Dave Campbell can tell countless stories about Texas football legends going back to the 1930s.
And he had a different tale for nearly 500 fans who attended an autograph session with TCU football coach Gary Patterson on Thursday at Albertsons Market in southwest Fort Worth to celebrate Patterson as the cover boy for the 2012 edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football.
Fans of all ages, including toddlers, teens, wives and grandmas, all enjoyed purple-colored vanilla Blue Bell ice cream while waiting in line to see Patterson and Campbell. Both posed for pictures, told stories and signed autographs for nearly two hours, well over the scheduled one-hour event.
The 87-year-old Campbell created the magazine in the kitchen of his Waco home while working as the sports editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald. The first issue in 1960 was 100 pages and cost a dime. Now it's nearly 500 pages and costs $10. After 53 issues, it has become "the Bible of Texas football" to sportswriters, fans and coaches. Campbell is in great health and still loves to meet readers and fans of the magazine.
"It's very important and so very flattering to know that people think so much of the magazine to come by and get it signed," he said.
Did you envision this kind of success in 1960? When we first started, I honestly had no idea whether the magazine would survive for a second year or not. It's just amazing. We printed 80,000 and sold a little over 60,000. That was good, but at the same time I lost $5,000. For a newspaper man's salary, that was pretty good money.
What year did the magazine explode and you realized you had something big? I don't know if it ever exploded so much as it just kept climbing. It really helped when we had TCU's Sonny Gibbs on the cover [in 1962]. That was a good cover. And then we had [Texas Tech's] Donny Anderson on the cover in '65, and I felt by then we had turned the corner a little bit, that we could keep going. We just had to keep plugging away. The coaches really began to accept us, and the high school coaches really responded when we sent out questionnaires out to them. You could just tell it was something a readership was just waiting for.
What do you think about TCU joining the Big 12? I think it's very much about time. I've always been a big TCU fan, because the very first college football season I really got interested in was 1937. I was a Boy Scout in Waco, and I remember, as a Boy Scout, helping usher at the Baylor-TCU game in 1937. Baylor upset TCU and Davey O'Brien. The next year O'Brien won the Heisman trophy. TCU camped on Baylor's goal line all day but they never could get it across. That's very vivid.
How important was it for the Big 12 to have a team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? No question for me. I think it was just a shame that TCU was left out [when the Southwest Conference broke up in 1995]. I think they've proved they belonged all the way. It really hurt me to see them left out. I'm so glad they're back in. I think their record proves they belong. I think they'll do very well in the Big 12.
What do you think of Gary Patterson being on the cover of the 2012 edition? I think they deserve it. I'm on the selection committee for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Patterson is a candidate and is certainly very worthy, and if he doesn't make it next class, he'll make it soon.