UH's Alvin II to man sideline opposite SHSU assistant Alvin III STEVE CAMPBELL Houston Chronicle Published 6:30 am CST, Saturday, December 4, 2010
HUNTSVILLE — Alvin Brooks III loves his father, loves him dearly enough to want to talk to him every day.
He has too much respect to lie to his father, so he just came out with the truth.
"This is the first time in my life I'm not going to be mad if your team loses," Alvin III blurted out to his dad on Thursday morning.
Alvin Brooks II instantly understood. Alvin II is the associate head basketball coach of the Houston Cougars, who face the Sam Houston State Bearkats at 2 p.m. today at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville. One of the Bearkats' assistants is Alvin Brooks III, who joined the staff this year after spending the previous two seasons at Bradley.
Alvin III calls his father "one of my best friends," so having UH on the schedule has caused some personal sacrifice. Alvin III and Alvin II have given up their cherished daily dialogue, speaking only sporadically. They've stopped talking about their work, their teams, not wanting to risk giving the other a competitive edge.
"He knows me well enough and how competitive I am," Alvin II said. "I'm kind of proud, actually, that he has developed the kind of approach where even though I'm Dad, he's preparing to win."
Alvin III should have a better understanding of the do's and don'ts of coaching than most 31-year-olds. His childhood gave him an inside look at a coach's life. Alvin II has been at it since 1981. He was the UH head coach from 1993-1998, working tirelessly and having only a 54-84 record to show for it.
Early exposure to job
From a teenager's vantage point, it was a terrible way to make a living. Alvin III read the newspapers, sensed the vitriol for his father at Hofheinz Pavilion, and declared, "I'm never going to coach." Alvin II replied, "I don't want you to coach."
A former star at Wheatley High, Alvin II wanted his five children to find their own interests. He didn't run them through drills, send them to basketball camps, or even play pickup games with them. About as competitive as it ever got with the two Alvins was their knock-down, drag-out, video-game confrontations in Tecmo Bowl.
"We had to stop a long, long time ago," Alvin III said. "He would beat me, and I wasn't really liking that. He was just so much smarter than I was. I just wanted to run plays. He'd manage the clock and kick field goals."
Alvin II remembers his sister suggesting he let his son win. His answer: "No, he's going to have to earn it."
Alvin III starred more in the classroom than on the court at Idaho State, making the Big Sky All-Academic team and earning a bachelor's degree in finance in 2002. He added a master's degree in athletic administration and tried his hand in the Idaho State athletic department and as a financial advisor.
"People would say, 'You'd have a chance to be a millionaire,' " Alvin III said. "But I was miserable."
He called his father and confessed an itch to coach. Alvin II said he "tried everything I could to keep him from doing it" and failed. In his second year in coaching, Alvin III helped Arkansas Fort Smith win a national junior college title. In his third year in coaching, Alvin III helped Midland College win a national junior college title.
"He's got the disease now," Alvin II said.
Mom was right
And so they'll be on opposite sides today, in the same place Alvin II played his first college game. Alvin II was the 1977-78 Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year with the Bearkats before moving on to Lamar, where he started at point guard for an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team. He can't help but think of the words of his mother, Albertine, whom he buried four weeks after UH fired him in 1998.
"She always said, 'One day, Little Al is going to be a coach, just like you,'" Alvin II said. "If she could see Saturday, both of us on the sideline. When I sit back and reflect on it, I'll think about my mom. I'll be somewhat emotional about it."