the college basketball coach becomes the sharpest-toothed tiger in the jungle

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Conversation turned lightly to the rain and its benefits to the corky Texas soil. "It's not benefiting me much," said the TV man, bringing up his lapel collar and his susceptibility to head colds. He tried to look past Mr. Glover into the living room but could see nothing beyond the edges of the Venetian blinds. Gibson faced him. "How would you feel if your son definitely wanted to go to a certain school?" he asked, so that Mr. Glover would know whose interests Gibson was looking out for. "Could you see any reason for him visiting anywhere else?" The TV man laughed nervously.

The rain came harder. Gene Gibson squirmed. "Well, let's get in out of the rain," he said and made for the door. Mr. Glover relented. "I think they're about through in there now, anyway," he said. Gibson told the TV man to run out and get his camera. "We'll be ready to shoot the signing in a jiffy."

With the new arrivals, the tiny, spotless living room became cramped with people. The furniture in the room was modern, or had started out to be before funds ran out. The light from a red table lamp made everybody look flushed. Archie Porter, balding, moisture glistening on his forehead, poured himself a glass of water and suddenly stood up. "All I'm asking you to do, Bob, is go down and look over the Texas A&M campus first," Porter said to the boy. "You owe it to yourself and your future to compare the schools." His voice held the exasperation of a man who had been a very long time trying to make a very elementary point. Bob Glover, crew-cut, good-looking, stoop-shouldered, put his hands in his cotton pants and took them out again. "Bob," said Gene Gibson, "you already know what you want to do."

There was a long silence. Everyone seemed to be walking in water up to his hips, though they were all standing still. Bob Glover's pretty, gray-haired mother could be seen through a doorway. She was red-eyed. The boy began to pace, slapping at the door frame as he moved back and forth. As he walked by, Gibson patted him on the arm. "I know it's tough for you, son," he said. "It sure is," said Bob. "I just don't know what to do."

Gibson hopped up to the table and laid out his papers. "Sit right down here, then, Bob, and sign your name," he said. "And you, you get your camera ready," he told the TV man. Nobody moved.

Finally Bob stirred. "Dad, I want to talk with you alone." They went into a bedroom. Archie Porter turned to the TV man. "I tell you, I'm shook," he said. "A lot of people are counting on me. I'm new to this game, but I tell you I'm learning fast. If he'd just come down and look at our school first..." He paused. "This is my first real challenge as a college coach, and it looks like I'm about to flub it."

Bob Glover reappeared with his parents. His mother had been crying and was the most upset of the three. "I've made a decision," Bob said. "I'm going to sign right now. With Texas Tech." Archie Porter jumped to his feet as if struck right in the bottom of his chair, but Gene Gibson beat him to Glover's hand. "Congratulations, son," said Gibson. The defeated Archie Porter took his prot�g�'s arm. "Best of luck, Bob," he said. "I want you to know I'm with you always. Now, if you'll excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Glover..."

In the cascade of relieved conversation that invariably follows a tense decision reached, Bob said he had liked Texas Tech from the start. He said he was not a good student and was pleased that Gibson had a full-time academic coach. "He'll see to it you make your grades," said Gibson. Bob said he liked the town of Lubbock, too—"friendliest people I've ever seen"—and thought the coliseum where Tech plays was the nicest he had been in. Eventually he uncoiled from his easy chair and went over to the table to cut himself a big slice of banana cake. "Good cake," he said. Mrs. Glover said that it had been sent over earlier by Archie Porter.

Horace (Bones) McKinney describes himself as a manly sort of fellow "muscled up like a clothesline," a man convinced that flying is the Devil's way to get him, and a man given over to his fat temper. "When I had Len Chappell at Wake Forest in 1960," he says, "I got mad at him one day at practice and ran up screaming, 'Leonard, do you know I can whip you?' He outweighed me about a ton and a half. 'Yessir,' he said. 'That's not true, Leonard,' I said, 'and don't let me ever catch you lying to me again.' "

Above all, however, Bones McKinney finds Bones McKinney to be a man who truly likes people—"I have six children, and you almost have to like people to have six children." The converse, as it would naturally follow, is that people like Bones McKinney. As an old eagle scout (11 years at Wake Forest), his forays into the field for fresh talent have been known to make a man wonder just who is recruiting whom.

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