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Hullabaloo, canek! canek!
—from The Aggie War Hymn, written by Pinky Wilson, an Aggie, while standing guard on the Rhine after World War I.
Emory Bellard puffed on his pipe the way he does when he is thinking what he is about to say. He wanted to be careful, because anything that is said about the rivalry between Texas A&M and the University of Texas may cause otherwise sane persons to howl and thrash around as if they had been drinking kerosene. There is something in the poetry of Pinky Wilson as performed by a 300-piece marching band that makes people start crying and fighting right after the mystical part about hullabaloo, canek, canek. "Gosh dawg," said Bellard, the Aggie football coach, "there hasn't been anything ready-made for our group. We used to be losers. We had to scrap and scratch to change that aspect of it. I sure did appreciate Darrell Royal coming out in that mob at the middle of the field to congratulate us. That takes a real gentleman." Puff, puff.
A couple of hours earlier, Bellard had been riding around Kyle Field at College Station, Texas on the shoulders of a writhing herd of Aggies when he saw Royal attempting an approach. Bellard directed the herd over to the Texas coach and reached down to touch the hand of his former boss. Four years ago Bellard was still working for Royal and received credit for having invented the wishbone offense that helped Texas win 30 straight games in 1968-70.
Until last week the Aggies had beaten Texas only four times since 1940 and not at all since 1967. Last year's game was an example of the psychic terror the Texas series has held for A&M. The Aggies were thought very capable of beating Texas and going to the Cotton Bowl as Southwest Conference champions. Instead, Texas scored 14 points in the first 54 seconds and won 32-3. After the second Aggie fumble in that opening minute, an A&M press agent smashed his palm on the press box counter and yelled, "How can we be so stupid?" His Texas counterpart replied, "It's tradition."
In fact, this long Aggie run of being spooked by Texas appeared to be continuing well into the fourth quarter last week before a crowd of 56,679, some 9,000 more than Kyle Field's supposed legal limit. The Aggies entered the game undefeated, first in defense and ranked No. 2 in the nation in the polls. Texas was first in scoring and No. 5 in the polls. By winning, Texas would proceed to the Cotton Bowl as SWC co-champions. If the Aggies won, they would still have to play Arkansas to decide the championship.
College Station is 100 miles east of Austin, out in the flatlands on the other side of Dime Box. Austin is where the Texas hill country starts. A river runs through Austin, a city in which the north side looks like Dallas, the south side like Houston and the middle like the University of Texas. The Aggies have always regarded it as a sort of bordello in which perverts violate every Spartan notion. UT students view Aggies as simpleminded farm boys (A&M's first female student was admitted in 1963) who are thrilled to wear soldier suits. Neither of these opinions is entirely true but they have led to violence, anyhow. The football series was canceled for several years, decades ago, because of that. It has long been a prize for a UT rowdy to beat up an Aggie senior and take his military boots as a souvenir. The Aggies once branded the UT mascot, a longhorn steer, with the numbers "13-0," the score—in A&M's favor—of the previous year's game. UT intellectuals used a running iron to turn the numbers into the word "Bevo," which has since been the name of the Texas mascot.
On the Monday before the latest Aggie-UT battle, Pinky Wilson's war hymn was blasting over the loudspeakers at Memorial Stadium in Austin as a goad to the practicing Longhorns. Texas Quarterback Marty Akins, out with a knee injury since the TCU game nine days earlier, was running well, his right knee wrapped in tape and in a brace. "I haven't gone full out on it, but it's feeling good," said Akins, an excellent wishbone quarterback who is sometimes called Jaws for his stream of conversation. The Aggies refer to Akins as "the governor" because Akins has said he intends to be the governor of Texas.
Dr. Paul Trickett, head of the UT Medical Center and healer for the Longhorn athletic teams, said Akins' knee injury was a strange one. "I think the tendons behind his knee flapped over a muscle and made the pain and sound Marty associated with the terrible injury he had to his left knee in high school," said Dr. Trickett. The Akins knee became a topic as pervasive in Texas as whether it will rain. On Tuesday afternoon he seemed all right. On Wednesday he said it hurt again and he might not suit up. There were stories that Akins had been scuffling playfully with a couple of teammates and had twisted the knee. On Thursday Royal said Akins would start.
On Friday Akins started his 34th game for Texas and went out limping after receiving a terrific wallop on the first play. He came back in toward the end of the quarter and lasted nine plays before he was carried off for good. In the last two quarters against the Aggies, freshman Ted Constanzo was the quarterback. Whether or not that had much to do with it, the Texas offense could not move the ball. Texas sophomore Fullback Earl Campbell, 230 pounds and already an All-America, had the worst game of his life as 235-pound Aggie Middle Linebacker Robert Jackson met him in the eyeballs and usually turned him back. "Jackson was the real star of that game," Royal said later.