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Coach Cowboy
Photo by
John Davis
Robert Chesney, defensive coordinator of the Johns Hopkins football team, had long been intrigued by the cowboy way of life. "I have a lot of respect for cowboys, for their hard-working, blue-collar lifestyle," he says. So he jumped at the chance to spend three weeks riding bulls, wrestling steers, and herding cattle on a Colorado ranch last summer on the cable-TV reality show Cowboy U.

As one of eight contestants on the show, which aired on Country Music Television beginning in January, Chesney learned to ride, shoot at targets from a horse-drawn wagon, wrangle chickens, and administer a pregnancy test to a cow. There was also some manure shoveling, some pig feeding, some cooking over an open fire.

Perhaps his silliest task was "calf dressing," which entailed tackling a 200-pound calf, moving him to center ring, and fitting him into a mammoth pair of men's tighty whiteys. "It was harder than I thought," says Chesney, who was in first place going into the show's final rodeo, but lost by six-tenths of a second on the final bull ride. A graphic artist from Chicago took home the first-place $25,000 prize.

As it turns out, being a cowboy isn't all that different from being a college football coach, Chesney says. "You have to be strong to be a cowboy. You have to be tough. And you can't be sick as a cowboy and have a day off. That correlates to being a football coach during football season — there are no days off."

— Maria Blackburn

Return to April 2007 Table of Contents

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