After the long, successful run of Pete Cawthon and his requested resignation, the Tech Athletic Council, looked to find a more even tempered, yet experienced coach to lead the Red Raiders. They contacted one of the best coaches of the time in Morley Jennings. Jennings had brought Baylor into the national spotlight with their first All-American, Barton Koch. In his first year at Baylor, tragedy struck as nine members of his team died in a bus accident after a basketball game in 1927. Jennings overcame the grief and regrouped to a 21-8-2 record. His overall record at Baylor was 83-60-3 and was later elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
However, Jennings refused to accept the HFBC position at Tech, rather offering to take the AD position AND a teaching position as head of the Physical Education Dept. Once on board, he selected 41 year old, John, O’Dell Morgan (line coach at Rice) as the new leader for the Raiders. Dell Morgan had played for Cawthon at Austin College and had previously been an assistant under him at Tech. He had also been the Tech basketball coach from 1931 thru 1934, and the head baseball coach at Auburn from 1934 thru 1939.
The years during and right after WWII decimated most of the college football teams in the nation as one can imagine, but Morgan was determined to field a team each and every year. Consisting of mostly underclassmen and “4Fs” (those who failed a military physical), Morgan was forced to play a number of military installation teams in the area such as Lubbock Field and South Plains Field. However, he also regularly played the likes of Texas A&M, Oklahoma A&M, Rice, TCU, SMU and Baylor. This paved the way for Tech to enter the Southwest Conference, although it would be later in the 1950’s.
One of the interesting things that happened during Morgan’s time was that a large amount of Tech memorabilia was destroyed. It is not certain if it was on the order of Jennings or Morgan, but a good deal of Tech sports history was lost forever. There is still a bit of history in the Tech Archives, but many team photos and the like are no longer to be found.
Born in Weatherford, Texas in 1900, Morgan was known as a tough as nails coach. “If nothing else, my boys are gonna learn how to hit somebody,” he was known to say. Taking over a Red Raider team that had gone 9-1-1 the previous year, Morgan’s first team went 9-2 losing to two Hurricane teams. They lost to Miami in Miami and to Tulsa in the 1942 Sun Bowl. Both losses were 6-0. In 1944, a fullback by the name of Walter Schlinkman was named All-American and was picked 11th in the 1945 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. He played four year with the Packers before retiring.
Coaching Texas Tech from 1941 thru 1950, Morgan’s record was 55-49-3. Tragically, Coach Morgan died in an automobile accident near Bay City, Texas in 1962.