By Chris Scoggins
Walking past the hulking mass of what is soon to be the new and improved Kyle Field, visitors cross the construction zone under the blazing Texas sun to the Bright Football Complex, ground zero of where the boys of fall are trained, sharpened and conditioned to play Fightin’ Texas Aggie football. The open lobby is graced by the names of football legends come and gone. Only a handful of men have worked alongside more than a few of these legends. Alan Cannon is one of them.
Cannon is an approachable man with a firm handshake, candid and sincere. Recently inducted into the College Sports Information Director’s Hall of Fame, Cannon has served the Texas A&M Athletic department for 35 years. He is the kind of man who bleeds more maroon than even the most die-hard Aggie fans.
Cannon got his start as a high school intern for the athletic department at Southern Methodist University. The job was a perfect fit for Cannon and only served to grow his love of sports. It was there he met Spec Gammon, the then sports information director for Texas A&M University, a relationship that would pay great dividends during Cannon’s young professional career.
“I really didn’t realize before then that there was a profession behind the scenes of all the media interviews,” recalls Cannon.
During his freshman year at Texas A&M, Cannon was a walk-on baseball player, but after reconnecting with Gammon, he was allowed to file clip articles and pictures for the team. After his freshman year, Cannon became a student assistant to the baseball team and the official score reporter, a job he continued until his graduation in 1984.
“Working with Coach Chandler and being around the players and coaches, you really felt like you were a part of the team,” recalls Cannon. “That relationship I got to have with the coaches and the student athletes was very unique.”
Cannon would continue to build on those relationships as he advanced in 1985 to an assistant SID after graduating with a marketing degree. It was during this time that Cannon got to work with Mark Johnson, a distinguished Aggie baseball coach known for having the most wins in Texas A&M’s history.
In 1999, Cannon was promoted to assistant athletic director for media relations. In his long career, he has worked with every sport on campus and such Texas A&M sports greats as Hall of Fame football Coach R.C Slocum and basketball coach Shelby Metcalf. Metcalf is remembered for not only for having the most basketball wins in Texas A&M’s history, but also the most wins in the entire Southwest Conference.
Looking back on his career and the relationships it has grown, Cannon says he views his recent acceptance into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame as more of an indicator of the university’s success than his own.
“I think it’s more of a reflection on Texas A&M and the success of the program,” says Cannon. “I’ve had a great staff throughout the years. We’ve been fortunate, even in my first couple of years. We were used to the ESPN Awards shows, but so many of the coaches such as R. C Slocum and many others, all across the board, have been real special people.”
In his successful 35-year career, he has witnessed many changes to the world of sports – and sports reporting. The most significant has been technology.
“The technology has changed everything,” says Cannon. “Then, the lines of media were very clear cut, everything fit into its own category. Your news cycle stayed consistent so if you were working on a story, you knew you had time. These days everything is instantaneous. People want results as fast as you can get them.”
Having seen Texas A&M’s successes and failures, both in the Big 12 and the SEC, Cannon says that while conferences may change and new rivalries may grow, fans can expect to see the football program continue to advance.
“I think in the SEC you can see some rivalries from back in the day,” says Cannon. “In the Big 12 the local and state media were locked in on us with coverage, but with the SEC we are now truly a national brand.”
Despite his long career, Cannon’s not done yet, intent on seeing Texas A&M produce another Heisman finalist. Through the years, the thing that remains the most important to Cannon is not the accolades, but the relationships between staff and student athletes.
“To me it’s all about relationships,” says Cannon. “I continue to be amazed of all the talented athletes to be recruited here at A&M. It makes coming to work a lot of fun.”