American-Statesman Staff

American-Statesman Staff


FROM THE ARCHIVES (Dec. 3, 1991): KELSO: Big Steve would light a fire under the lollygagging Horns

Posted August 1st, 2017


By John Kelso

The perfect replacement for David McWilliams, as any South Austin Bubba could tell you? How about Big Steve Helton, 57, owner of Big Steve’s Gym at 1126 S. Lamar Blvd.?

Some fans will call for a big name like, say, Lou Holtz. Others may insist on a national search that goes all the way to Buda.


No sense going that far. The best man to step in for McWilliams, who stepped down Monday as University of Texas football coach after a dismal 5-6 season, is the plain-talking bench press champ from south of the river.

What UT needs is a tough guy who will turn the Longhorns into something other than the sewing circle, garden club, skip to my Lou group they’ve become since McWilliams took over.

Big Steve, who played nose tackle in high school, is that man. And he’s ready. “I’ll take the job for $50,000, ” Big Steve said Monday when I offered it to him. Maybe I should have called UT first.

One thing you can say about Big Steve is that, unlike McWilliams, he’ll cuss out the competition. I hate the way these newfangled coaches praise the other team, like they don’t actually hate their guts. Big Steve won’t do that. He’ll call them the slime that they are.

He’s the kind of guy who would say, “No, we’re not worried at all about Rice. They’re so bad we’re looking ahead to A&M. They’re a bunch of weenies and we’re going to stomp their butts.”

I know this because on those rare occasions when I work out at Big Steve’s Gym, Big Steve always asks me, on my way in his front door, “YOU STILL WORKIN’ OUT AT THAT #$%@& *& @$ YUPPIE GYM WITH ALL OF THEM PENCIL-NECKS?”

Now, many Longhorn fans thought McWilliams was too laid back to coach. When his quarterback would get sacked, which happened often to Peter Gardere because, let’s face it, the kid runs like he’s got suction cups attached to his shoes, McWilliams would stand there on the sidelines, scowl, and refold his arms. Was this a coach or an undertaker? Hey. I’ve got season tickets and sometimes I felt like I was cheering for Weed-Corley Funeral Home.

No such worries with Big Steve, however. If he were coach, and his players were goofing off, he’d refold their arms. “Yeah, I’d get the old black snake (whip) out, ” Big Steve said. “This McWilliams is too easygoing. That don’t cut it.”

Big Steve, who set a bench press record two years ago for 198 pounders 55 to 60 years old when he lifted 396.8 pounds, says he’d give the ‘Horns a winning attitude.

“You know what a coach has to be?” Big Steve asked. “Number one, he has to be a winner. He has to be the one who will exhume winning.”

I suspect Big Steve meant to say exude, as in radiate, not exhume, as in dig up. But after the way those cadavers in the UT offensive line played this season, who could be sure?

Expect big changes when Big Steve is coach, like the smug attitude and the way the Longhorns saunter on and off the field. Big Steve will light a fire under their behinds.

“They got some air about them I noticed when I went to one game, ” Big Steve said. “They were kind’a prancin’ off the field, like, `We’re the Longhorns, ‘ and this and that. I thought, `What the hell do they think they are?’ When they’re going on and off the field they ought to be running.”

Big Steve says that when he’s the coach and his players are slacking, he’ll yank the whole bunch and put somebody else in. “If they wasn’t playin’ right I’d go to the bench and say, `Doesn’t anyone want to play today?’ Then I’d pull the rest of them out and put them in.”

To hear Big Steve tell it, UT’s offensive line this season was a bunch of loads who were too slow to catch a major disease. Big Steve will repair that, too.

“They’re too fat, ” Big Steve said. “All that offensive line needs to drop about 30 pounds to where they can move. I’d have them doing aerobics.”

So let’s make Big Steve the head coach, and exhume winning again, if you can dig it. Would somebody please pass the shovel?