Earl Campbell

Matthew McConaughey attends the Texas football game Saturday evening in recognition of recent Distinguished Alumnus Awards. UT alumni recipients were awarded for their lifetime achievements and contributions.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

For the 56th year, the Texas Exes alumni association recognized the work of UT alumni through its 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Awards. 

The 2014 recipients included former football player Earl Campbell, former regent H. Scott Caven Jr., businessman John Massey, astronaut Karen Nyberg, actor Matthew McConaughey and Dealey Decherd Herndon, former executive director of the State Preservation Board of Texas. Jody Conradt, former UT women’s basketball coach, was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.

In his acceptance speech, McConaughey said before attending the University, he decided to become a lawyer and thought about applying to Southern Methodist University. McConaughey, who won the Oscar for Best Actor in March, said his brother told him that because their oil business was going bankrupt, it would be cheaper to go to UT. 

“For that, I am happy the oil business went to pot because this was the four best years of my life,” McConaughey said. “When I tell people about this university, I tell them they will have access to a great education but also learn how to compete and engage. While I was here, I made a lot of my closest friends here and at Delta Tau Delta.”        

Remembered for his punishing style of play and becoming UT’s first Heisman winner, Campbell, who received the Heisman Trophy in 1977, said it was hard to initially understand the impact the University had on him.

“It wasn’t until I got to the NFL when I realized what UT gave me,” Campbell said. “I noticed this with teammates with the [Houston] Oilers as they talked to me more about Coach [Darrell K] Royal and the University and things that I went through.”

Caven served on the Board of Regents from 2003-09, including as chairman from 2007-09. In his speech, Caven talked about the significance of the hires he was able to make with the board, such as William Powers Jr. as president, Francisco Cigarroa as chancellor and Bruce Zimmerman as head of UT Investment Management Company.

“Having served on the Board of Regents and UTIMCO, it gave me opportunities to make a difference,” Caven said. “One of our most important duties was choosing our leaders.” 

Nyberg, who completed her doctorate in 1998, has participated in two missions and logged more than 75 million miles in space as a NASA astronaut.

“When I came to UT, I started as a graduate student,” Nyberg said. “It is because of the people I met and the opportunities I was given that I was able to accomplish my dreams.”

This year’s recipients joined a long list of well-known alumni, including Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, Ben Crenshaw, Michael Dell and Adm. William McRaven, the next UT System chancellor. 

There’s no doubt that Mack Brown and his Longhorns have experienced pressure so far during this 2-2 season, but recently even more has been added onto that pile.

Last Sunday, former Texas running back and Longhorns legend Earl Campbell broke his silence and offered his take on the Texas football program, telling Fox 26 in Houston Brown should no longer be the Longhorns head football coach. 

“Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen,” Campbell said. “I’d go on record and say yes, I think it’s time.”

The Pro Football Hall of Famer and 1977 Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t the only one to come out against his alma mater. Former Texas quarterback Chris Simms spoke out to say Brown will not be back next season and the Longhorns don’t have enough talent to save the rest of this season.

“Earl has been great for this university,” Brown said. “He will always be welcome here.  He’s one of, if not our best, player ever. I was disappointed in the comments, but he’s entitled to say what he thinks.”

While Brown didn’t hesitate to respond to Campbell’s comments, he didn’t have much to say about Simms’ thoughts on the program.

“I haven’t talked to Chris since the national championship game, so it’s been forever,” Brown said. “I’m not listening to a lot of stuff out there. I’m worrying about Iowa State.”

Brown has been compared to Lane Kiffin, who was fired as USC’s head coach Sunday, adding fuel to the fire in Austin. 

“I’d just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they’ve done,” Campbell said. “They didn’t mess around with it. They just said, ‘Let’s do it now.’ I think at some point our university’s people are going to have make a decision.”

However, the Longhorns have learned to ignore all of this outside influence and talk.

“That’s USC’s business,” senior Jackson Jeffcoat said. “We’re still going. We’re still good. We have Iowa State this week. We’re just focused on them.”

Texas is only worried about Texas, despite comparisons to the decline at USC.

“We’re here to play football,” senior Carrington Byndom said. “All that other stuff will decide itself out. But for us, it’s just taking it week by week and making sure we are doing our job on the field.”

Instead of worrying about coaching changes, the Longhorns are doing what they can to make sure Brown doesn’t go through the experience that Kiffin has gone through this past week.

“We know that our performance Week 2 had some effect on coaching changes but for us we don’t want anything like that to happen again,” Byndom said. “For us it can be motivation for us to play that much harder.”

Longhorn legend and former running back Earl Campbell, the 1977 Heisman Trophy winner, broke his silence about the Texas football program and told Fox 26 Sports it’s time for head coach Mack Brown to go.

"Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen," Campbell said. "I'd go on record and say 'yes I think it's time.'

These comments come in the midst of struggle on the 40 acres as the Longhorns are 2-2 and talk of Brown’s job security has surrounded the program.

Recent revelations have appeared that a former and current UT regent spoke to Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban last January about possibly taking over for Brown. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, however, has come out in the past month showing full support for the 62-year-old Brown despite the turmoil around the Longhorns.

Campbell believes the veteran head coach no longer has age to his advantage and has reached his peak in his coaching career.

“Some people get too old,” Campbell said. “If players get too old to play a game, why cant a coach get too old to coach it.”

"[It’s] very hard because Coach Brown is a very good man. I just hope he doesn't stay...he's done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don't need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again."

Campbell’s comments come after the University of Southern California fired their head coach Lane Kiffin on Sunday after a steady decline since their No. 1 ranking at the beginning of the 2012 season.

“I’d just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they’ve done,” Campbell said. “They didn’t mess around with it. They just said ‘lets do it now.’ I think at some point our university’s people are going to have make a decision.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame running back also gave a name to replace Brown. He stated Tennessee Titan’s defensive coordinator and Texas former defensive back Jerry Gray could take over for the aging Brown.

“If we’re going to make a change I would like to say that we got one in the house, Jerry Gray, who’s getting in the College Football Hall of Fame,” Campbell said. “I think that would be a good place to start.”


Stat Guy: Malcolm Brown may be the next great Longhorn running back

It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time Texas was Running Back U. And this past Saturday night could have marked its reemergence.

With the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and others, Texas has historically dominated the ground game. But with spread offenses becoming the norm in college football the past few years, the Longhorns have strayed from the physical style of play in recent years, choosing to spread the ball out to a variety of receivers and focus on an offensive line philosophy that emphasizes stepping backwards to pass block rather than stepping forwards to run block.

Times might be changing yet again. With 86 yards rushing on 16 carries, true freshman Malcolm Brown looked like a blast from the past Saturday night against Rice.

How does that stack up against previous Longhorn legends? In his debut, Earl Campbell had 85 yards against Boston College in 1974. Ricky Williams burst onto the scene with 95 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii in 1995. The versatile Ramonce Taylor had 96 yards against North Texas in 2004. Cedric Benson had 64 yards on 15 carries against New Mexico State in 2001.

The most impressive freshman debut in school history belongs to Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 135 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2005.

Brown earned all 86 of his yards in the second half after not registering a touch in the first. He only had two negatives through the night, a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble and a dropped pass.

“It was a good start. I’ve got a long way to go,” Brown said. “I have to hold on to that ball. I had that one fumble. That’s going to stay in my mind for a little bit.”

Who knows how the stud from Cibolo’s Steele High School will finish his career as a Longhorn, but if historical statistics hold true, it’ll probably be successful. 

Jay Parmelee bids on an autographed Dallas Cowboys jersey at the Flavors of Austin benefit Saturday night. The event raised awareness and money for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and was hosted by UT football almuni Earl Campbell in honor of his son Tyler’s diagnosis.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Famed UT running back and Heisman trophy winner Earl Campbell hosted an event this weekend to raise awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis.

The first of what will become an annual “Flavors of Austin” event took place at the Texas Federation Women’s Club Mansion, featuring food and drinks from local restaurants, an auction and a star-studded guest list, including many former UT athletes and NBA hall-of-famers from the local community.

Debbie Pope, executive vice president of development, marketing and community development for the Lonestar Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said “Flavors of Austin” is part of a series of events to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.

“This project originated 3 years ago when [Campbell’s son] Tyler reached out to us after he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” she said. “He realized that he had an important platform which he could use to raise money and support through the Pro Player Foundation which he had already been involved in, an organization that partners professional athletes with organizations to raise money for a cause.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and aggressive disease which progressively attacks the nerves of the brain and spinal cord in the central nervous system. Symptoms can range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis and loss of vision. Initiatives such as Campbell’s are crucial in raising more awareness and funds for continued research to advance the treatment of the disease, Pope said.

The event is part of a greater movement called “The Campbell Project for MS,” which includes the “The Unstoppable Earl Campbell” campaign and it is part of an ongoing project which will continue for the next several years.

“[‘The Unstoppable Earl Campbell’ campaign] revolves around a lithograph created by Warner Bros. which features Mr. Campbell as a UT Longhorn with the famous ‘Looney Tunes’ characters,” said Danny Simmons, communications manger and sponsorship coordinator for the Pro Player Foundation. “Proceeds from the event benefit The National MS Society and UT.”

Drew Lieberman, undeclared freshman and sports writer for The Horn, said Campbell remains an influential and positive figure at UT.

“Earl Campbell is very important to the University of Texas,” Lieberman said. “He was the first Heisman trophy winner in 1977, he picked Texas over OU and there is a statue of him in the stadium.”

Because of Campbell’s great contribution to UT, Lieberman said students ought to care and get involved with Campbell’s organization.

“Earl Campbell gave everything he had and sacrificed a lot for the football team and our university,” he said. “UT students have an obligation to stay informed with what is happening to Campbell’s son and give back in any way possble.”

Pope said there are many ways for students to get involved with raising awareness about multiple sclerosis.

“We love to have UT students volunteering at our events and spreading awareness about the disease,” she said. “You can get in touch with us and we can match you up with what you are interested in and get you started.”

Senior tailback Earl Campbell rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a touchdown to clinch the Heisman Trophy. (file photo)

Photo Credit: Mike Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Despite a 10-0 record, a probable Heisman Trophy winner in the backfield and perhaps the coach of the year on the sidelines, Texas puts the entire season on the line Saturday in a crucial battle with Texas A&M in College Station.

“The stakes are high,” said coach Fred Akers. “But it’s been that way for years and years. It’s a great rivalry. There will be some clean, hard football out there.”

Earl Campbell, Texas’ all-everything running back, whom Aggie head coach Emory Bellard said “is as good as anybody that has ever played college football,” thinks the game will be very tenacious.

“There’s some big people out there, but I think we’ll pull it out all right,” he said.

The Aggies, highly regarded across the nation, ranked 11th by UPI this week, are led by fullback George Woodard, who weighs in at 265 pounds, down from 285 after a monthlong diet, and placekicker Tony Franklin.

Curtis Dickey and David Brothers complement Woodard with tremendous speed in the backfield while senior quarterback David Walker provides the guidance. Absent from last Saturday’s 52-23 mauling of TCU, Walker will be 100 percent for this week’s 1:30 p.m. kickoff, recovering from minor bruises, coach Bellard said.

The Aggies set a Southwest Conference record in total offense against the weak Horned Frogs, amassing 687 yards.

“We have a lot of respect for that offense,” said defensive tackle and placekicker Steve McMichael. “They have some real threats back there.”

McMichael, who tilts the scales at 235, is not accustomed to tackling people heavier than himself.

“I’ll have to get my feet planted and hit him right. I’m just looking at him like any other back,” McMichael said.

The last time a Texas football team lost three straight to the Aggies was in 1910 after two shutouts in 1909.

Texas A&M would like nothing better than to update that statistic, and with a 7-2 record overall this season, 6-1 in conference, “we’re still in contention,” Bellard said. A 41-3 passing at the hands of Michigan on national television and a heartbreaking loss to Arkansas are the only blemishes on the Aggie record.

Last week, after the TCU victory, the Aggies accepted a bid from the Bluebonnet Bowl, for if they do not got to the Cotton Bowl.

Putting the Cotton Bowl out of the picture, at least for this week, Akers said Tuesday’s practice was one of the best of the year.

“Everyone knows the importance of this game,” he said, “and I expect the intensity to get better and better as the week progresses.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 as: Campbell ready to run over Ags

Run the Ball
Last game was the first loss in Mack Brown’s career in which his team ran for more than 200 yards. Before, he was 70-0 in those situations. Texas needs to run the ball in order to give itself its best chance to win. With a freshman quarterback starting, Malcolm Brown becomes the most important player on the team. Through the first six games of his career, Brown has 516 yards rushing, with two 100-yard games. At the same points in their careers, Ricky Williams had 348 yards and no 100-yard games, Cedric Benson had 329 yards with one 100-yard game and Earl Campbell rushed for 495 with two 100-yard games.

Texas has not lost to Kansas under Mack Brown. Further, Texas has not lost to Kansas since joining the Big 12. The two teams haven’t played very often, and the last time Texas lost to Kansas was in 1938, and in that year, Texas ended up going 1-8. Before that, they played in 1901 with Kansas winning 12-0. During the current streak, Texas has won seven of the eight games by double figures, with only the 2004 game in Lawrence being decide by 4 points. Texas has won the last eight games by an average margin of victory of more than 30 points and with the 2004 game removed, that margin of victory goes up to 34 points per game.

Exploit Defense
To say that Kansas is struggling on the defensive side of the ball would be an understatement. The Jayhawks are allowing teams to roll up more than 50 points a game, with more than 550 yards in offense. There are only three teams in the country allowing more than 40 points game, and Kansas is the only one allowing more than 50. They are also the only BCS conference team allowing more than 40 points a game, and they have not limited a team to fewer than 42 points since holding McNeese State to 24 in the first game of the season. Kansas also sports one of the worst run defenses in the nation, allowing 232 yards per game, along with a whopping 604 to Georgia Tech.

Special Teams
Fozzy Whittaker emerged as an elite return man against Oklahoma, and continued it against Oklahoma State. He already has two returns for touchdowns and has 372 yards on just eight returns, averaging 46.5 yards per return. This pace would put him handily in first all time at Texas, as he is 17 yards per return over the single season average and 19 yards over the career average right now. Before Whittaker, Johnny “Lam” Jones was the only player in Texas history to have a 100-yard return, and Whittaker now has two in consecutive games. Whittaker shattered the single-game return-yards record previously held by Quan Cosby by almost 100 yards. When paired with D.J. Monroe, who had two return touchdowns in 2009, Texas has one of the most dangerous return tandems in the country.

Kevin Durant answers questions from the media at his basketball camp Saturday afternoon. Durant has kept busy despite the recent onset of a lockout in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Make no doubt about it — Texas is a school that prides itself on the players it produces in its historic football and baseball programs.

But the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Bobby Layne and Vince Young, and baseball stars Roger Clemens, Burt Hooton and Huston Street might have to make room atop the school’s professional pantheon because Kevin Durant, all 22 years and 230 lanky pounds of him, is about to supplant them all.

This might sound like jumping the gun on a guy who has been in the NBA for just four years, but the way things are going, Durant should end up as the school’s greatest athletic export.

In four years with Seattle and Oklahoma City, he has won Rookie of the Year, has been a two-time NBA All-Star, has twice made an appearance on the All-NBA First Team, was the MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Championships and has won the league’s scoring title two years running, making him the youngest ever to do so.

When Durant was drafted at No. 2 by the SuperSonics — who would later move to OKC and be renamed the Thunder — the team was coming off a previous 31-51 season. He now has them looking like heavyweights for years to come after a surprise trip to the Western Conference Finals.

“Experience is everything and we gained a lot of experience in getting to the conference finals,” he said Saturday at his basketball camp.

Durant will tack on a few more scoring titles and will work his way up the all-time scoring list. His unquenchable desire to improve and to win — he says he trains almost every day of the year — will make him a Hall of Famer.

Former Longhorn pitcher Roger Clemens — 354 major league wins, two-time World Series champ, seven Cy Young Awards, 11-time All-Star, and the 1986 MVP — had this “best from Texas” thing in the bag before allegations of steroid use tainted his legacy. Vince had a shot before things went south in Nashville. Ricky just wanted to smoke pot.

You could make arguments for Earl Campbell or Bobby Layne, as long as you consider that Earl took so many hits he only lasted in the NFL for eight seasons and that Layne played in a time of such minimal media coverage that half the casual sports fans at Texas have only a vague idea of who he is.

That a basketball player could end up being the professional pride of this University, where they used to say fall football and spring football were the only two sports that mattered, would have been scoffed at a mere 10 years ago. But T.J. Ford became the pied piper for star players to attend Texas, and Durant followed suit and compiled an outstanding freshman season, putting up a 26-point, 11-rebound per-game line and winning the Naismath Award, the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy — sorry if this is getting repetitive — the NABC Division I Player of the Year Award and was named the AP College Player of the Year.

“T.J. did something to put the program on the map, and then Kevin nationalized the program because he’s from Washington D.C.,” said incoming point guard Myck Kabongo, a five-star recruit from Canada who was a guest at Durant’s basketball camp this weekend.

Durant has now turned himself into a national brand, with the Nike and Gatorade sponsorships, the backpack, and his uncanny style of play — a 6-foot-9 swingman with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, he can get his shot off whenever he wants. And he hardly ever misses.

If you like to dream big, then maybe even forget the whole “best from Texas” argument — at this rate, Durant could end up as one of the best players in the NBA’s history.

Kabongo declined to say who, between T.J. and Durant, was Texas’ best ever basketball player — maybe out of respect for the point guard brethren — but he did label Durant “phenomenal” and a “trend setter.”

“Trend breaker” might be a better way to describe him. After all, this is supposed to be a football school.