Take that, Houston, you surely deserved it

September 15, 1991|By Bill Lyon | Bill Lyon,Knight-Ridder News Service

It is probably an un-Christian emotion, but there is an undeniably exquisite pleasure in seeing arrogance punished, in seeing the bully pummeled into a whimpering puddle.

So even though the result was evident early on, and even though the lopsided game droned into its fourth hour, you kept your finger off the channel changer and stayed with the public flogging of Houston's football team. Justice at last. Comeuppance richly deserved.

All that tempered your rejoicing was that the beating was being administered by Miami, Houston's mirror image in confusing crass with class, a team that insists on blemishing its stunning skills with boorishness and thuggery. Miami has been, hands down, the best football program in the country the last decade. It has also been the unchallenged leader in overbearing insolence.

For all their flash, the Hurricanes have behaved with so much trash. Now, to your discomfort, you found them striking the hammer blows of retribution. This game redefined ambivalence. Sort of like having to choose between Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. Which one of the despicables do you root for?

The Canes have a mandate this season, though, from an appalled administration, to airbrush their scruffy image. Accordingly, their deportment during Thursday night's 40-10 lashing seemed, by Canes standards, admirably restrained. Houston, which had replaced Miami as the merciless run-it-up renegade, took its pounding with sullen silence and with an air of befuddled helplessness.

The statistics that reveal both programs for what they are can be found under the yardage penalized: Miami 17 for 158, Houston 14 for 156.

Houston is coached by John Jenkins, a man whose sense of style was revealed when he wore cowboy boots that had fake goldfish in the heels. Apparently, he thought this to be the epitome of elegance and refinement. His carefully coiffed pompadour suggests Jerry Lee Lewis and, indeed, Jenkins claims to coach rock-and-roll football, incinerating other teams with great balls of fire.

Jenkins may well be a genius, but he is seriously devoid of humanity. When he humiliates schools by 70-point margins, he professes not to understand why all the resentment. What would you have him do, not try? He implies that what he has invented is beyond normal control and convention. How coy.

"We were throwing rocks, breaking glass, making women scream and babies cry. It was sweet," he said after destroying overmatched Louisiana Tech, 73-3.

That is the sort of blustering bravado and rhetoric you would expect from an impressionable pubescent. From a 39-year-old alleged adult, it is just silly. And, also, sad.

Piling it on serves no apparent purpose other than self-aggrandizement. There was no weeping among the coaching fraternity when what Jenkins had immodestly called the secrets-of-the-universe offense was shown to be a scatter-shot morass of chaos that broke down at the first sign of pressure on the quarterback.

Miami exposed Houston's run-and-shoot as powerless against nothing more than a hard-charging front four that was kept fresh by frequent substitution. A vigorous rush always has been the best pass defense, and Miami's front was leaping between the Houston linemen when they were still coming up out of their stances.

Houston's attack is based on speed, but Miami has incredible speed at every position. The typical Cane is swift enough to play tennis with himself. But then who knows how much quicker he might be if not weighted down with all that heavy arrogance?

The Miami style was summed up two seasons ago by Randal Hill, then a wide receiver whose feet moved almost as quickly as his lips.

"We style and profile," he brayed. "A lot of people like the way we somewhat show off. That's Miami."

Not anymore it's not. Or at least it's not supposed to be. The orders have been issued. No more brawling in the tunnel before kickoff. No more taunting.

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