Curley Culp Arizona State 1967

The consensus All-Americans of 1967 contained some great players. 1967

Legendary players like OJ Simpson, Offensive Tackle Ron Yary, Miami Fullback Larry Csonka, Purdue Running Back Leroy Keyes, Tennessee Center Bob Johnson, the Mad Stork from Miami Ted Hendricks, and USC Defensive End Tim Rossovich were on the consensus team. Also included was UCLA Quarterback Gary Beban who beat out OJ Simpson and Leroy Keyes for the Heisman that season. USC vs UCLA 1967    Heisman

But, a great player that didn’t make that list was Arizona State’s Curley Culp.

If you grew up watching Westerns on television you undoubtedly have heard of Yuma, Arizona.

Located on the Colorado River in the Southwestern section of the state of Arizona, the city of Yuma was famous for it’s territorial prison. 3:10 to Yuma was one of the better movies mentioning the prison.

While famous in Westerns, Yuma is one of the last places you’d expect a Pro Football Hall of Fame member to be from. But, it is the home town of former NFL great, Curley Culp.

The youngest in a family with 13 children, Culp was raised on a farm and could be considered what we used to call ‘country strong’. His great strength came from working the farm and he never had the chance to lift weights.

The 6-2, 265 Culp was a champion wrestler and an outstanding Defensive Lineman as well as being an A student. Culp was such an athlete that he played some Fullback.

He was highly recruited out of high school for both football and wrestling. Luckily, Arizona State had a good wrestling program and an excellent football team with head coach Frank Kush.

Kush was one of the better all time college coaches, but was not well known because his career was at Arizona State of the Western Athletic Conference. Even though he won and had a life time coaching record of 176 – 54 – 1 after being hired by the Sun Devils to be their head coach in 1958.

Kush won big at Arizona State and he had no issues signing the super quick and talented Defensive Lineman Curley Culp in 1964.

Of course, true freshmen were not eligible for varsity play in those years even in wrestling.

Culp was impressive as a heavyweight college wrestler, actually much more than that. He could have been called magnificent, or majestic, or even spectacular. Mostly, he was just bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than his opponents. It was almost unfair to his opponents. As a college wrestler, Culp posted a record of 84-9-4. The surprising element regarding his career record is that anyone beat him at all. Culp was national champ in 1967 as a junior.

But, Curley Culp’s future was in football.

Culp was a super Defensive Lineman for the Sun Devils even though his sophomore and junior seasons were not great ones for Arizona State. In 1965, they finished with a 6-4 record and the 1966 season was a bleak 5-5 record. Those were two of the worst seasons the Sun Devils endured under Frank Kush.

As a senior in 1967 Culp helped the team to an 8-2 record. Culp made some All American teams but he was left off just enough to not make the consensus team which was a travesty.

In the days of such racial tension in America, Curley Culp was a really popular kid around campus. He was elected Homecoming King in 1967. He had a winning smile and he was an excellent student

as well as athlete.

The Denver Broncos drafted Curley Culp with their 2nd pick of the 1968 NFL Draft and they wanted him as an Offensive Guard, but he wound up with the Kansas City Chiefs.

At Kansas City, Culp moved inside and teamed up with Buck Buchanan and Jerry Mays up front and Linebackers Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell and Jim Lynch to form one of the better defenses of that time period and Super Bowl champions. The 6-7, 275 Buchanan, Willie Lanier and Culp are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Culp played for the Chiefs until 1974 when he was traded to the Houston Oilers. All in all, Culp played 14 seasons in the NFL.

On every level, Curley Culp was just too strong, too quick and too talented for most Offensive Lines. He always drew double teams and clogged up the middle for his defense. He was good against the run and against the pass and he eventually developed into one of the better Nose Guards that the game has ever seen.

2 thoughts on “Curley Culp Arizona State 1967

  1. Bill RTiddle

    This coming Fall will mark 50-Years since Arizona State University’s legendary football and wrestling All-American Curley Culp concluded his college career. Culp grew up the youngest of 13 children in Yuma, Arizona where he eventually became an All-State high school football player and was the Arizona heavyweight wrestling champion in 1963 and 1964. Additionally Curley was a straight-A student, a Boy’s State delegate, a NHS member, and was president of the FFA Club. Culp is now one of 447 inductees in the National High School Hall of Fame (Originally “sports” hall of fame). Other notables include Joe Theismann, Archie Griffin, Paul Warfield, Johnny Bench, Paul Hornung, Larry Bird and other legendary high school athletes, coaches, administrators, and since 2003 high school individuals from the performing arts. Curley Culp’s impressive resume includes several other Hall of Fame honors earned at all levels.

    College recruiters found Curley in remote Yuma, including UCLA which offered him a football scholarship, but ASU coach Frank Kush promised the opportunity to play football and wrestle and Culp opted for newly formed Western Athletic Conference (1961 WAC) – over the high profile PAC-8. Though playing in the WAC was never beneficial for college football players when seeking proper recognition, – having to play late night games away from view of national TV, and/or after eastern newspaper deadlines had been reached – Curley would go on to become a two-sport 1st Team All-American. Having twice received 1st Team All-WAC football honors and ’67 Defensive Player of the Year accolades he would eventually be named to the WAC 20-Year All-Time Team. Additionally, as a wrestler Culp would win three WAC Heavyweight Championships, and capture the 1967 NCAA Heavyweight Championship with a :51 sec. pin in the Finals – winning the Gorriaran Award for scoring the most falls in the least amount of time. He had advanced to the finals with a 3:46 fall-pin in the semi’s of Oklahoma Sooner, Consensus/ Unanimous Football All-American, Granville Liggins. 1967 wrestling pin.mpg – YouTube

    The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and Culp as a college freshman that year was on the cusp of a New Era in college football. Three of the major power college football conferences in the nation were racially segregated and it wasn’t until 1975 that most college programs were fully integrated. In 1963 Darryl Hill, a transfer from the US Naval Academy where he had been the first black player in football, became the first black player in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The team required National Guard protection when playing South Carolina, and Clemson threatened to pull-out of the ACC if a black player participated. Clemson actually refused admission to their “whites only” stadium to Hill’s mother. Randy White would later become Maryland’s first black consensus All-American in 1974, as the ACC had become fully integrated.
    On September 30, 1967, during Curley Culp’s final college football season, a black Kentucky Wildcat player, Nate Worthington, lasted a total of three minutes against Ole Miss before injury to mark the first integrated Southeast Conference (SEC) game. Alabama did not play a black player until 1971, and Auburn and LSU of the SEC – in 1972.
    John Westbrook Hill, of Baylor, would become the first black player in the Southwest Conference in 1966, and SMU’s Jerry Levias would become the second SWC black player and first scholarship player. Levias’ gridiron success is said by some to have led the way to sports integration throughout the entire south. Levias would become a 1968 Consensus All-American, and eventually be rightfully recognized by the CHOF in 2004. Like Culp, Levias had been heavily recruited by UCLA. In 1970, Julius Whittier was the first African-American to receive a football scholarship and play varsity at the University of Texas, as Arkansas also played its first black player the same year – as the SWC neared racial integration.

    This was the College Football Era in which Curley Culp played and excelled, and in which his “consensus” eligibility for Hall of Fame enshrinement is contingent upon a presumed-valid “technicality”. This was an era when former President Obama’s parents would have been prevented from marrying in Virginia due to an interracial marriage law that was unanimously struck done by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 1967, as “… obviously an endorsement of the doctrine of White Supremacy”. The University of Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC did not integrate in football until 1970.

    This was an Era (1963-1975) in which college football was substantially racially segregated – including the ACC, SEC, SWC, and in which at least two-fifths (2/5) of the voters on “NCAA Official Selectors” – i.e. sportswriters, editors, broadcasters (UPI,AP, FWAA, NEA), and the Coaches (AFCA), represented these segregated programs, schools, conferences and regions. With major football programs from Maryland to Texas all white the NCAA not only tolerated segregation, but in essence condoned it authorizing lucrative national TV (which they controlled) that featured broadcasts of segregated teams during this “Era”. The NCAA then ensured that consensus All-American status was racially biased by naming “official selectors” that equally represented the racially segregated regions and conferences.

    The 1967, “22-player Consensus All-American Team” had only three (3) black players: O.J. Simpson – USC; Leroy Keyes – Purdue; and, Granville Liggins – the 1st All-American black player from Oklahoma (’66,’67). Simpson appeared on national TV six (6) times – including the Rose Bowl. Keyes received ample national exposure during his career, and played in the 1966 Rose Bowl; and, Granville Liggins appeared at least three times on national TV, including an Orange Bowl. Culp’s national TV exposure was limited to the East-West Shrine Game and the 1968 College All Star Game.

    Curley Culp, of the integrated WAC, was named 1st Team All-American by TIME Magazine, The Football News, and the Sporting News, and 2nd Team by Central Press Associated. Of the “22-Consensus” players in 1967 – 19 would also receive (“unofficial”) 1st Team Football News

    recognition; 9 (nine) would receive TIME Magazine honors; and, 12 would be named by The Sporting News; and, TSN has been a NCAA “Official Selector” for 60-or-more of the past-90
    years. It is notable that NFL 1st Round draft pick, linebacker Fred Carr (UTEP, WAC) – also a black player, failed to receive 1967 AP, UPI, AFCA, FWAA recognition, but like Culp – was named 1st Team TIME and TSN (Carr was also named 1st by the NEA).

    Therefore, I wholeheartedly urge the NFF Honors Court to evaluate the validity of the criterion of “Consensus All-American” as it pertains to the segregated College Football Era of 1963-1975. “Exceptions” of players during this era should be individually considered, and will have little or no effect on the legitimacy of all of the deserving players and coaches already honored in the CHOF. The Sporting News All-American picks during this ERA were particularly immune to any regional or conference racial bias in that the selections were made primarily by professional scouts, pro-personnel directors, observers, coaches and national sportswriters, and TIME was a NYC based publication with no inherent regional affiliations or bias.

    1. Brad Post author

      Thanks for commenting. One thing, Randy White from Maryland in 1974 was a whitey.
      I enjoyed watching the wrestling video on Youtube I had no idea that would be on there.


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