Joe Utay is recognized as a pioneer of football in the Southwest. As a halfback at Texas A&M from 1905-1907, he helped lead the Aggies to early records of 7-2-0 and 6-1-1. Then, as Texas A&M's athletic director, Utay became a leading figure in elevating the Cotton Bowl to national prominence. In 1937, J. Curtis Sanford started the Cotton Bowl but was unable to prevent the SWC champion from playing in other bowls. In 1940, Utay helped organize the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association which started the tradition of the Southwest Conference champion appearing in the Cotton Bowl. Utay was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.