Urban Meyer and Fred Akers

In my discussion last week on Urban Meyer, I invoked a quote from the movie Wall Street, “The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don’t want to do.”  I can’t leave the Urban Meyer-Texas saga without invoking another quote from Wall Street. Bud Fox’s father talking to him about Gordon Gekko said, I don’t go to bed with no whore, and I don’t wake up with no whore. That’s how I live with myself. I don’t know how you do it.”  Chris Del Conte and Jay Hartzell just got diddled by the best.

Fred Akers

If the coach who follows Nick Saban at Alabama does as well as Fred Akers did in succeeding Darrell Royal, he’ll have done a whale of a job.

In 1983, during one of my very favorite Texas Football seasons, there were weekly lunches on Wednesdays for boosters with Coach Akers at Casita Jorges on sixth street. Akers spoke to the boosters about the upcoming game and reported as much “inside” information as he could afford to. Before he spoke, he sat down to a plate of enchiladas at a table he chose at random with a few lucky attendees.  The Wednesday before the Oklahoma game, Coach Akers chose the table where my brother David and I were sitting. I sat directly across from Akers. At one point during lunch, he said he was anxious to get back to the Oklahoma game film he had been studying. I admit to being a little starstruck.  “We beat Oklahoma that year 28-16. When I told Helen about this a couple of days ago, she remarked, “It was a more innocent time.” In some ways it was.

For the record, Texas finished the 1983   regular season 11-0 and ranked #2. I refuse to talk about what happened next.

If I had to pick my all-time favorite Texas Football Season, it would be 1977, Fred Akers’ first year as the Texas Head Coach.

I was a senior at UT during the 1977 football season.  My Texas Football confidants and I had been in favor of hiring of Akers over Darrell Royal’s defensive coordinator Mike Campbell because he was young and represented a new generation and new thinking and would transform Earl Campbell from a wishbone fullback into an I formation tailback. We just knew Earl would be one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the country if he was a tailback.  We really did.

Akers and Campbell led Texas—a 13-point underdog—to its first win over Oklahoma—ranked #2 in the country—in seven years in the most exciting 13-6 game you’ll ever see. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s my favorite Texas-Oklahoma game EVER. After the game, a wild celebration broke out on the Drag. My brother told me that it was so wild and crazy, and loud that he and the friend, standing on the corner of 24th street and the Drag, couldn’t hear each other talk over the pandemonium.  I almost wish I had been there. I, of course, having attended the game, was in Dallas celebrating with a date and my fraternity brothers at party in a downtown Dallas hotel ballroom.

The week after the Oklahoma game, Johnny Ham Jones—Earl Campbell’s running mate—scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter as Texas beat #8 ranked Arkansas 13-9 in Fayetteville. There was another drag celebration as large and jubilant as the one the week before and I witnessed some of it from a window about 10 stories up in the Castilian dormitory as I was picking up my date for a Rusty Weir concert that night.

And . . . the week after the Arkansas game, Texas—now #2 in the country—beat an average SMU team in the Cotton Bowl on the same day that the #1 team, Michigan, lost.  Because everyone knew Texas would now be ranked #1 another massive Drag celebration broke out every bit as crazy as the ones after the Oklahoma and Arkansas game. Late on that warm, overcast, fall afternoon, sipping longnecks on the second-floor balcony of the Sig Ep house five blocks west of the Drag, John Scott and I heard a voice in the distance from a loudspeaker proclaim, “We ARE number 1.”

The Drag celebration was a thing now and some residents of the neighborhood just west of the Drag complained about the noise and partying—which including instances of public urination—that was spilling onto their streets.

One week after Texas routed Texas Tech at home, Larry Campbell and I ran from the stadium across campus to get back to our fraternity house before the craziness broke out. When we got to the Drag, in anticipation of the now weekly celebration, it was manned by Austin’s finest. The police weren’t there to break up the celebration but just to keep it somewhat civilized.  As Larry and I crossed San Antonio street, we noticed that several porta potties had been strategically set up to accommodate the partiers.

Texas went on to a perfect 11-0 regular season and on the night of December first, Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy. During that night’s Drag Celebration, as revelers, some in convertibles with the tops down, paraded slowly up and down the Drag, it began to snow.  

I still get teary eyed just thinking about it.

Nice job coach Akers.

Get on with it

The Kansas game has been cancelled and it won’t be rescheduled. The regular season is over. No later than this coming Monday, Chris Del Conte must fire Tom Herman or emphatically and unequivocally announce that Herman will be the coach of the Longhorns in 2021. I’m not sure the later is still a viable option.

I hear Bob Stoops is available. Just kidding, Mark Stephan.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

5 Comments to “Urban Meyer and Fred Akers”

  1. RIP, Fred Akers. Thanks for the memory of the memorable fall 1977 season, WE, where we can say we were there, and thanks for handing me your Daily Texan advertising territory, though business was not as brisk in the fall 1978.

  2. I remember it well. What a season! The cotton bowl was a let down, but it didn’t really matter. Beating OU was the best thing about that season. Wonder when if ever Texas will be back.

    • I agree. The Cotton Bowl was a let down for about 24 hours. It’s almost impossible to describe what it was like around UT during those weeks from OU through Earl winning the Heisman.

      I was selling ads for The Daily Texas and what a windfall the Longhorns run was for the paper. From the UT Co-Op to auto repair shops, appliance stores, clothing stores to you name it they were running ads promoting their stuff with some kind of tie in to The Longhorns. I remember an auto repair shop (one of my clients) selling a car horn that played an instrumental first few bars of “The Eyes of Texas” with a fast beat

  3. Bill, thanks my friend, that brings back ever so many fond, sweet, wow memories
    Love ya, I was there
    Still am!!⁶⁶

    • My pleasure. Just so you know–though you weren’t in this abbreviated story about that season–you’re all over the book I’ve been occasionally working on over the last 12 years.

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