Franchione could use a hand, inheriting a program that went bust under
Pat Sullivan. Sportswriter Dan Jenkins '53 -- armed with a cup of joe
and a mindful of memories -- recalls how great the Frogs used to be. And
could be again.
Dan Jenkins '53
I sit on the corner of University and West Bowie in the old TCU Drug,
which passed for the student union in my day -- that splendid time when
the Horned Frogs used to whip up on everybody in football. Once again
I'm majoring in drugstore and minoring in caffeine and nicotine. As a
deeply intellectual character in my new novel Rude Behavior is heard to
say, "College ain't nothin' but high school with cigarettes and coffee."
I should mention that Rude Behavioris now available in your neighborhood
bookstores. If it's not there yet, a Pakistani has been hired to drop
an atom bomb on Doubleday Publishers.
from the TCU Drug, where the soda fountain and tables and booths were
known to hold hostages for six and seven hours at a time, it's only a
short walk to the stadium on Saturdays.
I can marvel at Sam Baugh '37 and Davey O'Brien '38 throwing touchdown
passes -- and winning national championships for the Purple -- and where
I can gaze at Jim Swink '55 continually exploding into daylight, and then
watch Bob Lilly '61 turn rival ball-carriers into meat sauce.
up Dennis Franchione.
I've been accustomed to ordering the franchione with meat sauce -- sometimes
with just butter and garlic -- but that was before he became TCU's latest
football savior, as in coach.
learn to utter Franchione with the same pleasure that I used to utter
the names of Dutch Meyer and Abe Martin.
I feel compelled
to add that I rarely uttered Pat Sullivan's name -- except in vain. Which
was mostly on those occasions when he'd send in his pet play, the one
where the TCU ball carrier would take a handoff and try to make it all
the way back to the line of scrimmage.
I know I
run a risk while dreaming today. I could accidentally wind up in a Jim
Shofner of a F.A. Dry season, scouring the countryside for something like
a win over UT-Arlington.
dreary days are in the past. Unfortunately, so is the wonderful Southwest
Conference, which disappeared before my very eyes after 80 years, thanks
more or less to Greed, which is otherwise known as the University of Texas.
ask what I'm doing here. Well, I'm here to help Franchione build a football
team that might bring the Frogs another era of gridirion glory, and do
it whether we're in an old WAC, new WAC, semi-WAC, Big 12-13-14, Conference
Fed Ex, or some other league that's yet to be created by a couple of thirtysomething
TV producers who know roughly as much about college football as Tracy
Lord in The Philadelphia Story -- they think South Bend sounds like dancing.
In the meantime I have to put this team together for Franchione. With
the guys I have in mind, we'll only need 11 players going both ways, and
a few notable alternates.
Big White team, or what they once called the starters.
Davey O'Brien '38. The "Dallas Dynamo" or "Slingshot Davey" -- take your
pick -- was a unanimous All-America in 1938 when he led the country in
total offense and passing and guided the Frogs to the national championship
and a Sugar Bowl victory. Maybe you knew all that. However, maybe you
don't know that he was the first player to win the Heisman, Maxwell and
Camp awards in the same season -- only 20 others have done it since --
or that he was a two-year All-America. He made the Fox Movietone News
team in '37 as a junior when he also led the nation in passing and punt
is still the most decorated college player in history. No other guy has
ever won as many individual awards while at the same time leading the
nation in so many categories and carrying his team to a national title,
all in a single career. Where is his statue on the campus?
Sam Baugh '35. What, I'm crazy? I'm not going to have O'Brien and Baugh
in the same backfield?
Temple and raised in Sweetwater, "Slingin' Sam" was named on three major
All-America teams as a junior in '35 when he led the nation in passing
and punting and took TCU to a national championship and Sugar Bowl victory
over LSU. He was a consensus All-America in '36 when he again led the
nation in passing and punting, hoisted the Frogs to a No. 5 finish in
the country, then led them to a win over Marquette in the inaugural Cotton
Bowl. He was fourth in the Heisman balloting. Idiots.
day, Baugh is one of only three quarterbacks who've led their teams to
a national championship in college and an NFL title in the pros, which
he did with the Washington Redskins in 1937 and 1942. If you want to win
a trivia bet, the others are Joe Namath and Joe Montana.
Jim Swink '55. The "Rusk Rambler" or "Swanky Jim" -- take your pick --
was TCU's greatest broken-field runner. He merely led the nation in rushing
(8.2 yards per carry!), scoring and all-purpose rushing in 1955 when he
toted the ball, and the Frogs, to a 9-1 regular season record and a No.
3 in U.S. in at least one rating system. His 8.2 yards per carry is an
all-time NCAA record.
But my favorite
thing was what he did to the University of Texas over a three-year period.
In order of their appearance from scrimmage, he gained 147 yards, 235
yards, and 122 yards -- a total of 504 yards in all -- and scored nine
touchdowns against the Longhorns, who richly deserved it.
All-American in '55, named to a couple of teams in '56, Swink was runner-up
for the Heisman in '55 -- should have won, more idiots voting. Still,
this makes TCU one of only 22 schools so far to have produced a Heisman
winner and a Heisman runner-up.
Kenneth Davis '84. The "Temple Tornado" set a TCU record with 1,611 yards
from scrimmage in 1984 when he led the Frogs to their first bowl game
in 19 years. He rushed for over 200 yards from scrimmage in three games
and gained over 100 yards in six others. That's a big yardage in nine
out of 11, folks. And K.D. was also a unanimous All-America.
Hey, I know
it's old-fashioned to have four guys in the backfield these days, but
that's just one more reason why I live in the past.
Rags Matthews '28. A Fort Worth native, Rags was TCU's first All-American
in 1927. This made him the first player to bring national attention to
the Southwest Conference. Then he was voted the outstanding player in
the East-West Shrine game. His all-around play was so impressive as he
led the West to victory, the headline in the San Francisco Call-Bulletin
read: "Matthews Beats East."
Bob Lilly '61. When more than 300 sportswriters and sportscasters voted
on college football's all-time team a few years ago, Lilly and Sam Baugh
were among the 22 players. Only three other schools, Alabama, Michigan
and Illinois, enjoyed as many selections. Neat stat. Carry it around in
and defensive terror from Throckmorton, Lilly and his cohort at tackle,
Don Floyd, anchored the line on TCU's championship teams of 1958 and 1959,
then Bob became a unanimous All-America in 1960. To say nothing of his
doomsday antics with the Dallas Cowboys later on.
Johnny Vaught '33. Another Fort Worth native, Vaught became TCU's first
AP All-America in 1932. Kind of like being a prom queen. The AP team for
some reason was held in higher regard than any other back then and still
is. But Vaught made three other selections as well.
an overwhelming Frog bunch that went 10-0-1 and wound up No. 4 in the
nation. At the time, that was the highest a Texas team had ever been ranked.
Led by Vaught, who was said to be particularly maniacal on defense, six
out of seven Frog linemen made all-conference, a feat that hadn't been
done before and hasn't been done since -- by anybody, anywhere.
Darrell Lester '36. What makes the big, rangy guy unique is not the fact
that he came from Jacksboro without a nickname. As both a stout blocker
and ferocious linebacker, Lester was both TCU's and the Southwest Conference's
first two-year consensus All-America. This was in 1934 and 1935. He often
went 60 minutes, like his All-America chum, Sam Baugh, on the '35 national
Lester is still the only two-year consensus all-America in TCU history,
and if you have to ask what consensus means, you're reading the wrong
Ki Aldrich '40. Nobody loved to play football more than Ki, or played
it with more intensity. If he had a broken rib, tape it up -- he'd play.
That's why he could play guard even though he followed Lester as an All-America
center. Ki made one All-America team in '37, then made nearly all of them
on the undefeated national champions of '38. Another hero from Temple,
like Baugh and Kenneth Davis. We could move the campus to Temple, except
that would make it too far away from Angelo's, Railhead and Joe T.'s.
I.B. Hale '39. Extremely mobile for a big man, Hale was the first of the
'38 immortals to gain national recognition when he was named to two major
All-America teams as a junior in '37. In the national championship year
he made the Hearst and All-Players teams again. This made TCU in '38 one
of only a handful of Southwest Conference teams ever to produce three
All-America players off the same eleven -- O'Brien, Aldrich and Hale.
O'Brien came to TCU together from Dallas, which is probably the nicest
thing Dallas ever did for Fort Worth.
Walter Roach '37. Yet another Fort Worth native, Roach was a three-year
all-conference end on the Baugh teams of '34-'35-'36, which means he was
one of Sam's favorite targets. He made one All-America team in '36 and
starred on defense on TCU's Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories.
it for the Big White team.
Franchione will need some alternates. Therefore, I heartily recommend
these -- and more coffee, Maxine.
Don Looney '41, Bruce Alford '43, Kelly Blackwell '92, Stanley Washington
'83. Looney was among O'Brien's legendary receivers in '38, but even without
O'Brien in '39, on a hardluck team, he co-led the nation in receptions.
Alford, a furious all-around competitor, was a mainstay of TCU's winning
teams in '41 and '42 -- and MVP in the Orange Bowl. As for Blackwell and
Washington, the fact that they were consensus All-Americans on mediocre
teams in '91 and '81 says more about their abilities than anything else.
Mike Brumbelow '29, Derrell Palmer '43, Clyde Flowers '45, Hugh Pitts
'56, Norm Hamilton '57, Don Floyd '59. Only through dogged research have
I been able to uncover that Brumbelow, a rugged guard on the unbeaten
team of 1929, became TCU's second All-America -- after Rags Matthews --
when the New York Journal-American made him a first-team selection. No
mysteries regarding the others. Each one an All-America. Palmer in '42,
Flowers in '44, Pitts in '55, Hamilton in '56, and Floyd in '58-'59 were
named to major selections.
Lindy Berry '50, Cy Leland'33, Jimmy Lawrence '36, Tony Jeffery '86, Jack
Spikes '60, Andre Davis '94. Berry and Lawrence were two of TCU's greatest
all-around backs. The Wichita Falls product led the nation in punt returns
as a sophomore in '47, then as a passing-running tailback out of the old
spread formation in '49 he made All-America. Jimmy Lawrence, who came
from Harlingen, was all-conference three seasons, and as a senior halfback
in '35 his slashing runs, pass catching and defensive play made him a
co-star on the national champions with Sam Baugh and Darrell Lester.
I hope Jack
Spikes is still a familiar name to most Frogs. He All-America fullbacked
on the same teams with those tackles, Lilly and Floyd.
of Tony Jeffery and Andre Davis will be more familiar to Boomer Babes
and Gen X's of the Purple ilk. When Jeffery gained 343 yards against Tulane
in '86 and Andre scooted for 325 yards against New Mexico in '94, they
helped the Frogs join an elusive society. TCU now is one of only six schools
in all of major college football history that has produced two different
ball carriers who gained more than 300 yards in a game. Just six.
I like that
stat. It took only two shovels and a pitchfork to find it.
the "Lubbock Jackrabbit," deserves special attention. As he helped lead
the Frogs to a 9-0-1 record and their first Southwest Conference title
in '29, then made the all-America team that was chosen by the Boston Record
in 1930, he was considered "the fastest man in America in a football suit."
That wasn't just because his 7.2 yards per carry in '29 was the best in
the nation. It was because he did such things in the spring as go off
to places like the Kansas Relays and Drake Relays and win the 100-yard
and 220-yard dashes in near-world record times.
has it that Cy would have made the USA's 400-meter relay team at the '32
Los Angeles Olympics if he hadn't chosen to put on long pants and become
a radio sportscaster.
now ask about the schedule this team is going to play.
I have it
worked out here on a napkin. We open with wins over two WAC teams, SMU
and Rice. We then knock off Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas from the Big
12-13-14. Moving right along, we trample four teams from Conference Fed
Ex, who happen to be Tulane, Houston, Southern Mississippi and Army. Finally,
we romp over Colorado and BYU from the Pac-12, which used to be the Pac
10 before Colorado left the Big 12 and BYU left the WAC. That gives us
a record of 11-0 and puts us in the Rose Bowl for the national championship
game against Notre Dame, now in the Big 10, which is still called the
Big 10 even though it has 12 teams.
how the computer has it in the Supernatural Bowl Alliance.
I get a clean ashtray over here, please?
was a Sports Illustrated writer for 25 years and continues to work
as a novelist. Aside from his latest work, Rude Behavior, Dan has
numerous other credits, including Semi Tough and Baja Oklahoma.
He and his wife, "the lovely June" Burrage Jenkins '51, live in Ponte
Vedra Beach, Fla., but make regular runs to Fort Worth to see the Frogs.