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A Texas Tech Football Season In Review: 1976

1975 through 1983 Texas Tech Football helmet, courtesy Helmet Project

A Texas Tech Football Season In Review . . .

The Year: 1976

The Record: 10-2

The Bowl Game: Bluebonnet Bowl

  • September 11: Colorado, W, 24-7
  • September 25: @ New Mexico, W, 20-16
  • October 9: @ Texas A&M (17), W, 27-16
  • October 16: @ Rice, W, 27-13
  • October 23: Arizona, W, 52-27
  • October 30: Texas (15), W, 31-28
  • November 6: @ TCU, W, 14-10
  • November 13: SMU, W, 34-7
  • November 20: Houston (9), L, 19-27
  • November 27: @ Arkansas, W, 30-7
  • December 4: Baylor (18), W, 24-21
  • December 31: Nebraska (9), L, 24-27

This was a helluva season for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech won their first 8 games, beating ranked Texas A&M and ranked Texas in the process. This team was on an amazing streak until it ran into Houston, but got back on the wagon and won their last two before losing to Nebraska in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

The head coach was Steve Sloan and, according to the winning percentages, is the 2nd most successful coach in Texas Tech history, but the most successful in the modern era:

  • Pete Cawthon (1930-1940): 69.3%
  • Steve Sloan (1975-1977): 65.7%
  • E.Y. Freeland (1925-1928): 64.9%
  • Jim Carlen (1970-1974): 64.4%
  • David McWilliams (1986): 63.6%
  • Mike Leach (2000-2006): 62.9%

Sloan had an impressive list of assistant coaches, current Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel was a defensive assistant and Bill Parcells was at Texas Tech from 1975-1977. Despite my searching on the internet, I haven't figured out why Sloan left Tech. After his stint at Texas Tech he moved on to Ole Miss where he was horrible, compiling a 13-34-1 record while with the Rebels. I'm sure that part of the equation for him moving was that Sloan was from Alabama and maybe wanted to get a little closer to home.

Nevertheless, Sloan was incredibly successful at Tech where he also won the SWC Coach of the Year in 1976. Sloan stayed on for one more year at Tech and then began perhaps the worst run of Texas Tech football where there was only 1 winning record in the next 8 seasons:

  • 1978: 7-4-0
  • 1979: 3-6-2
  • 1980: 5-6-0
  • 1981: 1-9-1
  • 1982: 4-7-0
  • 1983: 3-7-1
  • 1984: 4-7-0
  • 1985: 4-7-0

That is atrocious. 31-53-4 for an 8 year stretch. Those were some lean years, especially coming off of the incredibly successful tenure of Steve Sloan. There is no doubt that much of the popularity of Coach Dykes is the direct result of the horrible stretch of football between Sloan and David McWilliams for one season and then Coach Dykes thereafter. Dykes literally saved this program and before Dykes arrived the program was horrible, including the 1981 season where Tech couldn't even manage a single conference victory.

Here's a photo of the helmet used during this year.

Image from Southwest Conference Helmets

We have 2 clips from the 1976 season. The following clip is from the Texas game and I've got two thoughts: Thomas Howard was a beast and the music makes me want to rent Smokey and the Bandit:

Next is from the SMU game and is Tech playing with tear-away jerseys?

I love the jerseys, I love the black helmet and the red face-mask, it's such a great look. I love all of the stripes. The team looks incredibly sharp with the horizontal stripes on the socks with the vertical stripes on the pant legs. I'm a true uniform geek.

Random Notes from the Media Guide:

  • Rodney Allison was the most valuable back in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
  • Linebacker Thomas Howard was a First Team All-American in 1976, while guard Mike Sears was an Honorable Mention All-American.
  • All-Southwest Conference honors went to quarterback, Rodney Allison; defensive end, Harold Buell; defensive back, Greg Frazier; linebacker, Thomas Howard; tailback, Larry Isaac; offensive tackle, Dan Irons; and offensive tackle, Mike Sears.
  • Team Awards:
    • Pete Cawthon Memorial Team Most Valuable Player Award: Thomas Howard, linebacker.
    • Dell Morgan Memorial Courage Award: Bill Bothwell, defensive tackle.
    • Donny Anderson Sportsmanship Award: Tommy Duniven, quarterback.
  • Tailback Billy Taylor rushed for 173 yards against Arizona which ties him for 39th all-time at Texas Tech.
  • Larry Isaac led the team in rushing with 145 attempts and 685 rushing yards.
  • Rodney Allison had 83 completions in 139 attempts for 1,458 yards, but also had 523 yards rushing, leading the team in total offense for the year with 1,981 total yards.
  • Sammy Williams led the team in receptions with 32 for 601 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • Brian Nelson is tied for 3rd all-time at Tech for longest touchdown reception for 88 yards.
  • Brian Hall is tied for 6 all-time at Tech for single-season field goal leaders with 15.
  • Wide receiver Sammy Williams led the team with 902 all-purpose yards (for a non-quarterback), 301 yards rushing and 601 yards receiving.
  • Mike Patterson led the team with 24 punt returns for 179 yards.
  • Brian Nelson led the team with 9 kick-off returns for 150 yards.
  • Texas Tech was on television twice in 1976. The first game was against Houston on ABC and the second game was against Nebraska on TVS.
  • Team Stats:
    • Scoring Offense: 312 points for 28.4 points per game.
    • Rush Offense: 2,562 yards for 232.9 yards per game.
    • Pass Offense: 1,611 yards for 146.5 yards per game.
    • Total Offense: 4,173 yards for 379.4 yards per game.
    • Scoring Defense: 179 points for 16.3 points allowed per game.
    • Rushing Defense: 1,683 yards for 153.0 yards allowed per game.
    • Passing Defense: 1,602 yards for 145.6 yards allowed per game.
    • Total Defense: 3,285 yards for 298.6 yards allowed per game.