Billy (Rooster) Andrews is a sort of cheerful footnote in the annals of college football. He was from the start the right size for a footnote, being slightly larger than Eddie Gaedel, the midget Bill Veeck once used to bat for the St. Louis Browns. Andrews had a fine physique, but there was only 4 feet 11 inches of it. Personable and popular, he was the University of Texas water boy and team manager from 1942 through 1946.
In his first appearance as a player he kicked two extra points against Texas Christian University in a 46-7 rout. But Texas rooters rejoiced to see a hop-o'-my-thumb rub salt in the wounds of the humiliating score. TCU was a hated team because it had ruined Texas' bid for a national championship in 1941. TCU Coach Dutch Meyer refused to shake hands with Dana X. Bible of Texas after the game.
What added to the absurd drama of Rooster's performance was that he drop-kicked his extra points.
A day came when Rooster was supposed to kick the ball and failed. It was in the Texas-Southern Methodist game of 1945, the first of the classic encounters between Quarterbacks Bobby Layne of Texas and Doak Walker of SMU. Rooster was Layne's roommate. All three were natives of Dallas, and during holidays and summer vacations they were nearly constant companions.
Rooster today is president of Austin's C & S Sporting Goods Co., one of the more prosperous in Texas. He earned his nickname in his second semester at Texas, the spring of 1942. Jack Crain and Buddy Jungmichel, the Longhorns' halfback and All-America guard, hauled him out of bed at midnight for a wild errand. They had a notion of entering a contestant in an illegal 2 a.m. cockfight at nearby Elgin, Texas, and they had discovered that the meanest rooster in Austin was perched in the live oak tree in front of the caretaker's house at Memorial Stadium. They had drafted Andrews to climb up and get him down.
Andrews put a flashlight in his back pocket and scooted up the tree to its highest branches, where three chickens were roosting, including the mean one. "Awright," yelled Crain from below, "now shine your light. That's him! The red one in the middle. Grab him!"
Andrews put away the flashlight, held onto the tree trunk with one arm and reached up for the rooster. "He just exploded," Andrews recalls. "He raked me from eyebrow to navel. I let go of everything but the rooster, and I must have hit every tree limb going down." The rooster got away, and Andrews had a broken arm. He was known as Rooster from then on.
In 1945 when Rooster went into the game against SMU, the score was 12-7 and Texas needed that 13th point. Layne had missed the kick after the first touchdown, and now he decided it was a fine time to repeat a play he and Rooster had worked the previous year against Oklahoma. Instead of kicking for the conversion, Rooster had passed to Layne in the left flat.
But when Texas came out against SMU, Doak Walker stationed himself in the left flat, grinned across at Andrews and made a passing motion with his right arm.
Opposing linemen took great care when rushing at Rooster not to step on him, fall on him or otherwise maim him. Their faces went blank with astonishment this time when Rooster cocked his arm to pass, and one large tackle zoomed past him before he could check his stride. Meanwhile, Layne was zigging, faking and zagging, trying to elude the knowing Walker. "Doak was sitting in his hip pocket," Rooster says, "so I just threw the ball in the other direction, hoping one of our guys would grab it." Nobody did.
Texas won anyway, 12-7, but that night Layne and Rooster could hardly wait to get with Walker and ask him how he had anticipated the play. "Don't you remember?" Walker said. "When we got together after last year's Oklahoma game you bragged all night about that pass. Besides, when I saw Rooster come out of the huddle with that big ear-splitting grin on his face, I knew he wasn't going to kick the ball."