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Barnes Blogs about... Bowl Game Eve memories

Barnes Blogs about... Bowl Game Eve memories

by Mike Barnes

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeB_KVUE


Posted on December 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Two UT players are suspended from the team and investigated for alleged sexual assault.  The game is tomorrow and this brings back memories.

When this story first broke this morning, I first thought about the "Roster Impostor" from 1995.  The UT player who was really 30 years old and playing under a fake name.  He was exposed just before the Sugar Bowl and the distraction may have been too much, as the Horns lost the game to Virginia Tech.

But when Mack Brown addressed the media at a press conference today and said the two players were suspended and sent home, the real flashbacks began.

It was New Year's Eve, 1999.  You probably remember the Y2K scare.  The world was going to end at the stroke of midnight.  Texas was playing Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day and after covering part of the Bowl Week in Dallas, I decided I needed to be home with my pregnant wife and 2 year old son.

Kim was about 35 weeks pregnant at the time, and still working full time as a reporter and anchor at KVUE.  She was slotted to cover some type of police headquarters that New Year's Eve where they would coordinate Y2K disaster problems.  Kim had gone into early labor at almost this exact time of the pregnancy with my son, and I was afraid the timing, the work, and the Y2K stress might do it again.

So one of the sports reporters was going to meet up with a photographer in Dallas on that New Year's Eve to do a pregame story and then cover the game the next day.

But now the story breaks in Dallas.  Four UT players get suspended for violating team rules.  The program, in it's second year with Mack Brown, is rocked.  And my news managers call me at home, repeatedly, to make sure we're going to be there.

"We've got it covered," I say, as I frantically try to reach my sports reporter.  But this was when cell phones weren't quite as "big" as now.  Not everyone had them.  We didn't text.  There was no facebook or twitter.  It was the old days.

So as I get these phone calls from the station, I'm trying to find the reporter.  And can't find him. 

Now I'm sweating bullets.  I've told my boss that we've got the story covered, but may not have anyone there to cover it.  So between phone calls with the station and looking for the reporter, I'm scrambling trying to find someone who can watch my son on New Year's Eve.  All night.    Kim wasn't expected home until the wee hours of the morning, when the earth was deemed "safe" from the Y2K disaster.

Have you ever asked anyone if they're free and available to watch a 2-year-old on New Year's Eve?   And the "watching" may last 16 hours or so.

That puts people into the holiday spirit.

Co-workers have laughed in the past at how, even during "hot" events like UT football games, Cowboys Camp, and College World Series games, I'm able to keep from sweating too much on the air.  (I know, it sounds silly.)   But I remember sitting at my kitchen table, making phone call after phone call after phone call, with sweat pouring down my face.   And it wasn't hot.   But I felt like I was dying.

I'm re-assuring my boss, I'm warning Kim I may have to hit the road, and I'm visualizing taking Brandon with me to Dallas.  I'm picturing having a two year old (well, he was close to three) tagging along on this big story.

I told you I was sweating.

Finally, just as I'm hitting no-man's-land, where I have to star driving to get to Dallas in time for the 5pm news, I get a phone call from the reporter.  He'd been shopping in a Ft Worth mall with his girlfriend, and didn't know anything about the suspensions.

Crisis averted.  Take it to DEFCON 5.

The story was covered.  The Longhorns lost the players... and the game.  And Kim didn't deliver until January 22.

But just the thought of that Bowl Game Eve problem has me sweating again.

Just, not on the air.