Playing for a Winner—Remembering Coach Milton Jowers by Vernon McDonald was published May 9, 2009.
DVD Version Now Available – Playing for a Winner: Remembering Coach Milton Jowers
By: Vernon McDonald
To purchase send $25 to 601 University Drive, JC Kellam Building, Suite 960, San Marcos, Texas 78666.
Please make checks payable to TxState Development Foundation, designated for the Coach McDonald Endowment.
|The pantheon of Bobcat athletics includes, among others, of course, Vernon McDonald and Milton Jowers. Octogenarian McDonald, whose involvement with the program spans some sixty years, is an institutional elder statesman and a vast repository of unrecorded history. |
Mac enrolled at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in the fall of 1949, a transfer from TLC, then a junior college, recruited by Jowers, at that time in his fourth year as head basketball coach. Following graduation, McDonald coached at Eagle Pass High School for one year before returning to SWT permanently as a coach and eventually as assistant athletic director. He retired from the University in 1988 but has since remained a loyal and exuberant Bobcat fan.
Basketball Coach, 1953-1977
Vernon's tenure at SWT, as student and assistant coach in the period 1949-1961, coincided with the glory years of Bobcat basketball and the high-water mark of Milton Jowers' extraordinary coaching career.
Now, writing a book was not one of the projects on McDonald's retirement "to-do" list; however, team-mates, students, and friends had been pestering him for years to write down the Jowers' stories which he had long told with such wit and aplomb. Finally, several months ago a group of former students sat him down in front of a recorder and the story telling began. Soon, yarns about Jowers were pouring in by email from ex-players across the State and the collection grew to book size.
|SWTSTC End 1933||San Marcos High School 1941||Head Basketball Coach 1955||Head Football Coach 1963|
|The 1952 SWT basketball team, below, may well have been the best team among the many good ones that Jowers coached. The Bobcats reached the semi-finals of the NAIA tournament with a 29-0 season record, were tied by Southwestern Missouri in the final second of the first overtime, and were defeated 70 to 67 in the second overtime. They then beat Portland University decisively to finish third nationally. Over the completed 30-1 season the Bobcats outscored opponents on average by thirty points per game.|
|The 1960 team, however, is more often remembered because it did, in fact, win a national championship, the first in any sport in the Texas State's history. Off to a slow start with three losses early, the Bobcats finished the regular season with a 29-4 record and a conference championship; then they went 5-0 in the NAIA Tournament. They outscored all opponents by an average of twenty points per game and Jowers was named NAIA Coach of the Year and was selected to coach the NAIA entry in the Olympic trials in Denver.|
Asst. Coach McDonald 1960
|The relationship between Vernon McDonald and Milton Jowers was multi-faceted and enduring—player to coach, protege to mentor, colleagues, friends. "I spent many, many days, weeks, and even years with this man. Our offices were side by side." Thus, McDonald watched day by day as Jowers compiled one of the more remarkable achievements in Texas sports: a lifetime coaching record of 587 wins, 146 losses, and 3 ties (80 percent). |
This success attracted attention, of course, and led to opportunities to move to several bigger, more prestigious schools. McDonald tells a story about Jowers hanging up on Bear Bryant, Athletic Director at A&M, who made a recruiting phone call while Jowers was trying to prepare his team for one of the games in Kansas City. Jowers "just wanted to coach at Southwest Texas which was his home."
In one of his anecdotes, McDonald recalls Jowers coaching the NAIA All Star team, which included three Bobcats, to a victory over NCAA champion, Ohio State, in the Olympic Trials in 1960. He concludes this snippet with what well may be his considered final judgment of Jowers, "What a career and what a coach."
Head Coach Jowers 1960