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THE SOUTHWEST
September 21, 1959
Upsets are the rule not the exception in a flamboyant area
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September 21, 1959

The Southwest

Upsets are the rule not the exception in a flamboyant area

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SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE

1958 STANDINGS

 

W

L

T

PTS

OPP

TCU

5

1

0

114

53

SMU

4

2

0

125

78

Rice

4

2

0

135

84

Texas

3

3

0

96

103

Arkansas

2

4

0

47

86

Texas A&M

2

4

0

77

153

Baylor

1

5

0

104

141

Texas Tech*

-

-

-

-

-

*Did not compete for conference title

Jim Lee is a square-built Houston attorney with reddish-brown hair and a great expanse of jaw, which he thrusts belligerently forward when he discusses his favorite sport—that is to say, football.

"As a graduate of the University of Texas," he says, "I guess I should be a lot more interested in the school than I am. But it seems that football is my only tie with the university. I'll drive 163 miles to Austin to watch an intrasquad football scrimmage, but I won't drive that distance to attend the dedication of the new law building. I'm a little ashamed of myself for that attitude, but that's the way I am."

In truth, that is the way a lot of people are in the state of Texas, where the most and best football in the Southwest and some of the wildest in the nation is played. Some say the natural gait of a typically lean-faced, rangy Texas halfback is that of a thirst-maddened longhorn pursued by heel flies; the natural attack of a given team in the Southwest Conference something comparable to the movement of a trail herd stampeded by lightning.

Texans, who by and large are proud of everything in the state right down to the last ball of cotton above ground and the last barrel of oil below, are chest-thumpingly, flag-wavingly proud of the kind of football that has produced Sammy Baugh, Ki Aldrich, Davey O'Brien, the Rote boys, Bobby Layne, et al.

"Maybe we don't always have the best teams or the best players in the country," says Jim Lee, "but we have the truest champions, because we're the only big conference that plays a round-robin schedule. I think our league is the most competitive for that reason. Except for the University of Arkansas ours is entirely a one-state conference.

"The players grow up in Texas, and I think this accounts for many of the upsets which occur. Maybe this boy over here at Muleshoe reads about the All-America from Amarillo, but he remembers cleaning his plow in high school. He wasn't impressed then, and he's just as unawed now when he goes out to play college ball."

Last season, by the way, Rice Institute in Lee's home town was third in the nation in football attendance. Only the big midwestern universities, Ohio State and Michigan, surpassed rich little Rice, a privately endowed school with an enrollment of just 1,885.

"I think the reason college football is so popular down here is that it's the only sport in which we're big league," Lee says. "In baseball we're in the American Association, a minor league. We don't have a pro football team. College football gives us something to rally around, and intersectional games give us a chance to compare our teams with those from other parts of the country. In other words, in college football we're on a basis with the rest of the country, not inferior."

One of the reasons for the excellence of Southwest Conference football (apart from the high quality of the area's high school teams) is the devotion its coaches invite the players to bring to the game. One afternoon at Rice, after a particularly rough early-season workout, Coach Jess Neely's players were heads-down from exhaustion as they stumbled from the practice field to the locker room. Those who spoke grumbled through parched lips about the intensity of the drill. Bill Whitmore, Rice publicity man, approached the field past a staggering file of players.

"Coach," said Whitmore when Neely came abreast of him, "those boys aren't saying nice things about you."

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