The Top Ten Gutsiest Coaching Calls

Inside Texas subscribers voted on the Top 10 in Texas football history in 10 different categories. The sixth entry in a daily release of the lists is the Top Ten Gutsiest Coaching Calls in the history of Texas football.

The Top Ten Gutsiest Coaching Calls in the History of UT football, as voted on by Inside Texas subscribers:

1. 53 veer pass against Arkansas in 1969

2. 1996 Big 12 Championship Game: Roll Left

3. Robert Brewer's draw on 3rd and 10 against Alabama in the 1982 Cotton Bowl

4. Coming out throwing against Navy in the 1964 Cotton Bowl

5. Replacing Bill Bradley with James Street in 1968

6. Pass to Cotton Speyrer against UCLA in 1970

7. Kicking 50 yards into the wind with Phil Dawson against Virginia in 1995

8. 2-point try against Arkansas in 1964

9. Pass to Speyrer against Notre Dame on 4th-and-2 in the 1970 Cotton Bowl

10. Peter Gardere's TD run on 4th-and-short against Texas A&M in 1990

"Are you sure coach?"

Those were Texas quarterback James Street's famous words when Darrell Royal called "53 veer pass" instead of a run on 4th-and-3 against Arkansas in 1969. Royal was sure and Street hit tight end Randy Peschel on a 44-yard pass to set up the winning score in the 15-14 comeback victory over No. 2 Arkansas in Fayetteville.

The next call is another famous 4th down and another famous pass to a tight end: "Roll Left." Facing a 4th-and-inches, Texas needed a first down to preserve an upset win in the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game over the two-time defending National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Longhorns lined up in goal line formation, but quarterback James Brown faked the hand-off, rolled left and found tight end Derek Lewis for a 61-yard catch and run to secure the win.

At No. 3 is Robert Brewer's draw in the 1982 Cotton Bowl. On third-and-long and trailing 10-0, Brewer's quarterback-draw surprised everyone in the stadium. The 30-yard touchdown run, that saw Brewer score untouched, gave Texas the momentum it needed to pull off a 14-12 victory.

Then we're back to the days of Royal, where we find many of the gutsiest calls in the history of Texas football. Texas built its reputation in 1963 as a running football team and Navy went into the 1964 Cotton Bowl prepared to stop the Longhorns' ground attack. What the Midshipmen were not prepared for was arm of Duke Carlisle. Texas came out throwing and torched Navy to win the first National Championship in school history. Sticking with Royal, we travel to 1968, when the Longhorn offense was manned by a talented and very athletic quarterback named "Super" Bill Bradley. At halftime of the second game of the season, Royal surprisingly decided to put in unproven James Street at quarterback to run his wishbone offense. Bradley switched to safety and the move proved to be a brilliant one as Street led the Longhorns to the 1969 National Championship and Bradley, who had thrown three picks against the Aggies the year before, intercepted Texas A&M four times in the 1968 game, a single-game Texas record that stands to this day.

Next, in one of the most spectacular plays in Texas football history, on third-and-19 with 20 seconds left against UCLA in 1970, Texas called for "86 pass, Ted crossing, Sam post." Quarterback Eddie Phillips hit a streaking Cotton Speyrer for a TD and the win. The play made with Phillips' arm is followed by one made by a Texas great's leg. Down 16-14 at home to Virginia in 1995 and only one play left, Texas head coach John Mackovic sent his field goal unit out onto the field. A 50-yard field goal into a stiff, 20 m.p.h. wind? Believe it. Phil Dawson, showing that he possessed perhaps the strongest leg of any player in Texas history, nailed the kick and gave Texas the win.

Next is the Texas' two-point try against Arkansas in 1964 to go for the win…well, it didn't work, but for Royal to go for two instead of settle for the tie in the very first year that the NCAA instituted the two-point conversion showed the kind of coaching decisions he made that would lead to two additional National Titles for his Longhorn teams.

Then we're back to the year of 1970 and back to a receiver named Cotton Speyrer. In one of the greatest comeback wins in the history of Texas football, Texas defeated Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl when Texas completed its second 4th-and-2 of the game-winning drive, this one with a clutch pass from Street to Speyer. Three plays later Billy Dale pounded the ball into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Finally, there's the 1990 game against Texas A&M. The Longhorns faced a 4th-and-short. Quarterback Peter Gardere faked the ball to two different backs and took off for a 50-yard touchdown. Gardere ran for and threw for another TD is the 28-27 Texas win.

Just off the list: Throwing against Texas A&M in 1963 (a precursor to the Cotton Bowl, perhaps?); Going for it on 4th down against Texas A&M in 1988 (didn't work)

By coach: Darrell Royal: 6 (1964 Cotton Bowl; 1964 Arkansas; 1968 Street for Bradley; 1969 Arkansas; 1970 Cotton Bowl; 1970 UCLA)
John Mackovic: 2 (1995 Virginia; Roll Left)
David McWilliams: 1 (1990 Texas A&M)
Fred Akers: 1 (1982 Cotton Bowl)

Bowl Victories
Road Wins


NEXT UP: Running Backs

Horns Digest Top Stories