Golden Football Magazine
Memorable Game Article
1947 Texas - Oklahoma
Some games are memorable because a championship is at stake. Some are memorable for the great plays, players, or coaches involved. This game had great players and coaches but also had:
  • A touchdown scored on a play that started after the clock showed 0:00 at the end of the first half and no penalty was called on the previous play.
  • Multiple delays because of bottles thrown on the field by spectators.
  • A police car racing to the middle of the field as soon as the game ended to rescue the officials from enraged fans.
  • Talk afterward of ending one of the nation's oldest rivalries.
The universities of Texas and Oklahoma began meeting each other on the gridiron in 1900, when Oklahoma was still a U.S. territory. The game was immediately labeled the Red River Shootout. After alternating venues between the two states, the game was permanently moved in 1929 to Dallas, which is almost exactly halfway between Norman OK and Austin TX.

The 1947 Shootout featured new head coaches on both sidelines.

  • Bud Wilkinson came to Norman when Oklahoma hired "Big Jim" Tatum for the 1946 season after the resignation of Dewey Luster, who had kept the program going during World War II.
  • Tatum met Wilkinson when they both served as assistant coaches for the highly successful Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks football team in 1943.
  • When Jim came to Norman for his interview with the Board of Regents, he brought with him a fellow assistant from the Seahawkswho had "one of the best coaching minds I've ever seen." Roughhewn Tatum wanted the smooth, loquacious Wilkinson to do most of the talking.
  • When the interview finished, the regents were more impressed with Bud than Jim but felt obligated to offer the job to Tatum. So they did with the stipulation that Wilkinson must come with him.
    Tatum started his tenure in Norman by bringing in literally hundreds of players for spring practice. Jim remembered 300 players forming a circle that "was so damn big, you could hardly see the other side of it."
  • The new coach led the 1946 Sooners to an 8-3 record, including a 34-13 victory over North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl. OU led the nation in total defense.
  • But Tatum, who paid players in cash, overspent his budget by $60,000 and got the AD fired.
  • Knowing he didn't have the support of OU President Dr. George Cross, Tatum found a new home for 1947. Maryland's 32-year-old coach, Bear Bryant, clashed with his president also and departed for Kentucky after just one season.
  • The OU Regents wasted no time promoting the man they wanted in the first place, Bud Wilkinson.

Blair Cherry also moved up from an assistant's position to take over the head position when the legendary Dana X. Bible retired after the '46 season.

  • Bible, who also served as AD, had groomed Cherry to be his replacement for nine years.
  • Blair's first major decision was to switch the Longhorn offense from the single-wing to the increasingly popular T formation.
  • He had just the man to pilot the new offense from under C. Senior Bobby Layne had led the pass-happy Southwest Conference in passing yards, which automatically made him one of the best flingers in the nation.
    Cherry and Layne spent several weeks in the summer of 1947 at the training camps of the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals studying the T formation.

Both teams entered the '47 Shootout undefeated against non-conference opponents.

  • Oklahoma of the Big Six Conference defeated Detroit 24-20 in the Motor City, then downed Texas A&M in Norman 26-14.
    Oklahoma's rivals in the Big Six were Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Nebraska. Colorado and Oklahoma State would later join them to form the Big Eight that lasted until 1994.
  • The Longhorns of the Southwest Conference dominated all three opponents: Texas Tech 33-0, Oregon on the road 38-13, and North Carolina at home 34-0.
  • UT earned the #3 spot in the first AP ranking of the season, right behind Notre Dame and Michigan. Oklahoma stood at #15.


Jim Tatum


Blair Cherry and Bud Wilkinson


Bobby Layne

The 41st annual battle sold out six weeks in advance.
  • The Cotton Bowl would be packed to its 47,000-seat capacity. Scalpers were pocketing as much as $25 per ticket.
  • Texas reporters looked to the game to clear up doubts about how good the Longhorns were. Wrote one: "The feeling is that if the Sooners are properly bowled over in this one, there will be little doubt that the first product of Blair Cherry as head coach is a genuine article."
  • Oklahoma's goal was obvious - beat Texas for the first time in eight years and only the 12th time in 41 meetings.
  • Bookmakers favored the Longhorns by as many as 14 points.
The QB duel promised excitement. Each cut a dashing figure and played with a flair that made teammates rally around them.
  • Texas signal-caller Bobby Layne had been selected to three straight All-Southwest Conference teams. He was able to play varsity as a freshmen because of special NCAA wartime rules.
    Layne even made all-conference his sophomore year despite missing the first six games while serving eight months in the Merchant Marines with his boyhood friend Doak Walker, the sensational HB at SMU.
  • Sooner QB Jack Mitchell had attended Texas in 1941 as a freshman where he was largely unnoticed. Like so many 1947 players, Jack resumed his college career at Oklahoma in 1946 after serving in the military. He was perfect for Wilkinson's split-T offense because he was excellent at running the option play. If the end stayed wide, Jack jetted upfield using the speed that allowed him to win races as a boy against older competitors. If the end crashed, Mitchell pitched to the HB who took it in stride around end. Jack had accounted for 325y in the Sooners' first two games.
    When Mitchell returned home to Arkansas City KS in March 2006 after fulfilling his military obligation, new OU coach Jim Tatum met him at the train depot and talked him into attending Oklahoma's spring practice. Jack started as a HB in the "mob" of recruits. But after a week, Wilkinson asked him to move to QB, explaining the primary ballcarrier in the split-T was the QB. "I never made it back to Texas," said Jack.

Jack Mitchell
Older players whose college careers had been interrupted or delayed by military service dotted each roster.
  • For example, 25-year-old Sooner E Jim Tyree lettered in 1941, '42, and '46. G Dee Andros, age 23, earned monograms in 1941 and '46.
  • For the Longhorns, 23-year-old E Max Bumgartner lettered in '42 and '46. G Joe Magliolo, a week short of his 25th birthday as he prepared for the Red River Shootout, lettered in 1942 and '43 before returning to the varsity for the '47 season.
    Magliolo's story is particularly interesting. He started at Texas in 1939 and, even though his parents didn't want him to play football, came out for spring practice from 1940-'42. He finally made the varsity for the 1942 season because so many players entered the military or transferred to schools that had military training programs that allowed them to play football. Playing blocking back in Bible's single wing offense, he became a co-captain for the '43 season and was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the 1944 NFL draft. But he spurned pro ball and went off to war, serving in the Navy for two years.

L-R: Jim Tyree, Dee Andros, Max Bumgardner, Jim Canady

Texas was a two-touchdown favorite to score their eighth straight victory in the series.

  • The speedy Longhorns had scored five TDs in each of their three previous games. OU assistant coach Dutch Fehring called Texas "the greatest collegiate team ever assembled" and predicted that if OU and TU both played well, "they will outscore us six touchdowns to two."
  • Oklahoma pegged its hopes on its running attack, whose success would allow the Sooners to milk the clock and keep Layne & Company off the field.
  • Even though the rules as relaxed during the war allowed free substitution, Wilkinson and his staff fielded a first unit and a second unit for both offense and defense.
    Future OU All-American lineman Jim Owens recalled: "We played both ways. You blocked as well as tackled. Bud substituted by units. Usually, midway through the first quarter, the second team came in to relieve the starters. ... By keeping our troops fresh, we were able to keep the ball longer and thus wear down the defense."
Dallas was in the grip of an emotional spasm Friday night as thousands upon thousands of visitors poured into town.
  • As the sun set Friday afternoon, Dallas police broke up log jams of traffic on downtown streets.
  • Tickets were being hawked for as much as $45. End-zone seats were going for $20 and $25. A squadron of police moved into the hotel lobbies to enforce the city's anti-scalping ordinance. One youth selling tickets for $10 each was arrested and fined $50.
  • In addition, a black market on hotel reservations was in operation with choice rooms going for as much as $75. To avoid the hubbub, the Longhorns spent the night in a Fort Worth hotel.
    Dignitaries in town for the event included, on the Oklahoma side, U.S. Senator Elmer Thomas, former Governor Robert Kerr, and university president Dr. George Cross. Among the prominent Texans was Governor Beauford Jester.
Starting Lineups
OKLAHOMA Pos. TEXAS
Jim Tyree Sr LE Max Bumgardner Sr
Homer Paine Jr LT Richard Harris Jr
Buddy Burris Jr LG Joe Magliolo Sr
John Rapacz Jr C Joel Williams Jr
Dee Andros Sr RG Dan Wolfe So
Wade Walker So RT Ed Kelley Jr
Robert Goad So RE Dale Schwartzkopf Jr
Jack Mitchell Jr QB Bobby Layne Sr
George Thomas So LH Byron Gillory Jr
Charles Sarratt Jr RH Randall Clay So
Edward Kreick Jr FB Tom Landry Jr

Action early in the game: White jerseys Texas, Dark Oklahoma
First half
  • The Sooners, surprising the Longhorns by employing an eight-man defensive line, stopped UT on their first possession. But after Oklahoma couldn't move on their turn with the ball, Texas got on the board on their second possession. Layne rifled a 39y pass that Jim Canady took over his shoulder with S Darrell Royal all over him at the OU 25. Several runs by Canady and a beautiful catch by Max Bumgardner on a short pass put the ball on the 13. From there, Byron Gillory took a Statue of Liberty handoff from Layne and skirted LE into the EZ. Frank Guess booted the PAT. Texas 7 Oklahoma 0

Byron Gillory takes the Statue of Liberty handoff from Bobby Layne for Texas's first TD.




L-R: Darrell Royal, Charles Sarratt, Frank Guess

  • Texas was right back in business on the first play after the kickoff when G Joe Magliolo picked up Mitchell's fumble on the OU 25. But the Longhorns went backward, and Landry punted over the goal.
    On the Texas sideline, Coach Blair Cherry sat during the game chewing on grass stems. Players said that Blair not only chewed the grass all during a game but also swallowed it.
  • Mitchell rebounded and led the Sooners 60y on his own thrusts plus those of Charlie Sarratt and George Brewer over Texas's left side. But two penalties, offsides and roughing, halted the march.
  • On their next possession, the Sooners picked up where they left off, going 47y in nine plays behind the same three backs. Mitchell ran it in from the 3. Royal booted the point to tie the score 7-7 with 3:45 left in the half.
  • In the final minutes, the Longhorns started a march from their 42. Behind Layne's timely passes and runs by Tom Landry, Canady, and Gillory, the Longhorns reached the 3 after a 22y pass from Layne to Landry, who lateralled to Gillory for the last 5y. Less than 30 seconds remained in the half.

    Referee Jack Sisco in background as Texas attacks the Oklahoma goal line
    Next came a series of plays that nearly produced a riot.
    --Randall Clay banged into the line but gained only a yard.
    --Clay tried again, and Referee Jack Sisco, head of the Southwest Conference officiating crew, threw his hands in the air signalling TD. However, when players were unpiled, it was obvious to everyone that Clay was short of the goal line. The clock ran out amid the confusion.
    --Texas claimed they asked for a timeout before 0:00. Sisco granted it. Confused, the clock operator put one second back on the clock. Oklahoma fans screamed that the half was over.
    Sisco explained afterward that a Texas player in the pileup - who turned out to be co-captain Bumgardner - had asked for time when the play ended, but he didn't respond because he thought Clay had scored. He said that the clock he had in his hand showed three seconds left when the request was made. In those days, officials didn't have microphones that allowed them to explain on the PA system what call was made and tell the clock operator how to reset the clock. With no idea why Texas was allowed to run another play, OU fans booed lustily.
    --Layne handed to Canady, but as Jim plunged into the line, he fumbled just before falling into the EZ. A Sooner grabbed for the pigskin, causing it to squirt backward. No less than three OU players seemed to have a shot at recovering, but Layne scooped up the ball and, too hemmed in to run himself, lateralled to Clay, who burst through the confused redshirts into the EZ. Frank Guess added the point. HALFTIME SCORE: TEXAS 14 OKLAHOMA 7
    The usually mild-mannered Wilkinson threw his fedora to the ground and stormed onto the field with members of his staff to berate referee Sisco. Wilkinson flattened a Longhorn marching band piccolo player en route. Wilkinson said later he was not upset about the extra play but instead was insisting that Layne's knee was on the ground when he picked up the fumble. Reportedly, two other officials thought Layne was down, but Sisco overruled them. Some say the game film showed that Layne's knee was on the ground. Others say you couldn't tell. When asked years later if his knee was down, Bobby replied, "I couldn't tell you. I don't know myself to this day."
    Years later, Wilkinson said, "If I had been an experienced coach, I would have taken our team off the field when the clock ran out."
Controversial Texas scoring play to end the first half

Layne hands to Canady (10), who fumbles as he is about to plunge into the EZ. The ball squirts back toward Layne (22).


Layne picks up the ball and laterals to Clay (16), who sets sail for the goal line.


Clay bursts past two tacklers into the EZ.
Second Half
  • Midway through Q3, a Darrell Royal punt return to the 25 was called back and the ball placed on the 1' line thanks to a "ticky-tack" clipping penalty, bringing more howls from the OU fans. Sarratt punted out only to the 33, Gillory returning to the 23. Texas took advantage of the short field to increase its lead. Layne hit Bumgardner to the 10, then Canady carried the ball twice in a row, going into the EZ on the second shot as the quarter ended. Texas 21 Oklahoma 7.
    OU answered back on the first play after the kickoff. HB George Thomas ran the ball to his 26, then tried to lateral to Mitchell, trailing on the right. Jack caught the ball on his fingertips and roared down the field untouched to complete the 72y TD. Dave Wallace kicked the extra point. Texas 21 Oklahoma 14

Thomas laterals to Mitchell, who runs for a TD.
  • The Longhorns responded with an 84y, 15-play drive that was not exempt from controversy. Showing his ball-handling skill, Layne gave the pigskin to Canady multiple times to move into OU territory at the 38. Royal intercepted Layne's pass, giving the Sooners a chance to tie the score. But Sisco flagged OU lineman Stanley West for roughing the passer, nullifying the INT and putting the ball on the 23.
    Oklahoma G Buddy Burris recalled: "West and I rushed him but I was in front and hit [Layne] just as he threw the ball. But I hit him clean."
    Given a second chance, Layne threw to Peppy Blount for 9, then handed to Canady for another 9. Clay did the honors, bouncing off the big OU line into the EZ. Texas 28 Oklahoma 14
    OU fans erupted again because they thought Clay's forward progress had clearly been stopped at the one. They showered the field with bottles, flasks, and cushions, halting the game as players moved to the middle of the field to get out of range. Wilkinson and the Oklahoma cheerleaders urged the fans to stop - to no avail. One bottle conked a cheerleader in the head. Quick-witted Texas cheerleaders began waving white handkerchiefs, which inspired 10,000 or so Texas fans to join in so that a great part of the big stadium was a waving sea of white. The barrage of missiles stopped only when the irate fans ran out of ammunition. Cheerleaders from both sides cleaned up the debris.
    With only two minutes left, Layne hustled in after Texas recovered a fumble on the Sooner 44. The Blond Bomber fired a 23y pass into the EZ to reserve E George McCall to end the scoring with 0:45 on the clock. Guess's fifth PAT try was blocked. Texas 34 Oklahoma 14
    One of Layne's receivers described his passing style this way: "I can't say he was a pure passer because his spirals weren't tight. He was a finesse passer - his passes were easy to catch."

    Layne fires TD pass to George McCall.
    Having thrown only one pass all game, the Sooners tried two desperation throws in the last ten seconds. But the wobbly pigskin landed far off the mark each time.
    FINAL SCORE: TEXAS 34 OKLAHOMA 14

Texas gained 177y on the ground and 129 passing while Oklahoma's grinding attack produced 263y but only 7 through the air.

1947 Football Highlights Newsreel including Texas-Oklahoma showing the disputed plays right before the half

Postgame

  • The two teams shook hands in the middle of the field as more bottles rained from the stands. The Oklahoma cheerleaders tried in vain to stop the onslaught before joining their Texas counterparts in clearing the debris off the field. Numerous fist fights broke out in the stands. Longhorns fans in the stands booed what their opponents were doing.
    Darrell Royal put his helmet on the head of his wife Edith and hustled her off the field into the tunnel. Even WWII vets were scared. Tom Landry, future Hall of Fame coach of the Dallas Cowboys: "A lot of us were war veterans. But I guarantee you we were scared."
  • Meanwhile, several hundred Oklahoma fans jumped onto the field and made a beeline for the officials. But the Dallas police department, abetted by Texas Rangers, was ready. A phalanx of officers surrounded the men in striped shirts and whacked fans with their nightsticks until the refs could be whisked off in the police car.
    OU lineman Merle Dinkens recalled: "They would have killed him if they could have gotten to him." Supposedly one fan did reach Sisco, but the former football star decked him with a single punch. "They were beating on the on the windows of the car while it left the field," recalled OU HB Tommy Gray. As the car drove slowly away, rioters yelled, "Let's turn it over!"
    Umpire John Waldorf recalled: "I didn't get alarmed until some little guy knocked a cop off the fender of the police car with a bottle."
    Bottled drinks would never again be sold in the Cotton Bowl.
    Merle Dinkins
  • Meanwhile, fights broke out in the stands between UT and OU followers.
  • Both bands played on the field. By the time they marched off, the brawling was confined to fans outside the student cheering sections.
  • All evening, irate Sooners rampaged through downtown Dallas, smashing store windows and hurling furniture out of hotel rooms. Several innocent bystanders were injured.
Aftermath

The game remained a topic of conversation even after the teams returned to their campuses.

  • Wilkinson the next day: "I was very disappointed at this demonstration by our fans. The Texas-Oklahoma football series is too fine a thing and has been too cleanly waged through the years to be spoiled by the bad manners of the crowd or by bad feeling any kind. The game was very cleanly fought and the feeling between the Texas and Oklahoma players was very good all through the game. It is too bad spectators couldn't have reflected the fine behavior of the two games."
  • However, Sunday night more than 1,000 OU students, led by the Ruf-Neks, the Men's Pep Club, hanged a dummy labeled "Jack Sisco" on a tree in front of the Administration Building on the campus. Someone ran off with the "body" before it could be burned in effigy. The next night, a crowd of 3,000 gathered in the campus parking lot and burned a new dummy while they chanted, "Jack Sisco's body lies a-moldering in the grave."
  • "We got Siscoed" became a new way for Oklahomans to say, "We got screwed."
    Years later, Sisco traveled to Shawnee OK for a luncheon. OU lineman Merle Dinkins was there. "Everyone there wanted to see if I would knock the hell out of him," recalled Dinkins. "I just looked at him and said, 'It's a wonder you didn't get killed coming up this way.'"

The tumultuous game led to talk of cancelling the 41-year-old series or at least changing the venue.

  • Dr. Cross, president of Oklahoma, had stated a month before the game that it should be played on a home-and-home basis. His reason was the inadequacy of hotel rooms and tickets in Dallas. Although he had to miss the game because of a death in the family, he now reiterated that contention. "After the disorders of the weekend," he said, "I don't see how we can go back to Dallas now."
  • An OU student petition to take the game out of Dallas gained some 3,000 signees. The Alumni Association scheduled a meeting at which it would take a stand on the matter.
  • Texas AD Dana Bible urged everyone to "just keep cool, calm, and collected." Bible rejected Cross's proposal to alternate the game at the two campuses. "We will play either Oklahoma or some other top college eleven at the Cotton Bowl." He cited the fact that the game almost always produced more revenue for the competing schools than any other game for either. Each university received $41,404 as its share of the gate for the 1947 game.
  • Naturally, Dallas officials wanted to continue the annual contest in their city. R. L. Thornton, president of the Texas State Fair, sponsor of the event, said, "We like the people of the state of Oklahoma, and we think that Texas and Oklahoma have much in common as the leaders of the Southwest. The annual contest ... should continue for the progress and betterment of the Great Southwest."
  • Complicating talk of change was the fact that the two schools had signed a contract that required the game to be played in Dallas through 1952.

Follow-up

  • The Longhorns finished the season 9-1 and ranked #5. The only loss, to SMU 14-13, cost Texas the SWC championship. As a consolation, UT accepted an invitation to the Sugar Bowl where they defeated #6 Alabama 27-7.
  • Oklahoma ended Wilkinson's first season 7-2-1, good enough to tie for first with Kansas in the Big 6. The two teams were co-champs since they tied in their face-to-face meeting.
  • Wilkinson quickly built one of the most dominant dynasties in college football history. The Sooners won the next three games against Texas, then after a loss, reeled off six more in a row.
  • As we know, the Red River Showdown is still played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium to this day.

References: Big Eight Football: The Story, the Stars, the Stats of America's Toughest Conference,
John D. McCallum (1979)
College Football's Most Memorable Games, 1913 through 1990: The Stories of 54 History-Making Contests,
Fred Eisenhammer and Eric B. Sondheimer (1992)
I Love Oklahoma, I Hate Texas, Jake Trotter (2012)
"The wild, bottle-throwing, badly officiated 1947 OU-Texas game," Jake Trotter, www.espn.com (2017)
"Let's Hope This Year's TX-OU Game Doesn't Repeat the 1947 Game," Texas Monthly (Oct. 13, 2017)

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Memorable Games Archives - I

1912: Carlisle @ Army
1921: Centre @ Harvard
1924: Michigan @ Illinois
1929: Rose Bowl
1939: Texas Tech @ Centenary
1940: Bears @ Redskins
1941: Sugar Bowl
1941: Willamette @ Hawaii
1964: Alabama @ Georgia Tech

Memorable Games Archives - II

1947: Eagles @ Cardinals
1953: Iowa @ Notre Dame
1959: Oklahoma @ Northwestern
1966: Notre Dame @ Michigan State
1967: Ice Bowl (Dallas @ Green Bay)
1971: Nebraska @ Oklahoma

Memorable Games Archives - III

1967: Unlikely Hero (Super Bowl I)
1968: "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29"
1969: Believe in Bo (Ohio State @ Michigan)
1974: "Who Won the Damn Game?" (Ohio State @ Michigan State)
1979: "You Shoulda Passed" (Sugar Bowl)
1980: Revenge Is Sweet (Kentucky @ Tulane)
1985: Greatest Finish No One Knows About (Principia @ Illlinois College)

Memorable Games Archives - IV

1982: Kellen Gives His All (Chargers @ Dolphins)
1982: The Dolphins Wuz Robbed (Dolphins @ Patriots)
1984: No Tie for Tom (Orange Bowl)
1985: Let Sleeping Beavers Lie (Oregon State @ Washington)
1993: "Game of the Century" a Week Later (Boston College @ Notre Dame)
1997: Why It's Called "Foot"-ball (Nebraska @ Missouri

Memorable Games Archives - V

1948: The Snow Bowl (Cardinals @ Eagles)
1958: The Game That Made the NFL (Colts @ Giants)
1962: NFL Championship Game
1984: "We Don't Want No Stinkin' FG" (Florida-Miami)

Memorable Games Archives - VI

1929: Ernie's Record-Setting Day (Cardinals @ Bears)
1934: Gopher Deception (Minnesota @ Pitt)
1939: Why Didn't You Kick? (UCLA-USC)
1942: We Will Have Our Rose Bowl Trip!
1943: Sid Luckman Day (Bears @ Giants)
1952: Evy Surprises Woody (Ohio State @ Iowa)
1956: Unlikely Hero (Rose Bowl)
1963: Birth of Instant Replay (Army-Navy)
1965: A Day to Remember (49ers @ Bears)

Memorable Games Archives - VII

1942: East-West Shrine Game
1943: Del Monte Pre-Flight @ Pacific
1949: Notre Dame @ SMU
1950: The Snow Bowl (Michigan @ Ohio State)
1965: Chiefs @ Oilers
1969: Texas @ Arkansas
1970: Oregon @ UCLA
1972: Auburn vs Alabama
1984: Holiday Bowl
1986: Auburn @ Florida

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