Dutch's last title team
Players from 1951 Southwest Conference champions share memories of their old coach and the TCU Horned Frogs of today.
by Kathryn Hopper
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The 1951 Horned Frogs went 6-5 and won the Southwest Conference title, but they lost to Kentucky in the Cotton Bowl.
Many of them hadn’t seen each other for decades, but it didn’t take long for memories of great tackles, road-trip hijinks and Coach Leo “Dutch” Meyer ’22 to come flooding back at the recent reunion of TCU’s 1951 Southwest Conference championship team.
The small group met for a breakfast buffet, appropriately staged at Dutch’s restaurant on University Drive, headed to a pre-game tailgate and were later honored between the first and second quarters of the Oct. 22 Homecoming game.
“Most of us are in our 80s now and we figured with the new stadium and everything, we needed to have our 60th reunion while there were still some of us who could get around,” said Marshall Harris ’54 (MLA ’77), who helped organize the event.
Harris said there were about 65 players on the 1951 team. While about 20 have already passed away, he was able to contact 34 and 17 were able to come.
“We able to get together and reminisce about the old days, which were quite different from what they are now,” Harris said. “TCU’s campus has completely changed.”
Teammates enjoyed remembering the 6-4 season, when they pulled off a nail-bitter against Baylor, and upset A&M in addition to beating Arkansas, SMU and Rice to netted them the conference title.
“Some of these fellows I haven’t seen since 1952,” said Alton “Curly” Taylor ’52. “After graduation we all scattered and as a result, I haven’t seen them. Needless to say, they’re a little bit changed.”
Coach Meyer retired after the 1952 season and assumed the job as athletic director and head baseball coach, giving himself a little time to pen his book, Spread Formation Football, which still remains popular with coaches. Variations of this style of play can be seen throughout college and professional football today.
It didn’t take long for talk to turn from memories of the past to excitement about TCU’s future as a member of the Big 12, and taking on old rivals like Texas and Oklahoma, which the Frogs had long battled in the old Southwest Conference.
“The competition will be stiffer but competition is good for you,” Harris said. “In the old Southwest Conference, every game was like playing a bowl game, you played opponents who were ranked or who really played well. You had to rise to the occasion every week.”