SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE

September 23, 1956

HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:

Possibly the best way to arrive at the final standings in the topsyturvy Southwest Conference race is to place the names of the schools in a ten-gallon hat, shake well, dig deep and pull them out one by one. Sounder still is the time-proven method of taking the unimpeachable consensus of conference coaches, critics and customers and reversing the order of selection. Most often, you will be correct. In better circles this procedure is not considered quite cricket simply because it is too easy. It ranks with shooting sitting quail or using live decoys. Last year, for example, Rice was considered a shoo-in for the title, with SMU a strong contender. Result: the Owls finished on the bottom, with the Mustangs still a strong contender—for last place. So, prognosticators, beware—including a big fat one whom I know rather intimately. At least he did say last September that TCU was a strong dark horse and that any team could win it, including Texas A&M.

Logically, last year's Champion TCU should be picked as a repeater, but I lean slightly toward Bear Bryant's hungry Aggies. Proponent of the rock 'em and sock 'em school of football, Bryant's two years of homesteading at College Station should bring a bumper crop in 1956, one year ahead of schedule. The SWC has lifted the second year of a two-year ban on A&M postseason athletics imposed for illegal recruiting, and the NCAA is expected to follow suit, making the Aggies a prime bowl prospect. (See The Eleven Best Elevens for A&M details.)

TCU returns 26 lettermen from the 1955 squad which lost only to A&M, but faces some problems which did not bother them last season. They may be softened by success; they lost three leaders in Center Hugh Pitts, End Bryan Engram and Back Ray Taylor; and every team will point for them. But Jim Swink is back at halfback, giving TCU a running threat second to none. Chuck Curtis at quarterback has improved, and if you add to this an array of huge veteran linemen you will understand why the Horned Frogs are the popular favorite to retain the title. An indication of how seriously the Frogs are bidding for a second successive title is found in the fact that Curtis, a good faker and ball handler last year, has spent the summer polishing his talents and has become superlative at them. A smart boy anyway, Curtis is so intense about learning the game that he enrolled on his own last spring at an Oklahoma University split-T clinic. Swink, whose play on defense has not been as spectacular as his heroics on offense, has spent hours working on the defensive drudgery and is vastly improved Last year the Horned Frogs reached the Cotton Bowl game without a single important injury. There, Curtis was hurt on the first play of the game and the team lost. The law of averages militates against the Frogs escaping unhurt again. In early fall workouts they were eager and high spirited, and the fear that they may be softened by success could well be unfounded.

One enigma of this section is the almost complete absence of the wide-open game which once was synonymous with Southwest Conference football. The split T—that dastardly innovation concocted by Don Faurot of Missouri which espouses the dogma of staying on the ground and picking up your first down in three tries—might understandably be accepted in some sections, but you would think never, sir, in Texas and the Southwest Conference. Yet it was, and colorful nicknames such as SMU's 'Aerial Circus" and Arkansas' "Passing Porkers" are only a fond remembrance. Gone, too, are the spreads and passing formations of TCU's Dutch Meyer and Southern Methodist's Matty Bell. Fleet halfbacks and pounding fullbacks churn the drought-dried sod of the stadiums once sanctified by Sammy Baugh and Doak Walker. Only at Bobby Layne's alma mater, the University of Texas, is there a rebirth of the wild, wonderful attacks of yesteryear. Nonetheless, the Southwest waits as impatiently as ever for the season, whether the football is pound-it-out or put-it-in-the-air.

TEXAS CHRISTIAN
FORT WORTH, TEXAS

COLORS: Purple and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 9, lost 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 24 of 31.

WATCH FOR: Jim Swink, B; Norman Hamilton, T; Charles Curtis, B; Joe Williams, C; Don Cooper, T; Vernon Hallbeck, B.

THE DOPE: The Horned Frogs might even be stronger than last year's Cotton Bowl team. Coach Abe Martin has filled a big gap by moving Joe Williams, a fine guard, back to center where he played originally. In Jim Shofner and Ken Wineberg he has good replacements for departed Ray Taylor at right half; John Nikkei or Chico Mendoza will fill the shoes of End Bryan Engram physically, if not in leadership. The return of Buddy Dike provides brute strength inside to match Jim Swink's wide sweeps.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at Kansas (47-14)
Oct. 6—Arkansas (26-0)
Oct. 13—at Alabama (21-0)
Oct. 20—at Texas A&M (16-19)
Oct. 27—Miami, N (21-19)
Nov. 3—Baylor (28-6)
Nov. 10—at Texas Tech (32-0)
Nov. 17—Texas (47-20)
Nov. 24—at Rice (35-0)
Dec. 1—at SMU (20-13)

TEXAS
AUSTIN, TEXAS

COLORS: Orange and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: T, unbalanced line.

1955 RECORD: Won 5, lost 5.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 15 of 33.

WATCH FOR: Walter Fondren, B; Vince Matthews, B; Garland Kennon, T; Louis Del Homme, C; Joe Clements, B.

THE DOPE: The Longhorns generated more offense last year than in any season since the end of two-platoon football, but, unfortunately, they also gave up more yards to the opposition than ever before in the 63-year grid history of the school. This year the defense should be stiffer, the offense wilder and the team better. Coach Ed Price has only three two-letter players on hand, but he has the most versatile back in the conference in Halfback Walt Fondren, a great sophomore passer in Quarterback Vince Matthews and just the sort of material, for a return to an old-fashioned Southwest offense.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—USC, N (7-19)
Sept. 29—at Tulane (35-21)
Oct. 6—West Virginia, N (no game)
Oct. 13—Oklahoma at Dallas (0-20)
Oct. 20—Arkansas, N (20-27)
Oct. 27—at Rice (32-14)
Nov. 3—SMU (19-18)
Nov. 10—at Baylor (21-20)
Nov. 17—at TCU (20-47)
Nov. 29—Texas A&M (21-6)

ARKANSAS
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK.

COLORS: Cardinal and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 5, lost 4, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 21 of 33.

WATCH FOR: George Walker, B; Jay Donathan, C; Billy Ray Smith, T.

THE DOPE: The Razorbacks were a bit awkward in Coach Jack Mitchell's new "pigeon-toed T" (halfbacks angled in toward quarterback) early last season, but they were quick and nimble down the stretch. Graduation cut heavily into three backfield positions, but Mitchell still has what he calls "two of the finest quarterbacks in the nation"—George Walker and Don Christian. The first offensive unit will, however, be smooth and effective, and the defensive line from tackle to tackle strong. The rest of the conference eyes the Razor-backs with some trepidation, and Arkansas may justify their fear. Meager reserves hamper the Razorback future.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Hardin-Simmons (no game)
Sept. 29—Okla. A&M at L. Rock, N (21-0)
Oct. 6—at TCU (0-26)
Oct. 13—Baylor (20-25)
Oct. 20—at Texas, N (27-20)
Oct. 27—Miss, at Little Rock, N (7-17)
Nov. 3—at Texas A&M, N (7-7)
Nov. 10—Rice (10-0)
Nov. 17—SMU at Little Rock (6-0)
Nov. 24—LSU at Shreveport (7-13)

BAYLOR
WACO, TEXAS

COLORS: Green and gold.

BASIC OFFENSE: Multiple T.

1955 RECORD: Won 5, lost 5.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 23 of 31.

WATCH FOR: Doyle Traylor, B; Del Shofner, B; Bill Glass, G.

THE DOPE: The Bears may have the best material in physique and numbers in the conference. But Baylor has, in seasons past, been dogged by injury, and for two years prize Quarterback Doyle Traylor has been benched most of the time by one mischance or another. New Coach Sam Boyd gave Traylor a thorough, if ungentle, testing in spring practice and found him durable, so perhaps he is ready for a full season. Charley Dupre, a man-eating terror of a fullback on defense, plays second fiddle to Reuben Sage on offense, so there is double-duty strength there. Del Shofner is a magnificent halfback, and the line is big, fast and skillful.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at California (no game)
Sept. 29—Texas Tech (no game)
Oct. 6—at Maryland (6-20)
Oct. 13—at Arkansas (25-20)
Oct. 27—Texas A&M, N (7-19)
Nov. 3—at Texas Christian (6-28)
Nov. 10—Texas (20-21)
Nov. 17—at Nebraska (no game)
Nov. 24—at SMU (0-12)
Dec. 1—Rice (15-7)

SMU
DALLAS, TEXAS

COLORS: Red and blue.

BASIC OFFENSE: T, split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 4, lost 6.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 11 of 24.

WATCH FOR: Tommy Gentry, E; Smith Keller, G; Charles Jackson, B; Ray Masters, B; Bill Livingstone, C; Willard Dewveall, E; Lon Slaughter, B.

THE DOPE: The Mustangs are young and inexperienced for the most part, but they should age rapidly through the first four games, if they live. Coach Woody Woodard had the best defense and the worst offense in the conference in 1955, but his offense will be more exciting and his defense more porous this year. Although only two starters are back, the second-string backfield, which played a good deal, has returned as a unit. Halfbacks Lon Slaughter and Charlie Jackson and Fullback Ray Masters are all strong, slashing runners. If Quarterback Charlie Arnold, the major question mark, should falter, Larry Click, a freshman star of last year, may take over.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Notre Dame, N (0-17)
Sept. 29—Georgia Tech, N (7-20)
Oct. 6—at Missouri (13-6)
Oct. 13—at Duke (no game)
Oct. 20—at Rice, N (20-0)
Nov. 3—at Texas (18-19)
Nov. 10—Texas A&M (2-13)
Nov. 17—Arkansas at Little Rock (0-6)
Nov. 24—Baylor (12-0)
Dec. 1—TCU (13-20)

RICE
HOUSTON, TEXAS

COLORS: Blue and gray.

BASIC OFFENSE: T.

1955 RECORD: Won 2, lost 7, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 16 of 31.

WATCH FOR: King Hill, B; Larry Whit-mire, T; Frank Ryan, B; Charles Thompson, G.

THE DOPE: The Owls, picked by many to win the title last season, finished last. They are picked for last this year and should be much more formful, since Coach Jess Neely has the youngest and possibly the lightest team in his 27 years as head coach. Missing, for instance, is the raw material for one of those magnificent lines which ordinarily mark his teams and, with 10 sophomores out of 11 tackle candidates, Neely will have troubles on defense. His starting halfbacks—Dan Shuford and G. F. Alsbrook—are sophomores, too, but they provide the speed so sorely missed last year. Two extraordinarily adept quarterback veterans, King Hill and Frank Ryan, furnish what is perhaps the one bright spot.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Alabama, N (20-0)
Oct. 6—LSU, N (20-20)
Oct. 13—at Florida (no game)
Oct. 20—SMU, N (0-20)
Oct. 27—Texas, N (14-32)
Nov. 3—Utah (no game)
Nov. 10—at Arkansas (0-10)
Nov. 17—at Texas A&M (12-20)
Nov. 24—TCU (0-35)
Dec. 1—at Baylor (7-15)

TEXAS TECH
LUBBOCK, TEXAS

COLORS: Scarlet and black.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 22 of 39.

WATCH FOR: Hal Broadfoot, G; Bob Kilcullen, T; Don Williams, B.

THE DOPE: The Red Raiders, at long last members of the Southwest Conference, are in schizophrenic position this season. They are not allowed to compete for the Southwest Conference title until 1960 due to schedule difficulties; and, although they have relinquished their Border Conference ties, any losses they inflict on their erstwhile brothers will count in those standings. Coach DeWitt Weaver lost severely at tackle, center and fullback. The 1956 team has a good running quarterback in Don Williams, with some line strength in 235-pound Tackle Bob Kilcullen and All-Border Conference Guard Hal Broadfoot. The Raiders play the best teams in three conferences and are lucky to be participating in none.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Texas Western, N (27-27)
Sept. 29—at Baylor (no game)
Oct. 6—Tex. A&M at Dallas, N (no game)
Oct. 13—West Texas State, N (27-24)
Oct. 27—at Arizona, N (27-7)
Nov. 3—Oklahoma A&M (24-6)
Nov. 10—TCU (0-32)
Nov. 17—at Tulsa (34-7)
Nov. 24—Houston (0-7)
Dec. 1—at Hardin-Simmons (16-14)

ILLUSTRATION PHOTOTEXAS' WALTER FONDREN SPARKS T OFFENSE PHOTOGEORGE WALKER HOSTS ARKANSAS T PARTY PHOTOBAYLOR'S DEL SHOFNER HAS SPEED, DRIVE PHOTOSMU CO-CAPTAIN SMITTY KELLER LENDS EXPERIENCE TO LINE PHOTOTECH QUARTERBACK DON WILLIAMS RUNS WELL FROM SPLIIT-T

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)