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The yellow prose of Texas

January 06, 2006

SO WHAT CAN WE SAY about Texas, new home of the shiny crystal trophy given annually to the best team in college football? More to the point, what are we required to say about Texas, given the terms of our wager, announced in this space Wednesday, with our counterparts at the Dallas Morning News on the Rose Bowl game?

To be honest, we weren't planning on saying anything. When we made the bet -- we took USC, they took the University of Texas -- we never expected to have to pay up. USC had won 34 straight, for crying out loud. It was practically a home game. And the team had not one but two Heisman Trophy winners. But the Texas Longhorns had the Heisman Trophy runner-up, quarterback Vince Young, and he was all they needed, leading his team to a spine-tingling 41-38 victory with a display of athleticism not seen since, well, since Trojan running back Reggie Bush shredded Fresno State for 513 yards in November.

We digress. We agreed to say something nice about Texas, and we Californians are nothing if not honest. So here goes: An incomplete list of some nice things about Texas.

Texas has some great cities. Austin has the best live music in America, a great state university (in more than just football) and is the setting for one of the finest American political novels. ("The Gay Place," by Billy Lee Brammer. Look it up.) Houston has the best medical facilities in the world. San Antonio is home to a professional basketball team that rivals the Lakers of the 1990s. And Dallas is -- did we mention how much we like Austin?

What else? Any state that gave us Lance Armstrong, Lyle Lovett and Larry McMurtry can't be all bad. Armadillos are cute. "King of the Hill" is almost as good as "The Simpsons." Those "Drive Friendly" signs on the side of the road are a nice touch. Big Bend National Park is surprisingly beautiful. Jessica Simpson is more talented than her soon to be ex-husband. Kinky Friedman could be a better governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And, of course, Texas has the best college football team in America. Congratulations.

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