DALLAS — Mike Rawlings saw the flooded bathrooms, the sewage spilling even into the concourses, and was like everyone at the Cotton Bowl last October.
One big difference, though, between Rawlings and everyone else wading through a mess. Rawlings is the mayor of Dallas.
So Rawlings became PLO. Permanent Latrine Orderly. He vowed that the plumbing in the ancient stadium would be fixed.
“It was not good,” Rawlings said this week. “That's not acceptable. Was not happy about it. That's why we're moving heaven and earth. I've been assured that won't happen this year.”
Of course, fans from OU and Texas have heard it before. The bathrooms overflowed a few years back in the stadium that opened in 1932, with 1932 plumbing.
But now the mayor of the city that vows it will not lose this glorious college football rivalry has not only talked the talk about fixing the bathrooms, he's walked the walk. Stepping through sewage can have a profound effect on a man.
OU-Texas at the State Fair has survived many a thing since anchoring there in 1929. Economists on both sides clamoring to move the series to Norman and Austin. The lure of JerryWorld and all its opulence over in Arlington. The Barry Switzer/Darrell Royal feud. Formation of the Big 12. The Longhorn Network.
But it cannot survive bad plumbing. This is not 19th-century Bombay. Even rawhide football fans have their standards.
Which is why Dallas has committed another $30 million for Cotton Bowl upgrades, to go with a $57 million makeover already spent in the 2000s, and the No. 1 priority in the latest investment is plumbing.
That will make fans feel a little better.
“Wading through sewage and eating them corndogs; yummy!” said Sooner fan Craig Blankenship, who emailed me a variety of pictures of the mess during the 2011 OU-Texas game.
Blankenship said Cotton Bowl workers began locking or guarding bathroom doors early in the game, then spent into the second half mopping up the spill.