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Football legend Mike Cotten has passed away

Football legend Mike Cotten has passed away


Mike Cotten, former University of Texas football player (1959-61) and 1981 member of the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor, died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 84 years old.

Born on December 12, 1939 in Uvalde, Texas, and born in Austin, Cotten was a two-year starter at quarterback and a 1961 All-Southwest Conference honoree who orchestrated Darrell Royal's famous Flip-Flop offense.

Cotten was a lifelong Longhorn who never considered another school or visited another campus after Austin High School. He was even a neighbor of Royal's in Austin at the time.

After leading the Austin High Maroons to the state semifinals, Cotten enrolled at Texas and promptly led the freshman team to an undefeated season, a first for that team since 1941.

When he moved to the varsity the following year in 1959, he shared quarterback duties with Bobby Lackey and played defense on a team that went 92, shared the SWC title and finished No. 4 in the country before falling to No. 1 in Syracuse in the Cotton Bowl.

He took over as the starting quarterback as a junior in 1960, and although the team finished with a 7–3 record, it recorded a win over No. 11 Baylor and ended the season with a 3–3 tie against No. 9 Alabama in the Bluebonnet Bowl. He led the team in both scoring and total offense that year.

As a senior in 1961, he was named co-captain with Don Talbert and led Royal's famed offense, one of the most potent offenses in Southwest Conference history. While a significant portion of that offense came in the rushing game led by All-American tailback James Saxton, Cotten was always the ultimate team player, who just wanted to win.

Despite this, Cotten led the SWC in passing touchdowns with seven. He received high praise after the 1962 Cotton Bowl, when his play to lead Texas to a 12-7 victory over No. 5 Ole Miss led to him being named the game's best player. That game capped a 10-1 season in which the Longhorns held the No. 1 ranking in the country for most of the year until a 6-0 loss to TCU.

Although Cotten was an excellent field general, passer and runner, his greatest contribution to the Longhorns' success was probably his leadership that provided both team guidance and morale, especially in winning the final two games after the upset for a No. 3 final. ranking.

Cotten finished 17-4-1 in two seasons as the starting quarterback, winning every game he played against rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Cotten, a government major at UT, knew what he wanted from the moment he entered Texas, which was to practice law. He entered UT Law School in 1962 and graduated in 1965. After a three-year stint as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps with service in Vietnam, Cotten joined the law firm of Clark and Thomas in 1968. That office later became Clark. , Thomas, Winters & Shapiro and Cotten became partners in 1975.

In addition to being a member of the Hall of Honor, Cotten was one of the original members of the Stadium Veterans Committee, which was formed in 1996.

Cotten is survived by his daughters, Ashley Putman of Austin and Lesley Childress of Jackson, Miss.




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