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Thowback Thursday: Spalding reviews the 1927 CFB season

Texas A&M's undefeated 1927 team

 by Ryan Sprayberry

Offseason college football "takes" are a dime a dozen and with less than 100 days until kickoff, they grow more common on a daily basis. While in today’s world offseason coverage has grown at an absurd rate (and come November they will mean absolutely nothing), the desire of fans to consume football throughout the year hasn’t changed over history. One of the earliest publications to offer nation-wide reviews of college football teams was the annual Spalding Football Guide. For your Throwback Thursday pleasure, here’s a look at the 1928 “Notes from the Colleges” section.

Fun fact – Spalding’s coverage of Texas was provided by former Texas A&M player, Joe Utay, and Texas A&M head coach (later head coach and athletic director at UT), D.X. Bible, sat on the national rules committee. Both are members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

All coverage is verbatim from Spalding’s with the exception of brackets being used for edits or additional information. All Texas teams covered are included in alphabetical order:

Abilene (Texas) Christian College – Dalton Hill, center, was one of the leading players in the Texas Intercollegiate A. A. and was voted the most valuable player in the organization. Only one game was lost and one tied. Six games were won.

Austin College, Sherman, Texas – Scores do not show the season’s work in the same light as that which marked the play of the team. In the Texas Christian game Austin turned loose an air game that could not be stopped in the second half, scoring 13 points. Keeling to Lingo was a fine passing combination, one of the best in the state. Against Trinity Austin made 19 first downs to 5 for Trinity, and even then the game resulted in a tie. Austin gained 356 yards in [from] scrimmage to 133 for Simmons, yet lost, 20 to 6. Savage’s work at center was in a class by itself.

Baylor University, Waco, Texas – Team played with a severe handicap, owing to the loss of two of its leading players, Captain Kelley and Robert Hailey, who were killed in an automobile bus accident in January of 1927 [remembered today as The Immortal Ten, the bus was hit by a train in Round Rock on the way to a basketball game against the University of Texas in Austin].

Bishop College, Marshall, Texas – With a team of experienced players, Bishop held its old rival, Wiley, to a scoreless tie. Another feature of the season was the 34-0 victory over Southern at the Louisiana State Fair at Shreveport. Posey, Roberts and Washington were outstanding.

Canyon (Texas) Teachers College – Season started auspiciously by a big victory over Clarendon. The players sagged off until near the middle of the season, when they returned again to full strength and won the last five games of the schedule, the culmination of the season being the defeat of Texas Tech. The game with Abilene Christian College was the most spectacular of the year and was won by Canyon.

Howard Payne College, Brownwood, Texas – Season was successful, despite the fact that the team lost the conference title. Principal game of the year was that with Simmons. The latter won the last four minutes by a field goal by Pittman of 27 yards, the only tally of the day. Three players, Captain Boyd, half-back; Jobes and Wright were the choice of experts in the conference classification.

John Tarleton Agricultural College, Stephenville, Texas – Tied Abilene, second place winners in the Texas Intercollegiate A. A., and lost only to McMurry, of the same organization, winners of the championship in their conference. Best game was with North Texas Agricultural, on Thanksgiving Day, which was won by Tarleton, 18-7.

McMurry College, Abilene, Texas – With three victories, two ties and no defeats [in conference play] the eleven won the championship of the Texas Intercollegiate A. A. Not a conference team scored upon the eleven. The only defeat was by Howard Payne, 0-6, in the first game of the season, which was the only game in which a score was even made against McMurry.

Prairie View (Texas) Normal – Second in the race of the conference championship. At times the attack was very keen and then fell off. Defeated by Wiley and tied in the last game with Texas College. Marks was seldom stopped. Bates and Turner were also good.

St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas – The team was the best in the history of the school, while the schedule was by far the hardest. Victories over Southwestern and Daniel Baker were high sports. Games were tied with Simmons, Rice and Loyola of New Orleans.

St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas – Despite a series of reverses St Mary’s team was not disheartened, but played the game to the best of their ability. Daehne, Surtees and Riley were leading players. Athletics are a strong feature at St. Mary’s, as witnessed by the construction of a new $85,000 gymnasium [just over one million in today’s dollars, an extravagant athletics expense at the time], new track, foot ball and base ball fields.

Sam Houston Teachers College, Huntsville, Texas – Game with Rice was the best of the season. Mayfield ran 80 yards for a touchdown, but so many Houston players were retired that the team could not hold its pace. Sam Houston was the first team to defeat Daniel Baker in two years. Mayfield, Linn, Hardy, Burris and Clyburn were leading players.

San Marcos (Texas) Teachers College – Team tied for third place in the Texas Intercollegiate A. A. race. It did not find itself until the middle of the season. Only one game was won in the first four played. None of the next four was lost. The last game of all, lost to St. Edward’s, 12-7, was one of the most thrilling contests ever played on Evans Field.

Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas – Southwestern furnished a great surprise to pre-season critics, some of whom had expressed opinions of doubt concerning the ability of the team to make any sort of showing. Southwestern confounded these prognosticators by winning the Texas Conference championship, and in addition defeated Rice and Baylor of the Southwestern Conference.

Cover of the 1927 East-West Shrine Game, four Texans led the West to an upset of the East

Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas – S.M.U. made a great showing last year and upset University of Missouri, Missouri Valley champions, with the lateral pass play, which was a feature of the team’s work all season. Gerald Mann at quarter was one of the outstanding players of the country. He was one of those selected to represent the West in the annual game at San Francisco for charity the day after Christmas, in which leading players, including Bruce Caldwell of Yale, took part [four Texans were invited to the East-West Shrine Game, including Mann, Rags Mathews of TCU, Joel Hunt of Texas A&M and Siki Sikes of A&M. The Texans were instrumental in leading the West to an upset over the East by a score of 16-6]. Mann made one of the winning touchdowns for his team. Redman Hume, S.M.U.’s half, scored seventeen touchdowns for the season, scoring in every game. John Roach, unanimous choice of the conference reviewers, played sensational foot ball. The team will make the journey to West Point on October 6 to play the Army.

Texas Agricultural College, College Station, Texas – Texas A. & M. was the undefeated champion of the Southwest Conference, the fifth championship in a period of ten years. Outstanding games were the victories over Arkansas, Southern Methodist and University of Texas. Prominent players in the lineup, some of whom acquired national reputations for their ability, included Captain Hunt, quarter-back; Sikes, end; Sprott and Lister, tackles; Holmes and Figari, guards; Bartlett, center; Burgess, full-back, and Petty, end.

Texas Christian University, Fort Worth – Eight regulars were lost and the team was quite new. Best game was with Texas A. & M., which resulted in a 0-0 tie. “Rags” Mathews, end, played every second of the entire schedule of nine games and was an outstanding figure in national football circles.

Texas Technological College, Lubbock – Texas Tech won five and lost four games. Twice in the game against Daniel Baker, Carpenter, Tech tackle, blocked punts. White, end, scooped the ball up both times and ran for touchdowns.

Wiley College, Marshall, Texas – Won the championship of the Southwestern Conference [not the SWC, and yes that led to problems with the SWC, the Southwestern Conference is now known as SWAC] with four victories and one tie. Defeated by Langston, non-conference, from Oklahoma. Sweeping end runs and good forward passing game turned the tide in the more important games. Captain Redd, Cavil, Livingston and Briggs were stars, but all of the members of the team played well.

Texas Conference Standings, 1927

Southwestern Conference

Team

Won

Lost

Tied

Texas A.&M.

4

0

1

Southern Methodist University

4

1

0

Arkansas University

3

1

0

Texas University

2

2

1

Texas Christian University

1

2

2

Rice Institute

1

3

0

Baylor University

0

5

0

 

Texas Conference

Team

Won

Lost

Tied

Southwestern

2

1

1

Howard Payne

3

2

0

Simmons

2

1

2

St. Edward’s

1

1

1

Trinity

1

2

1

Austin

0

2

1

 

Enjoy another couple months until the start of college football! Hope you enjoyed these “historic takes.” If you’re looking to quench your football thirst this summer, come check out the Texas Sports Hall of Fame where you can learn more and see objects from players/coaches mentioned in this article, such as, Bible, Utay, Mann, Sikes, Mathews, Hunt and more.

 

Ryan Sprayberry is the Director of Content and Community Engagement at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame

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