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College Football: A Perspective from Asia

Come on, now. Did you really think there would be such a thing as a college football perspective from Asia?!? Ha!!! As a Longhorn living the expat life in Singapore, I can confirm that Asia is truly an American sports sensory deprivation chamber. Only with ubiquitous cheesy soft rock tunes on the radio  height=to heighten the misery. The maddening lyrics of songs like "The Pina Colada Song" and "Seasons in the Sun" now pulse through my veins like Twix bars through Jeff "Mad Dog" Madden’s.

But truthfully, my plight is self-inflicted. It is said that Odysseus, finally docking his ship in Ithaca after 20 years of terror and tribulation at sea after the Trojan War, strode inland with a large wooden oar. Periodically, he would ask passersby if they could identify what he was carrying. When he got the first "Dunno, dude. Personality reminds me of R.C. Slocum, though" for an answer, he knew he was far enough away from his travails. He put the oar down and called the place home.

Likewise, in March, 2005, after my two plus decades of Longhorn football torment, I took my tear-stained VHS tape of the ’84 Texas vs. Georgia Cotton Bowl, my spittle-marred John Mackovic poster, and my cornucopia of parking tickets from various lots around DKR and sailed west. Voila. Singapore is now home.

My plan worked brilliantly for a while. The first clue was finding myself struggling to remember the basics of the infield fly rule that summer. Later, I noticed that I was passing newsstands without instinctively scouring the shelves for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Over time, Scipio Tex’s posts required increasing volumes of esoteric reference material and ever large quantities of caffeinated mushrooms to understand. I even forgot whether our offensive coordinator was Greg Davis or Mouse Davis. I was becoming Comfortably Numb (Inadvertent classic Pink Floyd reference there. Insert some crappy Barry Manilow equivalent instead).

But then, of course, came the ensuing magnificence of the 2005 Longhorn football season capped by the Rose Bowl for the Ages vs. USC. Sure, it was an exhilarating time here on the other side of the world. But, regrettably, the exhilaration came with a heaping dose of agony. Excruciating agony. Agony like sliding down a razor blade while listening to an anatomy lesson from Doperbo and then landing squarely in Barry Switzer’s vat of moonshine. Where was the post-Rose Bowl jubilance around me? The Texas fan chortling on sports talk radio? The blaring of "Texas Fight" on car horns? The Longhorn gear exploding off the store shelves? Nothing. Nothing like that here, dammit! And no, the screeching sounds of "Billy, Don’t Be a Hero" from the guy at the karaoke bar didn’t count.

 height=I tried to make my own noise. I hung orange streamers and pinned a copy of the Sports Illustrated Rose Bowl issue to the wall behind my desk at work. But instead of vicarious exultation spreading throughout the workplace, I only got the occasional question from a diffident co-worker. A question like "Who is Vince Yang?" and "So you say he played a good Roses match?" Pissed me off royally. Now, I like the people at work. In fine Confucian tradition, they are unfailingly respectful. They always immediately stand up when I walk into their offices. One of the younger ones even insists on carrying my laptop for me when we travel together. In some ways I don’t consider them co-workers, but more like, well, polite Sherpas, I guess.

But this time they had to pay for their ignorance, so I spent one whole day just walking quickly from office to office, forcing them to see me and consequently fly up and down from their desk chairs. Visualize a herd of springboks in the middle of the hunting season in Namibia, and you are pretty close. I never got around to demanding that they participate in an Asian version of mat drills amongst a mangy flock of avian-flu afflicted poultry that day, but not because it wasn’t seriously considered.

So, what does it all mean? Just that I will use this forum to post the occasional note about living and visiting various places in Asia. Could come in handy for, say, anyone who is planning to attend the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Or for any Dat Nguyen cultists thirsting for any kind of tidbit from Southeast Asia.

My notes may deal very little with college sports at times. But, speaking of Beijing, have you ever really stopped to consider the eerie similarities between OU and China? I mean, in both cases you have an unimaginative big red entity (with considerable personnel depth each year, I might add) with historical animosity against their equally unimaginative big red Caucasian neighbor living on the tundra up above their northern border. Amazing. And China gives us lead-tainted children’s toys; OU gives us Brian Bosworth. Put Tom Joad in the swirling silt-laden March winds near Beijing and he would just fill the corncob pipe and set there a spell ‘cause it’s just like being back at the old foreclosed homestead, ma.

Oh sure, the OU-China comparison falls short in many areas. Chairman Mao Tse-Tung’s ego could never match that of Bob Stoops. And Chinese Red Army snipers could never rival the firearm accuracy displayed at Bud Wilkinson dorm in the late 80’s. Also, as the world exerts pressure on China to strengthen the value of its currency, the Yuan, it is difficult to envision similar pressure on Oklahoma to strengthen the value of the Wampum. But there are still more similarities between the two than you can shake a chopstick at.

Barry Switzer attempts to sneak some tanks in his carry-on luggage past airport security.

Well, time to sign off. The fish head curry is just about ready to serve, and there is promise of a Leo Sayer marathon tonight.