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On December 6, 1969, the Texas Longhorns and Arkansas Razorbacks met in what many consider the Game of the Century. In the centennial season of college football, both teams were undefeated; both featured devastating and innovative offenses; both boasted cerebral, stingy defenses; and both were coached by superior tacticians and stirring motivators, Texas's Darrell Royal and Arkansas's Frank Broyles. On that day in Fayetteville, the poll-leading Horns and second-ranked Hogs battled for the Southwest Conference title -- and President Nixon was coming to present his own national championship plaque to the winners.

Even if it had been just a game, it would still have been memorable today. The bitter rivals played a game for the ages before a frenzied, hog-callin' crowd that included not only an enthralled President Nixon -- a noted football fan -- but also Texas congressman George Bush. And the game turned, improbably, on an outrageously daring fourth-down pass.

But it wasn't just a game, because nothing was so simple in December 1969. In Horns, Hogs, & Nixon Coming, Terry Frei deftly weaves the social, political, and athletic trends together for an unforgettable look at one of the landmark college sporting events of all time.

The week leading up to the showdown saw black student groups at Arkansas, still marginalized and targets of virulent abuse, protesting and seeking to end the use of the song "Dixie" to celebrate Razorback touchdowns; students were determined to rush the field during the game if the band struck up the tune. As the United States remained mired in the Vietnam War, sign-wielding demonstrators (including war veterans) took up their positions outside the stadium -- in full view of the president. That same week, Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton penned a letter to the head of the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas, thanking the colonel for shielding him from induction into the military earlier in the year. Texas safety Freddie Steinmark was nursing a sore leg, and it would turn out that he played the game on a leg being eaten up by cancer -- a leg destined to be amputated within a week of the game. 

Finally, this game was the last major sporting event that featured two exclusively white teams. Slowly, inevitably, integration would come to the end zones and hash marks of the South, and though no one knew it at the time, the Texas vs. Arkansas clash truly was Dixie's Last Stand.

Drawing from comprehensive research and interviews with coaches, players, protesters, professors, and politicians, Frei stitches together an intimate, electric narrative about two great teams -- including Steinmark, who was displaying monumental courage just to make it onto the field -- facing off in the waning days of the era they defined. Gripping, nimble, and clear-eyed, Horns, Hogs, & Nixon Coming is the final word on the last of how it was.

 

 

 

"...a superb blending of sports, history, and politics." -- Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News

 

"The game and its cultural contexts have been beautifully chronicled by Terry Frei in his book Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming." -- Bill Clinton

Please direct all inquiries about the Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming screenplay and film project
to Jeanne Field at Windfall Management in Los Angeles. windfall1@roadrunner.com

  

On the screenplay, including first scene 

 

Hardback (Simon and Schuster, 2002) is out of print, sold out, and considered a collectible.

 

Trade Paperback (2004) is still in print and available from:

 

The Tattered Cover

 

Amazon.com 

 

Taylor Trade

 

Barnes and Noble

 

IndieBound.org

 

E-BOOK FORMATS

 

Amazon Kindle

 

B&N Nook

 

Simon and Schuster e-book

 

RIP Darrell Royal: Read the Coach Royal introductory chapter on this web site

 

RIP James Street: Read the Denver Post blog/tribute with book excerpts on the Wishbone Wizard 

 

Greg Ploetz: Read the Denver Post story and blog about his fight with dementia 

 

 

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One of the questions Terry Frei heard most from those who hadn't yet read Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming was: "How did you become interested in this story?" The answer was complex. Among reasons were that his father, Jerry, was a major college coach in 1969 (at Oregon) and a contemporary of Frank Broyles and Darrell Royal, so Terry was aware of and fascinated with the college football of that very tumultuous time in the country. From afar, he had followed this game and the events around it as a teenager. Also, though, as an athlete at the Denver area's Wheat Ridge High School, Frei was walking the same halls and competing on the same fields as had Freddie Steinmark a few years earlier. As a Wheat Ridge athlete, Frei read Freddie's book I Play to Win. Above, Freddie as a Farmer baseball player in 1967, and Frei -- who had moved to Denver during his junior year -- as the Wheat Ridge co-captain on the same field six years later. Of course, Frei later researched Freddie's story as part of the panoramic saga, first for a 1994 Sporting News story and then far more extensively for the 2002 book, but he also had experienced some aspects of it himself. Steinmark and guard Bobby Mitchell, also from Wheat Ridge, were two of the three starters on the 1969 Longhorns team not from Texas high schools.

 

 

Terry Frei spent much of 2001 traveling through Arkansas and Texas for interviews and research, and also contacted many others around the country. HHNC is a deeply researched work featuring in-depth interviewing with 65 of the principals involved in both programs and on both campuses; plus peripheral figures, including former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Colonel Eugene Holmes. The amount of previously unreported information is stunning, with the passage of time in some cases loosening tongues and providing perspective, but with much coming from simply asking questions that hadn't been asked before and connecting the dots in a complex series of events in a tumultuous time. In the instances where archival information is used, the sources are cited. This is not a case of writing a book that primarily repackaged and re-reported what others have done in the past, perhaps supplemented with -- at most -- a handful of interviews. That's not what this book is and it is not what Terry Frei does. 

 

"Frei went to Wheat Ridge High School, which produced not only (Freddie) Steinmark, but also Texas guard Bobby Mitchell, whose brother was killed in Vietnam. In part because his father then was the head football coach at the University of Oregon, Frei possesses the football expertise, an uncanny ability to buttonhook diverse personal anecdotes together and appreciation for history to best tell this remarkable tale."
--John Moore, theater critic, The Denver Post

 

"Everyone knows that football today is a far cry from what it was in the days of leather helmets and dropkicks, but it takes a book like Terry Frei's 'Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming' to show how much the game has changed in just the last three decades. Frei does so by chronicling what might have been the final game of the God-Family-Football era, before shoe companies, superagents and TV networks turned the muddy old gridiron into a multigazillion-dollar business."
-- Charles Hirshberg, Sports Illustrated

 

"Some of us codgers on the scene thought we knew all facets of The Great Shootout. But now, 33 years after that climatic Arkansas-Texas game, comes a most intriguing account on whys and wherefores and backgrounds and personality quirks, warts and all, and political implications (Vietnam protests) and whatever. (That climatic week just happened to be the time when Bill Clinton got his ROTC draft deferment from an UofArkansas official, whose daughter was dating a Razorback player, etc.) Title is 'Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming' and it's by Terry Frei, who must have worn out a dozen tape recorders in the process."
-- Blackie Sherrod, Dallas Morning News

 
"It was a bit like stumbling upon a family history as written by a distant cousin . . . But much to the dismay of our most cherished prejudice, an outsider, a furriner, a Coloradan for gosh sakes, has seen things we couldn't. Like a Tocquevillian sportswriter in a new world, Terry Frei does the unexpected, if not the impossible: He makes 'thatdamngame'--and all the cultural, political, and social issues swirling around it like so much red-and-white confetti--seem new again, relevant again."
--Kane Webb in a lead editorial, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 


  

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"The great sports books eventually aren't about the game or the scoreboard result, but about the characters involved -- on the field, in the stands, outside the stadium, around the country -- and the times, (and) appeal to more than just the sports fan. Frei's account of an important moment of Arkansas and Texas sports history is great because of that and can mean something to the average readers off in Oregon or Connecticut."
--Jim Harris, Arkansas Times, Little Rock


"Frei's often humorous telling is much more than a rehash of the game. . . (It) also serves as a larger history of the social and political climate surrounding the competition. (The book) is a delightful, well-researched chronicle of a turbulent era."
-- Larry Little, Library Journal

"A great story, well-told, with more delicious details than a linebacker could handle."
--David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News

"In some spots, a reader may laugh out loud. There also may be some tears, especially in regard to courageous Texas defensive back Freddie Steinmark, who six days after playing in the Big Shootout had his left leg amputated because of a cancerous bone tumor and died in 1971. . .
"Frei does a masterful job of weaving in the historical significance of the turbulent times, including Vietnam protests, the military draft lottery and the civil rights movement that were so much a part of campus life in that era. It's political football at its best."
-- Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


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President Richard Nixon in the Razorback Stadium stands at the Big Shootout. At left in his row are Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, also a decorated World War II pilot; and Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. To the right of Nixon are Arkansas senators John McClellan and J. William Fulbright, a Nixon nemesis. Fulbright, one of the Senate's leading anti-Vietnam War voices, had been a football star, student body president and also the university president at Arkansas before going into politics. Next to him is a very young-looking Texas Congressman, George Bush, who was (and still is) one of Hammerschmidt's close friends. If you look real hard in the row behind them, you can spot the top of Henry Kissinger's head and his glasses. Both Hammerschmidt and Bush contributed their memories of that day for Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming.

 

HHNC discussed the anti-war protest going on on the hill beyond the stadium, led by Vietnam veteran and Arkansas student Don Donner, but noted that ABC ignored it.The politicians couldn't miss it.

 

As HHNC also disclosed, the traveling party didn't know it, but Arkansas' black students and sympathizers were prepared to storm and occupy the field if the Arkansas band played the song "Dixie," up to then the unofficial athletic anthem at the school.

 

In several protests and a mass visit to the university president's office, black students had made clear their views on the matter, and the Student Senate ultimately voted the week before the game to recommend that the band no longer play the song. One of the participants would have been Hiram McBeth, the little defensive back "appointed" by the back student organization to integrate the football team, but who didn't suit up for the Big Shootout.

 

Another activist in the fight against "Dixie," law student Darrell Brown, had suffered light leg wound the night before the game in a drive-by shooting. HHNC disclosed that Brown had gone out for the freshman football team in 1966 and in some ways could be considered the first black player in Arkansas history; later, he was the defense attorney in Jim Guy Tucker's Whitewater trial and questioned President Bill Clinton on videotape in the White House.

 

So there was much in the air besides football that day, and the book's subtitle -- ...Dixie's Last Stand -- could and should be interpreted several ways, both involving the region and Southern sports being at a crossroads, and more simply, the symbolic stand over the song itself.            

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Terry Frei with Bill Clinton in the White House.

 

Clinton was in England when the game was played, but that was the week he wrote what would turn out to be his notorious letter to Colonel Holmes, the head of the Arkansas ROTC program. Clinton had drawn a high number in the draft lottery on December 1, and his angst-filled letter to Holmes about pulling out of his commitment to take advanced ROTC in exchange for Holmes' earlier help in quashing his induction notice was released and was an issue in the 1992 presidential campaign. At the time, Colonel Holmes did not speak with the media beyond issuing an affidavit. However, Holmes did speak with Terry Frei in 2001 -- in part because Arkansas star tailback Bill Burnett was dating his daughter in 1969, and later became his son-in-law. Over thirty years later, Holmes still was angry. 

 

Clinton apparently believes he was treated fairly in HHNC. (After all, his desire to avoid serving in Vietnam was not unique, and it was a "bipartisan" phenomenon.) In his autobiography, My Life, he writes of sending his letter to Holmes. Then he discusses renting a short-wave radio in England to be able to listen to the game.

Clinton wrote: "We had a few friends over who thought we had lost our minds as we whooped and hollered through a football game so exciting it was billed as the Game of the Century. For a few hours, we were innocent again, totally caught up in the contest. The game and its cultural contexts have been beautifully chronicled by Terry Frei in his book Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming.

 

After Holmes died in 2005, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, no Clinton fan, quoted Frei's passages on Holmes and also praised Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming as "one of the better - and most readable — books of social history published in recent years."

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On December 6, 2007, the anniversary of the Big Shootout, Terry Frei was the speaker in the John Hammerschmidt Lecture Series in Harrison, Arkansas.

 

Above from left: '69 Arkansas All-America receiver Chuck Dicus, then the head of the Razorback Foundation; Frei; and John Paul Hammerschmidt, who ended ups serving 13 terms in Congress. (Another amazing coincidence: As an incumbent, he defeated Bill Clinton in Clinton's first try for public office.) After opening remarks by North Arkansas College president Dr. Jeff Olson, Hammerschmidt introduced Frei.

 

The Big Shootout remains widely remembered in Arkansas as a time marker and a day when the Razorbacks were heroic, probably deserved to win, but ended up on the short end of the score.

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Terry Frei's 2005 newspaper column on his fellow Wheat Ridge High School alumnus, Freddie Joe Steinmark:

  

Steinmark lives on in memories

 

In Houston's M.D. Anderson Hospital on Dec. 12, 1969, Denver native and Texas Longhorns safety Freddie Joe Steinmark woke up after bone cancer surgery.

His mother, Gloria, was there. On Friday, as she sat in the dining room of her Aurora home, she recalled the conversation.

"First thing he said to me was, 'Did they take ...,"' Gloria said.

There was no need to finish the question. Surgeons had removed Freddie Joe's cancer-riddled left leg.

"I said, 'Yes, Freddie,"' Gloria said.

"He said, 'You know what I've been thinking?'

"I said, 'What have you been thinking?'

"He said, 'Do you think if I get good at that prosthesis and I can move around good, do you think Darrell Royal would let me be the kicker?'

"I said, 'Freddie, you'll have to ask him."'

That was Freddie Joe. After coming out of the fog and hearing that he would live the rest of his life without his left leg, his first words were tongue-in-cheek, but made a serious point. Steinmark, a Denver Post Gold Helmet winner as a star athlete at Wheat Ridge High School, would fight.

The operation came only six days after he played for the top-rated Longhorns in their celebrated Dec. 6, 1969, showdown with No. 2 Arkansas, the game at Razorback Stadium attended by President Richard Nixon and Texas Congressman George Herbert Walker Bush, and passionately followed on short-wave radio in England by Rhodes Scholar and Arkansas fan Bill Clinton.

In my 2002 book "Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming," I called Steinmark's play that day the most courageous effort ever in a football game. I have gotten no arguments since.

Freddie's leg had been aching most of the season. He played on a leg being eaten up by cancer, and doctors later told the Longhorns it was amazing the bone hadn't snapped. Finally, after the game at Arkansas, he had it checked.

Three weeks after surgery, on Jan. 1, 1970, the day Texas clinched its last bona fide national championship with a 21-17 victory over Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, Steinmark was on the sideline among his teammates. His younger brother, Sammy, also was with him. His parents, Denver police officer Freddie Gene and Gloria, and two sisters were in the Cotton Bowl stands. On crutches and one leg, wearing a football shoe on his right foot, Freddie watched proudly, defiantly, and, significant given his plight, faithfully.

The Longhorns presented their plucky safety with a game ball.

"He was so elated," Gloria recalled. "I really think they wanted to win for Freddie, too."

I could nod at that, because I have spoken with dozens of his former Longhorns teammates, including 1969 starting Texas guard Bobby Mitchell, the Dallas dentist who also went to Wheat Ridge. It happened again and again: Reminiscing former football players laughed and smiled through their memories of their younger days, and when the subject turned to Steinmark, a junior during that 1969 season, the words caught in their throats. The Longhorns knew how to have a good time. While they did, Freddie was studying. Or in church.

"It makes you cry to think about it now," said 1969 Texas tackle Bob McKay, who in more casual conversation might be the funniest man on the planet. "He was the greatest kid in the world."

Gloria Steinmark and her family - including Sammy and daughters Paula Kay "P.K." Stevenson and Gloria Gene "GiGi" Kunz, who all live in the Denver area - hope the Longhorns end up with another national championship Wednesday.

"Absolutely," Gloria said. "You can't get over those things. ... Oh, I'll cry. My tears come easy."

The modern Longhorns still touch a Steinmark plaque on their way from the dressing room to the field in Austin. The stadium scoreboard is named after Steinmark. They are memorials. Freddie Joe died June 6, 1971. He was 22.

Gloria, widowed in 2000, still has her son's Cotton Bowl game ball. Freddie Gene labeled it, to keep it straight from all the other memorabilia from his son's life. Among the portraits of Freddie displayed in the Steinmark home are one painted by former Texas and NFL star Tommy MacDonald and another drawn from the picture of Freddie on the Cotton Bowl sideline used on the cover of "I Play to Win," Steinmark's inspiring 1971 book.

Gloria said it still can be painful to talk about Freddie Joe. "That scar just never goes away," she said.

But does he live on?

"Oh, absolutely," she said. She laughed and added, "I talk to him all the time." Then she thought a little more about the son who never called her "Ma" or "Mom" - or anything but "Mother."

"You know," she said, "he was such a loving kid and humble, with such a good sense of humor. He and I got along famously. He always had something good to say about everything and everybody. That was just him. ...

"When he was suffering so bad in the end, he was telling me something so nice about someone. I was leaning over the bed and looking at him and I said, 'You know, Freddie Joe, you are such a good boy.' He said, 'Aw, Mother, I'm not good. Only God's good."'

The Steinmarks are fervent Catholics. Freddie Gene and Gloria Marchetti met in the hallways of Denver's North High, when Freddie Gene, the celebrated star high school athlete in the Denver of another era, mischievously asked the shy sophomore girl, "Don't you ever speak?", and then gave her his letter sweater to wear. Faith was the hallmark in Gloria's and Freddie Gene's household, and it was Freddie Joe's.

"I used to think it, but I know not to say 'why' anymore," Gloria said. "I think he was so special, God wanted him."

Sample pictures from 2001 book interview sessions:

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Arkansas linebacker Mike Boschetti

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Texas tight end Randy Peschel

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Arkansas quarterback Bill Montgomery

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Arkansas tackle Mike Kelson

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Texas halfback Jim Bertelsen, on the turf, scores the tying touchdown in the final minutes of the Big Shootout.

 

Because Texas, which fell behind 14-0, went for -- and made -- a two-point conversion after its first touchdown, this run pulled the Longhorns into a 14-14 tie.

 

Happy Feller's extra-point kick gave the Longhorns the one-point victory.

 

While Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming places the game in the context of its times, it also is a painstaking examination of The Big Shootout from a hard-core football perspective. Most of the starters for both teams are profiled, the stories of the teams' 1969 season are detailed, and the strategic elements involved in the game are examined in depth. Primarily, Arkansas came up with a defensive game plan that gave the Longhorns' previously unstoppable Wishbone fits and served as a blueprint for what other teams used in eventually making that offense all but extinct. And the game itself unfolds as a flawed, but thrilling showdown for the national championship that few could ever forget.

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President Nixon presents his personal national championship plaque after the game to Texas Coach Darrell Royal. Partially hidden is halfback Ted Koy and quarterback James Street is at the right.

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Terry Frei was the speaker at the 2004 joint reunion of the Big Shootout teams in Fayetteville, in conjunction with the Texas-Arkansas game in Razorback Stadium.

Pictured above at the reunion: Texas tackle Bob McKay, Texas fullback Steve Worster, Arkansas defensive end Bruce James, Texas tackle Bobby Wuensch, and Arkansas receiver Chuck Dicus. 

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"The Longview Boys" at the joint 2004 reunion in Fayetteville. Terry Don Phillips, left, was an Arkansas defensive tackle that day in Razorback Stadium. He now is the athletic director at Clemson. James Street, right, was the Texas quarterback. They had been high school teammates in Longview, Texas, and when the game ended with the Texas offense on the field, the first hands they shook were each others'.

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At the 2004 reunion, from left: Texas defensive tackle Greg Ploetz, Benton County Judge John Scott, Arkansas kicker Bill McClard, Terry Frei, Texas rover Mike Campbell. 
 

This time I Got to Answer -- not Ask -- the QuestionsA blog with links to interviews with Terry Frei about Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming during 40th anniversary coverage of "The Big Shootout." 

 

Among Terry Frei's many interviews for HHNC were those

with the following '69 Texas players and coaches. Frei

did his own research, in other words, and did not rewrite

the work of others. And when he used material gleaned from

his extensive archival research in such things as newspaper

microfilm, he painstakingly attributed and cited its source:

Fred Akers

David Arledge 

Bill Atessis

Emory Bellard

Mike Campbell

Tom Campbell

Mike Dean

Happy Feller

Glen Halsell

Scott Henderson

Ted Koy

Bob McKay

Bobby Mitchell

Randy Peschel

Greg Ploetz

Darrell Royal

Cotton Speyrer

Randy Stout

James Street

Carl White

Julius Whittier

Forrest Wiegand

Steve Worster

Bobby Wuensch

Bill Zapalac

 

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Texas linebacker Scott Henderson

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Texas halfback Dr. Ted Koy

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Arkansas split end John Rees

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Texas linebacker Bill Zapalac

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Texas linebacker Julius Whittier

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Arkansas fullback Bruce Maxwell

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Arkansas safety Dennis Berner

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Arkansas flanker Chuck Dicus

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Arkansas guard Jerry Dossey

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Texas tackle Bob McKay

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Arkansas tailback Bill Burnett

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Arkansas kicker Bill McClard

 

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Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles

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Texas kicker Happy Feller

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Arkansas student/Vietnam Vet Don Donner