Admittedly, I’d be a terrible book club member. This is posited as a hypothetical because it would never happen. I don’t read long-form books often and don’t see myself prioritizing the time to do so. However, when it comes to a compelling story about sports, I’ll make an exception, especially one centered on TCU football.
As the summer is reaching its second half, we’d be wise to start putting ourselves in the pigskin mindset as we rush toward a new era of Frog football which will kick off in just more than six weeks.
A 40-year baseball writer for the Star-Telegram, Jim Reeves is an institution in that realm, but the breadth of his career and talent is on full display in any work he writes. Remember the Alamo Bowl, his third book, centers on a story any faithful Frog fan knows already: TCU’s epic 31-point comeback against the Oregon Ducks in the 2015 Valero Alamo Bowl. If you attended the game, like I did, even the mention ignites a swell of emotion that’s difficult to contain. Any member of Purple Nation who watched in any capacity recalls the depths of despair followed by volcanoes of elation. For that reason, the thought of a book recapping what was something so emotional and action-packed seemed unlikely. I was wrong.
Reeves uses the Alamo Bowl as a backdrop and touchstone to narrate the life and journey of senior quarterback Bram Kohlhausen, the anointed and awarded hero of the game. After Heisman-candidate quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested during the trip and sent back to Fort Worth, the game duties fell to his roommate and close friend who would start his first and only game in a Frog jersey. Reeves’ prose is gently autobiographical as it deftly leads the reader through bowl-preparation week while recalling the Houston prospect’s early and high-school life, as well as his journeyman college experience before landing in Fort Worth. Nothing about Reeves’ writing seems labored or pretentious. The 143 pages of Kohlhausen’s life and Alamo Bowl saga go down like a Rahr Bucking Bock: easy to drink, with enough body and complexity that it’s delicious without overwhelming you.
Even a dedicated and knowledgeable Frog fanatic is likely to be reminded of something they didn’t know or forgot from a season whose hopes were at a fever pitch but was an overall disappointment — despite the exclamation-point bowl victory — recollecting the amazing talent that has since graduated. The quality and quantity of research presented in Remember the Alamo Bowl is impressive in retrospect, though it reads fluidly. Quotes and memories from the likes of Gary Patterson, Kliff Kingsbury, and, of course, the entire Kohlhausen family add color and contrast. Reeves uncovers and retells details of that season that were unlikely to ever be unearthed unless you happened to be having too many drinks with a player from that TCU squad.
Remember the Alamo Bowl reads in two distinct sections: Kohlhausen’s life and early career, including the playing odyssey that eventually brought him to Fort Worth, and the week of the bowl game and the disaster and ascendancy that followed. I read it in two sittings and was always eager to reach the end of a story that everyone knows the ending to. I learned more through every page than expected.
Along with fans loving this book for adding complexity to a character many of us knew only as the senior quarterback with the funny name starting his first and last game, TCU’ers should enjoy this book for another reason: It represents what was the last great narrative of the Gary Patterson era. It can and should be argued that winning the Rose Bowl during their undefeated season was the mountaintop of Patterson’s career — though we didn’t know it then — but the record comeback against Oregon while missing two of the greatest players of his tenure (Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson) was probably the last truly meaningful season Patterson coached as it pertains to TCU’s national persona — unless you count the Cheez-It Bowl.
Despite a pretense of being solely about an improbable bowl victory, Reeves brings life and depth to a character Frog nation might not have known except for two completely different halves on the gridiron. You’ll finish Remember the Alamo Bowl feeling like you know Kohlhausen and that the veil that often exists between fans and the real-life young men who don pads and helmets on Saturdays has been lifted in a way that reveals their humanity for the normal yet extraordinary people they are.
Published by Berkeley Place Books, an imprint of Great Texas Line Press, Remember the Alamo Bowl is slated for release in print and via Amazon on Aug. 1. The Kindle edition is available now, and advanced copies can be purchased at GreatTexasLine.com.
KillerFrogs.com is hosting a book signing with Reeves and Kohlhausen at Stanley Eisenman Fine Shoes at The Shops at Clearfork on Tue., Aug. 16, from 5 to 8pm if you’re the type who likes to meet local sports heroes. It would be the ideal way to prepare for a football season in which no one knows what to expect and anything could happen.