The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.
The 1975 season is the final 10-win season of Darrell Royal’s career. A legend already heading into his 19th season at Texas, Royal led the Longhorns to seven 10-win season.
Even with a senior quarterback in Marty Akins and dominating running back in sophomore Earl Campbell, the Associated Press voters weren’t all in on the Longhorns to start the 1975 season. Texas began the season ranked No. 11 in the preseason poll.
The 1975 season also was the first year since 1966 that Texas didn’t have coach Fred Akers on staff. The co-offensive coordinator left to become the head coach at Wyoming and Don Breaux joined Willie Zapalac (another longtime assistant under Royal) as co-offensive coordinators. Mike Campbell, meanwhile, was still on staff, entering, like Royal, year No. 19 at Texas.
Another notable staff member was Spike Dykes, who had joined the program in 1972 and would one day become the head coach of Texas Tech.
The Longhorns started the season with four straight wins, rising to No. 5 in the rankings. But a 24-17 loss to No. 2 Oklahoma dropped Texas to No. 8 in the rankings. After losing to his former head coach Bud Wilkinson 21-7 during a time when Oklahoma was beating everyone in 1957, Royal flipped the switch and won eight in row against the Sooners. But Royal ended his career losing five in a row (he tied the Sooners in 1976).
Texas regrouped and won five straight games before Texas A&M scored its first win over Royal and the Longhorns since 1967. At the time, Texas A&M and coach Emory Bellard (a former Royal assistant) were ranked No. 2 in the nation, one of the highest rankings A&M had in decades. The Aggies won 20-10.
At the end of the Southwest Conference season, Texas, Arkansas and Texas A&M all had 6-1 records, with Texas beating Arkansas 24-18 and the Aggies having lost to Arkansas 31-6. Arkansas received the Cotton Bowl invite, while Texas settled for the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
In the last bowl game of Royal’s career, Texas overcame a 21-7 halftime deficit to beat Colorado 38-21.
The 1975 season featured an incredible season for Texas runners. Campbell rushed for 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns while Akins added 777 yards. Gralyn Wyatt and Jimmy Walker also had solid seasons. Another young emerging player, Johnny “Ham” Jones, was also on the roster.
Akins graduated from Texas as the team’s all-time leading rusher for a quarterback with 2,020 yards. He also held the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game (188 against TCU in 1974), most starts by a Longhorn quarterback and most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
Vince Young broke all of Akins’ rushing records at Texas, while Pete Gardere surpassed Akins for most starts in 1992. When Akins graduated, his 27-9 record as the starting quarterback was the second best for a player, trailing only Bobby Layne– one of two Longhorn players in the NFL Hall of Fame (yes, yes, Tom Landry is in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he’s there for coaching the Dallas Cowboys).
Layne won 28 games at Texas.
Akins, the 1975 SWC Player of the Year, played the last two games of the season with a torn ACL. Despite playing on one leg, Akins played in the bowl game, throwing for 66 yards and a touchdown on just five attempts.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.