Stallings was one of the famous Texas A&M “Junction Boys” who survived that ordeal and, almost fourteen years later, coached his A&M team to an upset win in the 1968 Cotton Bowl against his mentor’s Alabama Crimson Tide.
I’ve already written about several books having to do with Texas football in the last few weeks, and here are four more new ones worth reading–two for Texas Longhorn fans, two for Texas Aggie fans.
One of the greatest Southwest Conference football games ever played was the Big Shootout between the two top-ranked college teams in the country–Darrell Royal’s No. 1 Texas Longhorns vs. Frank Broyles’s No. 2 Arkansas Razorbacks–in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on December 6, 1969–fifty years ago, often referred to as “the game of the century.”
From extensive interviews and research, Midland author Mark McDonald has published Beyond the Big Shootout: 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons (Dust Devil Publishing, $29 hardcover), an oversized 11 x 9-inch volume filled with stories leading up to the game, the exciting game itself, the aftermath, and its lasting impact fifty years later. Even though most SWC schools had fielded teams with black players by 1969, neither Texas nor Arkansas had a single black player on varsity that year. Both teams integrated the next season.
Author McDonald will be featured at a book signing from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, November 2, at Texas Star Trading Company in downtown Abilene.
Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact by Asher Price (University of Texas Press, $27.95 hardcover) is a biography of Texas’s most famous and feared running back. Campbell led his Tyler high school team to a state championship, won the Heisman Trophy and All-America honors with the Texas Longhorns, and starred for the Houston Oilers under coach Bum Phillips. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
Price’s insightful biography is divided into three sections covering Campbell’s football career–Tyler, Austin, and Houston–and an epilogue that deals with his debilitating physical pain resulting from those football years.
Bebes and the Bear by Ron J. Jackson Jr. (Texas A&M University Press, $24.95 hardcover) tells the story of two respected and successful football coaches who had a profound and lasting friendship throughout their lives–Bear Bryant and Gene “Bebes” Stallings. Their relationship began on the rocky fields of Junction, Texas, in the summer of 1954. Stallings was one of the famous Texas A&M “Junction Boys” who survived that ordeal and, almost fourteen years later, coached his A&M team to an upset win in the 1968 Cotton Bowl against his mentor’s Alabama Crimson Tide.
The classic photo of Bryant hoisting Stallings into the air at midfield after the game is, appropriately, featured on the book’s cover.
Jack Kovar, who was A&M’s sophomore starting center on that Cotton Bowl team, tells about playing for Stallings in Make Something Happen: A True Story Where Destiny and Driven Purpose Unite, written with wife Christy Kovar (Trilogy Christian Publishers, $12.99 paperback).
Kovar gives his inspiring first-person account of A&M’s 1967 championship season, the 1968 Cotton Bowl game, the two disappointing seasons that followed, and winning the Aggie Heart Award his senior year.