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Barnes and... A Conversation with Jay Jennings

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HELLO AGAIN, EVERYONE, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US. JAY JENNINGS, BORN AND REARED IN LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, MADE HIS BONES, SO TO SPEAK, LITERARY BONES AS A SPORTS JOURNALIST, 4 YEARS FOR SPORTS MAGAZINE THEN ASEDITIOR OF TENNIS MAGAZINE, RETURNED A FEW YEARS AGO AND IN 2007 PERSUADED A LEGENDARY FOOTBALL COACH AT A LEGENDARY HIGH SCHOOL TO ALLOW HIM TO BE A FLY ON THE WALL AND THE RESULT WAS CARRYING THE ROCK, AN ANALYSIS OF 50 YEARS OF ARKANSAS'S CENTRAL HIGH AND LITTLE ROCK'S ATHLETIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS TO THE EXTENT THAT THERE WAS PROGRESS. JAY JENNINGS, WELCOME, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

CENTRAL LITTLE ROCK'S LEGENDARY, THE MATTER OF PROGRESS. WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS BOOK? DO YOU HAVE ANY PRECONCEIVED IDEAS?

I DIDN'T. AND ONE OF THE REASONS I WANTED TO RETURN AND EXAMINE THE CITY WAS TO SEE, TO TAKE THE TEMPERATURE OF RACE RELATIONS IN THE CITY NOW BECAUSE I'VE BEEN BORN AND RAISED HERE AND A, YOU KNOW, AN INCOHATE SENSE GROWING UP THAT THE CITY WAS DIVIDED IN SOME SIGNIFICANT WAY, NOT JUST BECAUSE OF THE INTEGRATION CRISIS, BUT BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT. SO I WENT OFF TO COLLEGE AND, YOU KNOW, A JOURNALISM CAREER IN NEW YORK FOR 20 YEARS AND AS I APPROACHED MY 50TH BIRTHDAY, BECAUSE I WAS BORN IN 1957 AND KNEW THAT THE CITY WAS PREPARING TO COMMEMORATE THE INTEGRATION ANNIVERSARY, I WANTED TO RETURN AND SEE WHERE LITTLE ROCK STOOD NOW.

WHAT DID YOU FIND?

WELL, IT'S INTERESTING. THE -- I STILL FOUND A CITY SOMEWHAT DIVIDED AND IT MUST BE STATED THAT 2007 WAS A SOMEWHAT TUMULTOUS YEAR BECAUSE IN THE PROCESS OF REEXAMINING ITSELF ABOUT THE INTEGRATION CRISIS, A LOT OF THE OLD WOUNDS WERE REOPENED. SO I THINK THAT THAT TIME WAS PARTICULARLY SIGNIFICANT IN HIGHLIGHTING SOME OF THE WAYS LITTLE ROCK HAS NOT PROGRESSED. AT THE SAME TIME, I THINK THAT DISCUSSION OF THE CRISIS ITSELF AND SORT OF REHASHING THAT WAS A HEALTHY THING FOR THE CITY IN EXAMINING THE PAST AND DECIDING WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO HEAL SOME OF THOSE WOUNDS. SO I CAN'T COME DOWN ON ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER, BUT WHAT I HOPEFULLY DID WAS TO PROVIDE, TO SHINE A LIGHT ON SOME OF THE WAYS THAT WE ARE STILL DIVIDED AND, YOU KNOW, BUT IT'S -- I HOPE IT'S ALSO AN AFFECTIONATE PORTRAIT OF THE PLACE WHERE I GREW UP BECAUSE I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF GOOD PEOPLE HERE AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO LOVE THE COMMUNITY AND ARE DEVOTED TO THE COMMUNITY AND WANT TO SEE US COME TOGETHER.

WELL, IN SHINING THAT LIGHT, YOU LOOKED NOT ONLY AT THE FOOTBALL, SORT OF A TAB LEAU OF THE OPENING, YOU LOOKED AT HOUSING PATTERNS, YOU LOOKED AT SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS, YOU LOOKED AT FREEWAY KUPB STRUBS AND HOUSING IMPLICATIONS OF ALL OF THAT.

YEAH, THE CRISIS HAD BEEN SO COVERED BY MANY BETTER HISTORIANS THAN I, THAT WHAT I THOUGHT OUT TO DO WAS TO PROVIDE A SORT OF SWEEPING HISTORY OF LITTLE ROCK SO THAT THE CRISIS ITSELF COULD BE VIEWED IN CONTEXT. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THERE AREN'T HISTORIANS WHO HAVE DONE WORK AROUND THE CRISIS AS WELL AND I DREW UPON THEM IN TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THESE ISSUES OF THE BUILDING OF I-630, FOR INSTANCE, AND HOW THAT FURTHER DIVIDED THE CITY, OR THE -- SOME OF THE ISSUES OF WHITE FLIGHT. SO THESE -- BUT WHAT I WANTED TO DO AND WHAT I THOUGHT HADN'T BEEN DONE BEFORE WAS TO PROVIDE A COMPLEX OVERVIEW OF LITTLE ROCK'S HISTORY IN GENERAL, WHICH I'VE FOUND IT TO BE A FASCINATING HISTORY. AND STARTING IN 1927 WITH THE LYNCHING OF JOHN CARTER, WHICH A LOT OF ARKANSANS ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH, BUT A LOT ARE NOT. AND I THINK WHAT IN RECOUNTING THIS HORRIBLE EVENT IN LITTLE ROCK'S HISTORY, IT BROUGHT OUT TO ME HOW THAT EVENT AFFECTED THE EVENTS OF 57 AND HOW THE EVENTS OF 57 ARE STILL AFFECTING US NOW AND BY EXTENSION HOW THAT EVENT, THE LYNCHING OF JOHN CARTER, IS AFFECTING US NOW. IT'S STILL PRESENT IN A LOT OF THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL LIVING IN BOTH THE BLACK AND WHITE COMMUNITY.

EXPLAIN THAT TIMELINE, IF YOU WILL, NARRATIVE, THAT LINE, THAT CONNECTING LINE, IF YOU WOULD, THAT YOU FOUND IN YOUR --.

LITTLE ROCK A REPUTATION EVEN IN THE 20'S AS A MODERATE PLACE. THIS ONE EVENT, THE JOHN CARTER LYNCHING, IT WAS A MAN WHO HAD, HE WAS -- ESCAPED FROM A WARK DETAIL FROM THE PENAL FARM, ALLEGEDLY ASSAULTED A COUPLE WOMEN ON A ROAD OUT OF WEST LITTLE ROCK OR WAS OUTSIDE THE CITY LIMITS AT THAT TIME, HE WAS -- A MOB FORMED, HE WAS STRUNG UP FROM A TELEPHONE POLE AND SHOT AND DRAGGED THROUGH THE STREETS OF DOWNTOWN LITTLE ROCK. THIS EVENT GAINED NATIONAL HEADLINES, IT WAS THE FIRST LYNCHING IN SEVERAL DECADES IN LITTLE ROCK AND THE LAST LYNCHING. AND IT LIVED ON IN THROUGH ORAL HISTORIES IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN A MUCH MORE POWERFUL WAY THAN IN THE NEWSPAPERS AND IN THE WHITE COMMUNITY. SO IN 1957, YOU HAD -- AND I FOUND SOME INTERVIEWS IN THE BLACK PRESS -- PEOPLE WHO WERE STILL REMEMBERING THAT WHEN THE MOBS WERE FORMING AT CENTRAL HIGH. IT WAS ONLY 30 YEARS AFTER OR BEFORE THE EVENTS AT CENTRAL HIGH. PEOPLE WERE STILL RECALLING THAT AS AN EVENT WHICH HELPED THEM UNDERSTAND WHY MOBS WERE FORMING IN LITTLE ROCK AT THAT TIME, WHEREAS THE NATIONAL PRESS WAS SAYING, LITTLE ROCK IS A MODERATE PLACE, I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS CRISIS IN 57 IS HAPPENING HERE AND NOW. THEN BEYOND 57, AND AFTER 57, I THINK THERE WAS THE SAME TENDENCY AS THERE WAS THEN TO -- AND I FELT THIS FROM GROWING UP IN MY OWN FAMILY AND PEOPLE MY PARENTS KNEW, OF SEEING THE CRISIS AS AN EMBARRASSMENT AND THE AMOUNT OF MEDIA ATTENTION THAT HAPPENED AFTER THE CRISIS REALLY SHAMED, I THINK, A LOT OF LITTLE ROCK CITIZENS AND EVEN 50 YEARS LATER, YOU HAD IN 2007 YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO, YOU KNOW, RESENT THE FACT THAT WE'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS. AND, YOU KNOW, I FIND THAT AN INTERESTING, AN INTERESTING PHENOMENON.

THAT AMBIVALENCE WHICH STILL PLAYS OUT -- LET ME REPHRASE THE QUESTION. WHAT DID YOU FIND SEPARATES -- IF YOU DID FIND -- SEPARATES LITTLE ROCK FROM, SAY, BIRMINGHAM, FROM JACKSON, FROM OTHER SOUTHERN CITIES, WHERE RACE WAS SO MUCH A PART -- NOT THAT RACE IS NOT A FACTOR IN MANHATTAN OR LOS ANGELES BUT IN TERMS OF THE SOUTHERN FABRIC.

I THINK ONE THING THAT I WANT TO EMPHASIZE IS THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT LITTLE ROCK IS DOING THAT ARE, THAT SEPARATE IT IN A GOOD WAY FROM WHAT'S GOING ON IN A LOT OF OTHER CITIES IN THE SOUTH. THERE'S A GREAT -- AND PART OF THIS IS DUE TO CENTRAL'S HISTORIC AND CONTINUING ROLE AS A WONDERFUL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION. IF -- IN ADDITION TO THAT, THERE'S GREAT PARENTAL DEVOTION TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN A WAY THAT YOU DON'T FIND IN OTHER COMMUNITIES, AND I THINK THE WHITE-BLACK PERCENTAGES FOR LITTLE ROCK PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS SOMETHING LIKE 35-65, WHEREAS YOU GO TO DALLAS IT'S 5 PERCENT WHITE. BIRMING HAM IS 1 OR 2 PERCENT, MEMPHIS IS 3 PERCENT. I THINK KEEPING -- AND IT SHOWS, I'M NOT SAYING IT SHOWS LIKE A GREATER DEVOTION TO INTEGRATION, WHAT I THINK IT DOES IS SHOW A DEVOTION TO THE PUBLIC EDUCATION THAT IS HEALTHY.

PUBLIC EDUCATION OR CENTRAL HIGH IN PARTICULAR? BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A -- ITS ACADEMIC REPUTATION IS SO STERLING.

CENTRAL OBVIOUSLY PLAYS A ROLE IN THAT AND MAYBE IT'S THE CASE THAT PARENTS WHO HAVE THEIR KIDS IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOLS LOOK -- ARE DEVOTED TO THOSE SCHOOLS THEY SAY, WELL, MY KID'S GOING TO GO TO CENTRAL AND I KNOW THERE'S A GREAT REPUTATION THERE. THE FLIP SIDE OF THAT IS THAT IF THEY ARE ZONED IN ANOTHER SCHOOL THEN MAYBE THE DEVOTION ISN'T QUITE AS GREAT. AND I WANTED TO UNDERCUT THAT SOMEWHAT IN THE BOOK WHEN I LOOKED AT MCCLELLAN, WHICH IS APPROXIMATELY 93 PERCENT BLACK, AND I FOUND THAT THERE'S GREAT DEVOTION TO MCCLELLAN AMONG THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND MCCKLELLAN HAS PRODUCED SOME STERLING GRADUATES, DESPITE BEING IN AN AREA THAT SERVES A LOWER SOCIOECONOMIC CLASS AND DOESN'T HAVE THE ADVANTAGES THAT SOME OF THE OTHER SCHOOLS HAVE.

AS YOU YOURSELF NOTE IN THE TEXT, HOW ARE THE GROWTH OF SUBURBAN COMMUNITIES AROUND LITTLE ROCK, WHICH HAS DRAINED A LOT OF WHITE -- YOU ARE NOT AFRAID OF THE TERM WHITE FLIGHT OR SO MANY OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU INCLUDE -- WHOSE THOUGHTS YOU REPORT IN THE BOOK, NOT AFRAID OF WHITE FLIGHT, IT'S JUST A FACT ACROSS CENTRAL LITTLE ROCK.

NO, I THINK IT'S AN ARGUABLE PHENOMENON.

NOT UNIQUE TO LITTLE ROCK BY ANY MEANS.

I DID LOOK AT A BOOK CALLED WHITE FLIGHT THAT EXAMINES THE IF HE PHENOMENON IN ATLANTA AND LITTLE ROCK SHARES A LOT OF THOSE ISSUES WITH COMMUNITIES ALL OVER THE SOUTH. SO I'M NOT -- AND IF I WERE A PARENT WHO, YOU KNOW, HAD THE CHOICE BETWEEN SENDING MY CHILD TO, YOU KNOW, AN UNDER PERFORMING SCHOOL OR MAYBE BUYING A HOUSE OUT IN A SUBURB WHERE THE SCHOOLS ARE PERHAPS BETTER OR SENDING MY CHILD TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL, THOSE ARE ALL, YOU KNOW, VERY DIFFICULT DECISIONS THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE DEVOTED TO THE COMMUNITY, YOU KNOW, HAVE TO MAKE FOR THEIR OWN KIDS. SO IT'S -- YOU KNOW, IT'S DIFFICULT TO SORT OF BALANCE YOUR -- WHERE YOU WANT TO, WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR OWN FAMILY VERSUS A BROADER PHILOSOPHY YOU MIGHT HOLD.

LET'S BRING IT BACK TO FOOTBALL WHICH IS DEFINITELY WHAT -- KIND OF THE SPINE OF THE BOOK, OR ONE OF TWO SPINES. HOW DID THESE TRENDS, THESE CURRENTS, THESE REALITIES, HOW DO THEY MANIFEST THEMSELVES IN THE CENTRAL TEAM OF 07?

IT MAY SEEM LIKE A FUNNY WAY TO APPROACH THE BOOK TO SAY, YOU KNOW, LET'S FOLLOW A FOOTBALL TEAM AND THEN TALK ABOUT THE, YOU KNOW, THE CITY AROUND IT. BUT CENTRAL AND IN PARTICULAR CENTRAL FOOTBALL, IS SUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE COMMUNITY. IF YOU GO BACK TO THE 70'S WHEN THERE WEREN'T VERY MANY PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND AS MANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS WELL, YOU KNOW, CENTRAL DREW THE ATTENTION AS, YOU KNOW, FROM FANS AND PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY IN A WAY THAT IS ORE DIFFUSE NOW. BUT CENTRAL FOOTBALL HAS BEEN A PART OF THE COMMUNITY WAY BACK BEFORE IT WAS CENTRAL, WHEN THE PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL WAS PEABODY HIGH SCHOOL BACK IN THE 1880'S. SO -- AND AS A BONDING, AS A MEANS OF BONDING THE COMMUNITY IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE, YOU KNOW, WHITE AND BLACK STUDENTS, YOU KNOW, POINTED THE SAME DIRECTION ON A TEAM AND LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ON A TEAM AND, YOU KNOW, SUFFER THE SAME UNDER, YOU KNOW, A DISCIPLINED MAN BY BERNIE COX. SO I FOUND THAT PHENOMENON AN INDICATION OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE COMMUNITY AS WELL BECAUSE KIDS ON THE TEAM ARE FROM ALL OVER THE LITTLE ROCK AREA.

AND IT WAS NOT THE BEST YEAR.

NO, IT WAS -- THEY WERE NO. 1 IN THE PRESEASON BECAUSE THEY HAD RETURNED A NUMBER OF STARTERS, MOST OF THE STARTERS FROM A 10 AND 1 SEASON THE YEAR BEFORE. BUT WHAT I FOUND WAS THAT FOR ME IT WAS MORE INTERESTING THAN HAVING AN UNDEFEATED RUN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP, WHICH IS WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE HOPED FOR, YOU KNOW, FOR A NARRATIVE THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE COULD CELEBRATE. BUT WHAT I FOUND IS THAT THE STRUGGLES THAT THEY UNDERWENT WERE MUCH MORE INTERESTING AND REVEALED MUCH MORE ABOUT CHARACTER BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE STRUGGLING, THAT'S WHEN YOUR PHILOSOPHY IS TESTED. AND TO ME THAT WAS MORE, A MORE INTERESTING ASPECT OF THE YEAR THAN JUST IF THEY HAD BEEN, YOU KNOW, JUGGERNAUTS.

EARLY ON IN THE BOOK I THINK YOU QUOTE A REPORT THAT COACH COX AND HIS STAFF WERE DISAPPOINTED THAT THIS TEAM DIDN'T CONGEAL, IT DIDN'T WORK AS A TEAM. THERE WAS A LEADERSHIP DEFICIT SO IT DID NOT MELD, THERE WAS NOT THE TEAMWORK THAT HE HAD SEEN IN EARLIER TEAMS. A PARABLE OR JUST --.

IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHAT -- AND THIS WAS A DILEMMA THAT I FOUND MOST INTERESTING WAS THAT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU WORK OR NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY TO INSPIRE PEOPLE OR -- THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME OCCASIONS WHERE IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN. AND I FELT LIKE THE COACHES WERE, YOU KNOW, MAKING CHANGES ALL ALONG TO TRY AND BRING THE TEAM TOGETHER BUT IN THE END IT WAS JUST A COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS WHO DIDN'T JELL AND I THINK THE REASONS FOR THAT ARE OFB MYSTERIOUS.

PONDER THOSE FOR A MOMENT, IF YOU WOULD.

WELL, THE -- AT ONE POINT, AND AS I WAS WRITING THE BOOK I WAS WATCHING A BASKETBALL GAME ON ESPN AND I HEARD BOBBY KNIGHT SAY ANY GOOD TEAM IS MADE UP OF GUYS WHO ARE FRIENDS. AND WHILE THE KIDS ON THAT TEAM WERE ALL ON THE CENTRAL TEAM IN 2007 WERE ALL REALLY NICE KIDS, AND I REALLY ENJOYED GETTING TO KNOW THEM, THERE WEREN'T A LOT OF -- THEY WEREN'T FORMING A LOT OF INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIPS AND I'M NOT JUST SAYING INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIPS, BUT THEY HAD THEIR OWN INTERESTS, YOU KNOW, OUTSIDE OF FOOTBALL. SO ONE IS I'M NOT SURE HOW GOOD OF FRIENDS THEY WERE WITH EACH OTHER. THE OTHER THING THAT BERNIE COX AND SOME OF THE COACHES HIT UPON WAS -- AND I THINK IT WAS COACH CLARENCE FINLEY WHO ARTICULATED IT THIS WAY, THEY JUST DON'T LOVE FOOTBALL LIKE WE DID. YOU KNOW, THEY LOVED THEIR X BOXES, THEY LOVED THEIR GIRLFRIENDS, THEY LOVE THE CONCERTS THEY GO TO, BUT THEY JUST DON'T LOVE FOOTBALL LIKE WE DID. SO THAT MAY ACCOUNT FOR IT AS WELL.

I WONDER IF THAT WAS UNIQUE TO THE TEAM OF 07 OR WHETHER THAT REFLECTS A LARGER CULTURAL TREND? DIETITIANS, FOR EXAMPLE, ARE PEOPLE AND PHYSICIANS ARE MOST CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT THEY CALL SCREEN TIME, I MEAN, THE DIVERSIONS NOW THAT CAN TEMPT YOUNGSTERS WITH SO IN THIS CYBER AGE. WAS THAT THE VANGUARD IN 07?

I THINK IT'S A CONCERN. IN TERMS OF UNIFYING ANY, YOU KNOW, ORGANIZATION, AND IT COULD BE THAT THAT WAS PART OF IT. YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE THAT BERNIE COX COACHED WHEN I WAS PLAYING HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL, THE KIDS -- WE DIDN'T HAVE AS MANY DISTRACTIONS AND WE WERE, YOU KNOW, FAIRLY DEVOTED TO FOOTBALL.

RIGHT.

SO I THINK THAT'S PART OF IT. AND ONE THING THE COACHES DO TO KEEP KIDS INTERESTED IN THE GAME NOW IS THE STYLE, TO PLAY A STYLE OF FOOTBALL THAT BERNIE COX NEVER PLAYED WHICH WAS A SPREAD OFFENSE WITH, YOU KNOW, LIKE PAYTON MANNING AND TOM BRADY PLAY SO PARTLY THE STYLE OF THE GAME IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAYBE THIS CHANGE.

YOU REPORT IN THE BOOK THAT A NUMBER -- ONE OR TWO AT A MINIMUM -- REFLECT WHAT HAS BEEN WIDELY REPORTED ELSEWHERE AND THAT IS SELF-SEGREGATION. AND IT WAS VERY EVIDENT IN THE TEAM OF 07, THE CENTRAL TEAM OF 07.

UH-HUH.

BUT AFTER THE SQUAD LEFT THE FIELD, MAYBE AFTER THEY LEFT THE LOCKER ROOM, THEY KIND OF WENT THEIR SEPARATE WAYS AND THE SHARPEST DIVIDING LINE WAS RACE.

IT'S TRUE. THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, THE SEGREGATION OF CENTRAL'S LUNCH ROOM, SELF-SEGREGATION OF CENTRAL'S LUNCH ROOM HAS BEEN REPORTED FOR YEARS. EVEN NOW THERE IS A, YOU KNOW, DIVIDING LINE IN THE CENTRAL LUNCH ROOM. AND ONE OF THE PLAYERS, THE JUNIOR WHO WAS A JUNIOR IN 2007, DAMION LEE, HE SAID THAT IT WAS THE STUDENTS, YOU KNOW, THAT THE SCHOOL GIVES -- HAS LOTS OF EVENTS WHERE STUDENTS CAN GET TOGETHER AND THE STUDENTS JUST DON'T DO IT. ON THE TEAM IN 2007, THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, THE TEAM WAS VERY UNIFIED DURING PRACTICE AND THEY ALL RAN THE SAME BLEACHERS AND ALL DID THE SAME DRILLS AND THEN WHEN THEY WOULD GO, YOU KNOW, HAVE GATHERINGS OF VARIOUS PLAYERS AFTER PRACTICE TO, YOU KNOW, WATCH GAMES OR WHATEVER, IT SEEMED THAT THEY WOULD GO THEIR SEPARATE WAYS, THAT THEY WOULD -- THERE WOULD BE A DIVIDING LINE BY RACE. I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYTHING SINISTER ABOUT IT. I JUST THINK IT'S, YOU KNOW, YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE YOU. AND FOR ME ANN RICHARDSON WHO IS ON THE CITY BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND WAS A FORMER CENTRAL FOOTBALL STAR, HE ARTICULATED THE BASIC QUESTION OF THE BOOK AND OF THE COMMUNITY AND OF THE -- OUR CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY, TOO, WHICH WAS THAT, HE ASKED THE QUESTION ARE WE REALLY EMBRACING EACH OTHER OR ARE WE JUST TOLERATING EACH OTHER? AND I THINK THAT'S A QUESTION THAT WE CAN ALL ASK OURSELVES.

DID YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE WITH COACH COX'S -- USE THE TERM RETICENT, FELLOW VERY SOFT-SPOKEN FOR A FOOTBALL COACH. DID YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE CONVINCING HIM TO LET YOU HAVE THE ACCESS THAT HE GRANTED?

IT DID TAKE SOME PERSUASION. I MET WITH HIM IN THE SPRING OF 2007 AND AT THAT TIME THE BOOK ABOUT THE SPRINGDALE FOOTBALL TEAM HAD COME OUT AND WAS CREATING HEADLINES, SO IT WAS -- HE WAS WARY OF LETTING A JOURNALIST INTO HIS MITTS, BUT IN THE END HE CAME DOWN ON THE SIDE OF THEY WERE PROUD OF WHAT THEY DID AND THAT HE PUT NO RESTRICTIONS ON ME, EITHER. WHEN HE IS IN, HE'S ALL IN.

RIGHT.

HE SAID, YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR JOB TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY WHILE I'M DOING MY JOB, SO I'M GOING TO TRUST YOU TO DO IT. AND THAT WAS A GREAT BOTH A GREAT PRIVILEGE AND A RESPONSIBILITY.

YOU WERE IN THE COACH'S OFFICES, YOU WERE IN THE SHOWER, IN THE LOCKER ROOM, YOU WERE EVERYWHERE THE PLAYERS WERE. I MEAN, ON THE BUS, I PRESUME, AS WELL.

ABSOLUTELY. IT WAS TOTAL IMMERSION WITH THE -- WHICH WAS GREAT FUN FOR ME, TOO, BECAUSE I REMEMBER MY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL DAYS VERY FONDLY, CATHOLIC HIGH, THE ARCH RIVAL, BUT STILL IT WAS GREAT FUN FOR ME TO BE ON A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FIELD AND THIS TIME, UNLIKE WHEN I WAS A PLAYER, I GOT TO THE IN THE COACH'S OFFICE AND HEAR WHAT THEY TALKED ABOUT AND I THINK WHAT READERS OF THE BOOK WILL FIND IS LIKE ANY WORKPLACE, THERE WAS JOKING, THERE WAS SERIOUS DISCUSSION OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING, YOU KNOW, IN THEIR LIVES AND I FOUND IT A GREAT PRIVILEGE THAT THEY WOULD BE SO OPEN AND SORT OF WELCOME ME IN AND NOT CENSOR THEMSELVES AND I THINK WHAT -- I HOPE WHAT A LOT OF PARENTS OF HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES WILL GAIN FROM THE BOOK, NOT JUST LITTLE ROCK, IN LITTLE ROCK, BUT PARENTS EVERYWHERE WILL SEE REALLY HOW HARD THESE COACHES WORK AND HOW MUCH THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT WHAT GOES ON ON THE PRACTICE FIELDS AND THE GAMES. BECAUSE THEIR CULTURE IS SO MUCH ABOUT CRITICIZING A PLAY CALL OR, YOU KNOW, OR SLAPPING YOUR HEAD OVER SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS ON THE FIELD.

RIGHT.

COACHES REALLY DO, YOU KNOW, IT'S THEIR JOB TO WORRY ABOUT IT BUT THEY TAKE IT HOME WITH THEM, TOO.

CARRY THE ROCK, JAY JENNINGS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

T HANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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