Texas is a vast and contradictory place, impossible to accept or understand as an entity because it is so many different things. It is the blowing wasteland of the movie Giant and the hucksterism of Dallas, the charm of San Antonio and the industry of Houston. It is the dusty little towns on the Mexican border and a thousand miles of beach along the Gulf, the great pine forests of the Big Thicket and the lonely mountains of the Big Bend. But for many Texans the state is really only one place—the lakes and limestone cliffs of the central Texas Hill Country. And the capital of the Hill Country, as well as of the whole state, is a town called Austin.
"It is a pleasant city, clean and quiet, with wide rambling walks and elaborate public gardens and elegant old homes faintly ruined in the shadow of arching poplars. Occasionally, through the trees, and always from a point of higher ground, one can see the college tower and the Capitol building. On brilliant mornings the white sandstone of the tower and the Capitol's granite dome are joined for an instant, all pink and cream, catching the first light." That is how William Bra miner, who lives in Austin, wrote of the city in his prize-winning novel, The Gay Place. Those two structures—the University of Texas tower and the Capitol building—are symbols of what makes Austin, despite the obvious wealth and power of Houston and Dallas, the intellectual and political hub of the state.
The college tower rears itself 30 stories high above the administration building of the University of Texas and lights up orange when the university wins a game in a major sport. The tower is the most prominent visual aspect of the campus, but beneath the Spanish tile roofs of the university buildings there is a great deal going on. Chancellor Harry Ransom actively recruits good young professors to teach the university's nearly 25,000 students. Texas is especially strong in philosophy, languages, law, art, medicine and science, and the university has its own nuclear reactor. "The University of Texas," wrote the celebrated attorney and author Morris Ernst, "is the most underrated campus in America." As might be expected in a state notorious for its wealth, the University of Texas ranks behind only Harvard in the richness of its endowment.
Uninhibited by its intellectual attainments, the University of Texas—and all of Austin, for that matter—explodes with noise on football weekends. At such times one might see a visiting coach on a downtown sidewalk in his pajamas at 7 a.m. begging his own rooters to shut up and let his team sleep. Or a state senator splashing in his underwear in a motel pool at dawn while a party rages around him. Or a faculty member sobering up in the top of an oak tree in Scholz Garten, an old German beer parlor with tables out back, and wondering if he can get down with dignity in time to make it to the game. And from the direction of the stadium come sounds like the Battle of San Jacinto—the drums of the huge Longhorn band, the booming of the cannon in the end zone, the yelling of 65,000 people. Bevo, the university's Longhorn mascot (opposite), is on the sidelines. Later he will be trucked out as thousands push their way toward exits and another night of partying. "Life," says Artist Fletcher Boone, a contented Austin resident, "is just one Texas game after another, with fun in between."
Life for Texas Coach Darrell Royal has been one win after another with work in between. In seven years at the University of Texas his lean, spirited teams have won four Southwest Conference championships, played in six bowl games, twice made him the Coach of the Year. The 1963 team topped all the others by winning the national title. And what has Royal got to look forward to? "I'll tell you," says Royal. "This good friend, a guy you'd think would understand, a good-hearted fellow who knows football, put his hand on my shoulder and said—serious, now—'Darrell, we don't expect miracles. We know there's gonna be those years when we just have to settle for a 7-3 record!' "
Like most coaches, Royal is a fatalist, and he would settle for a 7-3 any year. "That's the perfect record," he says. "Seven-three and turn down the Persimmon Bowl. It's in between enough to keep your folks happy."
Unfortunately for Royal, followers of the Longhorns have a perfect right to expect success because of the very successes he has given them. And while the 1964 Texas team does not look as promising as last year's, it is certainly impressive enough to prevent anyone from smothering the coach with sympathy. Not that Royal expects any. "I know we face some days," he says, "when we better have everything we value screwed on tight. But if two or three kids come through for us, those other folks better have things screwed on, too."
That is precisely what Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles says. "How you gonna score on Texas?" he asks. "They merely have all their ends, all their linebackers and all their defensive secondary back. How you gonna score?"
Texas' opponents might not. The ends, led by Knox Nunnally and Sandy Sands, are fast, big and they love contact. Royal has always had first-rate linebackers, and Guard Tommy Nobis (6 feet 2, 215) and specialist Timmy Doerr are perhaps his best ever. Army Coach Paul Dietzel, who must play Texas, says of Nobis: "He's the best linebacker I've ever seen in college. The Cotton Bowl film is all Nobis. He personally rendered Roger Staubach helpless."
There is one vacancy in the secondary, however, created by the shifting of Safety Jim Hudson to quarterback, where he began as a freshman. A Texas quarterback does not have to be a highly skilled thrower, which is lucky for Hudson. What he has to be is what Hudson is: smart, quick, tough-minded, coachable—and a senior. Royal has always won with senior quarterbacks. "If I'd left him at quarter all along," says Royal, "he might be pretty good. He might be anyway. He can get out of there faster than Duke Carlisle, he's got big, sure hands and he's an athlete."
What Hudson will do most of the time is hand off to and block for the finest stable of runners Royal has had. They include Ernie Koy (6 feet 3, 220), Phil Harris, Harold Philipp, Tom Stockton, Hix Green and Jimmy Helms, a blazing sophomore. Texas' offensive will remain the same—the option play, the fullback counter, the halfback sweeps and reverses, all done with errorless precision.
"We'll scratch and claw and give you fits with our first team," Royal says, "but I'm sure we don't have the depth to match the past."
If Royal is right, then RICE may be able to help Coach Jess Neely properly celebrate his silver anniversary in Houston. Rice has everything and if it just weren't for Texas' persistent success and a well-aged coaching staff that may lack vigor, Neely's Owls would be the SWC favorites. Among other things, Royal has never beaten Rice in Houston and that is where they play this time. Rice has a deep, experienced line, led by Center Mai Walker, and a batch of strong runners, the best of whom are seniors Paul Piper and Russell Wayt and junior Gene Walker. Most important of all, Rice has (now that Baylor's Don Trull is gone) the best quarterback in the league in senior Walter McReynolds. McReynolds has only lacked consistency, but not against LSU. For two straight years McReynolds has personally tied the Tigers (6-6) and beat them (21-12), both upsets. As a result, his name is respected in that bordering state. For example, McReynolds was driving to New Orleans one day last winter when he stopped to buy a tire at a service station. As he signed a credit voucher for the tire, the football-wise attendant gazed at it, shook his head and said, "Naw, you can't be the one. You're too small."
Like McReynolds, ARKANSAS' players are usually small. Still, they have a reputation for being able, in the words of Frank Broyles, "to sting people." Arkansas stung plenty of people last year with its swarming defense, but five teams beat the Razorbacks. The reason: Broyles had no backs who could turn a game around. He still does not. The Arkansas line is vicious again, especially when Ronnie Caveness is backing it, but Jerry Lamb, a superb end, is anxious for a quarterback who can get him the ball consistently, and runners Jackie Brasuell, Jim Lindsey and Bobby Nix may or may not have learned new moves. A year ago the quarterback lineup was Billy Gray, Jon Brittenum and Fred Marshall. The order is now reversed, and that could be the key to success.
No team can pass as often or as well as BAYLOR. Coach John Bridgers' all-or-nothing offense exemplifies the old traditions of the Southwest. Last year Bridgers put a stern defense with Trull, finished 7-3, scaring the burnt orange out of Texas but losing (7-0), then defeating LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl. Trull is gone, but the line is big and determined, and Flanker Larry Elkins is the finest pass receiver the Southwest has ever seen. The thrower this time? A sophomore, Mike Marshall (see box), who should use this season as a springboard to becoming another brilliant Baylor passer.
Arriving faster by the day is TEXAS TECH. This is primarily because of Donny Anderson, the SWC's best running back. Anderson not only runs with bursting speed, balance and moves ("He's the next great back in the Southwest," says San Diego Scout Al LoCasale), he catches, kicks, blocks and tackles. Coach J T King needs more Andersons before Tech becomes a championship contender, but TCU's Abe Martin is not so sure. "That one great boy can sometimes ride you clear across the river," says Abe. Anderson's only problem is, as a teammate phrases it, "He tires real easy in workout." King, however, does not mind. "When they snap the ball, Donny has a lot of pride," he says.
SMU was coming even faster than Tech until last spring, when a two-year probation was smacked on Coach Hayden Fry for recruiting violations. Fry's enthusiasm caused a strain between himself and other SWC coaches, especially Darrell Royal. The two of them are persistently trying to jab each other in print. After upsetting Navy last season, for example, Fry paused to announce that SMU had "the best team in the country for its record." And Royal wryly commented, "That's right. They have the best personnel in the country to have won only two games." SMU's players this year just may be good enough to make the Mustangs the surprise team of the conference if the probation does not spoil morale. Quarterbacks Danny Thomas (who led the nation in punting in 1963 and was second in the conference in passing) and Mac White, a gifted runner, offer a balanced combination. The line is what SMU foes describe as "mean" and it is led by Tackle John Knee and Guard Jim Sitton. SMU's sophomores are the best in the territory, and one of them, Fullback Billy Bob Stewart, has already been labeled by Publicity Man Junior Eldredge as "the toughest son of a gun I've ever seen in my whole life."
Texas A&M carries an old reputation for toughness, but the Aggies have been troubled lately with a plethora of if-come players who have yet to come. Mainly they are Fullback Budgie Ford, Halfback Tommy Meeks and Tackle Melvin Simmons, all brilliant high school athletes who were expected to do big things for A&M. They have one last chance as seniors and Ford sums it up best: "We realize, 17 of us, that we were the best recruiting class A&M had had in years, and none of us had ever been losers. This is our last chance, and I think we'll surprise people."
It will be difficult for TCU, the upsettingest team in the SWC, to surprise anyone. Abe Martin has, in his own words, "the barest cupboard since I've been coach" (11 years). There are a few proven Horned Frogs—Fullback Larry Bulaich, Halfback Jim Fauver, Guard Steve Garmon and Center Ken Henson (6 feet 6, 250), of whom Redskin Scout Bucko Kilroy says, "They say he won't make all-conference down there but all I see him do is snap the ball and knock everybody down." Four players, however, do not make a team and TCU will be fortunate to win four.
From bottom to top, the Southwest is not as strong as a year ago, but it will be many years before it is again. Indeed, 1963 was the SWC's finest year in history, for it not only produced the No. 1 team and coach (Texas and Royal), it also produced the Lineman of the Year (Texas' Scott Appleton), the No. 1 passer (Trull), the No. 1 receiver (Eikins), the No. 1 punter (Thomas), the No. 1 punt returner (Ken Hatfield, Arkansas), the NFL's No. 1 draft choice (Texas Tech's David Parks) and six All-Americas who made one or more major selections.
It is small wonder that the UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON, outside the swank circle of the Southwest, is somewhat envious. A booming independent, Houston is on the verge of becoming a major power. There are seven starters returning among 21 lettermen, and they include Quarterback Jack Skog for passing, Halfback Joe Lopasky for power and Split End-Halfback Mike Spratt for speed. Now all Houston needs is Warren McVea, the most sought-after high-schooler in the state this recruiting year. McVea is a freshman and Houston's insurance. But he will not begin to pay dividends until next year.
He'll do just fine
Mike Marshall of Baylor faces perhaps the toughest job of any sophomore in the nation, that of replacing the No. 1 passer of the past two seasons, Don Trull. But if the nation's No. 1 receiver, Larry Eikins of Baylor, is a judge Marshall will do just fine. Says Eikins, "In the spring game he threw me a 50-yard pass on a straight line, like flicking a fly off his ear." Another judge is Baylor Coach John Bridgers. He says, "Mike is faster than Don and shiftier. Potentially, he has the best arm we've seen at Baylor. Mike's also a worker. He's played freshman ball and he's spent a red-shirt year studying Trull." If Marshall (6 feet 1, 190) is not immediately a splendid passerin the Baylortradition, he will at least be a busy one, because Bridgers is going to have a passing team regardless, something that classifies Bridgers as a rebel in the Southwest Conference. Marshall likes the system. He says, in fact, "I like to run [10.1 in the 100] but we'll use the run to set up our passing." "Did he say that?" says Assistant Coach Chuck Purvis. "Oh, that's lovely." While Mike Marshall will be the SWC's Sophomore of the Year, others well worth observing will be SMU's Linebacker Billy Bob Stewart and Guard John LaGrone; Texas' elusive back, Jimmy Helms, and Tackle John Elliott; and Texas Tech End Joe Hurley.