The quote “Are those geri-curls?….or did ya just stick your finger in a live light socket?” is the perfect entree into my story today…..for it lies at the core of one of my favorite Coach Abe Lemons stories…. which happened on the night when Texas was playing Arkansas in the 1977 / 1978 season during Southwest Conference men’s basketball play…..as there weren’t any significant reasons for high preseason expectations that had been applied to this Longhorn team or season….however, it turned out to be a team that would produce one of the more successful seasons in Longhorn Basketball history.
NCAAM Basketball – 1990 – Oklahoma Sports Hall Of Fame Ceremony – With The Wit And Wisdom Of Coach Abe Lemons + Johnny Bench + Coach Barry Switzer
After a one point loss in the opening game of he season against USC in Los Angeles….The University of Texas inaugurated their brand new $37 million….16,231 seat Erwin Center (named after Chairman Of The Board Of Regent Frank Erwin…..which was known around campus as The Drum)…..with an 83 – 76 victory over Oklahoma….which would be the first of eight straight games that UT would win at the start of the ’77/’78 season. Texas then lost 65 – 56 to 5th ranked Marquette….the defending NCAA champions…. who were coached by legendary Coach Ray Meyers….which was just before posting another nine straight victories….including a 75 -69 upset of 3rd ranked and eventual Final Four participant Arkansas.
NCAAM Basketball – 1978 – SWC Game Of Week – Arkansas Vs Texas – In The Game To Prove Whose Triplets Are Best
This was the Arkansas team with the famed “Triplets” “of guards….Sidney Moncrief….Ron Brewer….and Marvin Delph (each would have significant NBA careers)…..on a team which was coached by future College Basketball Hall Of Fame legend Coach Eddie Sutton. Texas had its own set of triplets in Ron Baxter….Johnny Moore….and Jim Krivacs…..whose own future legendary coach Abe Lemons was in his first season at UT. Both sets of triplets of Arkansas and Texas were drafted by the NBA after college….. which gives a pretty good indication of how talented these six guards were. When you add to that list of SWC stars….two of the most recognizable and legendary coaches to ever come out of the Southwest….both of whom ended up in the NCAA Basketball Hall of Fame….and the setting for this particular evenings game was electric to say the least.
NCAAM Basketball – 1978 – NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 – UCLA Vs Arkansas – Featuring The Famed Arkansas Triplets
For this special “in your face” hardcourt confrontation….BD decided to construct his “Band of 3″ to enter the Erwin Center where the UT players entered (part of the handshake agreement between Bone Daddy and Coach Lemons) for the evening’s contest to consist of the best opposing team “razzers” that he could assemble….which included the best of the best, known as Rags Murphee…..while the other two “world class razzers” assembled for BD’s troupe for this particular game….were TNT and Spanky…..for this was a specialized group of “razzers “”….with each having his own individual style of razzing….along with individually unique voices……with each having their own little different approach to “razzing the opponent”. It was like a subtle blend of “outrageous razzing styles” molded into a group capable of verbal abuse worthy of destroying even a well oiled and disciplined machine….like an Eddie Sutton coached team with his three (3) All American guards.
NCAAM Basketball – 2012 – Special Interview Of OKSt HOF Basketball Coach Eddie Sutton On Days After Coaching At Arkansas
It was the perfect storm scenario for Eddie Sutton when “The Razz Bunch” found empty seats right behind the Visitors bench (when you know BD like I do….this was no surprise)….just a little magic mastery worked by the master himself…..and that is when Sutton came out of the dressing room for warm-ups sporting a brand new hair do….for Coach Eddie Sutton had gone fashionably modern by having his hair “permed and curled”. That’s right….he showed up on the opposing bench with a full head of shiny curls….it looked like a bunch of “geri-curls” all gathered in a big bunch on top of his head….and around his ears.
NCAAM Basketball – 1969 T0 2006 – Special Highlights – Tribute To Coach Eddie Sutton
Needless to say….this curly gift was like the “cherry on top of a banana split” for The Razz Bunch….who immediately started directing serious barrages of “razz” in the direction of the visiting coach….which continued incessantly for the next 48 minutes of play on the court….and talk about significant artillery fire lobbed from right behind the Arkansas bench. All you could hear from behind the visiting team bench was The Razz Bunch….led by the one and only Rags Murphee….as the verbal artillery began….
“Hey, Eddie did you just stick your finger in a light socket to get that look?
“Did somebody stick your head in your light socket to get such a frightened look?”
“Introducing Coach Geri-Curls…..can you say NO PLACE BUT ARKANSAS.”
”Look at the kind of boys that sweetie coach recruits”
“You better watch out when Geri-Curls is coming at you from the backside.
“Protect your valuables when Geri-Curls is backing up.”
”Oh Curly….do you have to put rollers in every night to get that look”
“He’s so cute….I wonder if he wants to go out with us boys after the game?”
NCAAM Basketball – 1990 – Oklahoma City Men’s Basketball Booster Club Meeting – Coach Abe Lemons Sums Up Life
Always keeping “the razz” politically correct….especially since Abe was within earshot….cuz I’ve told you before and I’m telling you again….Rags and Bone Daddy had voice that could penetrate even the loudest of noises in a jam-packed gym…..as The Razz Bunch didn’t want to bite the hand that fed them….or in this case….provided access to the seats they were sitting in at that very moment….so suffice to say…..each “Master Razzer” in his own special way….purposely walked a very fine line between razzing and stepping over the line….plus, The Razz Bunch were incessant and unrivaled in their verbal attacks on the Arkansas Coach….while obviously getting under the legendary Coach’s skin.
NCAAM Basketball – 1993 – Special – Tribute To Coach Abe Lemons
At one point in the game….”Coach Eddie Curls” actually made a costly mistake when he grabbed UT guard Johnny Moore by the arm and openly berated him….cuz when this mistake was made, it brought the Wily Coyote that was Coach Abe off the bench….and he was “Ready to Rumble w/ Eddie Curls”….for that’s when the Coach with the great sense of humor became the heat seeking missile from Walton, Oklahoma aimed directly at the Arkansas Coach. After this confrontation ended and all things had quieted down….while getting back to the game….that is when Coach Lemons unleashed all of his furry his team could muster on the boys from the Ozarks.
NCAAM Basketball – 2012 – Texas Longhorns Sports Special – Catching Up With Longhorn Legend Johnny Moore
The “heat seeking missile moment” that was Abe Lemons…..when it targeted Eddie Sutton, was actually the genesis of what became a legendary rivalry between the two Hall of Fame Coaches….one that actually was the source of why Coach Abe was dismissed at the University of Texas….but that’s another story that has to do with the UT Athletic Director, DeLoss Dodds….whom Bone Daddy couldn’t stand. Now, I am not an over assuming Chiweenie like most of my kind….cuz I know whose hand to bite…and who’s not to bite….but I gotta tell ya….The Razz Bunch should probably be given credit for what caused “Coach Eddie Curls” to make his famous blunder…. I mean….when the game was over….Coach was seen giving BD and The Razz Bunch a thumbs up as he left the floor at the end of the game….a gesture of appreciation for the effect that BD’s band of 3 had on the opposing Coach on that particular game that night….and If that isn’t giving credit where credit is due….I don’t know what is.
NCAAM Basketball – 1978 41st N.I.T. Tournament Finals – University Of Texas VS North Carolina State
What was the best part of this whole story was that this first ever contest between two awesome Coaches became a rivalry of intense competition like SWC basketball had never seen or would ever see again…..as Bone Daddy and his merry band of 3 guests would never miss a home game for the Longhorns men’s basketball team throughout the entire tenure of Coach Abe Lemons at the University of Texas. The truth be known….Abe Lemons should have been the coach at UT until he retired….and if Chairman of the Board of Regents, Frank Erwin, hadn’t died the year before Coach Abe was released (1982)….he would have been….cuz the simple fact remains that Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds didn’t have the “huevos” to release Abe from his position while Papa Frank was still alive….for Coach Abe Lemons would have remained at the helm in Austin as long as Erwin was calling the shots at Texas.
NCAAM Basketball – 1990 – Special – Longhorns Coach Abe Lemons On Recruiting Players Who Are Characters