THE PERMIAN PANTHERS FINISHED THE REGULAR SEASON ON THE first Friday night of November by pummeling the San Angelo Bobcats. That same night, the Midland Lee Rebels finished the season by routing the Cooper Cougars, and the Midland High Bulldogs did likewise by beating the Abilene High Eagles. All three teams had identical five and one records in the district, and a numbing scenario was set up.
Since only two teams could go to the playoffs, the district's tiebreaker rule went into effect: a coin toss.
After all that work and all those endless hours, it seemed silly. But that's what the outcome of the season had finally been reduced to -- three grown men still dressed in their coach's outfits driving in the middle of the night to a truck stop so they could stand together like embarrassed schoolboys and throw coins into the air to determine whether their seasons ended at that very moment or continued.
It was a simple process of odd man out. If there were two tails and a heads, the one who flipped heads did not make the playoffs. If there were two heads and a tails, the one who flipped tails did not make the playoffs. If they all flipped the same, they just did it again until someone lost.
It was hard for Gaines to find solace in any of this. But at the very least, the place wouldn't be a complete circus. By universal agreement among school officials, it had been decided not to