Texas A&M’s Historical 1976 Trifecta

by Travis Normand
June 13, 2017

A friend of mine (David Walker – who played QB at Texas A&M in the 1970s) is always pointing out interesting stats and facts from the years he played football at Texas A&M. The most recent stat that he brought to my attention is that the 1976 Texas Aggie football team is the only one to: (1) defeat the University of Texas in Austin, (2) win a bowl game, and (3) finish the season ranked in the top-10 (AP No. 7 and UPI No. 8).

Three other Aggie teams have come close to accomplishing this particular trifecta, but fell short due to no fault of their own. Those three teams were the 1939 (National Champions), the 1985 SWC Champions, and the 1987 SWC Champions. Each of these three teams (1) defeated the University of Texas at Kyle Field, (2) won their bowl game, and (3) finished the season ranked in the top-10. The only difference being that these three teams played the Longhorns at Kyle Field as opposed to playing them in Austin.

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1908 Missouri State Normal School

by Travis Normand
June 8, 2017

The original photo that I found and began researching.

A couple of years ago I found an old black and white photograph of what appeared to be a college, or maybe high school, football team. While finding an old football photo is nothing special, this photo had my maternal great-grandfather in it (James P. Fitch). I instantly recognized him but I had no idea what team or school the photo was of.

The only identifying information that was ascertainable from the photo itself was the word “Normals ’08,” that someone had written across the bottom of the photo. There was also the coach, who was standing behind his players, wearing a white sweater with a logo that I couldn’t quite make out. The logo appeared to include a “T”, a triangle, and an “S”, although I wasn’t entirely sure. It wasn’t a lot of information to go off of, but with that, I began my search for the source of this photo.

I knew a lot about my great-grandfather but for some reason I didn’t know where he had attended college. I started searching for Normal schools in states where he had lived as a young man. As you can imagine, this didn’t narrow my search very much as there were a lot of Normal schools in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

I also tried searching for the logo, but that didn’t yield any results either. This wasn’t too disappointing as I knew that even if I found the logo, it might not be for the same school that my great-grandfather had attended. After all, it is not like schools during this time period had Nike contracts for their athletic apparel, and the coach’s sweater could have been from another school (or anywhere else for that matter). In other words, there was a very real possibility that the logo had nothing to do with this particular school or team.

I continued searching and put in an inquiry with a college football historical research group that I am a member of, but that turned up very little information. Everywhere I looked, I found another dead-end, and I was having a difficult time figuring out what school this photo was of. After a lot of searching, the only information I had was that my great-grandfather was in the photo, it was a “Normal” school, and the year was 1908. I started to think that I would never figure out what school my great-grandfather had attended. My biggest fear was that the school was a small college, located in the middle of nowhere, that had long since demised without a trace, and thus there was little chance that I would ever learn of its existence.

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Texas A&M is 4-0 versus John Heisman

Portrait of John Heisman in his mid-fifties at Rice University (1925)

by Travis Normand
June 5, 2017

An interesting footnote in the history of Texas A&M football is that Texas A&M is 4-0 against legendary coach John Heisman. Heisman coached at several different schools throughout his career including stops at Auburn, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. However, Heisman’s last football coaching job was in Houston, Texas at what is known today as Rice University.

Heisman became Rice’s first full-time football coach and coached at Rice for four seasons (1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927). His four-year record at Rice was 14-18-3 overall and 4-11-1 against the Southwest Conference (SWC).

While Heisman did not have a lot of success at Rice, the only team that he faced at least four times and was unable to defeat during his tenure at Rice was Texas A&M. However, to be fair, A&M’s football squads were pretty good during this four-year span and won the SWC Championship in 1925 and 1927 (Heisman’s second and fourth seasons at Rice). A&M was also led by coach Dana X. Bible.

Here is a quick review of the four match-ups between A&M and Rice during Heisman’s four years at Rice:

  • 1924: Aggies defeated Rice 13-6 on November 14th* in College Station, Texas;
  • 1925: Aggies defeated Rice 17-0 on November 14th in Houston, Texas;
  • 1926: Aggies defeated Rice 20-0 on November 12th in College Station, Texas; and
  • 1927: Aggies defeated Rice 14-0 on November 11th in Houston, Texas.

A&M prevented Rice from scoring in three of the four games that featured Heisman as Rice’s head coach. In 1924, the one game where Heisman’s team was able to score any points against Texas A&M was one in which Rice entered the contest 2-0 in SWC play (only to finish 2-2).

During his four seasons at Rice, Heisman’s Owls were not able to beat a single SWC Champion (1924-Baylor, 1925-Texas A&M, 1926-SMU, and 1927-Texas A&M). Besides Texas A&M, the only other teams that Rice played at least once during each of these four seasons (or at least four times) were Sam Houston State, Southwestern, Texas University, and Baylor. Of these four other teams, none of them were able to sweep John Heisman and his Rice Owls four consecutive times.

Heisman left Rice after the 1927 season and later became the director of the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, which named its annual college football award after him.

Note: 

* The date listed in the 2006 Rice Owl’s Football Media Guide for the 1924 game versus Texas A&M is Saturday, November 15th (see page 167); however, the official Texas A&M football website (12thMan.com) and the 1925 Long Horn yearbook (Texas A&M) lists the date of the game as having been played on November 14th (see page 214).

 

 

Baylor . . .

by Travis Normand
May 22, 2017

Well, it appears that after months of scandal, everything at Baylor is going to be alright and that things are really looking up for the Bears … wait … wait … no, never mind, everything is on fire!

“Lawsuit: Baylor football players recorded gang rapes
ABCnews.com
by Jim Vertuno, AP Sports Writer
Austin, Texas – May 17, 2017

A new federal lawsuit against Baylor University alleges football players routinely recorded gang rapes and staged dog fights during hazing parties in a program that fostered sexual violence.” (Link)

I really hope that Jane Doe (lawsuit petitioner that was allegedly gang raped by members of the Baylor football team) doesn’t run into Kim Mulkey, Women’s Head Basketball Coach at Baylor. Remember what Mulkey said you should do to those who are skeptical of their daughter’s safety at Baylor? Lets review her comments from February 2017 when she addressed a home crowd in Waco after a game (emphasis added):

“If somebody around you and they ever say, ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you knock them right in the face,” Mulkey told fans to applause and cheers. “Because these kids are on this campus. I work here. My daughter went to school here, and it’s the damn best school in America.” (LINK)

I don’t know if the Jane Does of Baylor University should be more scared of the Baylor football team, the women’s basketball coach, the home crowd of Baylor fans that cheered Mulkey’s comments, or the fans who started the #CAB movement during the 2016 football season in support of Art Briles.

Regardless, with a University culture this toxic, I would imagine it would be best for all potential Jane Does to get out of Waco/Baylor while they still can!

Here are a few other links to stories regarding the newly filed lawsuit:

  1. New Lawsuit Alleges Baylor Players Gang-Raped Women As ‘Bonding Experience’ (NPR.org)
  2. New Baylor Lawsuit Alleges Football Players Held Gang-Rape Initiations, Dog Fights (DallasObserver.com)
  3. Baylor volleyball player files civil lawsuit: ‘It’s still a pretty traumatic event for her’ (WFAA.com)

The following are links to the petition that was filed on May 16, 2017 in the US District Court, Western District of Texas, Waco Division, styled Jane Doe vs. Baylor University, Case 6:17-cv-00125-RP (each link is to the same document).

  1. https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=3726009-Doe-v-Baylor
  2. http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BaylorRape2.pdf

Again, is anyone surprised by all of this? This is, after all, the same school that had the Dave Bliss scandal about fourteen years ago. While these actions may be considered unimaginable to the rest of the world, it is not a foreign concept to Baylor University.

As a side note, in case you are curious what Dave Bliss is up to these days, he apparently resigned his position as head basketball coach at Southwestern Christian University back in April 2017. I know what you are thinking, “there is a school that hired Bliss to coach their basketball team?”

Chicago vs. Michigan Rivalry

by Travis Normand
May 15, 2017

I recently stumbled upon an amazing Wikipedia page that is dedicated to the history of the football rivalry between the University of Chicago (Maroons) and the University of Michigan (Wolverines). If you enjoy the history of college football, I would highly recommend this abbreviated historical overview. You can visit the page by clicking HERE.

In the early 1900s, the rivalry between Chicago and Michigan was fierce and included legendary coaches Amos Alonzo Stagg and Fielding H. Yost. The rivalry was so important that Michigan’s 1898 victory over Chicago served as the spark for Michigan’s fight song (this victory inspired Michigan student Louis Elbel to write “The Victors“).

However, the 1905 game, and the tragic events that followed, remind me of the quote by UCLA’s head football coach, Henry Russell Sanders, who said “[I]t’s not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that!”

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12th Man Copyright Lawsuit against Texas A&M

by Travis Normand
January 23, 2017

I first saw this reported by the SETexasRecord.com, but I have since seen it reported by several other media outlets as well.

A book publisher and author, Michael Bynum, (Plaintiffs) have sued the Texas A&M Athletic Department, the 12th Man Foundation, and others, (Defendants) in federal court for what appears to be a claim of copyright infringement. The lawsuit was filed on January 19, 2017.

The Plaintiffs claim that Defendants stole the author’s unpublished biography of E. King Gill, and “copied and distributed it as if it was their own” (see lawsuit paragraph 1). For those who may not be aware, E. King Gill was the student behind Texas A&M’s famous 12th Man tradition.

Texas A&M has been involved in several lawsuits over the years in order to protect their federal 12th Man trademark. The most prominent of these lawsuits involved the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.

In this current lawsuit, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants had received a PDF copy of Bynum’s unpublished book for the limited purpose of fact-checking, locating additional photos, and an option to purchase copies for former students. The lawsuit goes on to allege that one particular Defendant retyped the biography, changed its title, and deleted Bynum’s name before republishing the material (see lawsuit paragraph 4, etc.).

Plaintiffs claim that by “unlawfully copying and publishing the heart of Bynums work . . . Defendants destroyed Plaintiffs’ prospects for a successful print run, and the . . . book remains unpublished to this day” (see lawsuit paragraph 5).

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Texas, Federal Court, Houston Texas as Case No. 4:17-CV-0181.  Plaintiffs’ original complaint can been seen below.

Bynum v. Texas A&M Univ. Athletic Dept., 17-cv-00181 (S.D. Tex.)

 

Other information regarding this case:

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Natalie L. Arbaugh (is now apparently with a different law firm from when the case was filed).

1934 Rose Bowl Trophy

by Travis Normand
January 17, 2017

This is my first re-posting of an old “College Football Independent” post. It was originally posted on that blog on December 29, 2008.

1934 Rose Bowl Trophy (on eBay)
December 29, 2008

1934 Stanford Rose Bowl Trophy

1934 Stanford Rose Bowl Trophy

While looking on ebay.com I came across the 1934 Rose Bowl Trophy! The seller is asking $9,999 for it and it will be interesting to see if anyone actually buys it. This is a great item for any private collection, but $10K is a big price tag.

I have no idea if this trophy sold or not, but the auction’s description said that the trophy belonged to Stanford. Stanford lost the 1934 Rose Bowl game to Columbia and so I imagine this is some kind of participation trophy for having been invited to play in the Rose Bowl (which is an honor, in and of itself).