It was legendary sports cartoonist, Dirk West of Lubbock that coined the moniker – Kid Coach. Actually, Sloan at age 31 was not Tech’s youngest ever Head Football Coach, but his baby face and winning smile, made him appear much younger.
Sloan first got his taste of college football as the backup quarterback for Bear Bryant’s Red Tide when Joe Namath was the starter. Doing anything to get on the field, he played defensive back for much of that time. However, when Bryant benched Namath for disciplinary reasons in the final regular season game in 1963, Sloan stepped in. He went on to lead Alabama to a 12-7 win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. He guided the Crimson Tide to National Championships in 64 and 65.
Sloan spent two seasons in the NFL with Atlanta although saw very little action and began his coaching career back with Alabama in 1968. He moved to Florida State, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt in as many years. Vanderbilt was Sloan’s first head coaching job and where King found him to replace Carlen.
The Red Raiders reportedly offered Sloan a whopping $30K per year with an $11K kicker for his TV show. Like you or I would, Sloan snapped up the offer before Tech changed its mind. He brought with him five members of his staff from Vandy including defensive coordinator, Bill Parcells.
Sloan’s first season at Tech saw the Red Raiders return to the Black helmet with white-red-white stripes, a red double "T" outlined in white on sides, and a red facemask. (Carlen had preferred a white helmet). It was also Tech’s first time to lead the league in total offense. However, they managed a meager fourth place finish behind Arkansas, Texas and the Aggies. Emerging out of that first season were several standout players. Powerhouse running back Rufus Meyers, Tommy Duniven, Tech’s very accurate passer, and defensive forces Thomas Howard and Ecomet Burly.
The 1976 season proved to be another “year to remember” for the Raiders. In their first game, Tech intercepted Colorado five times (twice by Thomas Howard) and demolished a good Buffalo team. Led by Duniven and running back Larry Isaac, the Raiders were 2-0 going into their third game against Texas A&M. As seems to happen quite often in Aggie games, Tech’s quarterback, Duniven was injured early in the game, but a fierce competitor from Odessa High School, Rodney Allison took the field and took charge of the game. Between Allison, Isaac and Billy Taylor (the BT Express), the Raiders polished off the Aggies 27-16.
Later in the year, in Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Allison, Taylor, Isaac and the Raiders completed a thriller beating UT 31-28 to a capacity crowd. With the SWC crown in sight, on a cold and cloudy day in Lubbock late in the year, the Raiders “ran out of time” and lost a squeaker to UofH and finished tied for first in the Southwest Conference. However, since U of H had joined the conference just a few years before, they were allowed to accept the bid for the Cotton Bowl while Tech went to the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.
In 1977, history repeated itself as the Aggies managed to break Rodney Allison’s left legin the third game of the season. The Raiders were never quite the same and finished the season 7-4 and lost another bowl game. However, fans in Raiderland did get a glimmer of things to come was tight end, James Hadnot showed is skills with a 48 yard end-around.
Two All-Americans from Tech were selected during Steve Sloan’s tenure. Lubbock Dunbar defensive standout Thomas Howard and Lubbock Monterey offensive tackle Dan Irons both accepted this highest honor on behalf of Texas Tech.
By the end of his three years at Tech, Kid Coach had compiled a respectable record of 23-12 and 15-8 in conference play, including a tie for first in 1976. Shortly after the 1977 season, an emotional Coach Sloan announced he was leaving Texas Tech “for his own reasons”. He coached for 8 more years at Ole Miss and Duke before becoming AD at his alma mater, Alabama. Sloan finished is career in 2006 as the AD of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
He had never won a bowl game as a coach.