Surely one of the most popular Texas books of the year is going to be Dave Campbell’s Favorite Texas Football Stories (Texas A&M University Press, $38 hardcover).
Campbell, a Texas sports legend at 93 who launched his Texas Football magazine in 1960, has put together a collection of stories, columns, interviews and reflections covering the best games from the old Southwest Conference, the Big 12 and on into this decade. Campbell also was sports editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald from 1953 to 1993.
Anyone who grew up following Southwest Conference football will find plenty of good reading here.
Campbell begins his survey with games from the 1950s, including the 1954 Rice-Alabama Cotton Bowl game in which an Alabama player stepped off the bench to tackle Rice’s Dicky Moegle at midfield as he was en route to a 95-yard touchdown. It’s one of the most famous, or infamous, scenes in college football lore. I remember listening to Kern Tips describe the action on the radio.
Campbell goes into depth discussing Texas A&M’s Bear Bryant and the 1956 A&M–TCU game played at College Station in hurricane-force winds, a 7-6 Aggie upset that Bryant said he would never forget.
The 1960s brought Texas and Arkansas to the pinnacle of SWC and national football power, culminating in the “best football game I ever saw,” says Campbell, when No. 1 Texas edged No. 2 Arkansas in Fayetteville 15-14 in 1969.
Baylor’s remarkable upset of Texas en route to the 1974 SWC championship is one of the top stories in the section on the 1970s. But that decade also included Darrell Royal’s last game at UT in 1976, the University of Houston’s rise to prominence under coach Bill Yeoman,and Earl Campbell winning the Heisman Trophy in 1977.
Throughout the book, Campbell includes special tributes to some of the top coaches he covered, including Bryant, Royal, Yeoman, Baylor’s Grant Teaff, TCU’s Abe Martin and A&M’s Gene Stallings and R.C. Slocum.
The stories are accompanied by more than 170 photographs and numerous Texas Football magazine covers.
Campbell reflects on his more than 60 years watching Texas football.
“I still get excited when the calendar starts to turn toward late summer and early fall — the time when two-a-days start on the practice field all across Texas. I catch the sound of marching bands rehearsing, I get a feeling of anticipation. I know, like everybody else, that football season is about to start, and I can hardly wait.”
Well, this year, you don’t have to wait until fall. Pick up Dave Campbell’s Favorite Texas College Football Stories and enjoy the action — and savor the memories.