And so the battle to become comfortable with who he is, instead of what he does, still swings back and forth. "It's 50-50 I'll be back coaching," he says. "Hell, I already feel so good I could start tomorrow. If I'd taken another few weeks to decide, I might have stayed. I'm still not sure burnout applies to me...."
Then: "It's time I put my family over my occupation. I'm not an example of what a guy ought to be...."
Darkness covers Culiac�n, and at a table in a restaurant Vermeil and his companions, including UCLA alumnus Rob Hixson, who had been vainly asking Vermeil to come hunting here for years, fill themselves with shrimp, octopus, whitefish sauteed in onions, marinated scallops and melted Mexican cheese with sausage. They douse it all with wine.
Dinner ends; the margaritas and mariachi band begin. "You know," says Vermeil, "there are other things in life."
Suddenly he jumps up from the table, strides into the middle of the music and commandeers the trumpet. He throws back his head and pours out two songs that he has not attempted since he was a boy, and brown-skinned men who have never seen a football game smile and cheer.
Dick Vermeil laughs so hard he has to remove the horn from his lips.
"Hell," he cries, "I didn't know I could do that!"