By Phil Hecken
Way back in January, I ran a little “sub-feature” brought to my attention by Susan Freeman, which I called “We Are Family”, and if you read that (it’s pretty short), it highlighted a number of wonderful full-sized post cards detailing many of the NCAA Football Conferences, circa 1969.
It was a nice little feature, and if you note at the bottom, I said:
Tex put in a call to Mr. Collins and is hoping to find out much more about the series and possibly other works he has had commissioned that relate to college football. Of course, I have actually planned on working on a feature article with Susan in the future, so any additional information she can gather will be included in that.
I’d almost forgotten about that, when a short while ago I got a note from Susan saying she’d made contact with Mr. Collins, and we were ready to go forward with that article. I’m pleased to bring you that today. Enjoy!
The Minutia of the SWC
By Susan Freeman
I think I was always interested in the minutia. Possibly I took interest in the minutia because in the SWC in those days my teams were usually getting shellacked”¦ but I think I was always interested in it ”“ even the close games. I don’t have a lot of memories as a child that are not aided by photographs, but I remember the very first time I saw shiny football pants. It was Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and I saw the sheen and pointed it out to dad. He was like, what? It was monumental to me”¦ And that is where my love for unis was set in concrete! Although I must admit, not being a fan of Notre Dame, it was 11 years till I realized their colors were NOT green and gold.
Growing up in the midst of the SWC marinated my love for it into a hard fast passion. I loved the stadiums, the fans (well, most of them), the logos — what a cast of characters! And how can you not love those cartoon images of Bevo or Dirk West cartoons? I remember being so excited to see if the local paper ran the weekly Dirk West cartoon — it was a highlight, I could not get enough of it.
Dad knew everything about the conference. He had mad love for it too. When he was 14 he (and his best friend) went to the Texas/Texas A&M game in College Station … on a train … by themselves! Dropped them off right across the street! He collected chinstraps from players at the games — and was able to identify who he got each one from (and what game) before he died. He had player friends get him programs throughout his college years ”“ and ticket stubs or any other cool memento. He kept everything — glad to say he did a much better job than his mom did with his baseball cards! Of course, they would have been worthless; he cut the hats off of other cards to make his favorite players accurate. Ahhhh, so you see the root of my love for minutia.
One of my favorite things he had when I was growing up were the conference family portraits. I just loved them and would stare at them for hours. Discussed in January on this site, he had cut the large size post cards down to fit in 6×8 wooden black frames. While working with Phil on a small story about them, I realized (switching from our graphics oriented world) that this was a painting — signed by a guy named Don Collins. Well, it never occurred to me to look him up till now.
Now there is not as much SWC info on the web as you might think (shocking to me, but maybe not you). Other than my site, one other guy’s, and the helmet site, you can only find a few nuggets here and there. It is simply a waiting game for people to catch up and scan old things as they find them.
One very quick Google search and I found him! I put in a call and waited — that is where Phil left off in January. A few days later (I called Friday and he got back to his studio on Monday) he called me back. Oh. My. God. I was talking to the very guy that painted these little gems! The first and obvious question (after regaining composure and slowing my heart rate), why did he paint them?
The real story is way more entertaining than my speculation that some collegiate sports company commissioned him. Boring, right? Turns out that the company was their creation. He and the guys in his studio were sitting around and just wanted to get in on the “frenzy” … It was 1969: 100 year anniversary of college football — a logo, special helmet decals, commemorative glasses, you name it. In those days, gas stations were big on the giveaways. Humble/Enco/Esso had a slew of various items for years and years as the radio broadcast sponsor — and Mobil offered up the frosted Varsity tumblers. I don’t have any evidence that Gulf handed out SWC football giveaways — maybe they were looking at getting in the game.
The boys hatched their own plan to get in the game with the family portraits. It was Don’s first major painting — an acrylic 20×30 “Up For Grabs”. The “Southwest Conference Family Portrait” came next and then the others followed. They pitched it to Gulf Oil, who was all-in. They did a test run of 5,000 posters for each conference and had more interviews with Gulf with increasingly positive results. They formed the National Collegiate Marketing Corporation in order to borrow enough money — they were talking millions of posters and a nationwide effort. The paper alone would have filled up several boxcars according to Don. They had their ranches picked out…and then Gulf just politely said no thanks. And that was it. Sort of…
Of course I had to ask where the originals were – just disappeared one day — ugh! He thinks one of the participants ended up taking them when he moved from Austin. I have a lead on where they might have ended up. Commencing statewide search now…
Lots of hilarious chatter on the intrawebs about team depictions and descriptions spawned after Uni Watch ran the portraits. Don said they just did the best they could with what little info they had about the teams. There was no internet back then and to do the research was no small task, but he had a lot of fun creating the images. He didn’t remember the inscriptions on the back of the cards — so we don’t know if he wrote them or not.
After the rejection and some mourning, everyone took home a few items and then the better part of them were trucked to the dump. Ouch. Don doesn’t really remember the ads or how long the effort to recover lasted. They were advertised in Dave Campbell’s 1969 and 1970 Texas Football and lucky for us ”“ purchased by fans (including my dad)!
And yes, over the years Don has considered redoing the portraits – if only we could get the conference musical chair music…to stop.
Thanks so much for that great follow-up, Susan. It may have been 10 months in the making, but it was certainly worth the wait.
by Rick Pearson
Rain? HAH! It is to laugh.
And of course, the full-size.
Tracking The 2011 MLB Playoffs
He’s back again this year.
Yesterday, all four sets of teams were in action, and one series was decided. The gray-clad Rangers appeased the uni-gods, striking down the softball-topped Rays, with the Texases advancing to the ALCS. Wonder if that bubbly was ginger ale…
In the remaining series, the Phillies (in proper gray) took a 2 to 1 games lead over the Cards, the Yankees knotted up their series at 2 apiece against the Tigers, and the white-clad D-Baacks staved off elimination, taking down the gray topped Brewers, who lead that series 2-1.
And, now, here’s Alex’s up-to-the-minute 2011 MLB Playoff Tracker.
2011 Duck Tracker
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Jake Hurley has stepped up to the plate and taken over the “Duck Tracker” for 2011. What is the Duck Tracker? Quite simply, it tracks each and every uniform combination the Ducks have worn for the 2011 season. He steps in for former tracker Mike Princip, whose non-Uni Watch activities will preclude him from tracking for 2011.
Jake is hoping you fine readers might present him with some feedback on this project, and also if anyone is interested in adding content (such as history, uniform history, tweaks or mock-ups), Jake will gladly add it to the site. Shoot me an E-mail.
Here’s the 2011 Duck Tracker currently — as you can see it’s great, but a bit barren — and Jake would like to make the project a bit more informational, like Mike did with it the past two years.
The Ducks play Cal tomorrow night on ESPN, so I’ll have the new updated tracker on Saturday. Hopefully you guys will help Jake out and add your own bit of history or mockups or what have you to this great project.
First of all, I want to apologize for not having been able to comment yesterday at all — between life, job, and school, and being up until 3:00 AM the past two nights prepping the morning posts, I’ve had a full plate filling in for Paul.
There was quite a shit-storm in the comments yesterday regarding an item that appeared in the bottom of the ticker — specifically, a comment that I (not John Ekdahl) made which called Hank Williams, Jr. a “redneck.” I didn’t expect the resulting *discussion* to be so heated, and I wish I had been able to get onto the boards to reply to the various commenters. Politics don’t have a place on Uni Watch, unless they are related to uniforms, and while the incident was somewhat related to sports (but not uniforms), it was probably best left alone.
That being said, I stand by my comment, and if what Mr. Williams had said was “no big deal,” he wouldn’t have issued an apology nor been booted off ESPN. No one should ever compare anyone, especially the President or the Speaker of the House, to Hitler (even if there was some debate to whom HWJr. was referring). It was the wrong thing for him to do and I wasn’t happy about it. At 2:30 in the morning, my judgment was probably off, and again, I should not have included that item in the ticker. He is entitled to his opinions, and as someone much smarter than myself said (paraphrasing here) “I may not agree with a word you have to say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.”
Full Disclosure: I work in politics, for a Republican (although I consider myself to be a Libertarian). But I’ll call “Bullshit” on any party or member of a party when I hear or see it. So it was amusing to be called a “Lib-tard” in the comments. I’ve been called many things in my life, some of them right here on this board, but “Lib-tard” was a first.
Again, I’m sorry for linking to that story and for using the word “redneck” to describe Hank Williams. If I ever do bring up this subject again (and I hope we can just end it here and move on), it will be to poke fun at him for singing “McCain-Palin Tradition” with a tucked in
Redskins Washington professional football team jersey. Now that would be uni-related and apropos.
Uni Watch News Ticker (completely compiled by John Ekdahl): “A black day for Aussie cricket” (Murray Conallin). … Pinstripes versus pinstripes in this 1977 photo (Jerry). … Grantland posted a fun MLB playoff infographic, for those who missed it (Stephen Lucas). … The Penguins and Capitals will be wearing patches honoring the KHL team lost in the plane crash in Russia (Rob Ullman). … Matt Powers: “I noticed the other day that something was different with Foster’s neck bumper. I called the Houston Texans and actually spoke to Jay Brunetti, the Equipment Manager. Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are actually wearing the Rawlings Quantum NRG, which happens to look ALOT like the Schutt Air XP.” … “Think Pink” comes to Texas high school football at this Alice vs Tuloso-Midway game (Sam P via alicecoyote.com). … That’s one large captain’s “C” (Tim Gerland). … It looks as though the Bobcats are still using player images marketing material, even though they aren’t supposed to (A. J. Spring). … Some NHL teams are wearing numbers on the front of their helmets while in Europe (Ryan Connelly). … Ben Harris: “Texas Rangers reliever Mike Adams sported a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon stitched onto his glove.” … A picture of a white University of California football helmet has surfaced. … Tom Haverfold’s pitch to Nike (Michael Emody). … Nick Orban: “Because we’re on the subject of pink with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my college implemented them this year. UMD’s Men’s Soccer Team is playing in a pink jersey, which is attached. The last names on the jerseys have also been replaced with words like “Heart” “Hope” and “Perseverance,” a la the Wounded Warrior uniforms UA has come out with in recent years.” … Here are some fantastic colorized shots of Babe Ruth (Daniel Kisslinger). … Great shot here of AFL jerseys from Arrowhead Stadium (Brady Graham).
That’s all for today folks. Paul will be back tomorrow, hope he had a great trip. See you guys over the weekend.
“I love the comment of the day.” — Kyle Allebach