Texas Longhorns

(Authentic Reproduction)



Upon arriving on the Texas campus, Coach Darrell Royal made it clear that his sights were set on a national championship. He felt capable, liked his staff of loyal assistants, and believed that players from the state of Texas were among the very best. "You can't tell me Texas boys don't have pride. A coach isn't as smart as they say he is when he wins or as stupid when he loses" Royal stated, noting that you had to have quality players and year by year, his great recruiting ability had them stockpiling in Austin. In 1961 Royal had tremendous offensive firepower and except for a 6-0 upset to Sonny Gibbs led TCU in the next-to-last game of the season, they rolled, putting up 28, 42, 41, and similar point totals in every other game. For the early 1960 offenses, the thirty-two plus points per game average in their other nine regular season games was huge and even without a very stingy defense, would have been hard to beat. Coupled with a defense that posted a per game average yield of 5.9 points and only one game in which it gave up more than eight, this truly was a National Championship team. Behind the super-fast James "Rabbit" Saxton, Royal installed a new "Flip-Flop" offense which simplified assignments and put the ball into Saxton's hands more often. The Flip-Flop, teamed with defensive coordinator Mike Campbell's spectacular defense, gave Texas a storied season. Bill Walsh, later to gain fame as the father of the West Coast Offense, was an assistant to Marv Levy at California, Texas' opening game. Walsh said that "Royal's teams played fierce football. There was like an extra dimension to them. Texas was just a class team, a class organization." Walsh would not be the last opponent to notice. Other than the breakdown against TCU, a Texas Christian team that many forget had already defeated top-ranked Kansas and tied Ohio State which cost the Bucks the national title, Royal's team could not be touched. The twenty-five point Horned Frog underdog managed to knock Saxton out of the game by knocking him unconscious. Saxton came back in to gain eighty-five yards before again dropping unconscious to the turf, but had little recollection of the game on what many Longhorn supporters, Saxton included, saw as a cheap shot. In time, Saxton suffered a seventy-five percent hearing loss from that contact, necessitating the use of a hearing aid in one ear.
In the Cotton Bowl, 9-1 Ole Miss who felt that their 10-7 loss to LSU had kept them from the National Championship throne, paired with Texas for a match-up made in heaven. The Longhorns prevailed 12-7 in a game they controlled despite the close score. Royal had established himself as a top-flight coach. Royal also added a distinctive touch to the uniforms that year, placing what became the iconic Texas Longhorn decal on the sides of the helmet, moving the three-inch numerals above the horns, and maintaining the center stripe in the standard Longhorn color. To this day, the Longhorn decal remains on the sides of the Texas helmet and the entire football world knows exactly who owns that white shell. To this day the three inch numerals that Royal introduced remains although they would later be moved to the rear of the helmet.      

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.