1972-75 Tigers
(Authentic Reproduction)





Perhaps seeking a change in the team’s performance from the fiasco of ’71, Coach Onofrio had the Tigers enter the field of play in 1972 with a noticeable change in the helmet striping. Because the stripes were applied by hand, it had been noted by Bob Stanley, the head equipment manager, that some staff members would at times place the previously used one-inch or currently used three-quarter-inch white flanking stripes onto the helmet and leave a gap between the center and flanking stripes that was asymmetrical or varying enough in width to demonstrate a noticeable difference in gap size when comparing one side to the other or one helmet to another. The decision to return to one-inch white flanking stripes to better match the one-inch old gold center stripe and abut them against the center stripe eliminated that problem. The white “M” that was introduced on the 1971 helmets remained the same. Mizzou fans however noted that some of the players continued to wear their Riddell helmets from 1971 and the previous striping style that left a three-quarter-inch gap between the one-inch old gold center stripe and three-quarter-inch white flanking stripes wasn’t changed to match the new helmet style. Former Oklahoma QB and assistant coach Bob Warmack was hired to teach the Wishbone to the Tigers and much of the work in the new attack was taken up by Tommy Reamon, an All American transfer from Fort Scott (Kansas) JC. FB Don Johnson and Scott Anderson, moved inside to guard from tackle, supplied the blocking. Greg Hill, a neighbor of Coach Onofrio whom he encouraged to walk-on, became a spectacular kicker. Onofiro’s squads revived a reputation begun years previously as “giant killers”. The 62-0 loss against Nebraska was the program’s worst since 1932 but against number-eight Notre Dame, at South Bend, they pulled off what was considered to be the major upset of the ’72 season with a 30-26 victory. They followed this with a 20-17 win over number-seven Colorado and lost in a hard fought match to Oklahoma by 17-6. The 6-5 record earned Onofrio the Big Eight Coach Of the Year award and a berth to the Fiesta Bowl where they gained 602 yards against Arizona State but gave up a staggering 718 and lost 49-35.


To make better use of Reamon’s explosive burst, the Wishbone was scrapped and Onofrio changed to a Power-I Formation for 1973. The defensive breakdowns of the previous season led to a major change with Onofrio abandoning his usual six-man front in favor of a 5-2 alignment. The changes helped the defense whose 12.3 points per game yield was just behind the Sooners’ Conference lead, but the offense was last in total production and seventh of eight teams in scoring. All American center Scott Anderson finished his Tiger career having played all of the interior O-line positions and then played center for the Vikings in ’74. TB Reamon was the sparkplug, failing in camp with the Steelers but becoming the star rusher of the World Football League in 1974 and returning to the NFL for a 1976 appearance with the Chiefs. He later became a movie actor and successful coach at Virginia Beach Warwick High School where he produced the Falcons’ Michael Vick among others. All Conference guard Jim Schnietz teamed well with Anderson in aiding an 8-4 finish that included a 34-17 win over Auburn in the Sun Bowl. The best offensive weapon was kicker Hill who set a Big Eight career field goal mark. The new defense produced an All American in DB Mark Moseley who was granted a scholarship only because his high school teammate, Eddie Onofrio, the coach’s son, convinced his father to take a chance on the small speedster. He led the Big Eight in punt return average with 16.5 on each and also in kickoff returns with an average of 25.5 per kick. The annual heart-stopping and national level upset that Missouri was known for came in the 13-12 win over Nebraska as the Cornhuskers two-point conversion was foiled on the final play of the game. The Tigers had to close 1974 strongly to salvage a 7-4 season and earned a share of the Conference number two spot in the standings. Indian Hill (Iowa) JC transfer Tony Galbreath became the primary part of the offense, rushing for 870 yards and despite his big 237 pounds, proved to be an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He was granted All Big Eight status with end Mark Miller who was a frequent target of QB Steve Pisarkiewicz who tossed for 828 yards. WR Henry Marshall was a clutch receiver and Morris Towns provided the heft up front at tackle. LB Scott Pickens and DB Ken Downing anchored the defense which saw only two games, the 59-20 and 37-0 losses to Wisconsin and Oklahoma State respectively, get away from them.     


There was no doubt that the great defenses that Coach Onofrio orchestrated working under head coach Dan Devine weren’t quite the same once he became the Tigers’ head man and he was determined to change that going into 1975. The team showed the hoped for defensive improvement, rating number-two in the conference against the pass for 1975 but were unable to stop the run despite the eighty-one tackles of LB Tom Hodge and the All Big Eight play of DB Downing. They began the year by facing 1974’s number-five ranked Alabama, a team destined to improve to number-three by the end of ’75. Mizzou immediately thwarted Bama’s goal of an undefeated season and maintained their “giant killer” reputation by crushing the Tide convincingly 20-7 as DT Keith Morrissey became a household name in the state. Pisarkiewicz continued to improve, throwing for 1792 yards and eleven TD’s with end Henry Marshall, an All Conference choice, as his main receiver. Marshall had an extremely productive twelve-year career with the Chiefs. The ground game centered around captain Tony Galbreath who became the Saints number-two draft choice and earned a reputation as a third down receiver extraordinaire with them from 1976-’80, with the Vikings from ’81 through ’83, and then with the Giants from 1984-’87. Soph Joe Stewart who had run behind and with Galbreath the season before, moved out to slotback.  OT Towns, the pride of Vashon H.S. in St. Louis, again was the big man on the line for a productive offense that could not score enough to make up for an inconsistent defense. The result was a 6-5 record.


Entering the ’76 season, Coach Onofrio decided to again change the helmet design slightly. After wearing the Missouri one-inch old gold and white stripes that were affixed to the helmet directly against each other since the start of the ’72 season, the team returned to helmet style of 1971 that featured the one-inch old gold center stripe, three-quarter-inch black gap, and three-quarter-inch white flanking stripes. The white thin-profile “M” that had been introduced in ’71 remained on each side of the helmet.

 In one of the wildest and strangest seasons in Missouri football history, the Tigers’ 1976 performance was summed up by one national publication with the quip, “World-beaters one week, toothless kittens the next, that was the Missouri Tigers of 1976.” How, fans asked, could the team open the season by defeating the number-two team in the nation, powerful Southern Cal with a 46-25 stomping, lose the next game to lowly Illinois, lose their starting QB Steve Pisarkiewicz in the process to an elbow injury, and then follow that with a 22-21 victory in Columbus, Ohio over Ohio State, the team that was then ranked number two in the nation. Pete Woods, whose pitching arm led the Tigers to the Big Eight Baseball Championship and whose mother was a Missouri State Senator, stepped in at QB and not only led the victory over Ohio State, he helped to beat Nebraska 34-24 as the ‘Huskers charged towards the national title. Unfortunately, these unbelievable upset wins, an Onofrio trademark, were interspersed with terrible and unexpected losses to Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and in the season’s finale, Kansas in a 41-14 smack down that cost Mizzou a bowl bid. With a final record of 6-5 including three of the biggest wins in school history, this proved to be one of the most disappointing seasons ever. QB Pisarkiewicz was the Cardinals first-round pick but never fully recovered from his elbow injury and lasted only two years in St. Louis and one more with the Packers. Tackles James Taylor and All Big Eight Morris Towns who later was the Oilers first-round choice led the upfront charge. Woods found slotback Joe Stewart, also All Big Eight and the leading receiver in the conference, forty-five times for 834 yards. RB’s Curtis Brown and Rick Dansdill made a formidable rushing combo. Brown, another Fort Scott (Kansas) JC transfer, had a seven-year NFL career, six with the Bills and his last at Houston. Young Kellen Winslow showed promise at tailback but was moved to tight end. Former QB Keith Morrissey led the defense from his tackle post with eighty-six unassisted stops. Many were screaming for Onofrio’s scalp but he emerged with a new three-year contract at the end of the season. Unfortunately losing five of the first six games of 1977 placed the handwriting on the wall for coach Onofrio. With the lowest offensive output in the Big Eight, the erratic but exciting play of ’76 was replaced by a hum-drum attack paced by All Conference TE Kellen Winslow and WR Stewart who played two seasons for the Raiders. Leo Lewis was the most consistent receiver but his numbers dropped from the previous season. QB Woods was spelled by frosh Phil Bradley who flashed great potential but the rushing attack, led by FB Earl Grant with his 769 yards, was weak despite the talent on the O-line. Led by All Big Eight tackle James Taylor, and center Pete Allard, it just seemed as if the Tigers should have been more productive. The defense was improved with All Conference DB Russ Calabrese pulling in six INT’s and DT Morrissey, DE Steve Hamilton, and LB Chris Garlich active. After two decades of service to the Missouri football program, Al Onofrio was asked to retire and the search was on for a new leader.

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