2016 Texas A&M vs. Alabama: The history and connections between the schools

by Travis Normand
October 19, 2016

[If this post reads like a Facebook fan posting, that is because it is.  I originally posted this on Facebook as a fun informational type of fan post.  However, due to the response I got, I figured I would share it here as well.  I have modified it slightly from the original Facebook post.]

In honor of this weekend’s game between No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama, I am posting some random facts that connect the two schools together. Plus, I made a similar post before the A&M vs. Tennessee game, and we saw how that ended up.

One of the most obvious connections between Texas A&M and Alabama is that of famed Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who was the head football coach at Texas A&M from 1954 to 1957.  Bryant attended Alabama where he played football from 1933 to 1935.

Bryant’s 1954 season was his first at A&M. He started the ’54 season with a training camp in Junction, Texas. The camp was extremely tough and the players from that camp were given the nickname of the “Junction Boys.” Bryant’s first A&M squad finished 1-9 in 1954, while his 1956 squad won the Southwest Conference (SWC) Championship.

In 1957, Texas A&M running back John David Crow won the Heisman Trophy and became the first and only player to win the award while playing for coach Bryant. John David Crow would end up coaching at Alabama from 1969 to 1971 under Bear Bryant before returning to A&M as an athletic director.

At the end of the 1957 season, Bryant left A&M to become the head coach at Alabama. Bryant’s final game at A&M was a loss in the 1957 Gator Bowl to Tennessee.

A&M and Alabama first met on the gridiron at the end of the 1941 season. The Aggies were SWC champions but lost to Alabama, 29-21 in the Cotton Bowl.

The Aggies and Crimson Tide would not play again until the January 1968 Cotton Bowl (at the end of the 1967 season). The Aggies were SWC champions again and were able to even the series with Alabama at 1-1.

The 1968 Cotton Bowl featured a significant connection between the schools, other than the Aggie victory.  Bear Bryant was the head coach of Alabama, while Gene Stallings was the head coach of A&M. Stallings had been a player at A&M under coach Bryant and was one of the “Junction Boys.” After playing football at A&M, Stallings had been a defensive assistant under Bryant at Alabama from 1958-1964. However, in 1965 Stallings returned to A&M as head coach of the Aggies, where he eventually defeated his mentor in the 1968 Cotton Bowl.

Gene Stallings and Bear Bryant, 1968 Cotton Bowl

Gene Stallings and Bear Bryant, 1968 Cotton Bowl

At the conclusion of the game, Stallings’ Aggies had defeated Bryant’s Crimson Tide 20-16. The coaches met at mid-field, and in what can be described as a truly proud moment, Bryant hoisted Stallings onto his shoulder and carried him off the field.

Stallings later returned to Alabama as head coach in 1990 and won the first SEC championship game (and thus an SEC championship), as well as a National Championship, in 1992.  In doing so, Stallings became the second member of Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students to win a conference and national title at a school that is currently a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) (Robert Neyland was the first at Tennessee).

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Kirk Herbstreit calls Austin a ‘cesspool’

by Travis Normand

During ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast on October 8, 2016, Kirk Herbstreit was extremely critical of the University of Texas’ treatment of head coach Charlie Strong. Herbstreit went so far as to call Austin a cesspool and said that Coach Strong should be relieved to be released from the situation.

Direct link to the video at ESPN.com: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=17744439


2016 Texas A&M vs. Tennessee; The history and connections between the schools

by Travis Normand
October 7, 2016

[If this post reads like a Facebook fan posting, that is because it is.  I originally posted this on Facebook as a fun informational type of fan post.  However, due to the response I got, I figured I would share it here as well.  I have modified it slightly from the original Facebook post.]

In honor of this weekend’s game between #8 Texas A&M and #9 Tennessee, I am posting some random facts that connect the two schools together (regardless of how much of a stretch some of these facts may be).

I should start by mentioning that General Robert Reese Neyland Jr. (famed Tennessee coach and stadium namesake) is an Aggie and is listed as a member of the Association of Former Students.

Neyland played football at Texas A&M for head coach Charlie Moran (who played on the 1897 Tennessee football team). According to the 1911 Longhorn (Texas A&M yearbook) Neyland was a member of the 1910-1911 Texas Aggie football squad and was listed among the freshman class.

On what appears to be page 222 (the page is not actually numbered) of the yearbook, in the last paragraph, it gives credit to the substitutes “for the important part they played in producing the champions of Texas.”  Among the substitutes mentioned is “Neyland.”  The 1910 Texas A&M football team was known (at the time) as the Champions of Texas due to the fact that they went 8-1, defeating every Texas team they played (with their only loss being to Arkansas).

Neyland left A&M after receiving an appointment to West Point in 1912.  He was appointed by Congressman Sam Rayburn, and graduated from West Point in 1916. Neyland won a national title while playing on the 1914 Army football team.

Later, while working as an assistant football coach at West Point in the early 1920’s, Neyland got help from his former A&M football coach Charlie Moran. Moran (a former Tennessee football player) helped Gen. Neyland land his next coaching job which happened to be at Tennessee.

In 1939, Neyland was the head coach of the Vols and Tennessee went undefeated and un-scored upon in the regular season. In fact, Tennessee outscored their opposition 212-0. I believe that Tennessee is the last major college football program to shut out every regular season opponent.

1939 was also the year that Texas A&M won the AP National Title. A&M won their title despite Tennessee’s accomplishment of shutting out every opponent that very same season.

However, it may be the Tennessee Volunteers who got the last laugh in 1939. The Vols finished the regular season (pre-Bowl game) ranked #2 (behind #1 A&M). While #1 A&M defeated #5 Tulane in the Sugar Bowl, the #2 Vols played and lost to #3 USC in the Rose Bowl. This loss to USC prompted the Dickinson Ranking System to award their 1939 national title to USC instead of A&M, and thus technically A&M “shares” the 1939 title with USC (thanks to Tennessee).

Like Tennessee’s 1939 team, Texas A&M was also undefeated and un-scored upon in 1917 and 1919. The Aggie head coach during those seasons was Dana X. Bible (a Tennessee native). Bible was also the coach at A&M in 1921-1922 when the Aggies defeated Centre College. Centre’s head coach at that time was none other than Charlie Moran.

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100 Years ago today, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland, 222-0

by Travis Normand
October 7, 2016

[Updated on October 9, 2016 to include several items that were not yet released on October 7, 2016]

Today, Friday, October 7, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s crushing defeat of Cumberland College, 222-0, in 1916.  Check out the following links, photos, and videos to learn more about this incredible game.

[1] 100 years ago: Georgia Tech’s 222-0 victory, by Michael Freer, ESPN Stats & Information, Oct 7, 2016:

Georgia Tech scored at least 42 points in every quarter (63, 63, 54 and 42).

The Yellow Jackets scored 32 touchdowns, and Cumberland committed 15 turnovers (nine fumbles lost, six interceptions).

Georgia Tech ran a relatively low 29 offensive plays, all rushes, for 501 total yards (17.3 yards per play). Cumberland finished with negative-28 total yards.

Cumberland did not gain a first down. Georgia Tech had 20.

[2] John Heisman orchestrates Georgia Tech’s 222-0 victory a century ago; a short video/film by ESPN:  http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=17741583

[3] Random Research: Cumberland Football, by Travis Normand at OnePointSafety.com: https://onepointsafety.com/2014/09/18/random-research-cumberland-football

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Teams that won’t live up to the hype in 2016

by Travis Normand

(Originally posted on September 1, 2016 – Updated on September 7, 2016, and again on October 7, 2016)

Before the start of every season I try to sort through the pre-season hype and pick a few teams that are receiving so much undeserved excitement that there is no way they can live up to it. Here are my 2016 selections.  For the sake of these teams, I hope I am wrong.

  1. Michigan:  Do people really have them picked to make the CFP Playoff?  I will believe it when I see it.  I think Harbaugh will get things working for the Wolverines, but I need to see “something” tangible before I start claiming that they are about to win a national title.
  2. Tennessee: I put Tennessee on this list before their first game of the 2016 season, and then they almost lost to Appalachian State (and needed OT to secure the victory . . . at home).
  3. Washington: Coach Chris Petersen is probably the right guy for Washington and 2016 is a great time for Washington to finally get their feet under them (The Pac-12 North is primed for a Washington “rising” as Oregon is not as great as they have been recently and Stanford is good but is also looking for a new QB).  However, the amount of hype surrounding their 2016 season is a little too much for them to live up too.

UPDATE 1 (October 7, 2016):  So far, I have been wrong on all three of these teams!  I can admit when I am wrong.  However, there is still time for these teams to fall apart this season; not that I am rooting for that.

I think Washington will be fine as they look better than I expected and the rest of their schedule isn’t too “crazy.”  Now that they have (easily) gotten past Stanford, there is no reason that Washington can’t make it to the Pac-12 title game, and possibly further.  Side note: Despite being wrong in thinking that Washington wouldn’t live up to the hype in 2016, I actually got the rest of this projection right.  Go back and re-read my original post on Washington (above).  This is the perfect year in the Pac-12 for a Washington rising, Oregon is clearly not as good as they have been recently, and while Stanford is good, Washington was able to make short-work of them.

Michigan is also looking better than expected.  The Wolverines still have to get past Ohio State in order to get to the Big 10 title game, but even if they don’t, I would still say that this has been a great season for Michigan. Although, technically, falling short of the Big 10 title game would be considered “not living up to the hype” considering how many prognosticators had them making the CFB Playoff.

If the jury is still out on any of these teams, I would say it is still out on Tennessee.  They have managed to win each of their games so far, but each victory has been quite a chore for the Vols.  While I can see that they are a much improved team (compared to recent history), they are also living on the edge and have flirted with losing every game.  I don’t feel like they can sustain this kind of momentum for an entire season and their great run of victories is sure to run out sooner or later.  However, having said that, regardless of how the Vols end up, I think this has been, and will continue to be, a great season for them.  

UPDATE 2 (Coming Soon):   

Baylor’s troubles

by Travis Normand

Amid all the discussions, commentary, and reporting concerning Baylor’s sexual assault scandal, I have heard some say that they are shocked that something like this could happen at Baylor.

For this reason I feel it is necessary to remind others (and inform those who may not know) that Baylor is the same school that is only about 13 years removed from the “Dave Bliss scandal.”

You can read a fairly decent synopsis of the “Dave Bliss scandal” HERE.