PHOTO HISTORY: The most successful first-year coach at Texas


Posted January 9th, 2018

Every Tuesday we dig into the Statesman photo archives and pick out some hot shots to remember.

After Tom Herman and Texas’ big Texas Bowl win over Missouri, junior defensive end Breckyn Hager said the first-year coach “won the locker room…”

This sounds like a good time to remember the most successful first-year head coach in Texas football history, who came to Austin during a turbulent time.


When did he win the locker room? Who knows, but maybe this photo from Nov. 26, 1977 in College Station sums up his relationship at the end of the season with his players:

First-year Texas football coach Fred Akers and senior offensive lineman James “Jim” Yarbrough shake hands as Texas defeated rival Texas A&M 57-28 on Nov. 26, 1977. (Tom Lankes/American-Statesman)

Fred Akers was hired following the rocky final year of the legendary Darrell Royal run at Texas. There was controversy in Texas hiring Akers over defensive coordinator Mike Campbell, the man Royal preferred. However, Akers, who had been the former offensive coordinator at Texas before leaving for two seasons at Wyoming, returned to Texas and was gifted one of the best teams in college football and one of the best players in the history of college football, Earl Campbell.

In the above photo, Texas had just wiped the floor with its biggest rival, No. 12 Texas A&M, 57-28 and the No. 1-ranked Longhorns were heading to the 1978 Cotton Bowl to play Notre Dame for the national championship. The Longhorns finished 11-1 on the year, the best finish for any first-year coach at Texas.

What’s interesting about this photo?

Well, the man he’s shaking hands with, James “Jim” Yarbrough is now the current mayor of Galveston.

He was a Galveston County Judge from 1995 to 2010 and was elected mayor in 2014. His current term expires in 2018. Before he was ever named “Galveston County Daily News Citizen of the Year” he was an All-Southwest Conference player and, according to his bio page, the first-ever graduate-player in NCAA history.

Akers, of course, coached the Longhorns for another decade and is the third-winningest coach in Texas football history.