1978 Tigers
(Authentic Reproduction)



The search for a new head coach stopped at Warren Powers who had just completed his initial season as head coach at Washington State, a season that included a huge upset win over Nebraska. The national recognition Powers received for that game was a bit ironic as he had starred on Bob Devaney’s first Nebraska squad as a two-way halfback. The former All State High School QB from Kansas City had an instinctive knack for the game and six years as a starter in the defensive backfield with the Oakland Raiders enhanced his knowledge. He was a trusted assistant to Tom Osborne at Nebraska until becoming Washington State’s head coach in 1977. Like many new coaches Powers changed the helmet design. The black shell and old gold one-inch center stripe was now flanked by a one-half-inch black gap and one-half-inch white flanking stripes. Former equipment manager Bob Stanley who later became Director Of Facilities indicated that the decision to use a one-half-inch gap and stripe was in part made because it was easier to line up and standardize the gap width using the one-half-inch flanking stripes compared to the previously used one-inch or three-quarter-inch stripes. The decal on each side of the helmet was still white, but the block “M” now featured “legs” of unequal width. Onofrio had left a lot of talent on board and Powers installed a Veer Offense to take advantage of the offensive line and backfield depth. The real star up front was All American TE Kellen Winslow who blocked, ran, and caught the ball like the number-one pro draft choice he became for the Chargers. His Pro Football Hall Of Fame career has set a standard for all of the tight ends who followed him. Like Winslow, center Pete Allard was All Conference and paved the way for 215-pound halfback James Wilder who ran for 873 yards. FB Earl Grant was a centerpiece of the Veer, running behind the big O-line but All Big Eight QB Phil Bradley was the scrambling demon who sparked the offense with his conference leading 1780 passing yards and total yardage tally of 2081. When the long ball was needed, flanker Leo Lewis was the man. Starting the year with a 3-0 upset of 1977 National Champion Notre Dame, coached by former Mizzou mentor Dan Devine, marked the defense as a force and it was headed by the six INT’s of DB Russ Calabrese who was All Big Eight for the second time, and tough line play by DE Wendell Ray and Steve Hamilton who was moved inside from DE to DT. Johnnie Poe meshed well with Calabrese in the secondary and LB Chris Garlich showed enough to spend ’79 with the Cardinals. The huge 35-31 upset of Nebraska behind Wilder’s four TD’s was a key in Powers’ nomination for Big Eight Coach Of The Year and the 8-4 season was topped off by yet another upset as the Tigers clocked a strong LSU team 20-15 in the Liberty Bowl. It seemed as if the new coach had ushered in a new era.         




A fine high school athlete, Kellen Winslow only applied his talents to football for one season at East St. Louis High School. At Mizzou he quickly fell under the influence of long-time athletic trainer Fred Wappel who helped to keep the youngster appropriately focused on his academic work. Quickly earning a reputation for being able to control the course of any game even though he never led the Tigers in any statistical category, Winslow was a force whose seventy catches for 1077 yards were usually applied when most needed. At all times, opposing coaches realized that the 260-pound tight end had to be accounted for. All Conference in both 1977 and ’78, it was in that final season that he emerged as an All American and The Big Eight Male Athlete Of The Year. Winslow changed the tenure of the game and the play at the tight end position by his ability to run patterns both long and short and he forced defenders to cover him from one end of the field to the other. He was to become a member of The College Football Hall Of Fame and he was the Chargers first-round draft choice and the thirteenth overall pick. From 1979 through 1987 Winslow set a standard still sought by tight ends coming into the NFL. He finished his career with five Pro Bowl appearances, 541 receptions for 6741 yards, and forty-five touchdowns. The statistics would have been greater if he had not missed parts of 1984 and ’85 with a severe knee injury, one that kept him from full effectiveness the remainder of his career. His most famous moment came in the 1981 AFC Division Playoff game against the Dolphins where Winslow caught thirteen passes for 166 yards, blocked a Miami forty-three yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation play, and inspired his teammates with his all-out intense play. In the 41-38 overtime win, Winslow, in an often seen video clip from NFL Films, had to be carried off the field in total exhaustion by his teammates. Even after his injury, Winslow was named to the 1986 and ’87 Pro Bowl squads before retiring and his great efforts resulted in his membership to both the Pro Football Hall Of Fame and the NFL’s Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Team. Winslow’s son has followed in his footsteps, now playing tight end for the Cleveland Browns.

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