I watched the ESPN Films ‘Nixon’s National Champions’ special yesterday which focused on the 1969 Texas vs Arkansas game, which was the 100th anniversary of college football (hence, Game of the Century) and also did a bit of research on my own:
It was hard to enjoy because it seemed like propaganda for ESPN’s involvement with the new college football playoff system, trying to state how good things are now since there’s a playoff system and how much chaos there was when there wasn’t.
Texas and Arkansas usually played each other in October, but both head coaches were persuaded to move the game to the final game of the regular season by ABC Sports executive Roone Arledge, who also promised Arkansas that Nixon would attend the game and ABC would televise Arkansas’ season opener in 1970 against Stanford and their star quarterback, Jim Plunkett.
ABC preferred the game to be played later in the afternoon, but scheduled it for a noon kickoff because Arkansas’ stadium didn’t have lights. My, how times have changed.
I really didn’t know the backstory to the championship, and that Penn State felt shafted after completing their second straight season without a loss. Back then, schools accepted invitations to bowl games with games still left on the schedule. Penn State chose to play in the nice weather in Miami at the Orange Bowl and declined the Cotton Bowl invite, but if they would have chosen the Cotton Bowl, they would have played Texas in the last game of the season for the national championship.
Texas was on an 18 game winning streak and Arkanas was on a 15 game winning streak. The first time I typed that sentence I actually typed “steak” twice, which I guess means I want me some steak.
I knew Nixon attended the game, which was in Arkansas, but I had no idea that he actually sat in the stands like any old spectator. Stadiums back then didn’t really have luxury boxes like they do now, but post JFK, the Secret Service must have been freaked out.
On the way to the game Nixon picked up Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens in Oklahoma to watch the game. Also on that trip on board Air Force One was future president and recent hospital visitor George H.W. Bush. Now that I think about it, from Washington D.C., picking up someone in Oklahoma on route to Arkansas isn’t exactly “on the way”.
Since LBJ was still alive at the time and his library was being built at UT, I wonder if Nixon was rooting for Arkansas.
I can’t believe Texas actually won that game with five turnovers. It seems like Arkansas lost that game more than Texas won that game.
The game had a television rating of a 52.1 share, so more than half the televisions were tuned in.
Billy Graham gave the pre-game prayer.
Texas won 15-14 and Nixon game Texas a plaque stating the Longhorns were national champs, which ticked off a bunch of Penn State fans, but Nixon gave them a plaque congratulating them on their two undefeated seasons. In the next presidential election, Nixon still won Pennsylvania.
Despite Nixon’s proclamation that Texas was the national champions, oddly, there was still a game left in the season to play for the Longhorns, the Cotton Bowl; which, as I mentioned, Penn State could have chosen to play in earlier in the season. Texas won the Cotton Bowl 21-17 against ninth ranked Notre Dame. Oh, what might have been.
It was the last major American sporting event played between two all-white teams, so the game was also called Dixie’s Last Stand.
Five years ago if you told me the legacies of Joe Paterno and Bill Cosby could be tarnished, I’d say you were nuts.
Yesterday someone left a comment about ‘The Knick’ – BTW, the nurse who was supposedly from West Virginia is actually British and has a very proper English accent when being interviewed. – Dude, that actress is Bono’s daughter and she has an Irish accent.
Indonesia will send divers to retrieve bodies from that doomed AirAsia flight, that’s one job I never would like to have.
I can see David Letterman becoming the “permanent” host of the Kennedy Center Honors like Walter Cronkite was for over 20 years. Though at Letterman’s age, I wouldn’t expect him to do it for more than a decade. I did think he and Colbert had a nice little bit last night. During the broadcast, Letterman narrated Tom Hanks segment and stated that he had three separate step-mothers. Oh, and they brought out Hooch.
I often complain how Hollywood doesn’t come out with any original movies anymore, and someone on Reddit agreed stating that out of the top ten grossing films this year, only Interstellar wasnot a reboot, remake, sequel, or part of a franchise.
I keep seeing a lot of Selma commercials and they way someone yells “Dr. King” makes me think of this scene from Coming to America. The idea that a non-violent MLK would punch a man and hearing someone refer to him as “Martin Luther The King” cracks me up everytime.
The White House – 2014: A Year in Photos – I was a bit surprised at this photo of a woman slipping a note in the president’s shirt pocket, I’m sure the Secret Service doesn’t like that sort of thing.
Instead of saying “cheese” for pictures, say “cheeks”.
I wish I could see all of you mouthing those two words at this moment.