Southwest Conference: Wikis


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This page is about the now defunct Southwest Conference (SWC). For the unrelated and currently still active conference abbreviated as the SWAC, see Southwestern Athletic Conference. For the Ohio High School Conference abbreviated as the SWC, see Southwestern Conference (Ohio)
Southwest Conference
Southwest Conference logo
Classification NCAA Division I
Established 1914
Dissolved 1996
Members (1991) 8
Members (1919) 9
Region South Central United States
States 3 - Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas
Headquarters Dallas, Texas
Southwest Conference (1926-1991)

The Southwest Conference (SWC) was a college athletic conference in the United States from 1914 to 1996. It consisted of schools in the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The charter members of the conference were Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M University (now Oklahoma State University), Southwestern University (in Georgetown, Texas), and Rice University.




Early years

The first organizational meeting of the conference was held in May, 1914 at the Oriental Hotel in Dallas, Texas. It was chaired by L. Theo Bellmont, who originated the idea for the athletic conference and was at the time athletic director at the University of Texas. Originally, Bellmont wanted Louisiana State University and the University of Mississippi to join the conference as well, but they declined to do so. The Southwest Conference became an official body on December 8, 1914 at a formal meeting at the Rice Hotel in Houston.

Its early years saw fluctuation in membership; Southwestern (a comparatively smaller school) dropped out of the conference in 1916, and Southern Methodist University joined it in 1918; Texas Christian University became a member in 1923. Rice University left the conference in 1916, only to re-join in 1918.

Phillips University (Enid, Oklahoma) was a conference member for one year (1920). Oklahoma left in 1919 to join the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and was followed by Oklahoma A&M in 1925. (However, the intense football rivalry between the universities of Texas and Oklahoma would continue in an annual matchup between the two teams held in Dallas.) From this point on, the University of Arkansas would be the only conference member not located within the state of Texas.

After its organizational years, the conference settled into regularly scheduled meets among its members, and began to gain stature nationwide. The SWC would be guided by seven commissioners, the first of whom, P. W. St. Clair, was appointed in 1938. In 1940, the conference took control of the then five-year-old Cotton Bowl Classic, which further established the prestige of both the bowl and the conference. Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) joined the SWC in 1958, followed by the University of Houston for the 1976 season (UH won the SWC football championship in that 1976 season).

Southwest Conference, 1915-25

The conference celebrated its glory football years in the 1960s. Texas won the 1963 National Championship, Arkansas won a share of the 1964 National Championship, then Texas took another National Championship in 1969, beating #2 ranked Arkansas (15 to 14) in the regular season's final game (dubbed the "Big Shootout"). The 1969 Arkansas-Texas game (attended in Fayetteville, Arkansas by President Richard Nixon) is usually counted among the greatest college football games ever played

Beginning in the late 1930s and lasting until 1995, the Southwest Conference Champion automatically received an invitation as the "host" team in the Cotton Bowl Classic game on New Year's Day in Dallas, Texas. Opponents usually were the runners-up from the Big 8 or SEC conference, although Independents Penn State and Notre Dame were also often featured. From the 1940s onward, the Cotton Bowl Classic was counted among the four major bowl games, and often had national championship implications. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, the game declined in importance, largely because of the decline of SWC prominence. In 1977, Notre Dame became the last team to win a national championship in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

The SWC had many legendary players and coaches over the years. In football, Dana X. Bible, Jess Neely, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Darrell Royal, Hayden Fry, Frank Broyles, James "Buddy" Parker, Lou Holtz, Gene Stallings, Spike Dykes, Bill Yeoman and Grant Teaff all served as head coaches in the conference. Some notable SWC players included Davey O'Brien, Sammy Baugh, Bobby Layne, Doak Walker, Kyle Rote, Tom Landry, Bill Montgomery, Yale Lary, Dickey Maegle, Jack Pardee, John David Crow, E.J. Holub, Don Meredith, Bob Lilly, Forrest Gregg, Lance Alworth, Tommy Nobis, Jerry LeVias, James Street, Roosevelt Leaks, Tommy Kramer, Doug English, Earl Campbell, Lester Hayes, Wilson Whitley, Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Jerry Gray, Eric Dickerson, Craig James, Ray Childress, Eric Metcalf, Andre Ware, Richmond Webb, Steve Atwater, Zach Thomas, and Ricky Williams.

The early 1980s were the glory years of SWC basketball, especially the Phi Slama Jama teams at the University of Houston. Outstanding basketball coaches included Eddie Sutton, Guy V. Lewis, Nolan Richardson, Tom Penders, Abe Lemons, Shelby Metcalf and Gerald Myers. Great SWC hoops players included Sonny Parker, Otis Birdsong, Ron Brewer, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Vinnie Johnson, Jon Koncak, Joe Kleine, Sidney Moncrief, Darrell Walker, Alvin Robertson, Ricky Pierce,Todd Day and Lee Mayberry.

The Texas Longhorns were the class of SWC baseball, who under legendary coach Cliff Gustafson won national titles in 1975 and 1983. Texas ran into SWC rivals Arkansas and Texas A&M often at the College World Series during the 1980s.

Final years

Southwest Conference, 1925-91

The 1980s saw many of the conference's athletic programs hit by recruiting scandals and NCAA probations.[1][2][3] The only programs to escape probation in the 1980s were Arkansas, Baylor, and Rice.[1][2][3] Because of repeated major violations, the Southern Methodist University football program in 1987 became only the third program in NCAA history to receive the so-called "Death Penalty" (after Kentucky basketball in 1952-53 and Southwestern Louisiana basketball from 1973 to 1975). The NCAA canceled SMU's 1987 season, and limited it to seven road games for 1988. However, nearly all of the school's lettermen transferred elsewhere, forcing SMU to keep its football program shuttered for 1988 as well. SMU also remained on probation until 1990. At that time, NCAA rules prohibited schools on probation from appearing on live television. As a result, the conference's market share in television coverage dwindled.

The performance in the "money" sport of football declined as well. The final eight SWC champions lost in their bowl game. After SMU's second-place finish in most polls in 1982, only two SWC teams were serious contenders for the national title--Texas in 1990 and Texas A&M in 1992. Attendance also dwindled at every school except for Texas and Texas A&M.

The beginning of the end was when Arkansas announced it would leave for the Southeastern Conference in 1990. The death blow came in 1993 when Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor accepted invitations to join with the members of the Big Eight Conference to form the Big 12 Conference. Soon afterward, SMU, TCU and Rice accepted invitations to join the Western Athletic Conference, while Houston joined Conference USA. In May 1996, after the completions of championship matches in baseball and track & field, the Southwest Conference was officially dissolved.

Over the course of its 81-year history, teams of the Southwest Conference garnered 64 recognized national championships in collegiate sports.

In 1997 the official records of the conference from 1914 to 1996 were moved from Dallas to the campus of Texas Tech University, becoming part of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. The archive also contains an extensive assortment of images and memorabilia from each member university.


Membership timeline

Where are they now?

Team Left For Current Home
Arkansas Southeastern Conference
Baylor Big 12 Conference
Houston Conference USA
Oklahoma Big 8 Conference Big 12 Conference
Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) Missouri Valley Conference Big 12 Conference *
Phillips Sooner Athletic Conference University closed in 1998
Rice Western Athletic Conference Conference USA
Southwestern Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
Texas Big 12 Conference
Texas A&M
TCU Western Athletic Conference Mountain West Conference **
Texas Tech Big 12 Conference

* Oklahoma A&M (Oklahoma State) moved to the Big 8 which became the Big 12.
** TCU left the WAC, joined C-USA, then joined MWC.

Conference commissioners

  • P.W. St. Clair (1938-45)
  • James H. Stewart (1945-50)
  • Howard Grubbs (1950-73)
  • Cliff Speegle (1973-82)
  • Fred Jacoby (1982-93)
  • Steven J. Hatchell (1993-95)
  • Kyle Kallander (1995-96)

Conference football champions

Houston's 1976 conference championship trophy
  • Texas (27 titles, 21 outright): 1916, 1918, 1920, 1928, 1930, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1950, 1952, 1953*, 1959*, 1961*, 1962, 1963, 1968*, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975*, 1977, 1983, 1990, 1994*, 1995
  • Texas A&M (17, 15): 1917, 1919, 1921, 1925, 1927, 1939, 1940*, 1941, 1956, 1967, 1975*, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993
  • Arkansas (13, 7): 1936, 1946*, 1954, 1959*, 1960, 1961*, 1964, 1965, 1968*, 1975*, 1979*, 1988, 1989
  • SMU (11, 9): 1923, 1926, 1931, 1935, 1940*, 1947, 1948, 1966, 1981, 1982, 1984*
  • TCU (9, 7): 1929, 1932, 1938, 1944, 1951, 1955, 1958, 1959*, 1994*
  • Rice (7, 4): 1934, 1937, 1946*, 1949, 1953*, 1957, 1994*
  • Baylor (5, 4): 1922, 1924, 1974, 1980, 1994*
  • Houston (4, 1): 1976*, 1978, 1979*, 1984*
  • Texas Tech (2, 0): 1976*, 1994*
  • Oklahoma (1, 1): 1915

"*" -- Denotes shared title

Conference men's basketball regular-season champions

  • Arkansas (22 titles, 14 outright): 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935*, 1936, 1938, 1941, 1942*, 1944*, 1949*, 1950*, 1958*, 1977, 1978*, 1979*, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1990, 1991
  • Texas (22, 12): 1915, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1939, 1943*, 1947, 1951*, 1954*, 1960, 1963, 1965*, 1972*, 1974, 1978*, 1979*, 1986*, 1992*, 1994, 1995*
  • SMU (13, 8): 1935*, 1937, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958*, 1962*, 1965*, 1966, 1967, 1972*, 1988, 1993
  • Texas A&M (11, 9): 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1951*, 1964, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1986*
  • TCU (10, 2): 1931, 1934, 1951*, 1952, 1953, 1959, 1968, 1971, 1986*, 1987
  • Rice (10, 4): 1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970
  • Texas Tech (6, 4): 1961, 1962*, 1973, 1985, 1995*, 1996
  • Baylor (5, 2): 1932, 1946, 1948, 1949*, 1950*
  • Houston (3, 2): 1983, 1984, 1992*
  • Oklahoma A&M (1): 1925

"*" -- Denotes shared title


President John F. Kennedy referenced Southwest Conference with the question, "Why does Rice play Texas?" in his September 12, 1962 "Moon Speech" delivered at Rice Stadium.[4]

See also

Further reading

  • Tips, Kern (1964). Football, Texas Style: An Illustrated History of the Southwest Conference. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co. 
  • Pennington, Richard (1987). Breaking the Ice: The Racial Integration of Southwest Conference Football. Jefferson, N.C.: MacFarland & Co. ISBN 0899502954. 


External links


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