The spotlight’s on Texas’ Colt McCoy, and his tiny hometown basks in the glow

The road sign on Route 83 that welcomes you to Colt McCoy’s hometown needs updating because it states, “Tuscola, population 714.” That head count was taken 10 years ago. “I imagine we’re pretty close to 800 now,” City Secretary Billie Pearce said from behind the counter at City Hall.

It was Dec. 22, and Pearce was about to celebrate her 78th Christmas here. “If you saw where the funeral home is?” she said, pointing outside to Bartlett’s parlor. “Right across the street is where I was born.” That was a few years after Tuscola, the entire town, was picked up and moved five miles to make way for the railroad. Chester, did you remember to pack the First State Bank?

Not much has changed, Pearce says, from the days when she walked eight miles to swim and spent afternoons playing an offshoot of hockey, on stilts, using tin cans. (It never caught on nationally.)

The major industries remain: cotton, wheat, cattle and high school football. Pearce has seen everything that’s fit to be seen in Tuscola. In 2002, when it rained 17 inches in three hours, Lucy Simpson had to be rescued off the top of her truck. There have been close brushes with tornadoes. In the 1950s, Eddie “the Claw” Sprinkle, made it from nearby Bradshaw all the way to the Chicago Bears, where he earned the moniker “Meanest Man in Football.”
Eddie Meador, Pearce’s first cousin, rose from Ovalo to All-Pro safety for the Los Angeles Rams — Pearce used to drive to Dallas to see Eddie play when the Rams visited.

Nothing, though, has affected the town as intimately as the ascent of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who leads the Longhorns into Thursday’s Bowl Championship Series title game against Alabama at the Rose Bowl.