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1958 Texas-OU: "Turning It Into a Bloodletting Again."

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It's Texas-OU Week. To fully understand the passion this brings to both sides, you have to understand the history involved. I thought I would put up a few posts on what are for me, some of the most significant games of this rivalry.

Begining with the game that happened 50 years ago. Texas had a great run in the late 40's, as TaylorTRoom pointed out thanks mainly to the incomparble Bobby Layne.

Texas never lost to OU or A&M during Layne's four years on campus. The Sooners hired Jim Tatum to change that in 1946. Oklahoma went 8-3 in his one and only season in Norman, including a 20-13 loss to Texas. The 8 wins was the 2nd most total in a season for the Sooners in 30 years, but when OU wouldn't give him a long term contract, he bolted for Maryland. His top assistant, Charles "Bud" Wilkinson, was given the job. OU promptly turned the series around, and the Sooners won in 1948 and 1949 by the identical score of 20-14, with Darrell Royal at quarterback.

Royal
Darrell Royal was 2-2 as a player in the Texas-OU series.

Wilkinson went on to win 8 out of 9 against Texas, running Ed Price out of town with back-to-back shutouts in 1955-56. When D.X. Bible went looking for a replacement, he tried to get Bobby Dodd from Georgia Tech. Dodd was interested, but when the talks became public, he backed out. He did mention a young coach who had just finished his first year at Washington for the job.

Why would Bible choose a 32-year old with a 17-13 record as a head coach to take over the Texas program? He thought some young blood was needed, and he wanted to find a coach who could become Athletics Director in time as well. Some of the brightest minds in the game recommended Royal, and Bible was sure that Royal fully understood the depth of passion of the Texas-OU rivalry. Royal, out of Hollis, OK, had entered the Army Air Force in WWII. When he was discharged, he asked a friend who had played freshman ball at Texas to write a letter of recommendation for him to Texas. Nothing came of it, so Royal went home to OU and became an All-American for Wilkinson.

Royal came by his penchant for coaching defense and special teams play naturally. He returned two punts of 73 and 95 yards for touchdowns in 1948, and he still holds the OU career record for interceptions with 17.

While Royal recogized that the Texas job was a dream come true for him, he also knew that it was open for a reason. The program had fallen into disarray, not just on the field. He also knew that his former coach had a monster program in Norman. OU was in the midst of a 47-game win streak. Between 1947-56, the Sooners were 83-8-3.

Bud
Coming into the 1958 game, Wilkinson and the Sooners had won 6 in a row over UT.

Royal immediately assured the fans that he knew what was his number one priority at Texas. "We'll hit," Royal said. "We'll find us some guys who want to dance every dance, and we'll turn that thing up in Dallas into a bloodletting again."

When he got to Texas, Royal made some quick cosmetic changes, such as getting new turf on the practice and playing fields, and a secretary for himself and his assistants. He designed the T-Lounge, a combination snack bar-study lounge for current players, and a meeting place for alums on game day. He orderd brand new practice equipment, where most schools used old game jerseys.

In 1956 Texas had become the first state school to require entrance examinations for all freshmen. Royal became the first coach to hire a full-time academic counselor, whom Royal called a "Brain Coach."

Royal oversaw every aspect of the program, from getting nicer hotels for away games, to what players could wear on the road. "Things like that should never be an issue," Royal said. "All of these things help sustain moral."

Royal's first team lost to OU in 1957 21-7.

Texas opened the 1958 season hosting Georgia and it's new quarterback, Fran Tarkenton. The Horns led 7-0 when Tarkenton took the Bulldogs on a 95-yard scoring drive and then took advantage of a brand new rule, going for two after a touchdown. Tarkenton flipped a short pass for the conversion and an 8-7 lead. Texas came back to win 13-8, but after the game Royal again stated that he didn't like the new rule, saying that it "let fans go to Vegas and play with somebody else's money," and it would be another reason for fans to second guess coaches.

OU came into the 1958 contest with a chip on its shoulder, since the Sooners had started the year out #1, but were dropped to #2 behind Auburn after OU barely beat Oregon 6-0. Texas was also unbeaten going into the game (3-0), but the Horns were still two-touchdown underdogs. Royal hadn't gotten much out of his first recruiting class, and Texas relied on two juniors -- QB Bobby Lackey and HB Rene Ramirez for offensive fireworks.

The game started out as fierce defensive struggle. Royal had made good on his promise of turning the game back into a "bloodletting" at least as far as the hitting was concerned. Neither team made a first down for the first 10 minutes of the contest. Then early in the 2nd quarter, Texas drew first blood. On fourth and 4 from the OU ten yard line, the left-handed Ramirez took a pitch to the left, raised up and hit George Blanch for the touchdown.

Rene
Rene Ramirez, nicknamed the "Galloping Gaucho" gave Texas its first score on a trick play.

Royal then decided to use the new rule that he hated. Texas went for two.

Royal said he went for two after the first score because, "it would totally catch them by surprise, and we didn't think one touchdown would hold up." After scoring on a trick play, Texas ran the most basic running play in the play book for the two-point conversion.

Royal reasoned that OU would expect some kind of razzle-dazzle, not just an up the middle handoff. He also worked his offense on this play over and over until they had such total confidence in it that they lined up and blew OU off the line for the conversion.

Funny isn't it? How a coach with such a conservative reputation won so many crucial games with uncharacteristic calls. When folks expect you to keep the rent money in your pocket, rolling the dice is quite a shock.

Texas went into halftime leading 8-0.

OU dominated the 3rd quarter, and finally got on the scoreboard with 4 minutes left. The Sooners went for two, but it failed, and Texas led 8-6. After the kickoff, disaster struck for the Longhorns. Lackey
missed a handoff to Mike Dowdle, and the ball actually ended up on Dowdle's back, where OU's Jim Davis picked it up and moved 25 yards for the touchdown. This time the Sooners two-point conversion worked, and OU now led 14-8.

In the middle of the 4th quarter, Texas mounted a 13-play 74-yard drive that started with Royal sending Vince Matthews in at QB. Matthews, the better passer, quickly took the Horns down the field hitting 6 out of 7 passes, including a 4th down and 6 completion. The series ended when Bobby Lackey hit Bob Bryant with a jump pass (believe it or not Tim Tebow did not invent the jump pass), to tie the game. Lackey then kicked the go ahead extra point to give Texas the 15-14 lead. Lackey also ended up intercepting the final OU pass to give Texas the one point win and the first victory over the Sooners in 7 years. Lackey, Matthews and Ramirez combined to hit 12 out of 17 passes for 153 yards and both scores.

Royal had beaten his former coach on his second try. Texas fans tore down both goalposts. When OU President George Cross came to the UT locker room to congratulate Royal and the team he had to wait a minute. It seems Darrell had gone around outside the back to throw up.

Short-term the loss didn't slow the Sooners down much as OU won out on the regular season, and thumped Syracuse 21-6 in the Orange Bowl to end up the season 10-1. Texas lost three of its last five games to finish 7-3 and rejected bowl feelers from the Gator Bowl.

Long term, however, the win over the Sooners paid huge dividends. Texas also defeated A&M that year, making it the first time since Bobby Layne's senior year that Texas had beaten both OU and A&M the same season. The success of 1958 could not be underestimated in terms of helping recruiting as well. The 1959 recruiting class would supply 28 sophomores who would be listed among the top 44 players for the 1960 season. That sophomore class would go 26-5-2 on the varsity and set the table National Championship run of 1963.

Royal-Bud
The 1958 Texas win was the first of 6 in a row for Royal over his former Coach.

It was also the begining of the end for Royal's mentor. Going into 1958, Wilkinson was 9-2 against the Longhorns, but he would never win another contest in Dallas. Despite ending up with a 145-29-4 mark, with 13 conference and 3 national titles, Wilkinson was out of coaching at the age of 47. Before the 1963 season there were rumors of Wilkinson retiring to run for the U.S. Senate. As he suffered his 6th straight loss to his former player, one politico remarked, "That's the shortest tenure in the Senate of anyone I know."

Before the game Royal said, "The only way anybody's going to beat Oklahoma is to go out there and whimp 'em jaw to jaw. They get a yellow dog running downhill and they'll strap them pretty good. The thing
I want to see is that they earn what they get with bumps and bruises...Texas has to develop a football tradition. It had one once, but lost it."

Lackey-SI
The joy of the 1958 win over OU reached all the way into 1959 when Lackey and the Horns graced the cover of SI.

This game was a major step in bring that tradition back.