J. Curtis Sanford
Dallas oilman J. Curtis Sanford came up with the idea for the Cotton Bowl Classic after travelling with SMU to watch the 1936 Rose Bowl. In 1937, using $6,000 of his own money, Sanford matched Texas Christian University and Marquette in the first Cotton Bowl, which attracted 17,000 people. Sanford could not always sign the Southwest Conference winner, however, so after the fourth Cotton Bowl in 1940, he assigned rights to the game to the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association with the agreement that he would be a lifetime member of the executive committee. The CBAA succeeded in signing the SWC champion as host team from 1941-1995, which assured the Cotton Bowl's success as a major attraction. Sanford was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.