At one point during his freshmen season McVea went to Yeoman and said he couldn't take it. He said he guessed he had made a mistake and probably would be better off at an all-Negro school, such as Texas Southern. Yeoman almost swallowed his tie.
"I told him that few people in life had an opportunity like his," says Yeoman. "I told him I'd sink with him if that was what was going to happen, but I didn't think so. And he agreed to stay. If he's had any second thoughts since then, he hasn't expressed them to me."
So McVea didn't sink, and he certainly didn't vanish. Instead, Houston developed into a flamboyant team, one that is such an attraction that 7,000 standing room tickets were sold to the Astrodome last Saturday night.
It is typical of McVea's character that he has become an attraction off the team as well as on. While he prefers that no tackier touch him, he also prefers that none of his clothes—suits, slacks, sport jackets—touch one another in his dormitory closet. He attends classes in tailor-made, beltless, cuffless slacks and alligator loafers. He has two tailors in Houston, one for suits and one for slacks.
He is also meticulous about football gear. His socks have to be high, and tape d so that they can never—ever—slip down. His belt has to be pulled to just such a length so that the end flops out in front by a precise three inches. And no one must handle his shoes, whether they be the ones with the regular cleats for grass or the soccer cleats for Astroturf. "I just don't want anybody to touch my shoes," says Warren. "Been that way since high school. I carry my shoes in the buses or on the planes right by my side."
Warren hardly wants his own hair to touch him, and during the season he has kept his head totally shaved. Although it would be more to his taste to have it done by Norris of Houston in the swanky Warwick Hotel, Warren settles for having teammate J. B. Keys come to his dorm room and give him a clip every Thursday. But McVea doesn't pay him. "I can't," he says innocently. "That would make him a pro."
There was some question at first whether McVea was for real. Sure, he had been a high school great, but the YMCAs are full of those. Sure, he had been fast and tricky against high school defenders, but this was the big time now. All doubt was removed one afternoon during a freshman scrimmage against the varsity that Yeoman will never forget. The freshman unit had been looking lethargic, primarily because McVea was hobbling around. Admittedly, he has never been a brilliant workout player. "I have sore legs," he says with a smile. "But they have a habit of getting well on Saturdays." As the freshmen huddled, the coaches said that if they could make a touchdown drive they could quit for the day.
"Hold it," said Warren. "You mean if we score again, we can go in?"
The coaches nodded.
"Just gimme the ball," said McVea.