Pigskin Pulpit: A Social History of Texas High School Football Coaches

Book Cover Image
Ty Cashion (Author)
Foreword by O. A. "Bum" Phillips



High school football is one of the identifying institutions of twentieth-century Texas. It is not unusual to see youthful football players placed on the same pedestal as the cowboy, oil man, or other icons of the Lone Star State, and many consider high school football to be cast in the state's rough-hewn image. In fact, it is shaped in the image of its coaches who are, by and large, an enigma to most of us. We think of them as caricatures, men who are alternately revered and vilified (usually depending on how many games they have won recently), but they have always been members of a traditional, closed society, and we do not really know them in their complexities.

Pigskin Pulpit opens the Texas high school coaching profession to historical scrutiny for the first time, examining this breed of men who shaped the game-and generations of players-in their own image. Tracing side-by-side the development of the game and the coaching profession from its beginnings to today, author Ty Cashion explains how this schoolboy avocation wove itself so tightly into the fabric of Texas culture. This seminal work offers both thorough analysis and high entertainment, imparting depth and resonance to a group of men who have too often been depicted as cardboard cutouts.

Pigskin Pulpit weaves together a compelling story, making use of extensive interviews with more than eighty Texas high school football coaches. Most of them entered the profession between the 1930s and the 1950s, and collectively their voices provide a character study of a unique breed of men whose deeply planted values were nurtured in the common experiences of traditional Texas culture, economic depression, and times of war. The book also surveys the portrayals and perceptions of Texas high school coaches in popular culture and scholarly works, as well as addresses the concerns that modern-day Texans have expressed over such football-related issues as education, brutality, racism, and competition.

Football fans and critics of the game alike will be drawn into the flowing, colorful narrative of this probing, analytical study that is sure to become a Texas classic.

Ty Cashion, the author of books and articles on Texas history and culture, teaches in the history department at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.