The SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE (SWC) was an
NCAA Division I college
athletic conference in the
United States that existed from 1914 to
1996. Composed primarily of schools from
Texas , at various times the
conference included schools from
Arkansas as well.
For most of its history, the core members of the conference were
Texas-based schools plus one in Arkansas,
Rice University , Southern
Methodist University ,
Texas A&M University ,
University , the University of
Arkansas , and the University of Texas
. After a long period of stability,
Arkansas left in 1991 to join the
Southeastern Conference . Five years later, the conference
precipitously broke up as Baylor, Texas,
Texas A Southwestern (a
comparatively smaller school) dropped out of the conference in 1916,
Southern Methodist University (SMU) joined in 1918; Texas
Christian University (TCU) became a member in 1923. Rice University
left the conference in 1916, only to re-join in 1918.
Phillips University was a conference member for one year (1920).
Oklahoma left in 1919 to join the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate
Athletic Association (later known as the
Big Eight Conference ), and
was followed by
Oklahoma A"> Southwest Conference, 1915–1925
The conference celebrated its glory football years in the 1960s,
dominated by two teams,
Texas and Arkansas.
Texas won the 1963
National Championship, and
Arkansas won a National Championship in
1964 in the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Helms
Athletic Foundation (HAF) polls. In 1969,
Texas won another National
Championship by beating #2-ranked
Arkansas 15-14 in the regular
season's final game (dubbed the "Big Shootout"). The 1969
Texas game in Fayetteville,
Arkansas , attended by President
Richard Nixon, is usually counted among the greatest college football
games ever played.
Texas also won the 1970 United Press International
(UPI) National Championship (i.e., the coaches' poll), which until
1974 was awarded prior to the bowl games.
Texas lost the Cotton Bowl
Classic following the 1970 season to Notre Dame by a score of 24-11,
giving the Associated Press (AP) Championship to Nebraska after they
beat LSU by a score of 17-12 in the Orange Bowl.
Since its first
Cotton Bowl Classic 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
Conference or the
Southeastern Conference , although independents Penn
State and Notre Dame were also often featured. From the 1940s onward,
Cotton Bowl Classic was counted among the four major bowl games,
and often had national championship implications. However, in the
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 by beating
the January 1978 game.
The SWC had many legendary players and coaches over the years. In
John Heisman ,
Dana X. Bible
Dana X. Bible , Paul "Bear" Bryant , Darrell
Frank Broyles ,
Hayden Fry ,
Lou Holtz ,
Bill Yeoman , Gene
Stallings , and
Grant Teaff all served as head coaches in the
conference. Some notable SWC players included Davey O\'Brien , Sammy
Bobby Layne ,
Doak Walker ,
Tom Landry ,
Bob Lilly , Don
Earl Campbell ,
Andre Ware ,
Mike Singletary , John David
Lance Alworth , and
Eric Dickerson . The trio of kicking
contemporaries Steve Little of Arkansas, Tony Franklin of
Russell Erxleben of
Texas all kicked record setting field goals of
60 + yards in the same season.
The early 1980s were the glory years of SWC basketball, including the
Phi Slama Jama _ teams at the
University of Houston . However, the
most consistent program during the last quarter of the 20th century
was the University of
Arkansas with Sweet 16 appearances in 1978,
1979, 1981, 1983, 1990, 1991, Elite 8 appearances in 1978, 1979, 1990
and 1991 and Final Four appearances in 1978 and 1990. Arkansas's famed
Marvin Delph ,
Ron Brewer and
Sidney Moncrief , gave the
rest of the league fits. Furthermore, the Razorbacks'
Lee Mayberry ,
Todd Day and
Oliver Miller won three straight SWC regular season and
tournament titles from 1989–1991, the school's last three seasons in
the conference. The passion of
Arkansas fans for their Razorbacks
often overran the confines of SWC basketball venues, so much so, that
Reunion Arena in Dallas (annual site of the SWC postseason tournament)
was deemed "Barnhill South" (after the Razorbacks' on-campus arena)
based on the numbers and intensity of Hog fans present.
Outstanding basketball coaches included
Nolan Richardson , Tom
Eddie Sutton ,
Abe Lemons , Guy V. Lewis , Shelby Metcalf
Gerald Myers . Great SWC hoops players included the aforementioned
_Triplets_, Akeem Olajuwon ,
Clyde Drexler ,
Vinnie Johnson , Jon
Alvin Robertson ,
Ricky Pierce , Day, Mayberry, Miller and
U.S. Reed , among others.
Texas Longhorns baseball program under coach
Cliff Gustafson won
national titles in 1975 and 1983, as well as titles under
Bibb Falk in
1949 and 1950. The
Arkansas Razorbacks also fielded fine teams that
advanced to the College World Series. The Hogs finished 2nd in 1979,
3rd in 1985 and 5th in both the 1987 and 1989 seasons. The Hogs have
continued this tradition since moving to the SEC, reaching the CWS
three times under
Dave Van Horn .
Texas A&M rose to
power in the late 1980s, going 58-5 in 1989 before losing twice in the
regional championship round on its home field to LSU . The Aggies
reached the College World Series in 1993. Rice began its ascent to
college baseball's elite in the conference's final years under coach
Wayne Graham , reaching the CWS in 1997, the year after the conference
Arkansas Razorbacks were dominant in track and field winning 15
SWC cross country team titles, 11 SWC indoor track team titles, 9 SWC
outdoor track team titles and an incredible 8 SWC triple crowns (cross
country, indoor track and outdoor track champions all in the same
season). During their SWC days, the Razorbacks won 14 NCAA national
team championships and one NCAA team triple crown. The list of
Arkansas individual SWC champions and individual NCAA champions is
long. Standout coaches and athletes include the legendary John
McDonnell of Arkansas, the winningest coach in NCAA history regardless
of sport. Baylor's Michael Johnson ,
Texas A"> Southwest
Conference, 1925–1991 The game ball from the 1995 Bayou
Bucket Classic , the last football game in Southwest Conference
The 1980s saw many of the conference's athletic programs hit by
recruiting scandals and NCAA probations. The only programs to
escape probation in the 1980s were Arkansas, Baylor, and Rice.
Because of repeated major violations , in 1987 , the SMU Mustangs
football program became only the third 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
The SWC's performance in football declined precipitously. The last
SWC Football Champion to win a bowl game was
Texas A&M, who beat Notre
Dame in the 1988
Cotton Bowl Classic by a score of 35-10. Since then,
the final eight SWC champions lost in their bowl games. After SMU's
second-place finish in most polls in 1982, SWC programs usually were
not serious contenders for the national title.
Texas had strong teams
in 1981, 1983, 1990, and 1995.
Arkansas had strong teams in 1988 and
By 1990 , the television landscape had changed and a number of the
stronger programs saw opportunities for better deals outside of the
CFA. Notre Dame left the CFA and sold their home game broadcast rights
to NBC .
Southeastern Conference invited the University of Arkansas
and the University of South Carolina to join the conference in 1990,
it created shockwaves across the CFA. The other conferences in the CFA
correctly assumed the SEC made these additions to create a better TV
product with the idea of leaving the CFA.
The SEC represented one of the more valuable assets in the CFA. It
seemed likely if the SEC departed, the other conferences could have
quite a difficult time securing good TV deals.
In February 1994, the
Southeastern Conference announced that they
would be leaving the CFA and negotiate independently for a television
deal that covered SEC schools only. This led _The Dallas Morning News
_ to proclaim that "the
College Football Association as a television
entity is dead". In 1995, the SEC and the Big East broke from the
CFA, signing a national deal with CBS. The SEC would earn a staggering
$95 million from the deal. More significantly, this change in
television contracts ultimately would lead to significant realignment
of college conferences.
Arkansas announced its departure for the Southeastern
Conference , marking the beginning of the end for the Southwest
Conference. In March 1994, Texas,
Texas A&M, Baylor, and
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 became a charter member of
Conference USA . In May
1996, after the completion of championship matches in baseball and
track & field , the
Southwest Conference was officially dissolved.
Over the course of its 82-year history, teams of the Southwest
Conference garnered 64 recognized national championships in collegiate
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.
* Baylor (1915–1996)
* Houston (1972–1996)
Oklahoma A&M (1915–1925)
* Phillips (1920)
* Rice (1915–1917 provisional, 1918–1996)
* SMU (1918–1996)
* Southwestern (1915–1916)
Texas A&M (1915–1996)
* TCU (1923–1996)
Texas Tech (1956–1996)
Note: Houston was invited to join the SWC in March 1971, and began
play in all sports except football and basketball in 1972–73.
Cougar basketball joined the fray in 1975–76, and football was last
to join for the 1976–77 school year.
SUBSEQUENT CONFERENCE AFFILIATIONS
Big 12 Conference
American Athletic Conference
Missouri Valley Conference
Big 12 Conference 1
Oklahoma A&M (now
University closed in 1998
Western Athletic Conference
Western Athletic Conference
American Athletic Conference
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
Big 12 Conference
Big 12 Conference
Western Athletic Conference
Big 12 Conference 2
Big 12 Conference
Oklahoma A&M (
Oklahoma State) left for the
Oklahoma then joined the Big 6 which became the Big 7
when Colorado joined in 1947. The conference became the Big 8 with
Oklahoma A&M's arrival. They then joined the Big 12 when Baylor,
Texas A&M, and
Texas Tech joined with the other former Big
Eight Conference members.
* ^ TCU went to the WAC, later joined C-USA, then joined the
Mountain West Conference (MWC). In December 2010, TCU announced it
would join the Big East Conference on July 1, 2012. Then in October
2011, TCU instead accepted an invitation to the
Big 12 Conference .
Southwest Conference football individual awards
Southwest Conference Men\'s Basketball
This section NEEDS ADDITIONAL CITATIONS FOR VERIFICATION . Please
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* P. W. St. Clair (1938–1945)
* James H. Stewart (1945–1950)
* Howard Grubbs (1950–1973)
Cliff Speegle (1973–1982)
* Fred Jacoby (1982–1993)
Steven J. Hatchell (1993–1995)
* Kyle Kallander (1995–1996)
List of Southwest Conference champions
IN POPULAR CULTURE
John F. Kennedy alluded to the
Southwest Conference with
the question, _"Why does Rice play Texas?"_ in his September 12, 1962,
We choose to go to the Moon " speech delivered at Rice Stadium .
In a December 1982 episode of the soap opera _Dallas _, the character
Bobby Ewing (played by
Patrick Duffy ) said he had been "All-Southwest
Conference" in football.
List of defunct college football conferences
* Tips, Kern (1964). _Football,
Texas Style: An Illustrated History
of the Southwest Conference_. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co. ASIN
* Pennington, Richard (1987). _Breaking the Ice: The Racial
Southwest Conference Football_. Jefferson, N.C.:
MacFarland & Co. ISBN 0-89950-295-4 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ Pfeifle, Eric. "Southwest Conference". _Handbook of
Texas Online _.
Texas State Historical Association . Retrieved
* ^ "CONFERENCE SEEMS TO BE ASSURED FACT". Austin, Texas: San
Antonio Light. 1 March 1914. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
* ^ "DATE IN CHANGED". Austin, Texas: San Antonio Light. 19 April
1914. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
* ^ _A_ _B_ SWC sanctions in the 1980s
* ^ Probation history of the SWC
* ^ _A_ _B_ 1995 Sports Illustrated article on the SWC
* ^ Fertak, Auston (July 2013). "The Break-Up of the Southwest
Conference" (PDF). _Houston History_. Vol. 10 no. 3. Retrieved
December 15, 2013 – via houstonhistorymagazine.org.
* ^ Sandomir, Richard (1991-08-25). "COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Notre Dame
Scored a $38 Million Touchdown on Its TV Deal". _New York Times_.
_nytimes.com_. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
* ^ Maisel, Ivan (February 12, 1994). "SEC OFFICIALLY LEAVES CFA;
BIG EAST WILL FOLLOW SOON". _The Dallas Morning News_. Retrieved
August 25, 2012.
* ^ "On the Threshold of Respectability". Lubbock Avalanche
Journal. 28 March 1971. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
* ^ "Ex-SWC Commissioner Fred Jacoby, 80, dies". _Longview
Texas . March 16, 2008. Retrieved May 16,
2017 – via newspapers.com.
* ^ "
John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium". _nasa.gov_.
September 12, 1962. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
* ^ "Mama Dearest (Season 6, Episode 13)". _tv.com_. Retrieved May
* The Southwest Conference: