But despite the look of the Frogs, Abe was an old-fashioned gentleman, a seat-of-the-pants coach who took his players into his heart and the press into his confidence. In this sense, he was the best man I ever knew.
For a writer, Abe's homespun humor was more fun than his winning teams. One day he gave up at struggling to describe Swink's broken-field running ability and said, "Aw, he's just a little old rubber-legged outfit nobody can catch." Of Bob Lilly's All-America potential, Abe said, "Well, he's a big old green pea, but he'll stand in there for you like a picket fence." Once he was asked how he planned to stop a rather fierce Texas team, and he said, "We'll just line up in our country six and scratch and bite and kick sand in their faces."
There was a year when the football staff offices were redecorated and made more spacious. Abe said he liked the new atmosphere all right, "but there's nowhere to spit."
Down on the sideline one Saturday things were not going well against Rice. Abe summoned a player off the bench and put his arm around the player's shoulder pad.
"Beely, I want you to look at that. They just wearin' Tommy out on the sweep," said Abe, wearing his lucky brown suit and chewing on his cigar. "I want you to go in there and stop that sweep for me, Beely."
The player nervously said. "I'll try, Coach."
Abe removed his arm from Beely's shoulder pad and kept looking out on the field.
"Sit down, Beely," Abe said. "Tommy's tryin'."
TCU's decline began when Abe Martin, as wonderful as he was, grew weary of recruiting. When Darrell Royal went to Texas and Frank Broyles went to Arkansas, recruiting became as intense and competitive as the games.
Abe had always been able to get a kid to come to TCU by taking him for a stroll around the county courthouse square and telling him he could wear those dirty Levi's and that T shirt on the TCU campus and feel right at home. "How's your Mom and them?" Abe would say. "Buy you a sody pop?"