Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots………..The Incomparable Texas Football Magazine………………..By RC

I walked up to the checkout counter at the supermarket early this morning and “it” caught my eye. There it was: the “bible” of football as it is known in the state of Texas. I doubt that any other state in the union can argue that there is any comparison to the attention and intensity that football commands in the Lone Star state. Sure, football popularity in many other states is thriving but the coverage from the least of high school programs to the most popular brand in the NFL is simply unparalleled. And that coverage has been provided by the past 52 editions of Texas Football and now we have the latest jewel on our shelves…………………And Texas, with its rich football legacy and fertile recruiting ground just accepts the love of the game as a religion. And no other man outside the locker room where great coaches and players have toiled is more responsible for the endearment to football than the creator of this magazine; and that one man is Dave Campbell. I’m sure that in 1960 when he produced the first edition, he definitely had a mission and vision of what this publication could become, but I can hardly believe that he could even grasp the greatness of this product. His incredible ability to adjust with the changes no matter whether they be monumental or just a small factor has only enhanced the popularity of the magazine. And when I speak of changes, I am talking about the landscape of football. He has adjusted equally well to the media challenges over the past five decades…………………….When I purchased the 2012 edition this morning, it was my 49th. I do possess every magazine dating back to 1962. That one as well as the 63’ edition was given to me by a coaching friend named Gary Robinson. Like any other sports nut, I have my share of memorabilia from the past but I treasure none any more than those copies of Texas Football………………..It would be nice for me if all those copies were in mint condition but they are not. You see I graduated from high school in 1967 and all those issues went to college with me. In the dorm all the guys wanted to look at the magazine to find their names or pictures and brag just a little regardless of whether or not their careers actually lived up to the billing in Texas Football. I also took those with me because I knew that when some kid was mouthing off about being all-state and thinking that no one would actually know the difference, I would go back to my room and pull out the ultimate reference book and find out first hand. Most of the time their boasts proved to be untrue, but I never argued with them. In my mind I knew the truth and so did Dave Campbell………………….The best part though was meeting guys whom I knew was a star player in high school simply because I had read the darn thing from cover to cover at least a dozen times. In my first year of college I was attending Cisco Junior College and with very few jucos at the time, that campus lured many students out of the metroplex. In the spring semester there was about a dozen new students who had taken up residence in my dorm: Wrangler Hall. I was about to shake hands with this one guy and before he could tell me his name I called it out. He looked at me in amazement because he knew that our paths had never crossed. His name was Robert Kidd and he had played for Hurst Bell. As a high school blue chipper, he had signed with the Arkansas Razorbacks, then a member of the old Southwest Conference when they were always in intense battles with the Texas Longhorns for SWC supremacy. A year later I transferred to West Texas State and walked into my first class there and sat down by a kid who looked very familiar even though I had never seen him in person before. Turns out, I did know who he was because of my memory of a picture in Texas Football. His name was Richard Ross and he had been a blue chipper out of a hotbed for college recruiters, Amarillo Tascosa. He too had signed with the Razorbacks but, like Kidd, had come back either by his choice or theirs………………My favorite recognition story came when I was coaching at Aspermont in the 1980’s. We were playing the Albany Lions on a Friday night but when I saw the Albany head coach on that Thursday just before the JV game, I immediately knew that I recognized him from somewhere. Knowing that we had never met I knew that once again, Texas Football must be why I recognized him. He had introduced himself to me and as we visited, I found out what year he had graduated from high school and from where. His name was Tommy Ditmar from Bellville High School (home of Ernie Koy Sr., Ernie Koy Jr. and Ted Koy all of UT Longhorn football fame). When I went home that night I drug out my 1966 copy and before I could get to the write-up about Bellville, I saw his picture under the section call “Friday Night Heroes”. He was the preseason quarterback on the superstar team where only eleven of the best offensive players in the state were recognized. Through our coaching careers, we have remained close friends and I still refer to him as the Friday Night Hero. He opted for professional baseball and rose as high as Triple A before returning to Texas to coach………………….. Last year my oldest daughter, who is now married to a coach, visited her hubby at coaching school. As they were strolling through the exhibits she saw one of the booths that was either sponsored by Dave Campbell or that he was a guest there. When she realized that it was actually the “father” of Texas Football she immediately went over and struck up a conversation with this very humble man. He ended up signing last year’s copy for me and I now have that in my revered possession as well. I was just as thrilled as I was as a 15 year old in 1964 upon my first purchase of the greatest football magazine ever!………………….Being a Longhorn fan since 1960 as well, it has always been with great anticipation that I awaited to see who would be on the cover. Yes I must say that I am always a little disappointed when one of the burnt orange guys does not have full coverage on the front all by himself or at least with a teammate, but I also know that hoping for that is simply impossible. I mentioned earlier the humility of Dave Campbell so I must say that his fairness of coverboys or coaches is well documented. Only on a few occasions have those on the cover not lived up to their billing. His research and coverage of their careers is so intense that usually only an injury or some other unexpected event spoils his selection of a true star……………………In recent years the magazine has taken on national prominence with major stories about different individuals or teams. There was a time when those stories were very limited because of the amount of space devoted to each edition. But as far as I’m concerned the greatest story ever, was the story about the recruitment of Steve Worster out of Bridge City High School in 1967. As a star running back he was the bluest of blue chippers not only in Texas but across the country as well. Tracking his decision during his senior season was phenomenal. Every time that I heard that his choices included some place besides UT I just shuttered at the thought of him going someplace else. Finally he chose the Horns’ and his signing began a recruiting haul like no other in the history of the program up to that point. That team which would win thirty straight and capture two national championships was simply known as the “Worster Bunch” and Dave Campbell had them all pegged for greatness in his magazine. Again his work ethic in getting it right must have been unreal because the internet and iphones did not exist in those days. What a tribute to sports reporting that he was!…………………….. In the early years just about all the reporting from high school to the two professional teams was done in Texas. The lone exception was having to report at least a little about those hated Razorbacks. But nowadays with the Big XII expanding all the way to the east coast the task has become even broader. I have no doubt that Dave Campbell and his staff will meet the demand and yes once again provide the greatest football magazine in the nation………………………..And for all you avid readers of football and especially football played in Texas don’t ever doubt the impact that a man named Dave Campbell has had because of a dream that he turned into a reality: a dream that he turns into a reality for us all every June called Texas Football.

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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