Former University of Texas quarterback James Street, whose clutch plays during the Longhorns' drive to the national championship in 1969 became part of college football lore, has died.
Street passed away at his home early Monday in Austin, where he had lived since the early 1970s, his son confirmed to Kens5.com.
James Street was 65.
“My father left us this morning, and we’re trying to gather our thoughts,” said Huston Street, a pitcher with the San Diego Padres. “That’s all I can say at this time.”
Street died from a heart attack, according to media reports.
Street went 20-0 as a starter at UT in 1968 and 1969, when the Longhorns' wishbone offense was the rage of college football.
"I am shocked and saddened," said Ted Koy, a starting halfback in the UT wishbone in 1968 and 1969. "James was so dynamic, so vibrant. He looked like he could go out and play today."
Senior Bill Bradley began the 1968 season as UT's starting quarterback, but was replaced by Street late in the Longhorns' 31-22 loss to Texas Tech in the second game of the season.
Street, a junior in 1968, started against Oklahoma State the next week and helped guide the Longhorns to a 31-3 victory.
Street led UT to two Cotton Bowl victories
Street's game against the Cowboys marked the beginning of a storybook career that included victories over Tennessee and Notre Dame in the 1969 and 1970 Cotton Bowls, respectively.
"James was like a brother to me," said Bradley, now defensive coordinator at Lamar University. "Even though he took my job, that never affected our relationship at all. We've been close since we met. He was a very, very, very competitive person, but you never heard him talk real bad about anybody.
"James lived life to the fullest as far as enjoying people. He enjoyed people and enjoyed life. He became a very successful businessman. He was as driven as a businessman as he was an athlete. He was a workaholic."
Nicknamed "Slick" by his teammates, Street went 9-0 as the 1968 team's starting quarterback and keyed the 1969 squad's march to the national title. The 1969 Longhorns rallied to beat Notre Dame 21-17 in the 1970 Cotton Bowl, capping an 11-0 season and securing the national championship.
Street was at his best in UT's 1969 regular-season finale against Arkansas in the storied "Big Shootout," rallying the Longhorns to a stirring 15-14 victory in a game that was billed as the "Game of the Century."
The Longhorns and Razorbacks were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, heading into the highly anticipated showdown between the longtime Southwest Conference rivals.
With UT trailing 14-0 after three quarters, Street bolted for a 42-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth period to start the Longhorns' comeback. His two-point conversion on a counter-option play cut Arkansas' lead to 14-8.
The most memorable play in Street's career came when he completed a 44-yard pass to tight end Randy Peschel on a fourth-and-three play at the UT 43 with less than five minutes left in the Big Shootout.
Street taken aback by Royal's play call in 'Big Shootout'
Arkansas figured UT would run an option play to the short side of the field on the key play, but coach Darrell Royal crossed up everybody, including his coaches and players, by calling "right 53 veer pass."
Specifically, it was a play designed to get the ball to Peschel, who had told Royal at halftime that he thought he could get behind the Arkansas safeties.
Incredibly, it was a one-receiver play. It was all or nothing for the Longhorns.
Street recalled being taken aback when he heard Royal call the pass play during the timeout before he completed the long pass to Peschel.
"I started to run back on the field and then I stopped and turned around," Street said in 2009 when he spoke to the San Antonio Quarterback Club. "I remember saying, 'Coach, are you sure that's the play you want?' I wanted to make sure I had heard right. Coach Royal didn't hesitate. He just said, 'Yes, I'm damn sure.'"
Being the leader he was, Street prepared his teammates for the play before he called it.
"When I got back to the huddle, I said, 'Y'all aren't going to believe this play, but it'll work,'" he said.
Street also starred for UT baseball team
With the Longhorns' national-championship hopes flickering in the wind, Street rolled out left after faking the option and completed the 44-yard strike to Peschel, who was running at an angle toward the left sideline.
Covered closely by halfback Jerry Moore and safety Dennis Berner, Peschel caught the ball over his left shoulder before getting tackled at the 13.
"It was a hell of pass," Streety said in 2009, chuckling.
Two plays later, halfback Jim Bertelsen scored a 2-yard TD to tie the game. Happy Feller kicked the decisive extra point to put the Longhorns on top 15-14 with 3:58 left.
"Everything fell into place for us," Street said. "It was just a great season."
Royal, who coached at Texas for 20 seasons before retiring in 1976, died last year.
Koy, a retired veterinarian who lives in Georgetown, recalled Street's personality and leadership.
"He was such a dynamic part of our team," Koy said. "It all started with his attitude. He was very, very optimistic. He was very talented and very skilled, and he had a can-do spirit that was infectious to everybody around him.
"If he was going to get down and play marbles with you, he was going to win. He just had a great outlook on life."
Street was also a standout pitcher for the UT baseball team, throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter and helping the Longhorns win two SWC championships.
Huston Street also played baseball at UT.
James Street, who graduated from Longview High School, went on to a successful career in finance and structured settlements.
Street is survived by his wife, Janie, five sons and several grandchildren.