Completing the journey

by Travis Normand
September 2, 2017
Updated: September 4, 2017

Today (September 2, 2017) I start the final leg of a journey I started almost 20 years ago. This grand slam, or superfecta, which can no longer be accomplished due to the loss of the Orange Bowl stadium and the non-use of the Cotton Bowl stadium, will be completed tomorrow when I attend the UCLA vs. Texas A&M football game in the original Rose Bowl stadium.

As many of you know, college football has four major bowl games which are traditionally the Sugar, Cotton, Orange, and Rose. Not only are these bowl games, but at one point in time they were all played in stadiums built for that purpose (or in stadiums that were named after the bowl game itself). In other words, the Cotton Bowl game was played in the Cotton Bowl stadium (as was the Orange and Rose Bowl).

The one exception to this rule is the Sugar Bowl game, as that was originally played in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl game has never had its own stadium (or otherwise stated, there has never been a stadium that was merely built for the purpose of hosting the Sugar Bowl game; and while Tulane Stadium was referred to as the Sugar Bowl, it was never officially named that).

However, when the sun rises over the San Gabriel Mountains on Monday morning, I will finally be able to say that I have seen A&M play in all three original historic bowl venues, as well as in the Sugar Bowl game.

Now, before you get too much further into what I have written, please take note (if you have not done so already), the distinction between the bowl game and the bowl stadium, as they are entirely two separate things. A perfect example is the Cotton Bowl. As you will read, I have seen the Aggies play in the Cotton Bowl game in the original Cotton Bowl stadium. However, for the purposes of this article, what is most important is having seen them play in the original historic stadium. I make this distinction because, for example, I may someday get a chance to see A&M play in an Orange Bowl game, however it will not be played in the original historic stadium as that is gone forever.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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).

 

 

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).

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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

John David Crow, Texas A&M Heisman winner, dies at 79

by Travis Normand

I had the pleasure of meeting John David Crow several times. He was a great man and will be sorely missed.

John David Crow, Texas A&M’s first Heisman winner, dies at 79

COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M’s first Heisman Trophy winner, John David Crow, has died at the age of 79, his family has confirmed. The cause of his death on Wednesday night has not been released.

Crow had lived in College Station after he retired from A&M’s athletics administration in 2001. According to A&M, “John David Crow passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife, Carolyn, and family. Services are pending and the family requests privacy at this time.”

For more: Chron.com