This gig is not as simple as you think. Every week, my task is simple but somewhat daunting: I need to write a few words - hopefully in a manner that is entertaining and relevant - about University of Texas athletics in general, and UT football in particular. Ideally, my Wednesday column is enlightening, thoughtful, creative and funny.
The hardest part - just like your 7th grade English teacher told you - is what you encounter at the beginning of the process: a piece of blank 8 1/2-by-11 inch sheet of paper dangling from the end of your Royal typewriter. What, you thought I did all of this on a computer?
And as it pertains to UT, finding something fresh to write about is sometimes difficult. There's plenty of subject matter, of course: recruiting, Mack Brown is too soft, UT has lost another recruit, why can't Texas find a quarterback, recruiting, where's the Longhorn Network, Aggies suck, recruiting, etc. There are some weeks when a subject has already been beaten to death on message boards, blogs, twitter, et.al., and simply finding a topic is an almost impossible task.
And then there are magical weeks when a topic simply falls into your lap: the Browns draft a quarterback in the first round (hello, Colt McCoy column), Ricky Williams retires, Vince Young is cut from another team.
And then there's this: Stonie Clark is selling tea cakes.
Inside Texas' own Sammy Gilford provided this bit of information this week, in the form of an email with the subject line, "say it ain't so!" Gilford sent the rest of us on the staff an email that simply included a link to Mr. Clark's latest adventure: www.stoniesteacakes.com.
Stonie Clark, as you will undoubtedly recall, made himself famous by stopping OU's James Allen at the one yard-line in 1994. At 6-1 and about 350 pounds, Mr. Clark was more than capable of "stoning" someone at the one year-line, and that's exactly what he did in blasting Allen down with less than a minute to go in the Cotton Bowl. Did he ever make another big play while playing for the Longhorns? Who knows? Who cares? That one play was certainly worth more than a four-year scholarship, that's for sure.
And now the big, nasty, violent Mr. Clark has embarked on his tea cakes career.
Go to the web site and there is Stonie at the top of the page, looking like he weighs considerably less than he did while wearing number 55 for the Longhorns, sitting fireside with a perfectly-aligned bow-tie around his neck, a saucer of tea cakes sitting on a nearby table along with what appears to be a tea set. There is also a picture of his grandma, from whom Clark has managed to "borrow" the tea cake recipe without the concern of litigation.
The web site is well-designed and user friendly. You can order your tea cakes by phone, or you can order them online and have them delivered to your front door. Clark has smartly included testimonials from those fortunate souls lucky enough to have placed his cookies into their mouths: "Stonies Tea Cakes were just delivered to my house. OMG. If you haven't tried them, run don't walk to get some. Way to go Stonie, you have a delicious product."
The web site includes biographical information on Clark's upbringing in Gladewater, and describes how he spent a year perfecting his grandmother's Southern Tea Cake recipe before starting his own tea cake company after "seeing a void in the market for light, freshly baked treats that contained less sugar than anything being offered."
Stonie also shares on the web site the story of how his own cultural history played a role in his tea cake venture. He vividly describes the white ceramic cookie jar that held his grandmother's tea cakes. He writes that they were baked "with love" for the people she loved. He writes of being inspired when, upon tasting one of Stonie's tea cakes, his grandmother said, "They are almost as good as mine!"
He also writes of dreams, many of which he has already lived. Certainly the play he made on the one yard-line on the Longhorn end of the Cotton Bowl, was a dream that came true. The tea cakes company, well, that could accurately be called an "unexpected dream" for Clark.
"I have dreamed big dreams all of my life, and baking for a living was never one of them," Clark writes. "I have dreamed of being a role model and mentor in my community. Dreamed of a way to bring just a little happiness to each and everyone's life and being the kind of young man my parents and grandparents could be proud of."
I hear that Texas has had some recruiting bumps recently. Some key football players are injured, and others have decided they don't want to play anymore. The Longhorns are looking for offensive linemen, and they could sure use a kicker. The baseball team didn't make the playoffs. Kevin Durant is the best basketball player in UT hoops history, and whoever is second is a very distant second. Maybe I'll write about some of that stuff next week.
This week, though, this week I choose to write about Stonie Clark's tea cakes. Appreciate that play you made on Allen, Stonie, and I can't wait to try a tea cake. Keep dreaming.