A Season in Hell

With the football team struggling and the administration embroiled in a nasty political battle, it’s been a bad few months for Longhorn nation. Not that you’d know it in Joe Jamail’s skybox.
Photograph by Jeff Wilson

When the Kansas Jayhawks strode into Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium to play the Texas Longhorns on the first Saturday in November, the surrounding Forty Acres was in a state of unprecedented upheaval. University of Texas head coach Mack Brown had followed three dissatisfying seasons with a calamitous start to the current one, and though he appeared to have righted the ship—his Horns had reeled off four straight wins, including a thrashing of OU—many fans seemed to be rooting for him to lose and make way for a new regime. Brown’s buffer at Bellmont Hall*, longtime athletic director DeLoss Dodds, had recently announced his retirement, and his champion at the Main Building, university president Bill Powers, was locked in a pitched battle with a faction of the nine-member board of regents who sought his ouster, all of them appointees of former Aggie yell leader Rick Perry. Even this Kansas game, a presumed gimme, wasn’t going quite right. After a sluggish first quarter, the Horns had found the end zone twice in the second, only to give up a late Jayhawks drive and field goal to close the half.  

Not one bit of that turmoil was evident in Joe Jamail’s suite at DKR, and certainly not on the face of its host—and not because Jamail didn’t have a dog in those hunts. One of the most generous benefactors in UT history, he counts Brown, Dodds, and Powers among his dearest friends. More to the point, he’s Brown’s personal attorney; any move to ax Mack will have to go through Jamail. But since he also happens to be the greatest trial lawyer who ever lived—and

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