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Wacker, in fact, didn't feel too heroic. "I think he said, 'If this is what major college football is all about, is it worth the fight?' " recalls Lil, his wife of 24 years.
"I second-guessed myself," Wacker says. "I kept asking why? Why? Why did Kenneth have to tell Tom Perry? In six months, we'd have had a great season, and nobody would have known and all those guys on payments would have been outta here. No way that money would have ever been traced. Ahhhhh, but I had to live with Wacker."
In the wake of his startling action, Wacker's Frogs have croaked. With five freshmen starting on offense, and seven on defense, they have lost four of their last five games and are now 3-4. The defeats include 40-point-plus shutouts by Arkansas and Baylor and, of all things, a loss to Rice. "But what are you gonna do?" Wacker says. "You're not gonna slash your wrists over freshmen."
Trickier is keeping team morale high. The seven ousted players eat three meals a day with his team. Three are still living in the athletic dorm, and all of them have their scholarships. Worse, not everybody on the squad is a Wacker Backer. Running back Tony Jeffery, Davis's roommate, was asked if the team supported Wacker's actions. "No comment," he said. Greg Moore, a freshman running back, says he often hears transfer talk in the locker room: "You'll hear guys say, 'Well, if the NCAA comes down hard on us, I can still go here or go there.' But me, I'm stayin'.' "
Wacker has also had to live with accusations that he a) knew about the payments or b) didn't exactly break down doors to find out about them. He admits that when he took over at TCU, he was told improper payments had been made. But he didn't go to the NCAA. If he was determined to run the cleanest program this side of M.I.T., why didn't he?
"This place had waited 25 years to win," he says. "There was no way I was going to start us out on probation before we'd been on the job one day. Yeah, TCU got a new coach. Now let's see how good he reeeeally is."
Besides, Wacker says he was satisfied that the wrongdoing had ceased. "Players were coming in to my office saying, 'Coach, my payments have been cut off. I'm turning you in and I'm leaving.' I'd say, 'Good, Jack, hit the road.' We thought we had the faucet shut off."
And, Wacker asks, hadn't Lowe assured him "time after time" that the payoffs had stopped? Why should he doubt Lowe? Wasn't Lowe one of Wacker's best friends? Hadn't Lowe had the Wackers out to his ranch three times? "Nicest people you could want to meet," says Lil. "Ail they could say to us was how thrilled they were that we were running everything on the up-and-up."
"And all the time," says Wacker, "he was lying."
"Not lying," says Lowe. "Just keeping something from him."