Three years ago, in anticipation of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, I penned a series of stories over at Roll Bama Roll looking at every game in the Alabama vs Texas series. This included the 1948 Sugar Bowl which matched Tide great Harry Gilmer against Longhorn legend Bobby Layne. It turns out someone has uploaded film of that contest to YouTube which I discovered doing research for my blog on Alabama football history Remember the Rose Bowl.
Texas thrashed Alabama 27-7 in the contest which turned out to be a defensive slugfest. That was a huge surprise as Layne and Gilmer were both dynamic passers with lot of mobility and an uncanny ability to make accurate strikes down the field on the run. Although the two concluding their college careers with muted aerial performances in the New Year's Day game, that didn't dampen expectations for their professional careers.
The furor over the duo in the 1948 NFL Draft was a precursor to the feeding frenzy seen in recent years surrounding the likes of Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III. Gilmer went first to the Washington Redskins and Layne was tapped third by the Chicago Bears (after a confusing shuffle of picks by three teams). The former Tide star's $80,000 contract was one of the largest ever offered a player and sparked controversy about the runaway salaries in the league. Layne was offered $77,000 by the Colts but signed with the Bears for substantially less.
Gilmer suffered a leg injury in his first preseason camps that didn't end his career but it did severely curtail his dynamic style of play. He never lived up the enormous promise he showed in college. Layne would find his way to the Detroit Lions where he would have a hall of fame career.