Sammy Baugh
Originally Published: May 11, 2011
Author: Tex Noel
Executive Director
Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association

The following is a Q & A that I had with former TCU quarterback, Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, November 10, 1993. Interesting, it was 20 years to the day I watched my very first college football game, as Northwestern rallied to defeat Indiana, 21-20. TCU during the Baugh-era compiled a 29-7-2 mark and 12-5-1 in the Southwest Conference. The 1935 team was 12-1-0 losing only to SMU and was awarded the Ray Bryne National Championship and tied LSU for Paul Williamson’s selection for No. 1. 1935: 8 polls, 4.75 Average Poll Rank {APR} and 1936, 6 and 6.50, respectively.

Interview

Tex Noel: What was it like playing for TCU in the mid-1930’s (1934-36)?

Sammy Baugh: I was really fortunate to play for a school that stressed the passing. We would play a ball-controlled type of game…throwing like a 7-yard pass and then run into-the-end zone.

TN: You played in one of college football’s most remembered games (TCU vs SMU) in 1935, what was it like?

SB: It was quite a thrill and one of my most memorable games. Naturally, we were disappointed that we didn’t win…I really think that this team, in 1935, was the best one of the three teams that I played on.

We played our hearts out and the thought before the game was one that we could win it if we played well.

TN Note: Courtesy of the SID Office at TCU: Baugh’s stats taken directly off the final stat sheet shows Baugh’s numbers from the classic game: 6 rushing attempts, 16 yards. [Passing: to a respective receiver incomplete-intercepted-complete (yards)] Passing: McCall, Walls, McCall, Kline, all 1-0-0; Roach, 9-0-2 (25); Meyer, 2-0-4 (41); Lawrence, 4-0-4 (41); Walls, 6-1-3; Montgomery, 1-0-2 (22) and Manton, 0-0-1 (18)

TN: TCU was one of the first schools to use the forward passing as part of its offense…what was the passing attack like in Pre-1937?

SB: What I really remember most was that regardless of the distance of the pass, it had to be completed. For example, if we had our backs to the end zone, an incomplete pass, or the pass was batted down, our opponents would register a safety.

TN Note: Comp: 270-Atts: 587-Int: 54 ; All Pre-1937 career highs; his 46.0 Pass Percent was 8th best; Total Offense: 745-3756 and TDR: 44

TN: Who was your favorite receiver?

SB: Walter Roach. He was a different kind of player — exceptionally tough receiver and solid player. Walter was an outstanding end, equally on either side of the ball.

TN Note: Roach was also one of Pre-1937 best in career receptions and yardage gained. He caught 63 balls; the highest of the early players; while his 892 yards gained was second.

TN: You were also a skillful punter; please explain your role in this capacity?

SB: This is one aspect of the game that Coach (L.D. “Dutch”) Meyer had us work on a lot—especially at kicking it out-of-bounds.

TN Note: Baugh had 198 career punts; career, 5th best; with his average of 40.9 was 3rd in Pre-1937 records.

TN: The Bowl Games were just becoming part of the college football scene as you were winding-up your career. You were fortunate to play in the second Sugar and initial Cotton bowl games. Explain the experiences in playing in these games?

TN Note: On page 82 in the book Big Bowl Football [written by Fred Russell and George Leonard, writers for the Nashville Banner newspaper, © 1963] Some of the writers believed that Baugh played what may have been the greatest all-around game of his college career.

SB: We played the Sugar Bowl in a quagmire. LSU played us tough and we took advantage of a fumble on one of my punts to score the winning field goal. Marquette had a really fine team and outstanding player in Art Guepe. He not only played quarterback, but also returned kicks. Dutch instructed me to not to kick the ball his way, so I didn’t!  After the punts, he’d run in front of our bench, calling us chicken for not punting his way. Once Coach thought our defense could stop him…so I kicked the ball toward him which was a big mistake; as he fielding the kick and returned it for a touchdown (in all he returned 3 kicks for 60 yards and his team’s lone points.)

TN Note: His 47.1 yard average is still a record (on 14 boots). He also intercepted 2 passes. Baugh continued on as he explained playing in the initial Cotton Bowl Classic.

Accolades

Baugh’s accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed while he was playing and being remembered of all-time elevens.

  • FWAA All-Modern Team of the Century (1919-1968)…*Sports Illustrated All-Century Quarterback…*Member of the FWAA’s Southwestern area 1921-1968 team…*All-American, 1935 and Consensus All-American, 1936.
  • Charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame, 1951.
  • Unanimously selected SWC MVP in 1936 by sportswriters that covered SWC football (7 cities, 49 votes)…*1936 Heisman Trophy voting (4th, 29 points).
  • NCAA Panel for Best 1950) Poll for Greatest Player (tied for 4th, 7 votes)…*AP Mid-Century (1900-1950) player of the First Century (2 votes)
  • 1936 Helms Athletic Foundation Player of the Year…*1936 CFRA retroactive Player of the Year (7 votes; 2nd 1935, 2 votes).

Pre-1937 stats from the book, Stars of an Earlier Autumn, © 2007 1st-N-Goal Press Box Publication, by Tex Noel.

Related: Dutch Meyer’s TCU Spread