A Texas cheer squad member waves the Longhorn flag after a first half score against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl, Saturday, October 2, 2010. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

BEVO BEAT Football

Daily Longhorn football history: The 1947 season

Posted June 25th, 2017

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The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season. 

After 10 seasons of Dana X. Bible at the helm, Texas turned to Blair Cherry as the head coach.

The most astonishing tidbit about Cherry is still hard to believe.

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Texas began playing college football in 1893. But it took more than 50 years for the Longhorns to hire a native Texan as head coach. In fact, Texas’ lack of native Texans to coach the Longhorns is breathtaking given the state’s long history of football.  Only Ed Price and David McWilliams are the only other native Texans to helm the program.

Cherry was from Corsicana and played high school football at Weatherford High School in Texas. He played college football at TCU, played professional baseball for a time, then got into coaching at the high school level in Fort Worth. In 1930 he became the head coach at Amarillo High School.

He of course is a legendary Texas high school football coach. As the coach of the Sandies, Cherry had an average margin of victory of 30-5. He won 84 games and lost just five times. He became the second  coach, and Amarillo became the second school, to win three straight high school state championships winning in 1934, 1935 and 1936, matching the Waco High run in the 1920s. Of the 84 wins, 45 were shutouts. In three state title games, Cherry’s teams allowed just 13 points.

He left Amarillo to join Bible’s first coaching staff at Texas in 1937. Some suggested that he was a candidate for the main job at the same time. When Bible retired, Texas picked Cherry to replace him.

Cherry’s hiring proved a solid choice. The 1947 team matched the 1945 squad for most wins in a season with 10. Despite a 10-1 record, a 14-13 loss to No. 8 SMU, at the time Texas was ranked No. 3, kept Texas from winning the SWC crown and possibly a national championship.

Texas beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma for the eighth season in a row and Arkansas for the ninth straight time.

Things were different scheme wise in 1947. Texas moved to the  “T  formation” offense, replacing the single-wing Bible had run. With All-American Bobby Layne running the show, Texas racked up the wins. Layne and Cherry are said of have spent weeks at the Chicago Bears’ and Chicago Cardinals’ Wisconsin-based practice facilities studying the new offense.

Layne led the SWC in passing yards that season and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, losing to Notre Dame star john Lujack.

A missed extra point, yeah it happened back then too, cost the Longhorns its first undefeated season since the 1923 team went 8-0-1. Playing for SMU that day was Layne’s friend, the legendary Doak Walker.

Texas received a bowl game bid despite finishing second in the conference. Texas faced Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the first bowl game they played that wasn’t the Cotton Bowl, and beat the Crimson Tide 27-7 to finished fifth in the final AP rankings.

Between 1945 and 1947, Texas went 28-4 overall.

 

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