How Oklahoma and North Carolina Met in the 1949 Sugar Bowl
Dallas apparently was slightly embarrassed. Southwest Conference runner-up Texas pulled down a check from the Sugar Bowl more than $20,000 larger than a champion Southern Methodist from the Cotton Bowl game. And SMU had to share its Cotton Bowl receipts with the SWC to help maintain the office of the executive secretary. Texas, because it played in an “outside” bowl, was under no such obligations. What eventually evolved as a result of that situation was the sharing of all SWC bowl revenues with all conference members.
The Sugar Bowl had created an associate membership in 1946 to fill its ranks as death began taking a toll on the original founders. Associate membership, limited to sons, relatives, or sponsorship of extremely close friends, called for two years of service on committee assignments. The first group of associates were given full membership in 1948. Joseph B. David, Jr., Moreau Jumonville , and C. Norman Schwartz constituted the first incoming group. Claude Simons, Jr., (hero of the first Sugar Bowl), Dr. Fred Wolfe, Jr., and Robert Gunsaulus made up the second.
It was tough to select opponents for the 15th Sugar Bowl, the first in the 82,000-seat stadium. Tulane put the squeeze on by unleashing one of its finest teams.
Georgia, Tulane, and Ole Miss were the best of the SEC in 1948; but of these teams, only the Bulldogs were listed in the national Top 10. The Bulldogs were ranked eighth in the nation. The Sugar Bowl wanted a pairing of third-ranked North Carolina and fifth-ranked Oklahoma, led by 33-year-old whizkid Coach Bud Wilkinson. Days before the bowl process began to fall into place, Hap Glaudi wrote, “…I’m presently of the opinion that for the Sugar there can be no finer selection than North Carolina and Oklahoma.”
This game then would feature Charley “Choo-Choo” Justice in a return appearance, and an Oklahoma team so deep its lines alternate every six minutes.
Recap excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.