55 years ago, the Texas Western Miners upset the college basketball world with magical win over Kentucky in the 1966 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Coached by the legendary and beloved Coach Don Haskins, the all-black starting lineup caused quite a stir and helped usher in more opportunities for black players at the college level.

Fast forward to 2021 and it looks like UTEP might have to share the mantle of being an NCAA Men's Basketball winning team with another Texas university. The five decades-long run might be coming to an end next week. The University of Houston Cougars and the Baylor Bears will take the floor and play against each other on Saturday in the Final Four semifinal ensuring that a team from Texas will play for Championship next Monday night April 5th. Both teams look capable of winning the title according to people who know these kinds of things. But they'll never be the 1966 Texas Western Miners.

UTEP Athletics/Rich Clarkson
UTEP Athletics/Rich Clarkson

My family has been watching the Miners play basketball for decades. My folks used to take us to games and had season tickets for 20 years. I grew up knowing about the team but only when I got into the media and did a deeper dive into the team and what they meant to not only El Paso but the nation in helping to break the color barrier in college sports did I really come to appreciate Coach Don Haskins and his 1966 Texas Western Miners.

If another Texas team does manage to win this year's trophy I will be sad that our 55 year hold on the title in Texas has come to an end but really, that team would have to hold it for 56 years to match up to Texas Western. They will never have the same fire and magic behind them. They will never hold a nation in thrall at their prowess on the court and their place in history. And they will never be the 1966 Texas Western Miners.

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