Texas Longhorns

(Authentic Reproduction)




There were so many coaches visiting the Texas spring practices prior to the 1970 season that Coach Royal was concerned that his program would suffer. As defending National Champion and the head coach of the team that had unleashed an overpowering new offense in the Wishbone, he shouldn't have worried. The difference between 1969 and '70 was the removal of the 100 year anniversary decal from the sides of the white helmet and the return of the longhorn logo and not much else in the performance of the team. Though the depth of the '69 team may have been lacking, talent was abundant with Eddie Phillips at QB, RB's Jim Bertelsen and Steve Worster, end Cotton Speyrer, All American OT Bobby Wuensch, and DE All American Bill Atessis. The lesser-known Longhorns played almost as well as the stars on a game-to-game basis, especially LB Bil Zapalac and super-soph tackle Jerry Sisemore. A 20-17 victory over UCLA that required some last minute heroics served as the impetus that made every other game a laugher. Finishing the year at 10-0, the Cotton Bowl rematch vs. Notre Dame resulted in a Joe Theismann- fueled Irish victory but the Horns were still number one in the national rankings. The '71 squad was an 8-3 SWC Champion rebuilding one that would have thrilled most other institutions. Injuries destroyed the aspirations of numerous starters and the team suffered hard losses to rivals Oklahoma and Arkansas but sophomores stepped up to help win a fourth straight SWC crown and a fourth straight Cotton Bowl berth. The "Worster Bunch" was gone but OT Jerry Sisemore was still there making every All American team and six others joined him on the All SWC squad including future Ram RB Jim Bertelsen. Donnie Wigginton, suffering with his own injuries at times, filled in well enough for the injured Phillips to guide the team to the Cotton Bowl tilt against Penn State. With assistant and Wishbone originator Emory Bellard leaving to be the head coach at rival A&M,  bowl preparation was a bit distracted and disrupted and the Lions bested the Horns 30-6. Other than a regular season loss to Oklahoma who had become one of the top few teams in the country behind their own Wishbone attack, Texas was back on stride in '72 with a 9-1 record. Sisemore again played tackle as a first team All American before heading off for the Eagles as their first round draft choice and a very productive twelve year pro career. FB Roosevelt Leaks added a dimension of speed and explosion to the fullback position with All SWC DB Alan Lowry making the successful switch to QB. The strength of the defense was in linebackers Glen Gapard and All American Randy Braband and that defense buckled up the final five opponents to the tune of only twenty-four points. A much anticipated battle of the Wishbones in the Cotton Bowl resulted in a tight 17-13 victory over Alabama to end the year a great 10-1.
1973 like '71 was an 8-3 rebuilding type of season and yet another conference championship and Cotton Bowl appearance. Only the 52-13 loss to Oklahoma was an embarrassment as the Longhorns won their sixth consecutive SWC title with 218 pound FB Roosevelt Leaks the main man and the conference all time single season rushing leader that included 342 yards against SMU. QB Marty Akins was big and strong enough to have been a terrific high school shotputter and HB Raymond Clayborn provided the speed. The faceoff versus Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl was a tough 19-3 loss but the star power of Leaks helped to attract a recruit named Earl Campbell who would figure prominently in the Longhorns' future. Spring ball in '74 resulted in a horrific knee injury to Leaks but defying all predictions, he refused to redshirt and sped his rehabilitation through brutally hard and dedicated work. He was on the field for the 1974 season but at his new halfback position while he helped to tutor raw freshman fullback Earl Campbell, the Tyler, Texas standout that was everyone's most coveted player in the state. All American DT Doug English was the star of the defense but losses to Baylor and Texas Tech made the 8-3 record, 8-4 after a Gator Bowl defeat by Auburn, tough to accept although they played Oklahoma much tougher in a 16-13 loss than they had the past few seasons. 
1975 looked as if it could have brought a return to the national pinnacle but a knee injury to QB Mary Akins limited them to an excellent 10-2 mark that included an Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl win over Colorado. Fred Akers left the staff to become the head coach at Wyoming but Spike Dykes (future Texas Tech head coach), David McWilliams (future Tech and Texas head coach), and new offensive assistant Don Breaux (long time Joe Gibbs coordinator) ably guided the team under Royal. The 24-17 loss to the Sooners was especially galling as OU head coach Barry Switzer had made derogatory comments regarding "coaches who sit home and listen to guitar pickers" a reference to Royal and his friend, country singer Willie Nelson. The season finale upset by A&M cost the team another outright SWC title as QB Akins was lost for the day when his knee gave out, but Campbell stayed close to unstoppable as he was with games like 160 yards vs. SMU and 133 against Baylor. Sharing the title with both Arkansas and A&M resulted in the successful bowl win against Colorado. The 5-5-1 finish in 1976 would be Royal's final year, a season marked by injury to star fullback Earl Campbell and charges of espionage against hated Oklahoma. Hampered by a recurring hamstring pull, Campbell had super games like his 208 rush yards against North Texas State and games where he could barely limp from the huddle. Speed merchant and Olympic sprinter Johnny "Lam" (for Lampasas, Texas) Jones picked up some of the slack for the injured superstar. The start of the OU game was marred by charges of spying against the Norman, OK school and neither coach or squad was satisfied with the 6-6 tie when it was all over. Years later, Sooner assistant coach Larry Lacewell publicly apologized to Royal indicating that the charges of spying were in fact, true. It was immediately after this game that Royal, sickened by the tension of the week and hurt by the inability of his team to win after playing so hard and courageously, threw up as he left the field and considered quitting. Two weeks later Royal informed the Texas Chancellor that he would leave at the end of the season. Ray Clayborn, who later spent thirteen of his fifteen pro years with the Patriots at DB, could not run hard or far enough from his halfback position to make up for the loss of Campbell. As Texas faced Arkansas in the season finale, two coaching legends, Royal and Hogs coach Frank Broyles, would both be retiring after the final whistle, one that ended Royal's career with a 29-12 victory as a partially recovered Earl Campbell roared for 131 yards and two TD's.

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