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.
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).