“For Texas, I Will” / The History of Memorial Stadium

Author: Richard Pennington

The process of researching and writing this book was something I will never forget. I dare say I made a genuine contribution to University of Texas history here.

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The genesis of this book can be traced to a comment made by my brother Randy in the summer of 1976. He was visiting me in Austin, and we decided to go hang out at the University of Texas’ football stadium. In stark contrast to current policy, the gates were open to whoever wanted to come in and poke around. As we sat in the north-end horseshoe, he made an off-hand observation: “You know, Richard, most people don’t realize what a historic place Memorial Stadium is.”

Fourteen years later, I started working on “For Texas, I Will.” The title came from the slogan used by UT students in 1924 during a whirlwind fundraising campaign to build the stadium. I had to suppress a grin recently when I learned that UT has launched an eight-year campaign to raise $3 billion, and the theme is—you guessed it—“For Texas, I Will.”

This was a big task and one I took very seriously. I quit my job as a proofreader and editor at a typesetting company to work on it full-time. As a result, however, I sank more than $3,000 in debt to my then-girlfriend. I did an enormous amount of research and conducted about 200 interviews, some of them right there in the stadium. I hope all the suffering and sacrifice were worth it. The 237-page book delved deeply into how the stadium was built, its evolution over the years, the games, track meets and other events that have been held there. I made the case that it is in some ways the most significant building on the University of Texas campus.

“4TX, IWL” pertained primarily to Memorial Stadium, but it was put within the context of the overall athletic program. So I wrote about more than just football and track (the track was removed seven years after my book’s publication). If you read it, you learned about the fortunes of the UT basketball team in Gregory Gym and the Erwin Center, the baseball team at Clark Field and Disch-Falk Field, and even a little about the swimming and tennis programs.

The foreword was written by Darrell Royal, coach of the Longhorns from 1957 to 1976, including three national titles. I had met DKR a few years earlier while doing research for Breaking the Ice. As much as I respected him for his achievements as a coach, I felt Royal had been a coward—a strong word, I realize—in failing to lead the integration process in the Southwest Conference. This is the main reason I opposed the decision to rename the stadium in his honor in 1999; I am still irked whenever I hear the unwieldy term “Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.” UT home games now draw more than 100,000 fans, and when the south end is double-decked, its capacity will jump to 115,000. That is likely to happen before 2024, which will mark a century of orange-and-white football at the stadium.


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