By Mark S. McDonald, author
When Texas played Arkansas in The Big Shootout for the 1969 national championship, America was in chaos … our young men coming back from Vietnam in body bags, race riots over integration, peace rallies, assassinations, The Pill, street drugs … In this cauldron of stress, how did players and coaches focus on football?
Razorback DE Bruce James credits the U of A staff for insisting his teammates maintain the sole purpose of a jackhammer. “We had our navels screwed to the ground,” James says in Chapter 19 of “Beyond The Big Shootout — 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons.”
Ditto for the Longhorns. Despite the peripheral noise, Bob McKay told me that when UT flew from Austin to northwestern Arkansas, the Longhorns were beady-eyed serious. Texas coaches called it “a business trip.” Defensive coordinator Mike Campbell likened the partisan crowd at Razorback Stadium to “parachuting into Russia.”
On game day, Dec. 6, 1969, the visitors came to understand exactly what he meant.