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A man they listened to a little more intently than some of the others was A&M's Gene Stallings. Like Royal, he was speaking from strength, having just won the championship. He was in a hurry and he talked to the point, except to tell a few Joe Namath stories from his assistant coaching days at Alabama.
"If you want to learn football, there are only two places you can consider," said Stallings, drawling like Bear Bryant. "Alabama and Texas A&M. And I think Alabama is too far away for you. But let me say this. If you don't want to be a one hundred per cent Aggie, don't come to our place."
While Jack was giving some thought to the rather Spartan idea of being a 100% Aggie, he received what seemed like his 1,000th long-distance call of January. It came from Jerry Wampfler, a Notre Dame assistant, offering a chance to visit South Bend. Wampfler told Mildren the Fighting Irish did not go after just anyone; that he could be the quarterback to replace Terry Hanratty. All of the Mildrens were excited about Notre Dame phoning. It was, in a sense, the final recognition of success. Jack told the Irish he was flattered, but he truthfully wanted to stay closer to home.
Where exactly would Jack Mildren visit at this point? Well, he had managed to slim his choices down to about seven campuses. There were SMU, TCU, Rice and Houston, all four of which were schools where he felt he could play a lot as a sophomore. And then there were Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the competition might be greater but the chances of winning a national championship also greater. He had been to Oklahoma during the season, and Arkansas had yet to show all that much interest (although it would). He would visit the others, he thought, and hope to be persuaded, one way or another.
Normally, a potential recruit comes and goes quietly on his campus visits. He meets the coaches and also a few members of the varsity, if they aren't busy shooting snooker or sleeping. He timidly eats at the training table, and some player he may have something in common with is provided as an escort to show him a few of the prettier girls in the Student Union, and maybe some of the easier cabinets to jimmy open and steal test questions from. He is handed some folders, a brochure, some T shirts and pennants. Then it's dinner and sure hope you sign up with us, Hoss.
The Mildrens were treated a little differently, not too much unlike a royal family from the Continent. In Austin, Jack was turned over to Steve Worster, the Longhorns' prize catch from the year previous. He got Jack a date, took him to a dance and showed him around. Meanwhile Jack's younger brother, Glynne, the big Texas fan, was photographed with Chris Gilbert, Royal's star running back. The family was then taken to dinner with Royal and his wife, Edith, other coaches and their wives, and a man named Jack Crosby, who, at the time, was Larry Mildren's boss.
It was more of the same in Houston. Jack toured the campus with Bo Burris, a former Houston standout now with the New Orleans Saints. He went to the Astrodome and saw his name flashed on the big scoreboard. Later he would receive a personal letter from Judge Roy Hofheinz.
In Fort Worth the quarterback was turned over to Ross Montgomery, TCU's talented halfback. He was taken to lunch at Shady Oaks Country Club, where none other than Ben Hogan was his host. He was introduced to a lovely thing by the name of Molly Grubb, who happened to be Miss Texas at the time and a TCU student. None of this, however, made the impact on him that Dallas and SMU did.
First of all, he had been getting these wires from such notable Dallas citizens as Clint Murchison Jr., owner of the Cowboys, and Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs (former Dallas Texans), pleading with him to attend SMU. Then a group of Dallas businessmen—they were called "the millionaires" by Abilene people—made a special trip to see Jack and throw a lavish dinner at Abilene's Petroleum Club. They dwelled continually on the benefits of playing in Dallas. Big business wants you, Jack, they said.
So it was that when the Mildrens visited Dallas the first thing they saw when they arrived at the Hilton Inn, near the campus, was the marquee out front: DALLAS WELCOMES THE MILDRENS. Then, driving to the SMU campus, they saw another sign on a Tom Thumb grocery store: WELCOME TO SMU! DALLAS WELCOMES THE MILDRENS. When they got to SMU's coliseum the Mustang band, to their astonishment, was out front loudly playing the school fight song. Thereafter Jack was introduced at half time of an SMU basketball game, a party was thrown for the family at a private home and he met all sorts of Miss Teen-age Dallases.