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The Texas State Fairgrounds on the day of the Oklahoma game is no more crowded than the recreation deck of any ordinary troop ship. The ground seems to sag from the weight of hundreds having picnics. "Fried chicken, boys," said Joe, pushing along a walkway and observing the people sprawled on the lawn. "Two necks and a back and a piece of cold bread."
"And some black French fries," added Cecil. "Best meal they ever had. Boy, it's fun."
They stopped and bought six beers, two extra, and finally the voice of Hank Thompson greeted them as they came near Big Tex, the giant cowboy statue that is emblematic of the fair and would make fine kindling wood. Hank Thompson was singing a familiar hillbilly ballad that went, "We got time for one more drink and a...six-pack to go." Joe and Cecil whooped.
By prearrangement the Coffmans and Morgans had planned to meet Joe's sister, Shirley, and his brother-in-law, David Alter, to straighten out the ticket situation. Joe had decided that Mary Sue and Shirley would sit in the end zone while he and David would take the two seats on the 50-yard line. Joe thought that seemed fair enough, and no back talk. Cecil and Pat had their own tickets. The Alters arrived, and Joe acknowledged them with, "Too much character, boys. We got too much character to lose that game."
The Texas-Oklahoma game is one of the maddest spectacles of sport. This was the 18th consecutive sellout of the series, with 75,504 seats of the stadium crammed with the throatiest, most enthusiastic partisans in football, evenly divided between Texans and Oklahomans. Regardless of the team records, the excitement is there each year; the game matches state against state, school against school, fraternity against fraternity, oil derrick against oil derrick. Some rooters become so emotional that they can see only black on the other side of the field. One who did this year was fullback Harold Philipp of Texas. Before the game, talking about the Texas boys playing on the Oklahoma team, he said, "Why, that's just like somebody from the United States playing for Nazi Germany." During the game an immense roar wafts up from the stadium on every play, and the two large bands play Boomer Sooner, the Oklahoma fight song, and Texas Fight, the Longhorns' song, an innumerable number of times, always to the accompaniment of a cheering, jeering mob of singers. Occasionally fights break out in the stands.
The game did not provide any opportunities for Joe Coffman to fight, or even to officiate or complain. Texas was better than even he had expected and simply swept Oklahoma away, winning 28-7. Joe still managed several excuses for leaping cries of, "Hook 'em Horns," but mainly he occupied himself with pointing out to David Alter some of the more subtle, polished tactics of Darrell Royal's second- and third-teamers. Every time Oklahoma's Jim Grisham, a superb fullback from Olney, Texas, carried the ball, Joe hollered, "Get that turncoat!" And when an OU fan near him would yell encouragement to the Sooners, Joe would quietly remark to his brother-in-law, "Jimmy Jack Drunk back there thinks he's still got a chance to win."
Later, in the usual postgame playing of The Eyes of Texas by the Longhorns band down on the field, Joe stood silently proud, pleased and even touched that his team had been so great on the big day. "That song chokes me up every time," he said, forcing a grin. "Man, Dare-e-ull had 'em hot today. You know what Joe Don Looney got? Mr. Scott Appleton gave him zip. Shut him out."
Joyful cries of "Hook 'em Horns" were billowing out of the apartment in north Dallas, when the Coffmans, Morgans and Alters got there. Unlike the party the night before, this one was strictly for Longhorns. Platters of ham and turkey were laid out on a table. A bartender in the kitchen was mixing drinks and opening beers as fast as possible. Wives and girlfriends congregated on the sofas. The men pushed into the kitchen and spilled out onto a balcony, drinks lifted, in a continuous toast to Royal and Appleton and Carlisle and Ford and to the memory of college days at Austin. "Hey, Cecil," called Joe. "Just got the score. Florida beat Alabama!"
Cecil slumped back in a chair, laughed heartily and said, "All I know is, Texas is Number 1, 2, 3 and 4."