The rancher wakes up around 8 every morning. He grabs a bite to eat, then drives his truck 15 miles to a filling station in Hearne, Texas, the nearest place to buy a copy of the
His life is simple and, mostly, blissful. The 120 cows that live on his property -- the Hawks Hill Ranch in Gause, Texas -- need to be fed. The grass has to be cut and the windows cleaned. There's lunch to be made, friends to see, television to watch, a good night's sleep to catch up on.
"I'm happy," he says. "Very happy."
And yet, when
But would he listen?
Another unending pause.
"Sure," he says. "If the situation were right, I suppose I would."
And with that, well, nothing happens. Nothing ever will happen. In a few moments, Pardee will hang up and check on his cattle. In a few moments, the University of Tennessee will hire
This is what we've come to in college football, a landscape where words like honor, decency, commitment, education and values have been wiped away with the world's biggest eraser. Instead, we find our institutions of higher learning hiring glorified used-car salesmen; fast-talking, shoe deal-seeking, promise-breaking nomads as reliable as the Kiev weather. Once upon a time, many moons ago, college programs brought in coaches who, first and foremost, were concerned with turning boys into men; with instilling values that applied to both sports and life.
"That's how I remember it," says Pardee, who compiled a 22-11-1 mark with the University of Houston from 1987-89. "You see all this negativity today, coaches telling recruits why they should ignore other schools. I never did that. What we tried to do was sell our program rather than beat somebody else's program down. I tried to sell the reasons it'd be best to sign with us."
And, if that didn't work, would he offer players free Porsches?
"Ha," says Pardee. "When I was at Houston, we'd be lucky if our checks didn't bounce. No, our goal wasn't to buy players. We wanted to win, but win with integrity."
In this regard, Pardee is a dinosaur. A standout linebacker at Texas A&M in the mid-1960s, Pardee learned under
Unlike the majority of today's up-and-comers, whose philosophies and approaches can be surmised on an index card, Pardee did what good coaches do -- he adapted. With the Bears, he had no quarterback, no receivers, a so-so offensive line ... and
He did because that's what the personnel dictated. His teams at the University of Houston were equally dynamic and high-flying, mainly because the quarterback was an unparalleled gunner named
Just like Kiffin followed the money from Tennessee to Southern Cal, and just like
Sadly, that choice will never come. Although he is in remarkable health, and although he would "bring in the best staff in college football," and although he has coached everyone from Payton and Kelly to
"I suppose I'm available," he says. "But nobody knows it."
They do now.