Book Of The Month: The Pride Of Aggiland...
11/7/2013 by BY MARGARET BOGUE
Book of the Month ? The Pride of Aggieland Spirit and Football At a Place Like No Other.
Texas A&M was looking for a new football coach in 1953. Several young coaches were mentioned including Darrell Royal and Tom Landry.
The choice, however, had landed on Paul ?Bean? Bryant, who had been a successful football coach at the University of Kentucky for eight years. At Kentucky, basketball was king ? not football. Bryant became very dissatisfied, and was eager to leave Kentucky.
Bryant was hired. The question of salary had to be decided. He said he didn?t want to make more than the president of the college, who made $15,000 a year. So he was hired at the same pay as the president.
The 6?3? coach landed at College Station February 8, 1954 in time for spring training. Bryant brought with him several coaches from Kentucky. The films they had seen did not lie. A&M lacked talent, and more important to Bryant ? toughness.
To meet this problem, he decided to move fall training to Junction, a small Texas town in the Hill Country about four hours away. Reporting for fall drills in August were 115 players. At Junction in a 10-day training session, Bryant ruled with an iron fist. The heat was exhausting. The practice field was a
burr-filled goat pasture.? He drove many of the players to exhaustion and exasperation. Players quit the camp nightly deserting the barracks as soon as the lights went out.
Only 35 of the 115 players survived the hardships of Junction, and returned to College Station to start the 1954 season. Gene Stallings, a sophomore end, recalled the Aggies started out in two busses and came home in one.
The first two years were met with eleven defeats. By the time the freshmen who survived Junction training camp became juniors and seniors, the Aggies were on their way to the best season since the A&M Championship in the year 1939.
In the summer of 1956, it seemed the Aggies could clinch the S.W. Conference Championship. Unfortunately, the team was put on probation because Bryant had illegally recruited players. From 1894 until 1956, A&M had never won a football game in Austin. Despite injuries of key players the Aggies won 34-21.
The crowning season was 1957 when A&M was No. 1 in the country. Bryant could now leave the school a winning coach. He left in 1957 for his dream job as head coach of the University of Alabama, his Alma Mater.
Bryant was buried with one ring on each hand. One ring was for Alabama where he won six national titles. The other ring was a special A&M letterman?s ring, a gift from Junction survivors who rose to No. 1 in 1957.
The Pride of Aggieland was copyrighted in 2002. It states that the only Aggie to win the Heisman Trophy was John David Crow. He was an outstanding athlete. A tough halfback and linebacker. He is a survivor of Junction, and won the Heisman in 1957. He became athletic director of A&M from 1988-1993.
Since the book was written another Aggie was added; freshman, Johnny Manzeil who won the Heisman in 2012.
Time to thank the good folks who contributed to the library. The following four each gave in memory of Naomi Reid: W.R. and Freddie McSwain, Marshal and Nancy McSwain, Celinda Brown, and the Maggard family.
A good way to honor a friend or loved one is with a memorial gift to the library.
The Pride of Aggieland, an interesting book with lot of good pictures, is available at the library.