Texas Book Festival 2019: Dave Campbell's Favorite Texas College Football Stories

The longtime sportswriter still recalls all those great games

"The rain was coming in sideways," Dave Campbell recalls of the 1956 Kyle Field battle between the Aggies and TCU that he dubs the best football game of the old Southwest Conference. "I was afraid the press box would blow away."

Dave Campbell and Thom Lemmons during Dave Campbell’s Favorite Texas College Football Stories (Photo by John Anderson)

It was a ground battle between two legendary running backs: Future Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow playing both offense and defense for Texas A&M and future College Football Hall of Fame member Jim Swink (who rejected pro ball to instead become a surgeon). The Aggies hung onto win 7-6.

Campbell, now 94 and sometimes fighting to get the right words out, regaled a receptive Texas Book Festival audience with stories of Texas football glory days contained in his new book Dave Campbell's Favorite Texas College Football Stories.

The longtime Waco Tribune-Herald sports editor created the annual season preview magazine Dave Campbell's Texas Football on his kitchen table in 1960, cutting and pasting the pages together by hand. "The first year, I lost $5,000," he says. "The second year, I lost $3,000. I should have stopped there, but my wife Reba wouldn't let me. She said it was getting good reviews." The next year, he struck gold with a deal to have the magazine sold in restaurants around the state. In 1985, he sold out for $1 million, but the magazine remains much as he envisioned it.

Campbell's memories remain as well: The 1969 Texas Longhorn football banquet when cancer-ridden Freddy Steinmark hobbled onstage to applause that seemed never ending. Talking Coach Grant Teaff into rejecting a USC job offer and cementing his long career at Baylor. Reba greeting Earl Campbell's mother Ann in New York City for the Heisman ceremonies and pinning a Tyler rose on her. The 1964 Cotton Bowl where Texas coaches figured out the defensive signals that Navy was sending in from the sidelines and walloped the Roger Staubach-led team 28-6.

Campbell's vote for most valuable players in Texas history? Offensively, it's quarterback James Street, who led the Texas Longhorns to the 1969 national championship. On defense, it's a tie between Longhorn Tommy Nobis and Baylor's Mike Singletary who "broke some many helmets."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Joe O'Connell
Texas Book Festival 2019: Truth Worth Telling: A Conversation With Journalist Scott Pelley
Festival 2019: Truth Worth Telling With Scott Pelley
Newsman Scott Pelley had words of advice about media in the modern age

Oct. 28, 2019

Texas Book Festival 2019: On Second Look: Writing About Home From New Perspectives
Festival 2019: On Second Look
Oscar Cásares and De'Shawn Charles Winslow keep it all in the family

Oct. 28, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Texas Book Festival 2019, sports, Dave Campbell, Freddie Steinmark, UT football, Earl Campbell, Roger Staubach, Grant Teaff

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle