In an ancient office at the southeast corner of Texas Christian University's Anion Carter Stadium, his feet comfortably propped on a battered old desk and cigar ashes spilling to the floor, sits a leathery-faced man wearing a blue checked suit coat, gray trousers, gray shirt, red tie, a floppy brown hat and a snaggle-toothed grin. His name is Othol Martin, although they call him Abe, and the reason he grins is that his football team, for the second time in four years, has just won the championship of the Southwest Conference.
The game that clinched it for them last Saturday afternoon on a beautiful, summery day in the vast Rice Stadium at Houston was typical of all the other seven they have won this year. Down 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, they evened the score when Halfback Marvin Lasater plucked a Rice fumble out of the air and raced untouched 58 yards to the goal. Feeling perhaps that this display had been a little too flowery, they scored again before half time, going 60 jolting yards in 13 plays. The longest rushing gain in the drive was six yards, but Jack Spikes, the tough fullback, and the two halfbacks, Lasater and Marshall Harris, kept plugging away and Hunter Enis, the quarterback, mixed in several passes when things threatened to bog down.
Rice kicked a field goal with 6½ minutes left in the game, a bit of strategy on Coach Jess Neely's part that TCU still hasn't figured out. Anyway, it wasn't TCU's problem, so the Horned Frogs went down to score again, Larry Dawson, a quarterback of the second unit, doing most of the work this time. TCU won 21-10 and on January 1 will go to the Cotton Bowl once again to uphold the glory of the Southwest.
The football kingdom which Abe Martin now rules is a large one, covering most of the state of Texas and dipping, at one point, into Arkansas. The eight colleges of the Southwest Athletic Conference (actually, where football competition is concerned, there are at the moment only seven, since Texas Tech, the newest member, does not become eligible for championship play until 1960) extend from Houston, down on the Gulf Coast, all the way to Lubbock out in west Texas, a distance of some 600 miles. In certain sections of the nation some confusion usually exists as to who is exactly who in that corner of the academic and athletic world, and when names like Texas Christian and Southern Methodist and Texas A&M and Rice and Baylor come popping out of the headlines on Sunday mornings in other parts of the country, there is a tendency to shrug and say, oh, well, who cares. Since they will be reading about the Christians from now until the Cotton Bowl on January 1, however, it might be helpful to explain to readers that these are not a legion of bearded martyrs in flowing white robes marching off down the Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike on their way to the lion pits, but the members of the TCU football team. In fact, it might be helpful to explain briefly what all the names mean and what the Southwest Conference is.
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M): located in College Station, near Bryan. Enrollment is 7,000. Team name Aggies (or Farmers). Only all-male student body in conference and also quite a bit the noisiest. Once an all-military school (ROTC). Now has some 4,000 in cadet corps, who march over one of dustiest parade grounds in the world. Texas A&M prides itself on the spirit of the student body and on its agricultural and engineering curricula.
Baylor University: located in Waco. Enrollment 5,000. Team name Bears (or Bruins or Baptists). Largest Baptist college in the country, turns out many men of the cloth, also liberal arts graduates. Not the most attractive physical plant in the conference. Visitor once hit on head for smoking on the campus. Smoking now allowed, although not exactly approved.
Rice Institute: located in Houston. Enrollment 1,600. Team name Owls. By far the smallest, most exclusive student body in conference, with perhaps the largest, most beautiful modern physical plant. Old, rich in tradition. Most Ivy League of Southwest universities, featuring five residential colleges and a nationally respected academic program, with particular emphasis on science and engineering. Big, new Rice Stadium is most beautiful football arena in the nation.
Southern Methodist University (SMU): located in Dallas. Enrollment 6,000. Team name Mustangs (or Ponies or Methodists). Like the city, the school is the style-setter for the area, is noted for its well-dressed, lovely coeds. Lots of fraternity, sorority activity. Planned, ordered campus and buildings. Basically a liberal arts curriculum. Despite denominational tag, does not emphasize religious instruction.
Texas Christian University (TCU): located in Fort Worth. Enrollment 6,000. Team name Horned Frogs (or Christians). Most friendly, homey campus of any in the conference. Dress is very casual, tending toward Western. Growing fast but school still retains intimate, small-college atmosphere. Very plain yellow-brick buildings with red-tile roofs are functional rather than attractive, form a compact unit in a rather large campus area. Little emphasis on religious instruction; mostly liberal arts.
University of Texas: located in Austin, the state capital. Enrollment 17,000. Team name Longhorns (or Steers). The state university and one of the nation's largest. Vast wealth from oil lands. Good educational facilities available in almost any course of study. Working hard to build up to high national academic ranking after some lean years. Campus architecture is a hodgepodge of various periods, and there is more grass in Times Square than on the Forty Acres, since school is unable to expand geographically and all available space is taken up. Strong social life.