We. Wuz. Robbed. Longhorns vs. Roos

Coach Tom Herman’s Bulldogs loaded onto the bus in Seguin. They were bound for Sherman, TX, where Texas Lutheran would face David Norman’s Austin College Kangaroos in the season opener of the American Southwest Conference. Herman was a receivers coach for the Bulldogs, and had high hopes for a strong offensive showing and a win.

But the Roo Blackshirt defense shut down Herman’s crew, and pitched a 34-0 shutout. Future New York Giants running back Aaron Kernek had over 100 yards, and Coach David Norman’s Roos were 1-0 in conference. Herman and his team were soon headed back south on a quiet ride down I-35.

The following year, Herman got a call from the Longhorns. He was invited to join newly hired Mack Brown’s team as a graduate assistant (GA). After two years in Austin, he began a journeyman coach’s trip around the country. In 2017, Herman finally returned to Austin and accepted Mack Brown’s old job. He was going to lead the mighty Longhorns of the University of Texas.

Coach Herman will probably win many games in stadiums throughout the state of Texas by the time his career is done. But he’ll always be 0-1 at Louis Calder stadium.

Athletic competition between the Austin College Kangaroos and the Texas Longhorns stretches all the way back to the year 1900. That April, the Roo baseball team traveled to Austin to take on UT. The Longhorns won, and the Roos headed back north via train a half century before I-35 became a reality. Teddy Roosevelt was running for Vice-President on a ticket headed by William McKinley. Galveston, having yet to suffer a catastrophic hurricane, was the largest city in Texas.

The Roos would defeat the Horns in baseball throughout the years, but could never quite pull off a victory on the gridiron. Six times Austin College journeyed south to face the University of Texas, and six times AC headed back in defeat. Five of those six losses were never in doubt. The first meeting in 1912, however, was an entirely different matter.

Teddy Roosevelt was on the campaign trail again in 1912, seeking a third Presidential term as the nominee of the “Bull Moose” Reform Party. That same year, UT faced off against the Roos. The 1912 game against Austin College was the first ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron. The game was scheduled to fill a hole left by the departure of Texas A&M, which had temporarily suspended the rivalry in 1911. The match up was supposed to be nothing more than a tune up, before the first Red River Rivalry clash ever in Dallas against the Oklahoma Sooners one week later. The Longhorns were defending conference champions in 1911, and were looking for more of the same in 1912.
But tiny Austin College showed up with other plans.

The game featured a star running back from AC who would give the Horns fits all day long. That same back would later spend decades in coaching, leading Rice to six SWC titles. The matchup in Austin was attended by the President of Austin College himself, and because of coincidental timing Kangaroo fans were nearly as numerous as Longhorn fans.

Look up the score of the 1912 UT / AC game, and you’ll see a 3-0 victory for the Horns. But scratch a little deeper, and you’ll find more. You’ll find an incredible effort by a smaller team on the road. You’ll find a home team shaken to the core that failed to recover against the Sooners the following week. And you’ll find a game that was talked about in Sherman for years.

But you’ll also find one final astonishing fact.

Austin College should have won. We wuz robbed, Roo fans. We. Wuz. Robbed.

But that was 105 long years ago. Today, many D3 Roo fans also root for the D1 burnt orange and white. Herman’s 2017 season brought back a winning record and bowl eligibility after three long years, and AC fans who root for Texas are looking forward to more in 2018 and beyond. Go get ‘em Horns.

Hey, it’s a Roo Tale! The story of the first suspension of the Longhorn-Aggie rivalry in 1911 and the incredible game in 1912 that replaced it will be told in 8 chapters over 8 days. The first chapter will be posted tomorrow, January 28th. The final chapter will be posted on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4th.

It’s a great way to end the 2017 football season. This one’s a good one. Hope you’ll join us.

Chapter 1: The End of the Rivalry
Chapter 2: Longhorn Nation vs. Presbyterian Nation
Chapter 3: Metzenthin Replaces Arbuckle
Chapter 4: Roos Win!
Chapter 5: We. Wuz. Robbed.
Chapter 6: A Defeat That Should Not Have Been
Chapter 7: The Revenge of Cecil Griggs
Chapter 8: The Return of the Rivalry

Chapter 1: The End of the Rivalry

The Texas Longhorns couldn’t be beat.

UT dominated Texas A&M in football over the first 15 years of the rivalry’s existence. The Aggies managed just one victory from 1894 to 1908, a 11-0 win in 1902. But that began to change when Charlie Moran arrived.

The Aggies hired Moran in 1909, the second year of Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) play. Moran’s A&M teams defeated the Longhorns three times in a row, and captured two conference titles in 1909 and 1910. More of the same was expected in 1911, when Texas A&M met the Horns on November 13th in Houston.

UT coach Dave Allerdice and the Longhorn faithful were no fans of Moran. Allerdice had played for Coach Fielding Yost’s Michigan Wolverines, earning All-American honors from Walter Camp. The Texas coach accused the Aggies of using illegal players, in the mistaken and ego driven belief that A&M could surely only win by cheating. The accusation was likely unfair, but was significant motivation for UT in Houston. Playing inspired football and benefiting from a bit of luck, Texas upset A&M 6-0 and returned the conference crown back to Austin in 1911.

Flush with victory, Allerdice and UT demanded that A&M fire Moran or the Longhorns would end the rivalry. The Aggies refused, and the rivalry was put on hold. The two schools would not meet again until 1915, when the new Southwest Conference replaced the original TIAA.

Austin College had lost to the Aggies at Kyle Field in 1911, just three weeks before the Longhorn victory over A&M in Houston. AC & Texas A&M had shared history. Both schools at the time were all male institutions with military tradition, and the colleges had met on the gridiron seven times already through the 1911 season. The Aggies were scheduled to kick off against Austin College for an eighth time in late October of 1912. Unlike their neighbors in College Station however, the Longhorns had little history with the Sherman Presbyterians. That began to change due to the influence of one particular coach.

After joining the TIAA in 1908, Austin College football began to flourish under the leadership of Head Coach J. Burton Rix. The former Dartmouth star led AC to a winning season in 1909, which attracted the interest of the Longhorns. The influence of Rix in Sherman was also seen on the diamond; AC baseball faced the Longhorns six times between 1909 & 1911, winning three. After another successful football campaign in 1910, Rix was lured away to Austin to assist Allerdice with Longhorn football.

In Sherman, Rix was replaced with Chester Johnston, a former football standout at the University of Miami. In 1911, Johnston picked up where Rix left off. That year, AC enjoyed another winning season, with victories over Baylor and TCU. The 1911 season cemented AC’s reputation as a small school giant killer, capable of competing with any team in the state. Austin College was no Texas A&M, but the Kangaroos were dangerous. A decision to replace the Aggies with the Roos was risky, and both Allerdice and Rix knew it.

But UT had to fill the spot vacated by the Aggies with somebody in 1912, and options over a century ago were limited. In the end, the “Varsity” program in Austin decided to reach out to Austin College as an A&M replacement. An agreement was reached with the Presbyterians; AC would travel to Austin to play the Longhorns on October 12th, 1912.

It would be the first ever meeting between the two schools.

Chapter 2: Longhorn Nation vs. Presbyterian Nation

Rule changes were implemented for the 1912 season that made the game much closer to what we experience today. Teams were given 4 downs instead of 3 to obtain a first down. The value of a touchdown was increased from 5 points to 6. The field was reduced from 110 yards to 100 yards, and 10-yard end zones were added.

In spite of the rule changes though, the game was still heavily biased towards the run. A number of rules discouraged passing, the most important of which was the ruling that an incomplete pass was a turnover. That particular rule would be changed for the 1913 season, inaugurating an era of passing that famously began with Notre Dame and Knute Rockne’s 35-13 air show victory over Army. But the 1912 game still favored heavier and more run-oriented teams such as the Longhorns.

The season began in Sherman with excitement, as most of the 1911 team was back. That squad had finished third in conference, behind the Longhorns and Aggies. But the biggest impact was felt by a new arrival, a sensational running back named Cecil Grigg. Grigg was touted as one of the top backs in the state. The book “Football Texas Style” mentioned Grigg, saying that he did “amazing things, running, passing, and punting, to the schools with larger squads and larger reputations that little Austin College was called upon to meet.”

Johnston’s squad kicked off the season with a 14-0 win over the University of Dallas, and began to make preparations for a road trip. The trip would take them south for a Tuesday, October 8th matchup against Baylor, followed by a short hop to Austin for the first ever meeting against the Longhorns four days later. After a long train ride to Waco, Austin College defeated the Bears for a second consecutive year by a score of 8-6.

According to the papers, the game at Carroll Field was not nearly as close as the score indicated. Meanwhile, the Horns had kicked off their season on the 5th in Austin, defeating TCU 30-10 at Clark Field. Most in Longhorn Nation still assumed an easy victory over the Roos after the 20-point win over the Horned Frogs. Others were not so sure.

The AC game was supposed to be a mere tune up before the real contest, a matchup against the Sooners of Oklahoma. Every UT-OU game up to 1912 had been played in either Austin or Norman. The 1912 game though would be held in Dallas, the inaugural edition of the Red River Rivalry at Fair Park.

AC arrived in Austin on Wednesday, October 9th, and checked into the famous Driskill hotel. The Driskill had been built in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill, and was one of the most luxurious hotels west of the Mississippi. It still stands today, on the corner of 6th & Brazos. Since 1887, every Governor of Texas has held his or her inaugural ball in its ballroom.

An Austin contemporary of Driskill was Andrew Jackson Zilker. Zilker made a fortune in the manufacture of ice, and acquired a significant amount of land west of Barton Creek and south of the Colorado river. He was instrumental in the development of the Barton Springs pool, and eventually donated much of his land to the city for the establishment of the park that bears his name. Zilker had three children, including a son named Andrew Zilker Jr.

Zilker Jr. decided to enroll at Austin College for the fall term of 1912, and joined the football team alongside Johnston and Grigg. Just weeks after leaving Austin for Sherman, Zilker Jr. was headed back home to help the Roos take on the mighty Horns. His father, a UT fan, declared his “loyalties divided” in the press and made plans to attend the game at Clark Field.

Also planning to attend the game was the president of Austin College himself, Dr. Thomas Clyce. As luck would have it, the entire Presbyterian Synod of the state of Texas was scheduled to meet that very week at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary just north of the campus of UT. The President of the Seminary was Robert Vinson, himself a 19th century AC alumni and veteran of Roo football from the very first year of 1896. Vinson would later become the President of UT itself, where he was instrumental in the raising of funds for the 1924 construction of the new DKR Texas Memorial Stadium.

As the AC football team went through its practice routine on Friday at nearby St. Edwards University, Dr. Clyce wrapped up that week’s Synod activities with a speech that urged members, their families, and friends to stay for the weekend to support their fellow Presbyterians from Sherman. Many did just that, and as a result there was a huge and loud crowd of AC supporters on the east side of Clark Field at kickoff time. Their numbers rivaled the Longhorn side.

The Roos were being asked to do the unthinkable: defeat the best team in the state on their home field. But the vocal Texas voices of Presbyterian Nation had their back.

Chapter 3: Metzenthin Replaces Arbuckle

Before DKR Texas Memorial Stadium, there was Clark Field. It was located just east of the main UT Tower, and just north of present day Gregory Gym. It was bounded by 23rd and 24th streets to the south and north, and Speedway St. and Waller Creek to the west & east. The Walter Geology Library covers much of the former field today. Longhorn fans filled the west stands via a main entrance near Speedway & 23rd; visitors occupied stands on the east side that would today provide a fantastic view of DKR. A famous photo from 1916 shows the Rice Owls kicking off to the Longhorns at Clark Field. The ball is traveling north and is visible between the goalposts; the Capitol building stands in the background.

UT’s Clark Field was named for James Benjamin Clark. A Harvard graduate, Clark and his family settled in Grayson County near Sherman in the 1870s and opened a successful law practice. In 1885, after being asked by Governor John Ireland to become one of the first Regents of the University of Texas System, Clark moved his family down to Austin. The University had purchased the land for an athletic field in 1899, and formally named it for Clark in 1906.

Longhorn coach Dave Allerdice was not terribly worried about the upcoming game, but still decided to close practice to fans on Friday. Allerdice focused on trying out some new plays and “whipping the regulars into some form” before game time, and was aided by both Rix and assistant Billy Disch, of Disch-Falk Field fame.

The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of UT, was very worried though:

“Until recent years Austin College has not been a factor in college football, but under the superb coaching of Rix, the Presbyterians made a long step forward and they have been getting stronger ever since. Their first game was with Baylor University at Waco last Tuesday and they were victorious by the score of 8 to 6. The detailed reports indicate that the Baptists were completely outplayed, and were lucky to hold the score as low as they did. Those who are expecting a walk-over this afternoon had better alter their minds before they place their money.”

The Austin American-Statesman was under no illusions either:

“Austin College comes stronger than ever this season. She has not lost a game yet. She made Baylor’s plucky even dance to the tune of 8 to 6 in the game with the Baptists, and walloped Dallas University with a comfortable score of 14 to 0.”

Newspapers from around the state previewed the game, noting that Austin College was lighter but also quicker. This was due primarily to Grigg, who was considered faster than any Longhorn and quite possibly the top back in the state. Given the early season matchup and the performance of both schools to date, few newspapers were confident in predicting a victor. The Houston Post was not one of them:

“The fact that Baylor was defeated 8 to 6 by Austin College and Dallas University also was defeated 14 to 0 brands the Austin players as likely winners.”

In 1912, an officiating crew for a football game was composed three individuals: two officials supplied by each team and overseen by a neutral head referee with final authority. For the October 12th game, both AC & UT had agreed that Philip Arbuckle would be that head referee. He was the head coach at nearby Southwestern, and his Pirates and fallen to both UT and AC the year before. Arbuckle was a natural choice.

But events conspired to send Arbuckle away. The long awaited grand opening of Rice University in Houston had finally arrived in 1912, with official ceremonies to be conducted on October 12th. That very week, the new Rice Board of Trustees offered Arbuckle the job of Athletic Director and head coach of football and baseball. Arbuckle enthusiastically accepted, and notified UT and AC officials that he would miss the game in order to be present at the grand opening in Houston. The Horns and Roos had to scramble to find a replacement. Due to the short notice, UT suggested that Arbuckle be replaced with a Longhorn professor and former coach named Waldemar Eric (W.E.) Metzenthin. Austin College agreed.

Metzenthin was born in Germany in 1875, and made his way to America with his family as a young boy. He was a star high school athlete in Pennsylvania, and quarterbacked the Columbia Lions in 1903 against the best college football teams in the country at Harvard, Yale, & Princeton. After graduation, he headed for Austin and the University of Texas.

In addition to his faculty position in German Studies, Dr. Metzenthin also coached Longhorn football in 1907 and 1908, leading UT to two winning seasons. He coached UT basketball until 1911, at which point he retired from UT athletics in order to focus on his career in academia. But he was always available to officiate, a passion he continued to pursue for years after 1912. Metzenthin was more than happy to assist both AC and his beloved Horns. He accepted the head referee job in the week leading up the game, and probably assumed his presence would not be a deciding factor at Clark Field.

He could not have been more wrong.

Chapter 4: Roos Win!

It rained overnight Friday, and skies were overcast for most of Saturday morning. Fans began to file in as a light rain fell and the two teams emerged. The Austin College squad was pleasantly surprised by the size of the Presbyterian synod membership in the east stands. It seemed to fire them up even more. The Longhorns won the toss, and elected to receive. Austin College kicked off to the north end zone, and the game was on.

From the very beginning, it was clear that this contest would be different. Playing inspired ball, the smaller Presbyterians stubbornly refused to yield. Longhorn runs up the middle were shut down over and over, and sweeps around the end were unsuccessful due to the quickness of the Roo defense in avoiding “interference” (using the language of the day). The first quarter came to an end tied at 0-0. Texas had 3 possessions and 2 three-and-outs. Austin College also had 3 possessions, the last of which resulted in a 66-yard drive that ended with a turnover. After one quarter, the Roos had outgained the Longhorns 84 yards to 37.

In the second half, the home team began to assert itself. The Longhorns put together two solid drives, the last of which resulted in points. UT took over at the Kangaroo 45-yard line after a short punt, and engineered a 9-play, 35-yard drive to the Roo 10-yard line. With seconds remaining, the Horns kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead at halftime. UT dominated the second quarter statistically, and the Roos had the look of an overmatched team that might be tiring.

It appeared that the rout was on. The smaller Kangaroos had held their own for an entire half, but the Longhorns were starting to move the ball. At halftime, UT held a total yardage advantage of 184 to 106, and most fans expected more of the same as the grind wore on.

At the start of the third quarter, the drizzle gave way to sunny skies. The Kangaroos returned from halftime as fired up as ever, still invigorated by the noise of the huge Presbyterian Synod crowd rooting them on. Almost as if willed to steely resolve by their boisterous fans, AC remarkably dominated the third quarter. The Longhorn plunges and sweeps were met time and again by a Roo defense that resembled a wall. UT’s four drives in the 3rd quarter went nowhere, and combined for only one first down and a measly 47 yards.

Cecil Grigg, the star AC halfback, had struggled throughout the first half against a fresh Longhorn defense. But as UT began to tire in the second half, Grigg started to find holes up the middle and openings around the end. He found daylight early in the third quarter for 35 yards, but the drive soon stalled. Later, he broke free for runs of 25 and 18 yards. By the end of the 3rd quarter, UT still led 3-0. But momentum seemed to be shifting to AC. One big play from Grigg might be the difference in the game.

As the 4th quarter got underway, both defenses were exhausted but still refused to break. The Longhorns got two crucial stops earlier in the 4th, and had the ball back with half a quarter to play. UT then began a long, methodical drive to ice the game away. It appeared that the Kangaroo defense had nothing left in the tank, and could do nothing to stop the Horns. 12 yards, then 6. Another 6. 25. Then 4. 3 yards. Then 4 again.

At the Roo 15-yard line, Longhorn quarterback Nelson Puett went around end, broke a tackle, and headed for the end zone. He crossed the goal line, appearing to clinch the game for the Longhorns.
But the rules in 1912 were different. In a manner similar to rugby, a touchdown in 1912 was only scored when a runner advanced the ball across the goal line AND “grounded” the ball in the end zone. Puett was hit by the Roo defense in the north end zone, and fumbled. Austin College recovered. Amazingly, the Roos had the ball at their own 20-yard line. With just minutes remaining in the game, AC had one last chance to score and defeat the defending state champions.

Coach Johnston’s first play called for a plunge by Grigg up the middle against the weary Longhorn defense. Grigg hit the line at full speed, found a hole, stiff armed a Texas linebacker, and sprinted right towards the Longhorn sideline. He picked up a block from a Roo teammate, broke the tackle of a Longhorn corner, and turned up field along the UT sidelines.

And he was gone.

A deafening roar arose from the east stands as the Presbyterian crowd witnessed Grigg pull away from each Longhorn defender. Roo players on the sidelines and in the game began to shout as eleven Longhorn tacklers gave chase to Grigg in vain.

As Grigg sprinted south down the Longhorn sideline in the shining Travis County sun, all he could see was green grass in front of him, the fast approaching end zone, and the State Capitol building in the distance. The Longhorn players on the sidelines watched glumly as he passed, powerless to stop him.

Silence soon gave way to a collective gasp of horror in the west stands, as Longhorn fans all slowly came to the same shocking and heartbreaking realization.

Tiny Austin College………………………. was going to win.

Chapter 5: We. Wuz. Robbed.

Cecil Grigg was gone.

A deafening roar arose from the east stands as the Presbyterian crowd witnessed Grigg pull away from each Longhorn defender. Roo players on the sidelines and in the game began to shout as eleven Longhorn defenders gave chase to Grigg in vain.

As Grigg sprinted south down the Longhorn sideline in the shining Travis County sun, all he could see was green grass in front of him, the fast approaching end zone, and the State Capitol building in the distance. The Longhorn players on the sidelines watch glumly as he passed, powerless to stop him.

Silence soon gave way to a collective gasp of horror in the west stands, as Longhorn fans all slowly came to the same shocking and heartbreaking realization.

Tiny Austin College………………………. was going to win.


James Creighton was a student manager of Austin College football in the early 1920s, and wrote about his experience in Sherman in his book, “Once Upon a Time: Austin College: 1919-1923.” Part of Creighton’s responsibilities included lining up officiating crews for AC football games, and he began that task in that fall of 1921 for an upcoming game between AC and SMU at Fair Park Stadium in Dallas. Creighton secured the agreement of W.E. Metzenthin as head referee for the game.
Word of this decision got back to the President of Austin College, Dr. Thomas Clyce. Clyce requested that Creighton come pay him a visit in his office in Sherman Hall to discuss.

“Creighton, I understand that you have arranged for Mr. Metzenthin to referee the S.M.U. game. That I will not have. He is the gentleman who robbed Cecil Grigg of a touchdown in 1912 and subsequently an Austin victory. You will just have to reshuffle the officials so that he does not have the position of referee.”

Creighton complied. Metzenthin was quietly reassigned to line judge at Dr. Clyce’s insistence, and the Roos defeated the Mustangs at Fair Park in Dallas by a score of 17-7.

The visit with Clyce stuck with Creighton for years after graduation. By the 1930s, Grigg was offensive coordinator for the Rice Owls under Coach Jess Neely, and Creighton had the opportunity to ask Grigg about the incident on a visit to Houston. Grigg knew exactly to what Creighton was referring. He had never told the story though; it was simply too unbelievable to tell.

It involved, of all things, a bear. Yes, a bear. See the comments for more.

Someone had brought a small bear cub to Clark Field, and had left the animal on the Longhorn sidelines. Who brought the animal and why remains unclear. What is known is that the bear rambled onto the field of play at the very moment Grigg was racing down the sidelines towards the winning score.

According to Grigg, “I broke the tackle of the bear and went on to score, but the T.D. was called back because there was some question as to whether I stepped out of bounds or not, in dodging this unusual opponent.”

As the cheers reverberated from the east stands and gasps of horror rained down from the west stands, Grigg dodged the bear, continued down the sidelines, and crossed the goal line for a game-winning touchdown.

But a flag was on the field.

The three-member officiating crew huddled to discuss. Head referee Metzenthin had final authority, and appeared to argue that Grigg had stepped out of bounds. His crew did not dispute. Metzenthin made the call, marking the ball just past midfield.

Grigg exploded in protest, and Coach Johnston came all the way onto the field to join him. He had definitely NOT stepped out of bounds, the AC running back screamed. And even if he had, a touchdown should be awarded anyway. The bear was not a part of the field of play, and there was no Longhorn in a position to catch him.

Their protests fell on deaf ears. Still angry, the Roos returned to the line of scrimmage and attempted to resume their game winning drive. It went nowhere. After a final desperation pass fell incomplete, the Longhorns took over and ran out the clock. Final Score: UT 3, Austin College 0.

As the Kangaroos left the field and the Presbyterian fans headed for the exits, one thought lingered in all of their minds.

We. Wuz. Robbed.

Chapter 6: A Defeat That Should Not Have Been

The reaction of sports writers across the state was unanimous. AC had gotten the better of the Horns.
Abilene Daily Reporter: “Austin simply outplayed the Longhorns. Though the Presbyterians were lighter by nearly fifteen pounds than the Varsity boys, they had line and field work far superior to that of the State University.”

Galveston Daily News: “In spite of the heavy field and light rains before and during the game, the Austin College men put up the gamest fight ever seen on the local field by a visiting team and at times outplayed the Texas team.”

San Antonio Light: “Austin clearly played the better game. Teamwork, clever interference, and fierce tackling places this team high among Texas elevens.”

Waco Morning News: “The visitors far outplayed the local eleven in almost every department of the game. Grigg was easily the star of the game, making three-quarters of the visitors’ gains and demonstrating unusual form in the open field where he used the straight arm to perfection.
Houston Post: “The Longhorns were outplayed. The visitors outplayed Texas at many stages of the game and their work was much more consistent than the Longhorns. They tackled harder and formed interference far better than did the local men.”

In Austin, the UT student newspaper was justifiably concerned about the Oklahoma game in Dallas:

The Daily Texan: “The plucky Presbyterians fought every minute and threatened the Varsity goal line more than once. Grigg, their right halfback, was easily the star of the game, and will likely prove to be the best halfback in the State. If the Longhorns can’t cross Austin College’s goal line, how many field goals will Texas have to make to defeat Oklahoma?”

The local Austin newspaper noted the presence of Presbyterian nation, and wondered whether a higher power might have intervened to give the Longhorns the win:

Austin American Statesman: “Across from the Texas agitators was an equally enthusiastic band of rooters. They were not the person who usually root from the grandstands. These cheer generators were none other than the Presbyterian Synod of Texas, now in session in Austin, who had accepted the courtesy of the University Athletic Association to attend the game. To make a long story short, the visiting squad simply outclassed the Longhorns. Several times it seemed but providential that the Presbyterians did not make a touchdown.”

Still stunned from the Austin College game, the Longhorns made their way to Dallas to take on the Sooners at Fair Park. Oklahoma won the first edition of the Red River Rivalry going away, by a score of 21-6. Part of the officiating crew that Saturday in Dallas? Austin College head coach Chester Johnston. No controversial flags were thrown by the Roo.

But the Longhorns regrouped, and finished their 1912 season with five wins. Baylor fell 19-7 in Waco, Ole Miss was crushed 53-14, Southwestern was easily beaten 28-3, and UT finished the season in Austin with a lopsided 48-0 win over Arkansas.

Texas finished the season with one loss, and undefeated in the TIAA. Texas A&M, however, also finished 1912 undefeated in the conference. Because the rivalry was on hiatus, there would be no undisputed conference champion. Both Texas & Texas A&M claimed the crown, leaving fans disappointed. Texas A&M’s primary argument for the title was that their victory over Austin College at home, unlike Texas’s, was not in dispute.

After the loss to the Horns, the Houston Post reported on the attitude of the Austin College team:

“Although defeated by Texas University, Austin College does not consider the trip to Waco and Austin anything but a success. Texas University for several years has not considered Austin College to be in her class, but it is known that Texas University was glad to get off with any score so as it was in her favor. That Austin College has the better team has been acknowledged and they would have been in first place when the season ended if hard luck had not overtaken the team while on the gridiron at Austin.”

AC lost to Moran’s Aggies at Kyle Field, but regrouped with wins over Daniel Baker (now Howard Payne), Fort Worth Poly (now Texas Wesleyan), and Rice to finish the season. The 81-0 victory over Arbuckle’s Rice team to end the season remains the worst Owl loss in program history.

Months later, AC Coach Chester Johnston was optimistic about the 1913 Roo season to come. But the UT game still weighed heavily on his mind. In the Sherman Democrat, Johnston remarked that “I think that we are going to have a fine season. The boys are all in excellent shape and promise to remain so. I should have whipped State [UT] last year but failed by a narrow margin. However, I don’t expect to lose another game this season.”

The 1913 AC Chromascope revisited the 1912 season with pride:

“With the exception of 1911, it [the 1912 season] was the most successful one in our history. In 1911 we held third place; in 1912, fourth, being outranked by A&M, Texas, and TCU. The season was one of hard luck for the Kangaroos. Two of the three defeats, Texas and TCU, should have been victories or ties at least but luck was not with us. This is not merely the writer’s opinion but of the Texas sporting world in general.”

About the UT game in Austin, the Chromascope called it “a defeat that should not have been.”

Cecil Grigg no doubt would agree. But Grigg would get his revenge.

Chapter 7: The Revenge of Cecil Grigg

A photo of the 1912 Austin College – University of Texas game survives, from the UT Yearbook “The Cactus”. It is blurry and nondescript, but is clearly labeled “Austin College Game”. The photo was taken from the west Clark Field stands, and shows the Presbyterian fans from around the state of Texas cheering on their adopted Kangaroos from the east side.

The game also appears in “100 Years of Texas Longhorn Football”, published back in 1993. “A week later, tiny Austin College nearly broke the hearts of Texas rooters, as they battled the Horns right down to the final minute before surrendering a 3-0 spine tingling decision to Texas.”
It took over four decades. But Cecil Grigg would finally get his revenge.

After a decade playing professional football with Jim Thorpe and years as head coach of AC football, Grigg accepted the offensive coordinator position for the Rice Owls in 1933. He would lead the Rice offense for another 35 years during the Owl glory years, until his passing in 1968. For the three decade period until Darrell Royal’s Longhorn national championship in 1963, Grigg and Rice held a 15-14-1 head-to-head record against the Longhorns. During that time, Rice won 6 Southwest Conference championships.

Championship #5 came in 1953. Grigg and the Owls defeated UT at Austin by a score of 18-13, and the Owls headed to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to take on the Crimson Tide of Alabama on New Year’s Day 1954. Grigg’s offense was led by star running back Dicky Maegle. Maegle would later enjoy a professional career with San Francisco after his Rice days. In 1958, he shared 49er running back duties with Austin College Kangaroo Gene Babb.

With the score 7-6 in favor of Rice, the Owls had the ball on their own 5-yard line. Maegle ran a sweep around the Tide defensive line, got a key block, and turned up field alongside the Alabama bench.

And he was gone.

11 Alabama defenders gave chase in vain, as Rice fans began to cheer a likely Owl TD. Tommy Lewis, an Alabama player standing on the sidelines, decided to take matters into his own hands. He ran onto the field, tackled Maegle, and then returned to his bench looking for somewhere to hide. With flashbacks to 1912 swirling in his head, Grigg recognized the situation immediately. He grabbed head coach Jess Neely and told him “Jess, that’s a touchdown.” Neely ran onto the field to make his case. The officials agreed, and awarded Maegle and Rice the score.

Alabama never protested the decision or the outcome of the game. Maybe that was because Rice won convincingly by a score of 28-6. Or maybe Alabama Athletic Director Pete Cawthon, the former legendary coach for Austin College, knew about Grigg and 1912 and felt some satisfaction in seeing the Kangaroo star get some payback. Most of the sporting world that day marveled at the “tackle-from-the-bench touchdown” in the Cotton Bowl, and wondered if such a play had ever occurred before. Grigg had known the answer for over four decades.

As Coach Grigg left the field, he celebrated one of the best Owl seasons ever alongside his Rice players. He also probably turned his thoughts briefly to Austin and his role decades earlier in the “defeat that should not have been”.

Chapter 8: The Return of the Rivalry

There, I fixed it. Austin College 7, Texas 3.

As this story makes clear, the choice of referee is an important one. That’s why you only want the best for the Super Bowl. Austin College Kangaroo Byron Boston is a member of today’s officiating crew in Minnesota. It will be his third Super Bowl in zebra stripes.

W.E. Metzenthin continued to teach German at the University of Texas and officiated football games off and on for years. In 1930, he was named UT Athletics Director, a position he held for 5 years. He passed in 1942. At his funeral in Austin, University of Texas President Homer P. Rainey said the following:

“All of us here are terribly shocked at his sudden and untimely death. The University has lost one of its fine personalities and all of us who knew him have lost a dear personal friend. He has a long connection with the University and has given faithful service.”

Homer P. Rainey was an Austin College Kangaroo baseball player, Class of 1919. He pitched against the Longhorns in Austin, and sits in the AC Hall of Honor.

The UT-A&M rivalry eventually returned in 1915 with the birth of the Southwest Conference. After beating Austin College that year, A&M defeated UT 13-0 at Kyle Field on Thanksgiving Day. A group of Aggie students traveled to Austin and branded the Longhorn mascot with the 13-0 score to mark the occasion. According to legend, the Longhorn mascot got its name when UT students changed the brand from “13-0” to “Bevo”.

The story is a myth. The name “Bevo” was already in use by 1915. But we treasure our myths.

Austin College has its own myth. At the conclusion of the 1912 season, AC football chose its own mascot: the Kangaroo. The name almost surely comes from the “Kangaroo Kourt”, a decades old AC institution from the school’s military past. But the myth that remains is that the Roo mascot was born from the “hopping” quick play of the 1912 team, especially the 81-0 season ending victory over Arbuckle’s Owls. Like the Bevo myth, the Kangaroo myth is a good one.

The Metzenthins were a Longhorn family. W.E. Metzenthin’s son attended the University of Texas like his father, and also served his country in the Marines during World War II. Grandson Steve, however, decided on a different path by enrolling at Texas A&M. The rest of the Longhorn Metzenthins learned to accept this decision over time.

Steve Metzenthin is an Aggie graduate who today lives in the Houston area. I tracked him down while writing this story purely out of curiosity. I had no plans to contact him, until I read his writing. Steve has written about his grandfather, Longhorn family, his personal love of Aggieland, and his increased desire to see the Longhorn-Aggie rivalry eventually return. He wrote a piece called “FAMILY, FOOTBALL & TWO SCHOOLS” in 2005, just before the Longhorn national championship victory over USC. He reposted it in August 2017. It is worth reading in full at the link in the comments below. Steve ends the piece with the following:

“My grandparents are buried next to each other in the state cemetery across Interstate 35 from Memorial Stadium and across the street from where the Longhorns play baseball.”

“The scoreboards aren’t quite visible from the grave sites, but they are close enough to the playing fields where you can feel the ground tremor when something good happens for the Longhorns.”

“None of this will make me root for them when they play A&M. I made the decision to cheer for the Aggies long ago.”

“But I’ve also reached the point in life where I realize there’s a lot in all this to celebrate – regardless of which football team wins.”

I was blown away after reading, and contacted Steve to participate in this story. He graciously accepted.

This Roo Tale was primarily about a football game between Austin College and the University of Texas. But a secondary story involves the end of the UT-A&M rivalry in 1911, its rebirth in 1915, and a desire today to see the rivalry return for a second time. Amazingly, the grandson of a principal Longhorn figure in the Roo/Longhorn game was an Aggie writing about the value of the rivalry. As a Roo who was raised an Aggie fan in College Station and who today works for UT and raises a family in Austin, I certainly share Steve’s views.

And Steve. If your grandfather missed that call in 1912, well, on behalf of Roo Nation…….all is forgiven. 🙂

Justin Tucker booted a 40-yard field goal in 2011 to give UT a 27-25 victory over the Aggies at Kyle Field. No game has occurred since. The now six-year hiatus is longer than the four years after 1911 that led to the AC/UT game involving Steve’s grandfather. There has been some movement to return the game on a permanent basis. That momentum will likely continue.

Longhorn Coach Tom Herman sees the game coming back at some point. “Do I think it will ever happen? Yeah, I do. When? I don’t know. It’s one of the most historic rivalries in college football and I do think it will happen.”

The movement is not just limited to the Longhorns. “I’d like to put the UT-A&M game back together,” said Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp recently. “I know [the Governor] wants to put it back together. UT wants to put it back together.”

Even if it takes years, It’s just a matter of time before the rivalry returns again. Because it’s just a game, we can go without it for a while. But a critical mass demanding its return will probably emerge, as Texans reach a point in their lives when they “realize there’s a lot in the rivalry to celebrate – regardless of which football team wins.”

And when the game returns, we Roo fans will pick one side or the other to cheer; and we’ll celebrate the game. We’ll also think about our own little school’s storied history with both of these larger………and younger……institutions.

And we’ll remember that amazing game on October 12, 1912, a defeat that should not have been.

There, I fixed it. Austin College 7, Texas 3.

Hope you all enjoyed this little story. More good tales to come! Go Roos.