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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

It's Not Just Another Pretty Little Texas City

July 28, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

For years, the Dallas Cowboys held training camp in Thousand Oaks. Later, they prepared for Super Bowl seasons in the classic college town of Austin, Texas.

This year, coming off a 6-10 season, the Cowboys are in Wichita Falls, Texas--a site appalling even to Texas Monthly magazine writer Skip Hollandsworth, who considers Wichita Falls his hometown.

Hollandsworth points out a few civic flaws:

* The only "falls" in Wichita Falls is the fake concrete waterfall next to a hotel.

* The only time it cools off in the summer is during a tornado.

* In August, the city is host to a 100-mile bicycle race called the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred, in which there have been fatalities.

* Not long ago, a flock of emus--ostrich-like birds--released by a disgruntled farmer went on a rampage in town, tying up traffic, chasing youngsters, and so exasperating animal-control officers that they pulled out .22 caliber rifles and started shooting.

* And finally, after sweating under the sun in Wichita Falls for an afternoon, you start smelling like road kill.

*

Nevertheless: Despite a 104-degree day Saturday, about 4,000 fans watched a Cowboy practice in Wichita Falls, bringing total attendance a week into camp to almost 40,000, according to the Dallas Morning News.

*

Trivia time: In what two bowl games did Troy Aikman lead UCLA to victory?

*

Unexplained phenomenon: Missouri, Kansas State and Kansas used to be the Bermuda Triangle of college football, according to the Kansas City Star.

That's because a lot of seasons--and coaches--have disappeared there.

Times are changing.

OK, so Kansas went 5-6 last season.

But Kansas State, once one of college football's worst programs, went 11-1 and played in the Fiesta Bowl--and is ranked seventh in the Sporting News' preseason top 25.

Missouri nearly dethroned No. 1 Nebraska in an overtime game, then ended its years of losing with a 7-4 regular season and an appearance in the Holiday Bowl.

"I'd never seen so many people so happy about a 7-4 season," said Missouri Coach Larry Smith, the former USC coach.

The Golden Triangle? Give them time.

*

Working on a sack belt: St. Louis defensive tackle D'Marco Farr honed his karate skills during the off-season and is two steps from a black belt.

"That means I can jump in somebody's stuff right now," said Farr, who believes karate will make him a better pass-rusher. "It's all hand speed, flexibility and balance," he said.

*

Trivia answer: UCLA's 1987 Aloha Bowl victory over Florida, 20-16, and a Cotton Bowl victory over Arkansas, 17-3, on Jan. 2, 1989.

*

And finally: Green Bay Packer Coach Mike Holmgren didn't have a nice day, but then again, neither did anybody else.

What was getting to him?

"The whole thing," Holmgren said. "Everything. Coaches, players, everybody. PR people. Everybody."

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