The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 300
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
even that story must be preceded by the history of collegiate football
in the state of Texas.
The first recorded intercollegiate game in the state took place in
Austin in 1894, when, in preparation for an impending contest with
Tulane, Texas beat a hastily thrown-together scrub team from Texas
Agricultural and Mechanical College by a 34-0 score. Intercollegiate
football had been played in other parts of America for a quarter of a
century before it came to Texas. The strongest teams came from the
East and Middle West, and, occasionally, a southern or a western team
showed merit; but Texas and the Southwest were generally dismissed
as football deserts. All of that changed in 1922, when an inspired team
from Texas A&M defeated a highly favored Centre College team, 22-
14, in Dallas in the Dixie Classic, a forerunner of the Cotton Bowl.
The sports pages of American newspapers reported the stunning
upset: "Praying Colonels Are Beaten by Lowly Texas Aggies," read
the unbelievable headlines of the Los Angeles Times. That victory was
probably the most important one for the Southwest Conference since
its organization in 1914, for, literally overnight, its strength was un-
deniable. Evidence of its new stature came from the foremost Ameri-
can sports authority, Walter Camp, who, along, with Caspar Whitney,
produced the only generally accepted compilations of all-Americans
and national team-rankings. Camp wrote, "now we have reached a
situation where a first-class and winning team might be developed in
any section of the country." The very next year Camp placed W. D.
Johnson, a guard from Texas A&M, on his All-American third team.3
It was in the 193os, however, that teams from the state of Texas
made the big time. Southern Methodist, with its sparkling halfback,
Bobby Wilson, Texas Christian, with its passing wizards, Sammy
Baugh and Davey O'Brien, and Texas A&8M under Coach Homer Nor-
ton with its physically impressive teams that would, in time, include
the power runner John Kimbrough, were in the vanguard of truly
national recognition. SMU even went to the Rose Bowl, at the time
the most prestigious of all postseason games. The year 1934 probably
was the turning point. In that season, SMU defeated Fordham; Rice
toppled Purdue; and even Texas, not yet regarded as a power, squeezed
by Notre Dame, 7-6, in South Bend.4
3John D. Forsyth, The Aggies and the Horns (Austin, 1981), 2; E. J. Howell and Karl
Opryshek, Southern Champions: A Football Treasure (n p., n.d.), 22-24 (first quotation),
2o1 (second quotation); James W. Pohl, "Sports in Texas," Ben Procter and Archie P.
McDonald (eds.), The Texas Heritage (St. Louis, 198o), 201.
4Pohl, "Sports in Texas," 20o2.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/336/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.