Back before he wore the silver-framed tinted specs and the muscle T's and the short shorts and the boot heels with the goldfish in them (well, fake goldfish), before he changed the gridiron as we know it, before he added the air-raid siren to the exploding scoreboard and invented rock 'n' roll football, even back then John Jenkins was a killer. Why, with that fountain of hair cascading up, back and every which way—apparently from a single spot at the peak of his forehead—he not only dressed the way Jerry Lee Lewis did but also looked like him. Jenkins says he was "a pioneer in the field of weight training." Uh-huh.
What he really was, was a wannabe stud-hoss genius-innovator. Back then, while his stereo blasted his favorite tunes across the iron and through the eardrums at 5 a.m. in those weight rooms of the late 1960s and early '70s, Jenkins was pumping up his pecs to impress the babes and pumping up his mind so he could figure out how to average triple figures.
O.K., so Jenkins, now 39 and the coach-offensive coordinator at the University of Houston, didn't think up the run-and-shoot all by himself. But hey, Hoss, tell you what, as Jenkins might say—and does, at the beginning of virtually every sentence—your evolutionaries come in strange packages.
"Hey, Hoss, back in Pampa [Texas], my crowd was a bunch of rowdies in a place where cracking each other over the head with bottles wasn't assault and battery, it was entertainment," says Jenkins. "Hey, Hoss, I could have been a wild-bull rider...or the biggest hoodlum in Texas."
Jenkins never smoked, drank or used drugs. And following the brawls he always drove the car. Little wonder that as a grownup (well, not really) he has settled on being the run-and-shoot gangster of love—not to mention having a reputation as the biggest hoodlum in football.
"For somebody who is really a pretty good guy," says Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, "John has managed to piss off coaches all over the country."
Already. In one season as a head coach. Without being on network television or going to a bowl game.
"We survive in the coaching profession by helping one another," says one Big Eight coach. "Jenkins has shown an inability to do this. Everyone resents a guy who thinks he invented the game."
"There's such a thing as ethics in winning," says a Southeastern Conference coach. "When you beat someone the way Jenkins does, there's a chance you're going to hurt a lot of young people."
All this from a couple of coaches who have yet to play against him.