Part of this is on you, Texas.
Gary Joe Kinne sitting in his Baylor office with a scar from a bullet hole in his chest? Part of the blame has to go on the Lone Star State's rabid football culture that led to it.
|The Longhorns are national champs and the Cowboys are 'America's Team.' (Getty Images)|
"It destroyed 80 percent of my liver," said Kinne, who was hired at his alma mater as linebackers coach in January. "It regenerates, so that's been a good thing. I won't have to have a transplant.
"Probably the last six weeks or so I'm feeling like my old self. It will be a lifelong disability, but nothing to where I can't live a somewhat normal life."
Robertson was apparently upset over playing time for his son, then a freshman. That's one of many strange things in this case. Robertson's son wasn't on the varsity team or competing with Kinne's son, G.J., the star quarterback.
Police found Robertson the same day with his wrists slashed. In his possession were two guns, a knife and a hit list of potential victims. Robertson was sentenced to 20 years last week for aggravated assault.
Kinne, though, won't go as far as to fully blame the state's football culture.
"I don't know if it's that as much as he was definitely a chronic alcoholic and had a very violent, angry side," Kinne said. "I think he kind of snapped one day. Texas high school football is definitely crazy. All that put together made it a crazy situation."
So crazy that three days after Kinne was shot, a wire story moved saying some in the Canton community were "jealous and critical" when G.J. was named the starter.
As if that somehow justified the shooting.
Further proof that if we're going accept the Lone Star State as the current heart of all things football, we're going to have to accept the full picture.
The Longhorns are national champions. Texas high school football might be the best in the nation. Those schools annually provide some of the best Division I prospects.
Then you add Cowboys, Texans and the NFL heritage. Aside from oil, football might be the state's No. 1 export.
Thankfully, the experience hasn't blackened Kinne's heart or doused his will. Immediately after being shot, blood spurting from his body, he got to his feet, went into his office and called emergency personnel.
"If I would have gone into shock, I would have died," he said. "As corny as it sounds, I tell people the lessons you learn from football about being under pressure and how react (work). I was able to remain calm."
Last season in Canton he was shadowed by a local policeman at practice and at games.
"I had the Bobby Bowden treatment," Kinne said referring to the Deep South custom of state troopers escorting college football coaches.
Kinne stuck it out one more season at Canton in 2005. He can't say for sure, but in a weird way the shooting might have led to a huge break. Kinne got a better job and perhaps an entree into a career in major-college football.
"It was going to be really difficult to stay," he said.
But isn't the place he's at sifting through the emotional baggage of a murder?
"We're just trying to put that behind us," Kinne said of the death of basketball player Patrick Dennehy in 2003. "Baylor is definitely on the upswing."
That's about the only hint you get of the burden Kinne is carrying. It's not like he took a step down. Kinne joins Guy Morriss' staff as a legacy. He was a standout linebacker from 1986-89 who played with future pros Santana Dotson and Thomas Everett.
But when his dad got the Baylor job, G.J. stayed behind in Canton, a community of 3,500 approximately 60 miles east of Dallas. The kid wants to enjoy his senior year with his friends.
"A year later he still wants to be there," Kinne said. "The Lord was looking after me and knew I didn't need to go through that anymore."
- Not to say Marshall will do it, but if the Thundering Herd get through their non-conference schedule, they're a candidate for a BCS bowl. Win at West Virginia, Kansas State and Tennessee, and we guarantee you Marshall will be ranked and have the ball rolling toward the Fiesta Bowl. The reality is the program declined in the past few years under Bobby Pruett.
- There is no room for error in the Pac-10. The conference voted to go to a nine-game league schedule when the NCAA adopted the 12-game season. That means only three non-conference games in the Pac-10. Most leagues can massage their non-league schedule with a patsy or two. Not the Pac-10. Only four of the 10 (Cal, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State) are playing I-AA opponents. Then there are USC and Stanford, which are building in no cushion. The Trojans are at Arkansas and have home games against Nebraska and Notre Dame. Stanford plays at San Jose State, Notre Dame and at home against Navy.
- Can we end the fawning over Jeremy Bloom? The former Colorado receiver cried over the NCAA making him choose between ski endorsements and football while he was in Boulder. A couple of weeks ago, he got plenty of run while finishing sixth in the Olympic moguls. Then the experts hyperventilated over his participation in the NFL combine. Let's tell it like it is: Bloom is a football player, model and skier. He's pretty mediocre at all three disciplines. The thing he's best at is self-promoting.
- With one more game and two extra slots to fill this year, BCS commissioners still haven't finalized at-large qualifications. Eight spots (at most) are guaranteed to champions of the six major conferences, Notre Dame (if it qualifies) and the best of the 56 non-BCS schools (if one qualifies). That leaves between two and four at-large spots. The annual BCS meeting is April 24-26 in Phoenix.