The story of the 1969 season opener between Texas and Cal is now posted over at SB Nation for your...


The story of the 1969 season opener between Texas and Cal is now posted over at SB Nation for your perusal and enjoyment. While the Golden Bears fell to the eventual national champion in that Sept. 20 contest in Berkeley, it tends to be forgotten that the Longhorns' trip to the West Coast provided their high-flying offense with it's toughest defensive challenge that season. Yet there was a similarity between the two teams that isn't as fondly recalled - both squads struggled with controversy over racial discrimination as the 1960s came to a close. The 1969 University of Texas team holds a doubious honor in the history of the sport as being the last all-white national champion. While the team's color barrier had been broken the year prior, there were no black varsity players on the squad that claimed the national title. While the Longhorns had a few black players on the practice squad, the lack of any on the field during gameday lead to protests during the 1968 and 1969 seasons. And less than a month after winnning the title, head coach Darrell Royal found himself dealing with another racial controversy. In January 1970, the Associated Press penned a story that claimed Royal had attended a convention in Washington D.C. and told several black coaches they were not "scientific enough" to coach in the sport's all-star games. The writer, Bob Green, later admitted he had gotten the information through hearsay and the news service published a retraction. "It was absolutely a total lie," Royal said. "I was going to file suit on them and maybe I should have, becuase that was the biggest rap I ever got." Integration wasn't an issue for the Golden Bears. The Cal football team's first black player was Walter Gordon who arrived in Berkeley in 1914 and was an All-American in 1918. Despite the University of California program's long history of integration, the team found itself struggling with a discrimination controversy in 1968. In the spring of that year a number of black athletes, lead by a group of basketball players, boycotted their teams alleging discriminatory practices by coaches and the athletic department. The football team became the focal point of national news stories when 14 black players refused to participate in Spring practices. The Golden Bear's head coach Ray Willsey denied accusations his staff had been discriminatory in alloting playing time and refused to meet the player's demands saying they were "removing themselves from the California football team." Eventually, the crisis resulted in the resignations of Cal's basketball coach Rene Herrerias and Athletic Director Pete Newell. Willsey subsequently took steps to reform the football program. By the start of the 1968 season he had installed a system of group sessions where players coluld confer with each other and coaches over grievances. He also hired a black former player, John Erby, as an assistant coach.

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