Yesterday In the Cotton Bowl game on January 1, 1948, SMU tied Penn State 13-13. The score satisfied nobody, but history was made when Penn State’s WALLACE TRIPLETT became the first African-American ever to play in the annual Cotton Bowl classic.
In those days, of course. Texas whites usually didn’t play against blacks. The Cotton Bowl Association promised “a fair and square deal,” but the record shows that only the game itself was truly integrated.
The year before, when Arkansas played LSU in the New Year’s game, the teams stayed at the comfortable Mel-rose Hotel, practiced at Dal-Hi stadium and were entertained in a grand style.
With Triplett, however, the visitors were put up at the Grand Prairie Naval Air Station. At the Optimists Club luncheon, which traditionally honored all the players, coaches and officials, only SMU’s DOAK WALKER and Penn State guard STEVE SUHEY were allowed to represent the players.
Starting Penn State wingback JEFF DURKOTA, a World War II veteran, said the team felt poorly treated and demoralized.