Statue idea lights UT's Tower green

by John Kelso
Austin American-Statesman (Texas)
October 24, 2004 Sunday

The big news these days is that the head salamis at the University of Texas are fixing to put up yet another statue of big UT donor Joe Jamail on campus.

Too bad the second statue of Jamail, the Houston trial lawyer who has forked over more than $21 million to Big Bucks State University, won't be any more imaginative than the first one.

The first one, at the Joseph D. Jamail Pavilion at the UT Law School, is a plain number that shows Jamail just standing there and not doing much else. It's a great place for a pigeon to roost, but it doesn't tell much of a story.

So it's a darn shame that the second statue of Jamail, an 8-foot bronze to be erected in the southeast corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium hopefully in time for the A&M game, will be a casting of the first.

Instead, special for the football stadium, how about a statue of Jamail toting a checkbook, shown writing out a huge check to Bevo? How about a statue of Jamail with his MasterCard? Or, better still, how about a Daddy Warbucks-style statue of Jamail waving a large wad of bills? That's my favorite of all of my suggested artistic concepts.

As part of this plan, from now on, whenever UT wins a big game, instead of lighting the Tower orange, I say they ought to light the Tower green. And they could get some of the techno-nerds in computer sciences to flash some kind of gigantic burnt orange dollar sign superimposed over the green part.

It's not that I've got anything against Joe Jamail. He's probably a really great guy. And no, I'm not just saying that because I don't want UT cutting off my season football tickets in Section 2, Row 39, on what I refer to as the no-yard line. We're seated adjacent to the south end zone. We just don't send a big enough donation to the Longhorn Foundation to warrant better seats.

It's just that Jamail may be the only guy in the world who will have two -- count 'em, two -- statues of himself on the UT campus. Even Moses, Jesus and James Street don't get that honor.

And is Jamail getting these statues because he can go long, break a big run up the middle or kick a 50-yard field goal? Or even diagram a sentence like one of UT's English professors? Can he explain Kant? No, he's getting these statues because he has given UT enough money to build a football program so powerful that almost annually it rates a trip to the Holiday Bowl.

By the way, Jamail's statue at Royal-Memorial will stand next to a statue of Darrell Royal. Even I'm not stupid enough to say something tacky about Darrell Royal. What's aggravating to many is that UT ran this deal through without input from the regular folk. Board of Regents approval is required for a gift of an outdoor work of art. But since the statues will be inside the football stadium, UT does not consider them outdoor art.

So the stadium isn't outdoors, huh? Try to tell that to the poor schleps in the east side's upper deck who bake in the sun in September. But, in the final analysis, are a meager two statues of Joe Jamail on campus enough? I think they ought to put a third one in the stadium overlooking one of the concession stands. Maybe that would get them to improve those lousy nachos.

John Kelso's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at (512) 445-3606 or jkelso@statesman.com.