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And its effectiveness depends on repetition. "And execution," says Jenkins. "If we don't execute, St. Mary's Junior High might beat us. If we do, nobody can stop us." In Houston's first game under Pardee-Jenkins in '87, Oklahoma State shut out the Cougars 35-0. Yet Jenkins now says with a straight face, "I'd have given anything to play them again later in the year. We'd have won handily."
Throwin' and catchin', right? Not necessarily. In 1989 Houston led the NCAA in total yardage with 624.9 yards a game and was the first college team in history to have a 4,000-yard passer (Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware), a 1,500-yard receiver (Manny Hazard) and a 1,000-yard rusher, Chuck Weatherspoon, who set a record of 9.6 yards per carry, a perfect example of how the MAPO can open up the stadium for the ground game. Last year Houston led the nation in pass offense (474 yards a game), in total offense (587 yards a game) and in scoring (46.5 points a game).
Moreover, since the Houston players figured the thing out and put an ugly 60-40 whuppin' on Texas on Nov. 7, 1987, the Cougars have scored 50 or more points 15 times while putting together a 31-6-1 record, the fourth-best in the country (only Miami, Notre Dame and Florida State have won more games during that period). When Pardee moved to the Oilers last season and Jenkins was named head coach, keeping the offensive coordinator's portfolio, the Cougars hardly skipped a beat—or a beating. Even while finishing a two-year (no bowls) NCAA probation for a previous administration's cheating, Houston remained in the running for the national championship until its ninth game of the year, when it was defeated 45-24 by a revenge-motivated Texas.
That was a paradoxical result, of course, for a coach and a band of marauders used to doing the head hammering themselves. Houston had beaten Texas in each of the previous three seasons, scoring—get this—173 points to Texas's 64. And who can forget the Cougars' 95-21 "victory" in '89 over an almost-all-freshmen, just-back-from-the-death-penalty SMU? Or their 84-21 mauling of Division I-AA Eastern Washington last season?
After that game, in which Jenkins left Klingler in through three quarters, the national press declared war on the crazed Doctor Dirtbag of Run It Up. Never mind that Klingler's backup was injured and that Jenkins wanted to protect the red-shirt eligibility of two other signal-callers. Couldn't Houston have faked trying?
Jenkins "perpetuated a national image of the Cougars as bullies kicking canes and parking in handicapped spaces," wrote Jonathan Feigen in the Houston Chronicle.
Jenkins replies that if Houston actually had been trying to pile it on every week, the American public would have seen "scores that looked like typographical errors. Eastern Washington? Anybody who saw that game knows we were at least 50 points and 500 yards from running it up."
The thing is, in real life the strapping 6'3" Jenkins is so happy, folksy, open, affable, funny, hardworking, logical and downright charming, that it's difficult to stay mad at him. "The truth is, our offense is virtually uncontrollable; it's impossible to stop, even by ourselves," he says in a way that makes you believe—or at least makes you want to believe. Unless, of course, you're Baylor's Grant Teaff, the dean of Southwest Conference coaches, whose team was beaten by Jenkins's offense 66-10 and 31-15 in the past two seasons and who claims that "running it up is part of his [Jenkins's] philosophy."
Jenkins calls Teaff's remarks "crude." But what must have really hurt the crowd-pleasing Jenkins the most was when Teaff called Houston's no-huddle, no-holds-barred style "boring."
"Standing on the sideline...they're milling around, you're milling around. Then they snap it," Teaff told Skip Bay-less of the Dallas Times Herald last season. "You can't really get into it emotionally. It's not like you break from the huddle, line up, call signals and splatter somebody. For them, third-and-20 is nothing. It changes the whole perception of football. Houston-TCU went four hours and 10 minutes. Houston is going to drive TV up the wall."