Of course, the idea of poor little Mike Dean trying to handle McCoy—the elephant, the nonhuman—gave Texas fans a cause beyond the contest itself. Especially after a Dallas writer quoted McCoy as saying, "I don't intend to make friends with him. Actually, I've looked at the films, and I don't see any problems."
There were those Longhorn rooters who were so fascinated with the continuing publicity about McCoy's size and strength that they could not resist going to the motel where Notre Dame was headquartered and peering at him. Two of Royal's more intense worshipers were among these. And one day one of them said, "McCoy's the biggest man I've ever seen. He makes Bob Lilly look like me."
To which the other said, "Yeah, and all I know is, my little runty-legged Mike Dean's gonna eat his tail up."
Dean played well against McCoy, getting a good deal of double-team help from Bob McKay. Dean would slice at McCoy's feet and get pieces of him. He scrapped and scrambled. At times, however, McCoy overpowered everyone and got to the ball. Texas didn't spend the afternoon running at him, although Street optioned him a few times for good gains by Worster.
"He's awfully massive and scary," said Dean later. "I got pretty tired, but so did he. Frankly, with his buildup, I thought he'd show me more football player than that. I'll tell you who the great player is. It's that Olson."
And so that battle ended in rather a standoff, much to the satisfaction and well-being of Mike Dean.
If there was a relaxed moment of humor to be shared by both squads and coaching staffs, something to force a crack in the bustling pressure, it was provided at a big luncheon the day before the kickoff by Texas Governor Preston Smith. He not only welcomed all of the good visitors from "Illinois," he repeatedly referred to Ara as "Coach Parse-agan." Seriously.
A bit embarrassed, Royal had leaned over to Parseghian on the dais and whispered, "He went to Texas Tech." And when Ara finally appeared before the microphone he cordially thanked "Governor Schmidt," and collapsed the room in laughter.
Bowl games are essentially supposed to be fun for everybody concerned, of course, and Notre Dame's players, officials, coaches and fans seemed to enjoy all of the entertainment that was provided for them and the massive attention they received. The school's first venture into modern post-season play will probably be considered a success in everything but the final score.
That, too, might have been different if Notre Dame's opponent had been a team without a few midgets like James Street and Cotton Speyrer and Mike Dean, who can't do anything but play college football—and can't do anything but win.