Dr. Randy White
About sixty miles north of Houston on Interstate 45, a giant statue soars above the piney woods of East Texas. It’s a white concrete image of General Sam Houston, the first and third president of the Republic of Texas. Like everything in this state, it is oversized, and at seventy feet tall, it’s the largest statue of an American hero in the country. The statue welcomes the traveler to Huntsville—a small sleepy college town that was the home of Sam Houston, and which now is the home of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) and another Texas icon, the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC). On one side of its wall, convicts struggle with the rigors of prison life, and on the other at the university, another group of youths struggle with the demands of college. The contrast between the two serves as a metaphor for modern American life. This story is seen from the point of view of a man who experienced events on both sides of the prison wall. On one side of the wall, Randy White was a guard—known as Boss White to the inmates. On the other side was Randy White, a college student in 1972 and the Bearkats’ (the SHSU basketball team) official statistician. He was part of the story when the Bearkats became a basketball legend in the early seventies. Football is the renowned culture of Texas. If one has any doubts, then look at the Dallas Cowboys and the popularity of its cheerleading. Now there are cheerleading squads in the NFL as well as on the college football scene. There is nothing new or unique about that. But none are as famous as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. To make the squad and wear the white short shorts and blue-and-white bolero jackets today is more prestigious than making the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes back in the forties. Such is the stature of football in Texas. So Texas is definitely football country. Basketball lives in the outskirts, something to be played in between football seasons. Sam Houston State University’s basketball team had been lackluster for forty years. Nobody expected much from SHSU basketball in 1972. Until the early seventies, back when a bunch of basketball players, intent on winning, burst on the scene like a perfect storm. Such as the one that brewed up one October day off New England, and it came out of nowhere. A confluence of different weather-related phenomena had combined to produce what was termed a perfect storm. That same perfect storm hit Huntsville. It was as if someone had put into a cauldron a unique combination of talent, coaching, spirit, camaraderie, and a new social awareness and mixed them up—and out came a dream team, a dream season, a perfect storm. This is the story of that perfect storm, that dream season.