Mike Campbell always swore the bumps on the floor were still there, right there in the coaches' lounge in the Gregory Gym annex. He said they were in the same spot where two guys heads hit the ceiling in the office below.
It was Tuesday, Sept. 14, just a few days before the Texas Longhorns were to open the 1965 season on a Friday night at Tulane. On Sept. 10, New Orleans had been pounded and poured on by Hurricane Betsy, with her 105-mile-per-hour winds, storm tide surges and buckets of rain. Much of the city was paralyzed, but as UT's Sports Information Director Jones Ramsey looked out the window of his counterpart's office at Tulane, folks were buying tickets to the upcoming game in the old Sugar Bowl stadium (this was long before the completion of the Louisiana Superdome).
In his first-floor office in the annex back in Austin, Darrell Royal, who served in the dual capacity of head coach and athletics director, had summoned Bob Rochs and Al Lundstedt, who ran the business department, as well as the ticket office. Royal had just told them he had agreed with Tulane to move the game to Austin. The only concession they had was that it wouldn't be played until Saturday, instead of Friday.
"Mike always thought we hit the ceiling," Lundstedt said. "I think probably our jaws just dropped to the floor. We called Jones, who was already in New Orleans advancing the game. He told us that it was impossible, that he was looking at people buying tickets."
Tickets were something Texas didn't have, and in an age before computers, it was impossible to generate reserved seat tickets and distribute them in such a short period of time. So Rochs and Lundstedt rushed to Claude Eads, who was head of the UT Printing Division and prevailed on him to print 50,000 card stock tickets to sell.
At the same time, they contacted 18 businesses in Austin, all of whom agreed to help by making the tickets available in their stores.
"We would take two or three hundred to them at a time," Lundstedt recalled.
All of the forces required to run a football game in a 60,000-seat stadium were marshaled. The UT Physical Plant had to ready the lights and the stadium grounds and the police had to be ready for an uncertain crowd. The concessionaires had to prepare food and drink in less than 72 hours, and to make matters more complicated, it was the first game of the season.
The entire stadium was open as general admission, with the adjustment of roping off seats in the center section on both sides to accommodate people who actually held game tickets from the game in New Orleans.
The game programs were actually shipped from New Orleans and included only the UT travel squad. Missing from the numbers was that of No. 23, which belonged to now famous wildlife artist Ragan Gennusa, who was not to have played in New Orleans because he was not scheduled to travel. Gennusa wound up catching two passes and serving as the primary receiver on the Longhorns' final drive in the 31-0 victory.
By 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, an estimated 40,000 people roughly two-thirds of the stadium capacity had gathered for the impromptu season opener. A bewildered Ramsey had made his way back to Austin, as had a significant number of disappointed fans who had planned a weekend in New Orleans.
Besty's havoc had ranked her among the nation's most devastating hurricanes and parts of the Louisiana Gulf Coast were changed forever.
Today, there are few records of the day. The Texas files include a faded fact sheet issued prior to the game the game notes Ramsey took with him to give to the media in New Orleans noting the game would be played at "Tulane Stadium (Sugar Bowl), Friday, Sept. 17, 1965."
It was the final game of a four-game series between the two schools, and ironically, as a storm once again threatens the game, it was the last time the two schools played.
When the NCAA allowed schools to begin scheduling a 12th game in certain years, the Tulane series became a great choice for Texas. The Green Wave represent a quality opponent from a good school, in a great location for travel for the Longhorns faithful.
Now, here comes Hurricane Isidore, elusive and unpredictable, but a storm that appears to be zeroing in on New Orleans, just like Betsy did 37 years ago.
Weather monitoring has improved in many ways since Betsy and computer models are pretty good at predicting when and where a storm will hit. However, despite the forecasters' best efforts, hurricanes have a mind of their own.
That's why today, before Saturday's scheduled game in the Superdome, athletics officials at Texas and Tulane can only watch and wait. The logistics of traveling and running a football game are far more complicated today than they were in 1965, but the bottom line today as it was then is the safety of the players and the fans. The administrators are in communication with each other and have discussed their options, but as of midday Tuesday, it was too early to reach a decision because of the uncertainty of the situation.
Somewhere out over the Gulf of Mexico, Isidore will decide.