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It’s not every day one gets to share a Guinness with an Irishman hailing directly from Dublin. But that has been my privilege this last year with my friend, Gordon Hanlon. To those readers familiar with my comedic pieces, notably "The Rules Reconsidered” and “The Big 12 Power Prankings,” the name might strike a familiar chord, naturally enough, as this is the same Gordon as the (admitted) caricature who has appeared in my columns. The reader will be best advised to note that Gordon is, in person, nothing like the cartoon he has so generously allowed me to illustrate, as you will soon learn. And for God’s sake, never call him Gordy. Also, an Irishman’s grammatical advice: it is never “while” but also “whilst.” The following interview occurred at Ye Olde Bull and Bush on Montgomery 76107 (please no direct correspondence; all mail will be summarily returned) on June 25.

Tell us about yourself, Gordy.

So . . . first of all, I actually hate the f----- name Gordy.

Okay. Well, we’ll put that down for posterity.

Moved here in 2009 to work in Dallas. My first practice session I broke my hand. Because I was a funny talker the team thought I could coach. Little did they know I couldn’t. Within a couple years I worked for the US National Side.

We’re talking rugby.

Rugby yes.

So rugby. It’s a violent sport. It’s football without pads.

It is. They’ve done studies on it.  The actual force/pressure of the impacts is less than football but there are more of them. It’s basically a sport with large men wearing short shorts.

And you love it.

I absolutely adore it.

And what do you love about it?

It has provided me opportunities that I would never have had otherwise. I’ve lived in five continents. I’ve gotten to travel the world and wear short shorts in sunshine every day. Just the ability to be myself and make a difference and make an impact. I’m a bit different from other coaches. I’m not motivated by winning. I’m motivated by fear of failure. For me, to work in this sport, I knew I did a good job when I had one player say that was the best year he ever had. I helped out with a youth program here in Dallas, and now there are these poor black kids outside Dallas who have scholarships. And that is what I most proud of. I don’t care about the winning. Winning means nothing to me.

Yes, it’s the hatred of failure.

Yeah.  I’m probably the only person in the world who has ever won a championship at two antipodean points in the same 12 months. So Christchurch, New Zealand, and Lisbon in Portugal are antipodean points. And I won a championship with both teams within twelve months of each other. So that’s something I’m very proud of.

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You are aware that TCU has a rugby team.

Yes, I am. I was asked to coach them.

And you turned it down?

Yes, because the game takes so much out of me, and I’m an all or nothing person. When I’m working I’m working. I’ll do 100 or 110 hours a week. It’s so unhealthy psychologically and physically, I can’t do it. So now I’m just doing social stuff and stuff I actually enjoy because I just can’t commit. It consumes everything; it’s like a black hole. I have to be successful. It’s purely egotistical.

Of the standard NCAA sports—basketball, baseball, football—do you have a favorite of those?

At the collegiate level?

Yeah.

My actual favorite sport at the collegiate level is curling.

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Curling?

Yes.

I don’t know what that is.

It’s like bowling but on ice. It’s a winter sport. And they put the marble rocks on ice. That’s my single favorite sport.

But between baseball, basketball, and football.

Okay. The most excitement I’ve had was watching March Madness. Collegiate football is great. I’m going to the UT/Alabama game in September. Excited about that just because the whole spectacle of it. Do I tune in to watch six football games on a Saturday? No, I don’t. But those big games that are once in a lifetime moments? I feel like as a sports lover you’ve got to experience it. I mean, you’ve got to go to the Kentucky Derby. You’ve got to go to Indy 500. Even if you don’t like it, they’re monumental occasions. Collegiate football has these monumental occasions.

Now, as an Irishman, you hail from Dublin.

Yes.

What is your impression of TCU? Do you have an opinion?

Truthfully, not really. I know they fired a much loved coach this past year and they replaced him. I know there was a ginger quarterback that played for TCU years ago and now he’s in the NFL or was in the NFL . . .

That’s right. Andy Dalton.

Andy Dalton, right. And he was great. And also because he’s ginger and I’m ginger . . .

There’s a certain affinity.

Right. I don’t know much about it. I just know that according to my friends in Fort Worth it’s a great game day experience. And it’s . . . everyone that went to TCU loves the football program, loves their school, and they love the day out. And that’s what it seems to be, a great spectacle. And I’m looking forward to seeing some games this season.

What games do you hope to see?

Tarleton State. From the people I’ve talked to, every game is the same experience. So it doesn’t matter if you see Tarleton State or Alabama it’s the same thing, because the TCU fans are so committed they show up anyway. I think they’ll play SMU.

SMU, yes. They’re classic rivals. It’s a big deal.

So that’s one I’ll go to as well. I’m just hoping to have a great time. I’m fascinated by the differences in each school, their fanbase, and their game day experiences.

Let me ask you this as a final question: how persuadable are you to being a Horned Frog fan?

Horned Frog fan?

That’s right. Calling yourself a Horned Frog.

I’m a massive fan of an Italian soccer team called AC Milan because I went to their stadium when I was six years old and I was blown away by the game day experience. They had some successful years and unsuccessful years. Now, I have yet to go to a college football game. But everything I hear about TCU is they seem to have this incredible game day experience. Everyone’s wearing purple. Everyone’s committed. And it seems like a great time. Regardless of the result, if it’s 80-0 or if they lose by one, the great thing about sports is it captures the imagination of the child inside of us. You walk into a stadium and there’s all these people dressed the same and cheering and chanting. And it’s a love for euphoria and happiness. When I go to a TCU game, that’s how I imagine it’s going to be. And if it is, I’ll buy season tickets. I’ll go to every game. 

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