The Austin College athletics department will be honoring the late Kangaroo football legend Gene “Duke” Babb on Saturday, September 7, by celebrating “Duke Babb Day” for the team’s home opener against Howard Payne University.
The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. in the Slats McCord Honors Room, located on the second floor of the Mason Complex, where a reception will take place until 10 a.m. Members of the Austin College community will be welcoming Duke’s wife Gerry, along with his daughter Tracy and her husband Steve Frazier, and invite friends, family, teammates, and former players to join them in remembering the Austin College great, who passed away on December 2. Later that day, the Babb family will serve as honorary captains and handle the coin toss just prior to kickoff between the ‘Roos and Howard Payne at 1 p.m.
Babb was a 1969 inductee into the Austin College Athletics Hall of Honor, and the football program continues to recognize his contributions by handing out the Gene Babb Award to the team’s most outstanding player. A native of Odessa, Babb came to Sherman in 1953 and after an historic career on the gridiron was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers during his professional career, which spanned from 1957 to 1963. He played both fullback and linebacker at the professional level.
Babb returned to Sherman following his playing career, serving as a coach for the ‘Roos for four seasons before also coaching at Southern Methodist University. He coached at SMU for one season before becoming the defensive coordinator for Oklahoma State University, a role in which he served for three seasons.
He transitioned from coaching to scouting, and was instrumental in helping develop the NFL Scouting Combine. Babb became a scout for the Atlanta Falcons following his career on the sidelines, and then went to work for National Football Scouting, where he served as President and Director of the annual National Invitational Combine for 23 years until his retirement. Babb also served on the Board of Directors of NFL Films.
In addition to the Babb Award being named in his honor and being a Hall of Honor inductee, in 2005 he also received Austin College’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2009 the football scoreboard was dedicated in his honor. A classroom in the Mason Athletics Complex also bears his name.