April 23, 2014
Football - Texas Style: An Illustrated History of the Southwest Conference, Kern Tips (1964)
To set the stage for the events of 1917, it was the negotiated truce between Texas and Texas A&M that was basic to the founding of the Southwest Conference two years earlier. When Charley Moran and A&M parted company, the Aggies brought in Billy Driver as athletic director; he is turn engaged E. H. Harlan, formerly of Princeton, to coach the 1915 team. The following year, Driver imported a promising young coach from Mississippi College, named Dana X. Bible, to coach the 1916 A&M freshman team.
That was quite a squad of fish (Aggie word for freshman); it defeated the varsity regularly under its youthful coach (Mr. Bible was twenty-four). But he was not to finish his first season at College Station. L.S.U. was in difficulty; it asked A&M's permission to hire Bible as its head coach to finish out the 1916 season, and A&M consented. Bible led the L.S.U. team to a glorious finish, tying Rice and Tulane, defeating, of all people the Texas Aggies, and others. When the 1916 season ended, L.S.U. offered Mr. Bible a new had coach contract; so, wisely, did Texas A&M.
"I felt a moral obligation to A&M," says Mr. Bible. "They had consented to let me go to help out at L.S.U.; now they wanted me back. I was delighted and honored to return to A&M as its head coach." ...
The 1917 Aggies were undefeated, untied, and unscored on; Bible, as a pursuit pilot, and most of his 1917 squad served in World War I in 1918, and were reunited in 1919. Again in 1919, the Farmers went undefeated, untied, and unscored on - a mesmeric sort of invincibility that ... generated a fierce esprit de corps that has lingered as a hallmark of the college through the years. ...
Texas A&M defeats Texas at College Station, 1919.
Bible's 1916 freshmen ... swung through eight games in 1917, ten games in 1919, and nine games in 1920, undefeated and unscored on until the final game of the 1920 season in Austin on Thanksgiving Day against the University of Texas - and WHAM, it happened. A Bible-coached A&M varsity was scored on for the first time; the score: Texas 7, Aggies 3. It happened late in the final period, with A&M leading 3-0 ...
Twenty thousand - largest crowd ever to watch a game in the Southwest - roared as Texas moved to the A&M eleven-yard line with time growing short; twice Texas hit the line and was stopped; and then on third down - here's how a reporter saw it: "There was a criss-cross pass that electrified the Texas rooters. Swede Swenson snapped the ball to Domingues; he started to his right and handed the ball to Barry circling on a reverse; running to his left, Barry threw a forward pass to Tom Dennis [Texas's great RT who had been made eligible ... by the peel-off of the RE before the snap] - a throw across the field that Dennis caught, leaping and falling, with one hand on the four-yard line. Domingues ploughed over for the touchdown; Hart added the extra point."
And Texas had won a ball game to rupture A&M's greatest winning string.
The statistics of the game are interesting by-products of coaching method. Roswell Higginbotham ... punted ten times - many of them on first down - for an average of forty-nine yards; the Aggies threw just one pass, and it was intercepted. Texas was less cautious, throwing eight passes, completing five, including the key criss-cross to Dennis late in the game; Dennis, also Texas's punter, kicked nine times for a 41y average.
... the victory gave the Longhorns their first official Southwest Conference championship, undefeated and untied, in the first year under Coach Berry Whitaker. ... That 1920 championship team included such all-time Longhorn stalwarts as Captain Maxey Hart, Hook McCullough, Tom Dennis, Swede Swenson, Grady (Rats) Watson, Lane Tynes, Bud McCallum, and Kyle (Slippery) Elam. ...
1917 Texas Aggies
Kyle Elam is in the upper left corner.
If you look closely at the Aggies' team picture of 1917, you will spot K. Elam - a rather slight lad who played safety for Bible's first undefeated ... team; and had it not been for Kyle Elam on one play in one game in 1917, there may have been no record to become part of the hallowed years. It was Elam who, in the 1917 game against Baylor and playing safety, stood alone between a receiver who had caught a pass and the Aggie goal line; Elam shifted, ran, spun, maneuvered, and made a flying tackle to cut off a Baylor touchdown. The Aggies won the game 7-0 ...
1920 Texas Longhorns
The arrow points to Kyle Elam is in the upper left corner.
If you look closely at the Texas team picture of 1920, you will spot K. Elam - the same, now a Longhorn; Slippery Elam, now the starting quarterback for the Texas team that dynamited the big Aggie train on Thanksgiving Day of 1920 and ended the A&M string he had helped to create in 1917. It is credited to Elam that he called the "criss-cross" pass that uncovered Tom Dennis for the backbreaking play that set up the winning touchdown for Texas.
If this seems a little offbeat, you are reminded of the times. The eligibility honeymoon of the new Southwest Conference was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I; the Conference wisely ordered the suspension of the rules governing the eligibility of the men who went to war.