Flesh of the bull But the flesh of the bull, and its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering. Exodus 29:14 The University of Texas football team gets a lot of attention in Texas, more than any other University program and certainly more than any other college team. Recently the Horns have gotten a long look from two sources who are not in the business of publishing scores, blow-by-blows or preor post-game interviews. Gary Shaw, an ex-player, has written a book called Meat on the Hoof about UT football, his relationship to it and its relationship to the psyches of people who play it. Robert Heard and Jack Keever, two Associated Press Writers, have written a five-part series on the racist image of the University football program and, particularly, of Head Coach Darrell Royal. Neither the book nor the articles have been widely acclaimed. In fact, they have come to offer not only a new perspective on UT football, but a fresh look at its camp followers, the sports writers. Most response to the AP series quickly devoted itself to two questions: Were the articles “fair” to Royal? and Would they hurt The Team? With two exceptions, there was no hint of commendation to Heard and Keever for tackling a difficult and important question, no notice taken of the space allotted to Royal to present his views \(which he said were properly writers let both players and Royal speak their minds freely. One exception was a column in The Daily Texan by Alan Truex, who suggested that the subject remain open and went on to comment on Royal’s racial attitudes himself. The other was a Dallas Morning News piece by John Anders, who talked to other blacks in the conference and reported that their responses were similar to those of the Texas players. Anders made no attempt to take away from the seriousness of questions about racism, but related the feelings of black players more to Royal’s “lousy” treatment of players in general than to a specific racial prejudice. The difference was that other sports writers who talked about Royal’s alleged prejudice quickly concluded he was not a racist and just as quickly called any investigation of the matter “unfair.” The most venomous response appeared in the San Antonio Express, which did not run the articles. Sports Editor Dan Cook devoted the top half of his section’s Sunday front page to a blast at Heard, Keever and the AP. Much of the column concerned “facts about his [Royal’s] true feelings regarding racism”: his criticism of white players on a Canadian team he coached for “talking bigotry”; his visit and $500 gift to a seriously injured black high school player; his friendship with Charlie Pride; his service on the board of trustees of a black university. Cook also called the series “one of the most factless character assassinations in modern journalism history.” Another Express sportswriter said it “came out as nothing more than a smear job on Royal.” COOK SAID HE decided not to run the articles after reading the first two. Both Express columns appeared to deal only with those parts, in which black players made their most serious charges. Neither mentioned Royal’s responses. The Austin American probably gave the issue more space than any other paper. It ran not only the series, but a column of comment by Sports Editor Lou Maysel, post-series interviews with the players and with Royal, four letters from readers \(all sentence of the editorial came early: “First, the American-Statesman does not agree that the Heard-Keever series was necessary, constructive or enlightening.” There was a brief bow to freedom of the followed by the conclusion, “These newspapers have faith in Coach Royal whom we know to be a man of the highest integrity, dedicated to his coaching career, and to the men who play football under him, regardless of race, color or creed.” The Maysel column criticized the timing of the series, pointed out the absence of “real substance” to the allegations of racism and referred to black players’ they didn’t mean their quotes to sound like that. Maysel went on to say that the racial problem is really the University’s and to criticize the suggestion that Royal use his influence as “an instrument of integration.” He included two sentences which were not echoed anywhere else, saying “the open airing of the situation could prove beneficial,” and “opening the door to air it might help dispell it.” Jack Gallagher of The Houston Post \(which did not run the series, apparently because the Chronicle started it a half-cycle of the “obstacles” the UT team faced in walloping TCU and clinching the SWC championship. What with an “unfair” swipe at coach and team, a troubling injury and a muddy field, Gallagher allowed as how the victory “speaks well” for the Longhorns. The Dallas Times Herald ran the series without comment, if in somewhat truncated form. But none of these columns mentioned the good black players who leave Texas high schools and go out of the state to play college ball. No one mentioned the all-white championship teams of 1963 and 1969. No one mentioned the all-white freshman team this year. These are not items of sports news to the writers who cover the team. And when someone .does the story, sets up the interviews, covers the discontent, finds out that black players at UT think their coaches are racist \(and show considerable understanding of the reasons the sports news involved is: Were the articles “fair” to Royal? Would they hurt The Team? THE CASE OF Meat on the Hoof is somewhat different. It has not gotten the sports-pages attention that the AP series received. In fact, the three pieces on it I have seen have been sympathetic, even if they don’t match the sheer volume of response that Heard and Keever were blessed with. The writers who have dealt with Shaw’s book are the same writers who showed some appreciation of the issues involved in the Heard-Keever articles. Alan Truex of The Daily Texan interviewed Shaw, reporting his reactions to criticism of then book as well as further comments on the UT football program. Randy Harvey of the Austin American, who did that paper’s follow-up interviews with black players, recounted the major narrative points of the book and recommended it to Royal and everybody else in a column. And John Anders called the book “an enlightening, no-holds barred criticism” of the UT December 15, 1972 9
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