But, Don, you said earlier you did have the best program in the nation.
"Oh, well, pick one."
Larry James, a member of the U.S. gold-medal 4 x 400-meter relay team at the Mexico City Olympics and a silver medalist in the 400, is one of Bragg's assistants. Says James, "Don does nothing normal. Some people are outrageous in certain aspects of their lives. He's outrageous in all aspects."
In his office, when talk turns to the well-managed intramural program, Bragg inexplicably loses interest. He spits in his wastebasket. Well, toward his waste-basket. "Don't say much about Stockton," he finally blurts. "These bastards fight me every step of the way."
Getting intramurals going wasn't easy. Says Bragg, "I went over to the student union and pleaded with them. Nobody listened. Finally I said, 'Everybody who comes out in the parking lot for a game of softball will share a keg of beer.' That worked.
"The problem was that all we had was a bunch of long-haired white guys with bandannas and a bunch of arrogant, non-regimented black city kids. They wanted to debate everything. I'd say, 'Your game is on Field B.' They'd say, 'Why Field B?' "
These days, Bragg says he likes intramurals mostly because "we drink beer and throw each other in the lake. We're talking about belonging. I should be commended for our intramurals, but I'm not, because some of the people at Stockton think I'm crazy. But I don't care about them." He emphasizes his displeasure with a resounding belch.
And he's off on another tirade: "We got started here, finally, and had intramurals and everything was fine, especially flag football. Then, dammit, the girls wanted to play. What was I supposed to do? I mean guys are going to bust butts, right? So I say, 'O.K., girls, come on, but if you can't take it, I don't want to hear about it.' Then I get all this crap, and so I have to set up six powder-puff teams. It was awful. I mean if the weather got a little cold, they didn't show. Any excuse.
"So I decided we'd try volleyball. Twenty-four teams. I'd say about a quarter are all-girl teams, where they dress up in costumes and have fun, and another quarter are coed, and then the other half."