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The TCU Football Collection - Baylor at TCU (1938)

Texas Christian University

Silent | 1938

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TAMI Tags
  •  Baylor trick play on fourth down 
  •  Famed TCU quarterback Davey O’Brien in action, wearing jersey no. 8 
  •  TCU touchdown 
  •  Long pass and then rush touchdown by O’Brien 
  •  Baylor throws an interception 
  •  And he’s off! 
  •  O’Brien throws another long TCU touchdown 
 
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This film captures highlights from a football game between the Baylor University Bears and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. (TCU players are wearing white jerseys.) The Southwest Conference rivalry game was played on October 29, 1938, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. While Baylor scored an early touchdown, TCU ran away with the game, ultimately winning 39-7. TCU finished the season with an undefeated 11-0 record, outscoring their opponents 269-60. The AP Poll crowned the Horned Frogs the national champions after they defeated Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl on January 2, 1939. TCU’s quarterback, Davey O’Brien, also won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award—the first player in history to win all three in a single season. O’Brien was also the first Heisman winner from not only TCU but also the Southwest Conference.
Robert David “Davey” O’Brien was born in Dallas, Texas, on June 22, 1917. He played football at Woodrow Wilson High School, leading the team to the Texas state playoffs in 1932.
 
In 1935, O’Brien enrolled at Texas Christian University, majoring in geology. He began playing college football as a backup quarterback to future Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh. O’Brien became the starter in 1937. While TCU finished the season with a 4-2-2 record, O’Brien was named to the first-team All-Southwest Conference. 
 
During the 1938 season, O’Brien led the Horned Frogs to their first undefeated season, passing for nearly 1,500 yards and throwing only four interceptions in 194 pass attempts. TCU outscored their opponents 269-60, holding 10 of their 11 challengers to seven points or less and shutting three teams out entirely. The season ended with a National Championship title for TCU following a 15-7 victory over Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl. 
 
O’Brien received numerous accolades as a result of the national championship season, winning the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award—the first player in history to win all three in a single season. O’Brien was also the first Heisman winner from not only TCU but also the Southwest Conference. (Fort Worth boosters allegedly hired a stagecoach to ferry O’Brien from his hotel to the Heisman Trophy ceremony at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.)
 
After graduating from TCU, O’Brien entered the 1939 NFL draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the fourth overall pick. Although he excelled as a professional athlete as well—passing for over 1,300 yards in his rookie 1939 season—O’Brien retired after the 1940 season to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
 
O’Brien resigned from the FBI in 1950, after which he entered the oil industry, working for Texas oil tycoon H. L. Hunt and later Dresser Atlas Industries in Dallas. 
 
O’Brien was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1956. He served as a commentator for Dallas Cowboys telecasts from 1960 to 1964. 
 
In 1971, O’Brien was diagnosed with cancer, eventually dying from the disease on November 18, 1977.  He was 60 years old. Just before his death, O’Brien’s longtime friend and business partner Charles Ringler and other members of the Fort Worth Club established the Davey O’Brien Foundation to award outstanding student-athletes for their achievements both on and off the field. The annual Davey O’Brien Memorial Trophy, now known as the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, recognizes the year’s best quarterback in college football.