Cotton Bowl Syracuse Texas Halftime Brawl 1960

By DaMan
Published Nov 5, 2009
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Date joined: Sep 23, 2009
Syracuse University coach Ben Schwartzwalder, center, puts his arms around his quarterback Ger Schwedes (16) as Texas coach Darrell Royal pushes Maurice Doke (81) toward the sidelines after tempers flared during the second quarter of the Cotton Bowl game in Dallas, Jan. 1, 1960. Syracuse players said the fight started when Texas players used a racial epithet against Syracuse's John Brown. (AP Photo)
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Jan 13, 2010
lefty wrote:
how terrible,that just 8 yrs. before I was born people still thought like that!! Disgusting!! Got a whole new hatred for Texas!!
Jan 13, 2010
rohebliusFanbase staffwrote:
Is this the famous game that they got wrong in the movie about Ernie Davis?
Aug 27, 2010
Hearndon wrote:
Part I

I have talked with 23 members of the 1959 University of Texas football team and 16 members of the 1959 Syracuse team about this incident and I have found that the brawl was essentially the result of Syracuse player's frustration on two fronts: 1. being penalized for illegal blocking tactics and, 2. frustration at the tenacity of the Longhorns.

Rules in 1959 stipulated that offensive linemen had to keep their hands off their opponents’ jersey and not grab it. The Orangemen had been coached to grab jerseys and hold on in the clinch to hide the tactic. Texas scouts discovered this and taught their players how to break the hold with a (legal) aggressive move. Texas Defensive Coach Mike Campbell also made umpire Judy Truelson aware of SU’s holding maneuver and he flagged the Orangemen for it. Later, Syracuse player’s claimed they were flagged for using forearm shivers which was ludicrous since Texas also used the forearm as well.

Syracuse players were also frustrated. They had not wanted to play in the Cotton Bowl and initially voted to play in the Orange Bowl. Coach Ben Schwartzwalder made them re-vote, making it clear that they were to opt for the Cotton Bowl. Also, the game proved to be tougher that the Orangemen expected. The Longhorns’ doggedness wore on them as the game progressed.

The incident itself took place just before halftime and started when SU’s Al Gerlick was flagged for holding and he slammed his helmet down in protest. Orangeman John Brown then walked over and made some nasty remarks to the official prompting UT’s Larry Stephens to yell, “Keep your black ass out of it!” Brown took a swing at Stephens and Longhorn Babe Dreymala grabbed Brown causing Syracuse and Texas players to come off their benches and onto the field where small pockets of brief fighting took place.
Aug 27, 2010
Hearndon wrote:
Part II

After the game Syracuse players inflated the incident with charges of overall racism by the Longhorns. The Eastern news media attempted to play up the racism charges but were stymied when several Syracuse players explained that their teammates had exaggerated, adding that some Orangemen had used racial epithets to UT’s Mexican-American back Rene Ramirez. With the race story deflated, the press shifted the focus to accusations that Texas played dirty -- a charge that was never raised during the Syracuse postgame mouthing and one particularly galling in light of the illegal tactics SU players were coached to use.

In response to this charge, Darrell Royal and his staff meticulously reviewed the game film and found no evidence of dirty play by the Longhorns. UT President Logan Wilson then made a formal request to the NCAA asking that a committee be appointed to review the film and conduct an investigation into Syracuse’s charges and that the findings be made public. Schwartzwalder quickly moved to squash the investigation which he knew could very quickly blow up in his face and spread since not only did Syracuse coaches teach their players illegal tactics but also administered cash payments to many of them as well (former Syracuse football player Dave Meggyessy wrote about the payoffs in his book Out of Their League).

Syracuse athletic director Lew Andreas later publicly retracted the charges of the Syracuse players saying, “No member of the Syracuse University administration nor any member of the coaching staff has accused the Texas team of playing dirty football in the Cotton Bowl game ...”

In 2007, Syracuse player Dick Easterly stated, “the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Some of the guys made statements after the game out of frustration and anger. They made it worse by going on TV and saying it and got into trouble when what they said didn’t line up with what the rest of us said.”

For many, the truth and the facts of what happened in the Cotton Bowl are less interesting – and far less useful -- than the myth that has been perpetrated over the years by (terrible) movies like The Express.
Aug 27, 2010
rohebliusFanbase staffwrote:
Hey Hearndon,

Thanks for sharing that information. It's very interesting.

Sep 01, 2010
chuckieluv wrote:

your argument is flawed. you claim that the fight stemmed from frustration over the officiating & the competitiveness of UT yet you airbrush over the real cause. you acknowledge that the fight did not start until Larry Stevens said something of a racial nature. "Keep your black ass out of it" may not seem like much to white folk but it would to a black player. so the primary cause of the fight, by your own writings, was a racist comment, not frustration. the subsequent pockets of fights were most likely caused by teammates backing each other up. the only one who truly knows why the fight started is/was John Brown since he's the one who started it. everything else is window dressing. as far as the frustration factor is concerned i find the fact that the SU players favored the Orange Bowl as irrelevent. you're telling me that they were so preoccupied w/ the re-vote (which happened weeks before) that they lost their cool halfway through the football game. hardly. as far as the officiating over the illegal moves isn't it just as believeable that the SU players were frustrated by biased officials? it was an all-white texas crew wasn't it? of course that's pure conjecture since i wasn't there and i didn't throw the first punch, but then again neither were you. plus your entire part II, while interesting, has nothing to do w' the cause of the fight. fyi you lose credibility when you show your texas bias by using heroic word choices like "tenacity" & "doggedness" when referring to UT.
ps i haven't seen "the express"
Oct 18, 2010
mossy31x wrote:
Hearndon, stop trying to protect your beloved Longhorns. Face it, it was blatant racism that caused the fight and you are trying to justify something that is disgusting. You look like a fool trying put Syracuse in the wrong. Again, neither have I seen The Express and what important position are you in to talk to members of both teams? I'd like to see all their claims if this really happened
Oct 31, 2010
yankee21 wrote:
@ Hearndon. My dad played for Syracuse on this team and I grew up with the story of how the team had to change hotels in order for the entire team to stay together (black players were not permitted at first hotel option) and even in new hotel- they could not take the elevators. Furthermore- it was true that Davis could not accept the MVP award as the banquet was held at an all white country club (the entire team boycotted the event) Racism was embraced in Texas in the late 50s- do not kid yourself. And do not kid yourself on how well coached and talented the Syracuse team was. Statistically they were one of the best college teams ever.
Jan 18, 2012
Mark5333 wrote:
Herndon...I just watched the game and the only ones frustrated were the Longhorns. The Longhorns were dirty and hit after the whistle on several occasions.The referies were at fault for letting the game get out of controll. I obviously could not hear any exchanges but the record shows the trophie ceramomy was closed to blacks, Syracuse had to get a second hotel because blacks were not allowed. That was a dark time in the history of college football and America.. America has come a long way in regards to racial discrimination in sports and college football has played a big part in bringing the country forward..
Feb 05, 2012
kwekuart wrote:
And I got the Brooklyn Bridge for sale in Dallas. I met Ernie Davis and its interesting that although Texas was one of the most racist states in the country, they try to minimize that fact now by saying the fight had nothing to do with race. They hated African Americans and were very disrespectful in their treatment of Black people. Now they try to twist the truth and say that the f ight had little to do with Texas' racist behavior and attitudes towards the Black players. Why are you afraid to admit that. The Lonhorns were getting their tail whipped by superior athletes and were just some dirty SOBs.
Feb 05, 2012
kwekuart wrote:
Heardon is full of shyt.
Feb 10, 2012
Mr. V wrote:
Wow, never let the truth prevent you from expressing your bias, huh kwekart, Mark5333, mossy31 and chuckieluv. Hopefully you will all someday learn that assuming you "know" what those in the past were motivated by is the pinnacle of both arrogance and ignorance.
Mar 11, 2012
rrobi3 wrote:
In 1960's America, racism was not an "assumption". It was a fact sanctioned by the US government. Furthermore, during a time when publically displayed signs such as "colored only", or "negros need not apply", were nearly as commonplace as stop signs, motives need not to be "assumed". They were undeniably clear. Only the racists, the blind or the simple cannot recognize them. If you don't believe that, Mr. V, I have a Honus Wagner baseball card with a copyright date of 1972 that I would like to sell to you. I am only asking $15,000.
Apr 28, 2012
donna1958 wrote:
I just happened to catch the move THE EXPRESS on tv this morning. when they got to the cotton bowl I have to say i was ashamed to be a Texas born woman in 2012. I was not even born when they game was played and now glad I was not.

Those Texans there that day all should be disgusted with your behavior and worse yet to be depicted as such in a movie.
Jul 26, 2012
zachery wrote:
Hearndon - I don't who you claim to be the 16 players from the Syracuse team because I know all of them and they didn't talk to you. I am the wife of one of them. We are in constant contact with each other. It is true about them having to stay at another hotel because of Ernie Davis and John Brown being black. In fact, in the hotel that they did stay in, they put Ernie and John in a room in back of the kitchen. And, it was more than one slur against Ernie and John that caused the brawl at halftime. Dick Easterly was hit and he landed by the Longhorns bench. They called him a "nigger lover" among other slurs. The quote by Dick Easterly was taken out of context. He was referring to the West Virginia game in 2007. He stated that the Cotton Bowl game wasn't "the war" that everyone was trying to make it out to be. Ernie wasn't allowed to accept the MVP at the awards banquet, so the team elected not to attend. Instead they went to a barbecue. But, the worst thing that happened was when the Longhorns were charging liquor and other items using SU team players names. When the team was invited to the premiere movie in Syracuse, we were told there would be parts in the movie that are "Hollywood". They flew in an airplane to Texas - they had them riding in a bus. We understood that but didn't appreciate the fact of the way they portrayed Ben and Ernie. The characters and the real persons were completely opposite. The consultants that the producer and director conferred with had graduated from Syracuse before the 1959 team came into being. But, all in all, the fact remains that "The Express" was made in honor of a black man and his Syracuse team. It could have gone the other way with them making a movie about the Texas Longhorns. I guess the better team won!!

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