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A&M 'survivor' Billy Pickard looks back on his time in Aggieland

By Gabe Bock

More from Gabe
August 20, 2012
6008

Notes from Billy Pickard interview

* He’s fortunate to have survived the past 60 years of Aggie football. He’s been through eight coaches and had a friendly relationship with each and every one of them. All of the coaches have treated him very well during his time at A&M. He will be 79 years old this October and considers himself fortunate to not be six feet under or in some sort of home right now. He runs 3.82 miles every day, and that fitness level has allowed him to be a survivor for so many years.

* He works part-time at Kyle Field right now and his job is to look after the stadium. Once a year for the past 14 years, he walks every bench and chair in the stadium to make sure they are all working properly.

* A&M doesn’t have a choice but to make some adjustments to Kyle Field. He told President Loftin that he would be very upset if A&M had to play a year away from Kyle Field. Other major universities have renovated their stadium without having to leave, and there is no reason why A&M can’t do the same. The west side of Kyle Field was built in 1927 and the east was built in 1929. There were no changes made to the stadium from that point until 1954 when a small second deck and press box were added. The biggest complaint they receive each year is not about sightlines or seats, but rather the quality of the restrooms. Everyone claims that the restrooms are filthy, when in reality, they are just really old.

* Kevin Sumlin is a wonderful man and the two have a great amount of respect for each other. He enjoyed Sumlin when he was here in the past, and thinks that great things are about to happen under his regime.

* A&M can hang around with some of the better programs in the SEC which was evident through the way Arkansas was on the ropes last year and how they hung with LSU in the 2011 Cotton Bowl. The SEC will definitely be tough, but anything tough is worth doing. If it was easy, everyone could do it.

* Sumlin doesn’t remind him of any other coach he’s worked with because he’s never met a coach who blasts music all day during practice. There definitely wasn’t any music being played at Junction.

* There was a tradition that was started in the 60’s that he carried on for quite a while which involved him running around practice with a jockstrap on. Since there are so many female trainers now days, he hasn’t been able to carry on that tradition. Instead of a jockstrap, he now puts on a men’s Speedo and runs around practice in that. In fact, Sumlin has assigned him a specific time and game in which he is supposed to pull his little stunt this year.

* He came to A&M with the intention of becoming a football coach. When he enrolled at A&M, he weighed a whopping 105 pounds which hindered him from actually playing. He decided to be a manager and was able to get a spot helping the team through the athletic director who was a friend of his father. He started managing in the fall of 1952 and in the spring of 1954 he first laid eyes on the athletic training room and started working as a trainer.

* Bear Bryant was a tough old guy. He remembers playing Baylor one year and a couple of interesting things happening. Marvin Tate’s ankles were both so swollen that the laces in his shoes wouldn’t work and he was forced to tape Tate’s shoes to his feet. There was another guy who got hit in the nose hard enough to break it. The doctor said he wasn’t going to be able to finish the game and he was forced to tell Bryant. After a number of expletives, Bryant told him that if he was able to play a game with a broken leg, then there was no reason the guy couldn’t play with a broken nose.

* The book ‘The Junction Boys’ was a fairly accurate representation of what actually happened during Junction. He never saw the movie, but knows the book was fairly accurate because he spent quite a few hours with the author, Jim Dent, talking about the trip to Junction. The hospital in Junction was nothing but a house, and in order to get there, they had to travel across a very narrow bridge. When taking Bill Schroeder to the hospital, his feet had to hang out the door, and if another car would have been coming the other way on that bridge, there would have been a major accident. The first thing the doctor did was throw a bucket of ice on Schroeder which he thought was crazy at the time. It worked though, and Schroeder is still alive living in Austin. Every guy that came back from Junction ended up being some type of business or military success.

* The 1967 Texas game will always stand out above all the rest in his mind. That game propelled A&M into the Cotton Bowl and made that season a success after dropping the first four games that year.

* The 1975 team should have won the national title. He went to Emory Bellard in June before the season started to tell him not to reschedule the Arkansas game that year because everyone associated with A&M was not mentally prepared to play a game after playing Texas. The game ended up being rescheduled, and if it hadn’t have been A&M probably would have beat them that year because the Razorback quarterback was hurt earlier in the season. In those years, most of the players brought their suitcases with them to the Texas game whether it was home or away because they would be off after the game was over.

* One of the best players A&M has had, who he thought would be a disaster, was Bucky Richardson. After Richardson tore a ligament, he thought Richardson would be a disaster because he would never work hard enough to get healthy again. The exact opposite happened, and Richardson went down as one of the greatest Aggie quarterbacks of all time. He also didn’t think that Dat Nguyen was going to amount to much in an A&M jersey which shows his talent evaluating skills.

* In Rodney Thomas’ first game A&M lost. Thomas showed up the next day to help unload the equipment truck which was highly unusual from the players. He asked Thomas why he was there, and Thomas replied that because he didn’t play well, he didn’t deserve to have someone unload his, or anyone else’s, bags.

* The 2010 Nebraska game was incredible, if nothing else because of the mass amount of towels being thrown in the air once the game was secured. That game was also the loudest he has heard at Kyle Field, no questions asked.

* Bum Phillips was the head coach at Nederland while he was the trainer at Port Arthur High School. Phillips would bring his son, Wade, with him when he would treat Phillips’ players over the summer which is where he got to know the two of them pretty well.

Discussion from...

The hilarious Billy Pickard...

Maybe the most enjoyable hour of radio that I've had in 249 shows over the last 363 days! Pick is an absolute Aggie gem!
^ Just wait til you get Johnny Manziel on the show.
Billy Pickard bobble head night. Now!!!!
if you work for him don't use HIS maroon golfcart. jesus, that was a painful 5 minutes for my ears.
quote:
^ Just wait til you get Johnny Manziel on the show.
My favorite interview so far on Texags radio, and will be hard to top goin forward.

His insight into Aggie football lore is unfathomable, from Junction and the Bear, to Jackie, to RC. He was great. Awesome to hear about Rodney Thomas playing poorly one week and coming in in the morning to offload his own bags and help unload the truck, because he didn't play well enough to earn someone unloading his stuff for him. Not many players then or now would do something like that.

Y'all should probably just do away with the Lauren Santicross (sp?) segment and give Pick an open mic to close the show everyday.
Thanks again, Gabe.

Pick is running over 3 miles a day at age 79? I guess I'm not too old to start back running myself. Especially since he's got over 30 years on me.
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