There has been a lot of great National Championship stuff posted here by the Athletic Department and others, but I was looking around at some stuff I have, and then @CasperPoke11 asked me about doing a #tbt-like post, so I wrote up some things about what I am now calling the Year of Champions.
1945-46, The Year of Champions, was a unique time at Oklahoma A&M. Edmon Low Library had not yet been built, and Williams Hall was still a dominant feature of the campus. As the school year began, a great deal of the male students still hadn't yet returned from fighting World War II; the fraternity houses had been renamed "Victory Halls" and the women of OAMC lived in them, during the war years.
Even though Pistol Pete was the college's mascot, the standard image of him that is so widely recognized today wasn't really in use. Most of the graphics for athletics used some variation of a cowboy riding a bucking horse, as in these examples that are generally period-correct (perhaps a little later, but I'm confident in saying they are post-war). T-shirt makers, here you go:
We already know about the NCAA championships were earned in basketball in 1945 and 1946, and the wrestling championship in 1946, and yesterday we found out about a football national championship awarded for the 1945 season. No wonder the OU slush fund kicked into high gear after the war - Oklahoma A&M was dominant in nearly every sport, and the Sooners had to do something just to stay competitive.
Bob Fenimore and Neill Armstrong are the two most prominently featured members of the 1945 Oklahoma Aggies football team. But the coach of the team was Jim Lookabaugh, a 3-sport Aggie athlete in the 20s. I have a cartoon about him that I've always liked, but it's a lot cooler as of yesterday:
The video of the Sugar Bowl game has been posted and I'm sure everyone interested in taking a look has done so. I went back to the Oklahoman archives and read some things that were written after the game. In his column titled "The Level", Daily Oklahoman sportswriter Hal Middlesworth had some interesting things to say about how the Aggies might have compared to teams on the west coast and in the Big Ten. I think it further solidifies the National Championship awarded by the AFCA:
I borrowed one more item from the Sugar Bowl write-ups. If you've watched the video of the game, you saw the long Aggie touchdown pass down the middle of the field from Fenimore to Cecil Hankins. The Daily Oklahoman had one of those wonderful old photographs of the play, where they identify the names of the players, and put a circle around the ball:
A note about Cecil Hankins: Bill Connors wrote an article Published in the game program of November 22, 1980, naming an all-time OSU football team. Hankins was on the defensive team and Connors wrote "Hankins was a marvelous athlete who played professionally in two sports – football at St. Louis and basketball at Boston. An exceptional receiver, Hankins was involved with Alex Loyd in OSU’s longest pass interception return – 96 yards – and also had a 67-yard return." A different paragraph quoted Coach Lookabaugh: "Few teams ever assembled a faster group of athletes than OSU had to run Jim Lookabaugh’s single-wing offense in 1944-45. Fenimore, Hankins, Armstrong and (Jim) Spavital were bonafide sprinters. “They had speed and size that were rare in those days, and I doubt many teams since then had more speed,” Lookabaugh said. “Every one of those kids could run with the fastest track men in the country.”
Hankins also played basketball for Mr. Iba on the 1945 championship team, and Iba said "No one ever had a better year than Cecil.” So in future discussions about the great athletes ever at OSU, be sure to mention Cecil Hankins.
It's too bad it took so long to recognize these Oklahoma Aggies as National Champions. But better late than never, and let's win another one!
Discuss this article here.