1976 - 78 Gators
(Authentic Reproduction)



The Gators began the 1976 season with a very slight helmet change, a move to a white facemask to replace the standard gray models. Otherwise the orange helmet with one-inch blue center stripe and one-half-inch white flanking stripes and white-trimmed-with-blue interlocking "UF" remained the same. Despite having standout receiver (and punt return man) Wes Chandler and Derrick Gaffney as the number two wideout, Dickey stuck to his Wishbone attack under the direction of QB Terry LeCount with big Earl Carr at FB and Tony Green bouncing back for a big year. Chandler put up ten TD's on forty-four receptions and he had a twenty-two yard per catch average. Georgia got their 1975 payback by putting up forty-one points which emphasized the problems with a defense that was at times, too lenient. Tall Scott Hutchinson and freshman Scott Brantley were outstanding LB's, the Gators signing Brantley over the one-hundred other schools that wanted the Ocala, FL all star. The 7-4 record included one of the more exciting games in the Florida State series and the Gators earned the right to face Texas A&M in the Sun Bowl where Dickey unfortunately kept his bowl game losing streak alive, dropping the game by 37-14. Still it was four bowl games in a row to top off four very good seasons. The 6-4-1 season of 1977 was a downer relative to expectations and the available talent and seemed like one of the mid-sixties years of disappointment. QB Billy Kynes, expected to compete with Terry LeCount, left the squad in order to accept a Rhodes Scholarship. The senior talent never jelled as a unit and as QB LeCount stated, "we had too many chiefs and not enough Indians" leading to dispirited play at times with the seniors unable to work together. From 1967 until the game in '77, Florida State had been unable to defeat Florida but like a number of things that went bad in this season, the Seminoles gave Bobby Bowden his first victory in the rivalry and the 37-9 contest wasn't close. Stars were still bright on the Gator side however with Wes Chandler making some "All" teams and then going on to an eleven-year NFL career, most of it as a member of the high-flying Charger offenses. Derrick Gaffney came into his own as a primary receiver and was rewarded with a Jets contract which turned into ten years in their green and white. Tony Green had a short career with the Redskins and Seahawks. The Gators' season highlight may have been their 17-17 tie with mighty Pitt with LB Scott Brantley and MG Scott Hutchinson leading the defensive charge. Rumors of racial strife on the squad and the disappointing record had some calling for Dickey's head once again. LeCount stayed on campus long enough to discover that he would not be granted a medical redshirt year from his frosh season and was drafted by the Forty-Niners where he moved to WR and played a lengthy and productive ten years. Coach Dickey began the season in early January of 1978 by shaking up his staff and bringing in former Gators Steve Spurrier and Lee McGriff to revamp the offense to a pro style attack. With only rivals Florida State and Miami left on the '78 schedule, the Gators limped to that point with an erratic 4-5 team that had electrifying wins against Mississippi State and Auburn and horrid losses to LSU, Alabama, and Georgia, the last a 24-22 heartbreaker. Talk was rampant about Lou Holtz and others as potential successors to an as-good-as-fired Dickey. QB John Brantley, LB Scott's brother, played well enough so that highly-touted soph QB/receiver and former high school track star "Cadillac" Cris Collinsworth was moved permanently to wingback where he was All SEC with 745 yards on 39 receptions and an excellent kick return man. The rushing attack was the worst in the SEC however, with freshman HB Cal Davis the leading rusher with a paltry 186 yards! The LB's once again led the defense with Scott Brantley polling 193 tackles and five interceptions. LB mate David Little, younger brother of Dolphin great Larry Little, was almost as good with 138 tackles and four INT's. With obvious talent, the FSU loss at 38-21 had Dickey fired before finishing his preparation for the final game against Miami. His contract was bought out and he coached the Miami game as a farewell, a bitter one that ended 22-21 for the 'Canes.

If interested in any of these Florida helmets please click on the photos below.