Sugar Bowl Win Led To 1945 National Title

Oklahoma A&M's bowl victory over St. Mary's (Calif.) in the Sugar Bowl was probably the difference in the American Football Coaches Association awarding the Aggies the 1945 national championship, AFCA associate executive director Gary Darnell said Monday.

Gary Darnell, representing the American Football Coaches Association, was in Stillwater on Monday to meet with the media to discuss the AFCA announcement last week to present Oklahoma A&M the 1945 national championship.

Darnell, who played at OSU from 1967 to 1969, is associate executive director of the AFCA.

At the request of multiple schools, the AFCA established a panel of national championship coaches to retroactively select Coaches’ Trophy winners from 1922 (when the AFCA was founded) up to 1949 (the year before the Coaches’ Poll was established). That panel of coaches took information submitted by schools who felt they were worthy of consideration and used that data in the research and selection process.

The Oklahoma A&M Aggies went 9-0 in 1945 and defeated St. Mary’s (Calif.) 33-13 in the Sugar Bowl.  Oklahoma A&M and Army were the only schools considered for the 1945 national championship, Darnell said.

Both the Aggies and Black Knights finished the regular season undefeated, but it was Oklahoma A&M’s 33-13 victory over St. Mary’s (Calif.) in the Sugar Bowl that likely gave the Aggies the nod for the national title with the AFCA. Army wrapped up its season with a 32-13 victory over Navy on Dec. 1, but did not play in a bowl game.

“That probably was the difference (with the bowl game),” Darnell said. “With the selection group, that factor in itself could have been the deciding factor. One didn’t play in the bowl game. The other did and played well in the bowl game.”

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Darnell was a linebacker for OSU in the late 1960s, and still holds the school record for most tackles in a single game with 27 stops against Texas Tech in 1969.


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