Texas Longhorns

(Authentic Reproduction)




After the 1956 debacle that resulted in a 1-9 record and a horrific drubbing by Oklahoma who ran up 45 points while shutting out the Longhorns, it was time for a coaching change. Upsetting some Texas boosters, the job went to a former Oklahoma quarterback who had always played big games against the Longhorns. Darrell Royal was a thirty-two year old hot property who had done well in establishing his offensive reputation and that of a disciplinarian at Mississippi State and Washington. Texas hired him in December of 1956 and he became arguably one of the greatest of all collegiate football coaches. It didn't happen immediately as the 1957 record of 6-4-1 indicates but Royal beat Bear Bryant's A&M, ranked as the country's number one team at the time, and certainly made the 1-9 of 1956 forgettable. Led by back Walter Fondren Texas regained the aggressive play it had been known for and earned the right to play a powerful Mississippi squad in the Sugar Bowl, the 'Horns first bowl trip since 1952. Texas was back and Royal recruited the players he needed to ascend to the top of the conference and the top of the national rankings. Wanting a "clean slate" Royal altered the helmet design also. Returning to the white shell, Royal adorned it with the "Texas brown-orange" center stripe and what became a signature item on Texas helmets since 1958, three inch numerals, initially placed on the sides of the helmet. The Texas "burnt orange" which even more so during this era, was more of a brown color, would become immediately recognized and feared throughout the Southwest.

UT football, baseball, and track uniforms, along with letter sweaters, were orange and maroon. This created more than a little controversy, especially among the alumni. Adding to the confusion was the Cactus Yearbook, at the time published by the Athletic Association, which listed the University colors as either gold or orange and white. The appearance of the 1899 Cactus made matters worse. It suddenly declared the University colors to be "Gold and Maroon," which just happened to be the same hues used for the yearbook's cover. And all the while, students the University's medical branch in Galveston wanted to throw out the double-colors in favor of a single one: royal blue. Attending a football game in 1899, a UT fan would have found his compatriots sporting all shades of yellows, oranges, whites, reds, maroons, and a few in blue.

After considerable discussion, the Board of Regents decided to hold an election to settle the matter. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were all invited to send in their ballots. Out of the 1,111 votes cast, 562 were for orange and white, a majority by just seven votes. Orange and maroon receive 310, royal blue 203, crimson 10, royal blue and crimson 11, and few other colors scattered among the remaining 15 votes.

For almost thirty years, UT athletic teams wore bright orange on their uniforms, which usually faded to a yellow by the end of the season after having been washed a few times. By the 1920s, other college teams sometimes called the Longhorn squads "yellow bellies," a term that didn't sit well with the athletic department. In 1928, UT football coach Clyde Littlefield ordered uniforms in a darker shade of orange that wouldn't fade, and would later become known as "burnt orange" or "Texas orange." The dark-orange color remained in use until part-way though the Great Depression in the 1930s, when the dye became too expensive. UT uniforms were bright orange for another two decades, until coach Darrell Royal revised the burnt orange color in the early 1960s.

If interested in any of these Texas helmets please click on the photos below.