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TCU coach Sonny Dykes directs his team against Colorado in the second half of the season opener at mile-high Boulder. (The Associated Press/David Zalubowski).

 

It didn’t end the way either of us wanted. It never does. But, it was time.

There’s only so much “grow ‘em up” and “we’re a young team” a person can stand.

Still, it’s hard. How do you close the book on 21 years? How do you start over?

It’s lonely at first. Then, the doubt creeps in. Would I ever be able to recapture the magic? Those halcyon days of Rose Bowls and Peach Bowls and whipping Baylor’s ass. Was I just being nostalgic for a bygone era?

Sure, I lost a friend but kept the memory.

Now, I’ve moved on.

And I want … no, I need … to be honest with you.

I started seeing someone else. Several months ago, in fact.

You see, after Bevo caught Gary on the rebound, I decided it was time to put myself back out there.

Please don’t judge. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t know how many BCS bowl opportunities I have left.

I scanned the profiles on oldballcoach.com and went through several possibilities. One, we’ll call him “Billy from Louisiana,” seemed pretty popular. I was skeptical. Too cocky. Referred to himself as “the next Nick Saban.” Yeah, and I’m Tom Selleck. Swipe left.

I wasn’t even really looking that Tuesday morning when he appeared. In his profile pic he was hoisting the Iron Skillet. Talk about a thirst trap.

He claimed to be a coach but he looked more like a man who taught a Saturday DIY class at Home Depot or could point you to the best fishin’ holes at Lake Davy Crockett.

His late-season record was a little iffy but, truth be told, my grandma still refers to my wife as “that dirty hooker tramp” every Thanksgiving, so I’m not one to talk about sketchy Novembers.

He said all the right things. He took ownership of his time in Berkeley. Called it a period of enlightenment and hard lessons. Believe me, I’ve been there.

After a few solid months, I decided it was time to take our relationship to the next level. We were going on a road trip.

This was a big step, so I needed a wing man. We’ll call him Jerf. He had plenty of experience with Frog football, psychotropic drugs and unrequited love.

Upon landing in Denver, Jerf insisted that the first order of business was to line up our recreational substances.

Buying marijuana today is a little different than when I was a teenager. In the ’80’s I bought weed behind the Pizza Hut from a skinny kid carrying a skateboard I knew only as Bean Dip. It was about half grass, half red pepper flakes.

In Boulder, we found a high-end marijuana boutique called “Liv Well Enlightened Health.”

Maurice, our pony-tailed budtender, displayed an impressive array of edibles and other choices. I opted for a pineapple, yuzu-infused organic tincture.

“Careful,” warned Maurice. “This has pharma-grade THC used to take the edge off bone cancer. No more than two drops.”

We checked into the Rodeway Inn, where Jerf changed into his purple onesie, then headed over to the Pearl Street Mall. Pearl Street Pub & Cellar has two dart boards and zero TVs.

Apparently, a man can’t get a Miller Lite in Boulder, so I was nursing a Sour Rose IPA that tasted like Waco tap water when the pregame tremors started. I needed a stronger nerve tonic.

I couldn’t recall whether Maurice prescribed two drops or two droppers. Not wanting to break precedent when faced with similar binary choices in the past, I opted for the most reckless alternative and squirted two full droppers in the back of my throat.

This is where things get a little foggy.

I have a vague recollection of getting my entire forearm stuck in the granola dispenser at Whole Foods. Last I recall, I mistook the neon red from an Applebee’s sign for the lights of an alien spacecraft.

I woke up the next morning under a lounge chair next to the hotel swimming pool, naked from the waist down. A tree squirrel was licking Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dust from my finger tips. I was unable to open my mouth on account of a Milk Dud that had fused my upper and lower molars.

Back at the room, Jerf was watching Game Day and uploading a TikTok video of me from the night before trying to buy a panda at Panda Express.

Thankfully game time was several hours away, so I had time to recover. But, I’m not gonna lie, I was in bad shape. When my moderate to severe incontinence failed to resolve by 5 p.m., I mixed my patented Cosmol ™️ — one part vodka, two parts pepto bismol and a splash of cranberry juice. Jerf gave a couple of sprays of his Paco Rabanne on my pulse points, and I was ready for my debut.

The CU campus lies in the foothills of the Rockies among the “cathedral mountains and silver clouds below.”

It was nearing my bedtime when we made our way to the stadium.

Much like the Buffalo itself, the Buffalo fan is a curious beast. Most of the males weigh between 400 and 1200 pounds and have shaggy, dark brown unwashed hair and a sizeable hump. They travel in large herds and make obnoxious grunts to ward off predators.

In the first half, the Frogs were tentative and Sonny seemed a little bewildered. I panicked. What was happening? Did I miss some red flags? Was this trip going to be a disaster? Did I just get crazy and try to touch the sun?

After Sonny and the boys powdered their noses, we were off to the races. Note for future dates: I don’t need a ton of foreplay or for you to take things slow. We both know how we want this night to end, so let’s get to it.

Jerf and I made our way back to the Rodeway, stopping briefly to Venmo a little NIL money to Derius and Emari.

This morning, as we drove to the airport, we discussed how our football lives are full of wonder but our hearts still know some fear. We left yesterday behind us. You might say we were born again.

 

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