West Virginia

1966 - 69 Mountaineers
(Authentic Reproduction)





With Gene Corum moving out of the head coach's office, thirty-two year old Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jim Carlen moved in and immediately installed a speed-oriented I-Formation that would take advantage of Garrett Ford's abilities. After the improprieties that led to Corum's reassignment, Carlen insisted that his players toe the line relative to behavior, adhere to a curfew, and attend mandatory church services on Sunday. With Larry Canterbury, Ken Woodeshick, and Gary Young up front, the line allowed Ford a tiring 236 carries that he converted into 1062 yards, becoming WVU's first 1000 yard back and the Southern Conference Player Of The Year. Sophs Pete Secret and Tom Dignon split the QB position, Finishing with a 3-5-2 record, the failing was in the defense with LB Baker Brown the standout on a unit that needed to be a bit more resilient. Carlen also discarded both the  gold jerseys and the gold helmets that had been associated with WVU for some time, replacing these with a blue and white motif. The helmet design was changed to white with a yellow center stripe flanked by a blue stripe on each side while the jerseys were switched to royal blue with yellow and white trim. The away jerseys tried to maintain the "gold" look of former WVU teams but instead looked like a washed-out pale yellow. The Mountaineers moved forward in 1967 to 5-4-1 but the dominant Ford suffered an early season ankle injury and ran only twenty-seven times for 204 yards. He had but a one year trial with the Broncos and he currently serves as the Associate Athletic Director for WVU. Dignon split time again at QB, this time with Garland Hudson and they used WR Oscar Patrick to help open up an effective passing attack. LB Brown was joined by soph All American Carl Crennel at middle guard as they registered three shutouts among their five victories. The 7-3 record of '68 now marked Carlen and the Mountaineers as serious foes as they ended their nineteen year affiliation with the Southern Conference and dove into the waters as an Independent. Carlen had pushed hard to disassociate WVU from the conference, feeling that it hurt recruiting and the schedule was immediately upgraded to include much tougher foes. Their seven wins included a hard-fought 31-20 loss to a Penn State squad that ended their season at 11-0 and defeated Kansas in the Orange Bowl. Soph RB's Jim Braxton, called "the smartest player" he had coached by Carlen, and Bob Gresham complimented senior Ed Silverio as rushers and QB Mike Sherwood, whose father was a WVU football letterman in 1937, took the controls of a potent offense. Despite all of the fine runners, Sherwood passed enough to be ranked fourteenth in the nation in total offense with many of his spirals going to end Oscar Patrick or Braxton who often doubled at tight end. Dale Farley, future NFL assistant George Henshaw, and two-time All American MG Carl Crennel sparked the defense. Carlen went into 1969 with a loaded backfield, knowing that former Ohio AP High School Back Of The Year Eddie Williams would not even make the starting lineup behind Braxton and Gresham. Sherwood still had the controls and the Mountaineers were finally good enough to be controversial, being accused of "running up the score" in a 49-18 and 407 passing yard performance by Sherwood against rival Pitt. With Oscar Patrick missing much of the season with a knee injury, Braxton played as much at TE as he did in the backfield. Farley, moved from DE to LB, Crennel, and DB Leon Jenkins were solid and the regular season 9-1 finish was marked by a solitary loss to Penn State. Crennel later went on to star in the CFL for ten years. The record earned WVU a Peach Bowl birth. The ever-innovative offensive coordinator Bobby Bowden, who had joined Carlen's staff after coaching receivers at Florida State, flew to Texas to learn the new Darrell Royal-Emory Bellard Wishbone and the Bowl game against a surprised South Carolina allowed him to get his three best runners onto the field together, with Williams slogging through the mud for 206 yards and a decisive 14-3 victory over their favored opponent. This would be all Carlen needed to become a hot prospect and at the end of the bowl game he announced his move to Texas Tech while offensive coordinator Bobby Bowden would now take over for the Mountaineers.

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