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Sports Then and Now



Remembering College Football Legend Doak Walker 130

Posted on January 01, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Doak Walker won the 1948 Heisman Trophy and finished third in the voting in 1947 and 1949.

It was 85 years ago today, January 1, 1927, that one of the great legends of college football was born in Dallas, Texas. At a time soon after World War II when college athletics was at its peak, Doak Walker became a national hero and Heisman Trophy winner for the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

A high school teammate of another Texas football legend, Bobby Layne, Walker was a triple threat as a running back, defensive back and kicker. While Layne decided to play collegiately at the University of Texas, Walker chose to stay in Dallas and attend SMU.

While Walker played football, basketball and baseball at SMU, it was on the gridiron where he gained his greatest fame.

After playing briefly for the Mustangs as a freshman in 1945 and then serving 1946 in the Army, Walker started to build his legacy during the 1947 campaign. Dangerous both as a runner and passer, Walker quickly developed into one of the top players in the country.

The 1947 Mustangs won their first nine games before ending the year with ties against TCU (19-19) in the regular season finale and Penn State (13-13) in the Cotton Bowl. In the game against TCU, Walker had runs of 80, 61 and 56 yards. He finished the year third in the Heisman Trophy balloting behind John Lujack and Bob Chappius.

The next season Walker claimed the Heisman Trophy while leading SMU to a 9-1-1 record and their second straight Southwest Conference Championship.

It was during this season that SMU began playing their home games permanently in the newly expanded Cotton Bowl, which became known as “The House That Doak Built.” The season ended with a 21-13 victory over the University of Oregon (quarterbacked by Norm Van Brocklin) in the Cotton Bowl.

After starting the 1949 season with a 5-1-1 record, the Mustangs lost their final three games to end the season with a 5-4-1 mark.

Though Walker did not repeat as the Heisman Trophy Winner (Walker finished third behind Leon Hart and Charlie Justice), he did earn consensus All-America honors for the third straight year.

SMU posted a 23-5-4 record during Walker’s final three seasons and won a pair of SWC championships. He completed his college career with 288 points, 2,076 rushing yards, 1,786 passing yards (completing 128 of 22 attempts), 454 yards receiving, 764 yards returning kickoffs and 750 yards returning punts.

Walker was selected by the New York Bulldogs with the third pick of the 1949 NFL Draft, but never played for the Bulldogs as he returned to SMU for the 1949 season and then was traded to the Detroit Lions. Read the rest of this entry →

SMU Football: Back From The Dead 17

Posted on December 20, 2009 by Dean Hybl
SMU vs. East Carolina

More than 20 years after being given the "death penalty" by the NCAA, SMU football is heading back to a bowl game.

Illustrating that in college football even death isn’t permanent, the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs will take the field for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl this week, 25 years after playing in their last bowl game and 23 years after their program was left for dead by the NCAA.

For an entire generation of fans, SMU is best known for having the only football program ever given the “death penalty” by the NCAA for repeated rules violations. However, to define the football history of the school only by the last 25 years is to neglect a rich and historic tradition that is an important part of college football history.

Though the football programs at Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Christian (TCU) are all older, it didn’t take long after starting football in 1915 for SMU to join them to form a dominant football juggernaut within the state of Texas. Between 1927 and 1941, each school claimed a share of at least one national championship.

In 1915, Texas and Texas A&M were among the founding members of the Southwest Conference. SMU joined the league in 1918 and soon was contending for league titles.

The first great football team at SMU was under the guidance of coach Ray Morrison in 1923. The Mustangs registered shutouts in seven of their nine games and outscored their opponents 207-9 while claiming their first SWC title with a perfect 9-0 record.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Lefty Gomez: First All-Star Starter
      July 11, 2020 | 6:22 pm
      Lefty Gomez

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the American League starting pitcher for the first three All-Star Games and five times in a six-year stretch.

      It didn’t take long for Vernon “Lefty” Gomez to become established as one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball.

      After posting a 2-5 record in 15 starts in 1930, Gomez quickly became the staff ace. In 1931, at the age of 22, Gomez posted a 21-9 record and 2.67 ERA.

      Read more »

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