Mark McDonald played for the Midland Lee Rebels, received a scholarship to UTEP, got his degree in Journalism, and he has been writing ever since. Mark is also the proud father of Longhorn All SWC player Turk McDonald who played for Coach McWilliams and Mackovic. Sports writers who never play sports are unable to capture in writing the  nuances of young men struggling to play for a Division I team. Mark has been there and done that , and this book captures more about life than just a football game.

In 1969, Texas and Arkansas played in a game that DKR named The Big Shootout. If you are in your late 50’s through early 80’s and follow college sports, you probably watched this game on TV. But you don’t know the rest of the story that Mark McDonald shares in his new book, Beyond The Big Shootout – 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons.  

The players graduated, fell in love, got married, started careers, raised children. Some suffered cancer, divorces, failed at business and had car wrecks. As in sports, the life game all is full of triumph and defeat. McDonald has interviewed two dozen players and coaches, who tell this story through their own experience.      

Even if you have never heard of the Big Shootout, this book will help you understand the origin of television’s love for college football. After the Shootout drew such a massive national audience, TV networks were convinced the college game would be a money maker. The Arkansas-Texas matchup became TV’s business model that has made millions for all – advertisers, colleges, and networks.

Amidst Vietnam protests, race riots and assassinations in America, Texas took the field at Razorbacks Stadium, knowing it was not Longhorns vs. Razorbacks. In Fayetteville, the Horns felt as though it was more us against the rest of the universe. The two teams were mirror images of each other, strictly disciplined, superbly trained, and mentored. During the Shootout, there was no trash-talking, no eye-gouging, no cheap shots —from either team.  Mutual respect dominated both sides of the ball.

At stake … the national championship, plus state pride. National TV, plus President Richard Nixon in the stands. The stage could not have been any larger, the matchup any more combustible. Two talented rosters from neighboring states did not meet that chilly day in Fayetteville. They collided.   

The author says the book took 60 years of living and football, plus two years of research and writing, to focus on the Shootout's aftermath. To support this action-packed account of history, the book features original illustrations by award-winning cartoonist Bill DeOre – who once worked with McDonald at the Dallas Morning News – plus more than 100 period photos.

Mark plans to have “meet the champions” signing events through 2019. He wants to interview players before live audiences, then have the player and author sign the books. For example, he is firming up dates for Razorback fans in Arkansas and the Texas Exes chapter in Tulsa, through former linebacker Lance Taylor. Longhorns Glen Halsell and Billy Dale have agreed to join McDonald for a session in the Midland-Odessa area.

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