SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
November 11, 1963
On Friday morning, October 11, a bright, warm Texas day, Elbert Joseph Coffman woke up with a squirrel in his stomach. In his good life as a football fan there had never been a weekend quite like this one. In the next 55 hours he was going to see three college games and one pro game, and the excitement of it, the bigness of the games, made him nervous. Nervous but delighted. Football to Joe Coffman, and thousands of other Texans, is as essential as air conditioning. It is what a Texan grows up with, feeds on, worships, follows, plays and, very often, dies with. Joe Coffman, 32, married, father of two boys, businessman, University of Texas graduate, football enthusiast, was either going to live a lot this weekend or die a little.
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November 11, 1963

The Disciples Of St. Darrell On A Wild Weekend

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"No chance," said Cecil, observing maybe 5,000 parked cars.

"Go on," Joe said. "I'm gonna show you how to ease right on in. Keep goin'. Keep goin'."

Joe said, "Right there! That lot right on the corner, just across from the main entrance. Right there, Cecil, where it says, 'Full House.' "

Cecil turned in amid the frenzied waving and shouting of parking-lot attendants, but Joe leaned out of the window and hollered, "I got a five and a cold beer, podna, if you'll let us in."

Parking was no problem.

The Texas State Fairgrounds on the day of the Oklahoma game are no more crowded than the recreation deck of any ordinary troopship. The ground seems to sag from the weight of hundreds having picnics. "Fried chicken, boys," said Joe, pushing along a walkway and observing the people sprawled on the lawn. "Two necks and a back and a piece of cold bread."

"And some black French fries," added Cecil. "Best meal they ever had. Boy, it's fun."

They stopped and bought six beers, two extra, and finally the voice of Hank Thompson greeted them as they came near Big Tex, the giant cowboy statue that is emblematic of the fair and would make fine kindling wood. Hank Thompson was singing a familiar hillbilly ballad that went, "We got time for one more drink and a...six-pack to go." Joe and Cecil whooped.

By prearrangement, the Coffmans and Morgans had planned to meet Joe's sister, Shirley, and his brother-in-law, David Alter, to straighten out the ticket situation. Joe had decided that Mary Sue and Shirley would sit in the end zone while he and David would take the two seats on the 50-yard line. Joe thought that seemed fair enough, and no back talk. Cecil and Pat had their own tickets. The Alters arrived, and Joe acknowledged them with, "Too much character, boys. We got too much character to lose that game." Several beers and Hank Thompson songs later, they were moving into the Cotton Bowl, again singing, I don't care 'bout my gas and oil, I Long as I got my Dare-e-ull Royal,/Mounted on the dashboard o' my car.

The Texas-Oklahoma game is one of the maddest spectacles of sport. This was the 18th consecutive sellout of the series, with 75,504 seats of the stadium crammed with the throatiest, most enthusiastic partisans in football, evenly divided between Texans and Oklahomans. Regardless of the team records, the excitement is there each year; the game matches state against state, school against school, fraternity against fraternity, oil derrick against oil derrick. Some rooters become so emotional that they can see only black on the other side of the field. One who did this year was Fullback Harold Philipp of Texas. Before the game, talking about the Texas boys playing on the Oklahoma team, he said: "Why that's just like somebody from the United States playing for Nazi Germany." During the game an immense roar wafts up from the stadium on every play, and the two large bands play Boomer Sooner, the Oklahoma fight song, and Texas Fight, the Long-horns' song, an innumerable number of times, always to the accompaniment of a cheering, jeering mob of singers. Occasionally fights break out in the stands.

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