The Texas Longhorns flag flies proud following a touchdown in the second half of the AT&T Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Tx., on Saturday, October 10, 2015. (RICARDO BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

BEVO BEAT Football

Daily Longhorn football history: The 1980 season

Posted July 28th, 2017


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. 

Ah, the 1980s. So long disco. Hello, synthesizers. Welcome to one of the most frustrating decades of Texas football.

From 1980 to 1989, Texas won two Southwest Conference titles, finished second outright twice, tied for second two more times and finished third or worse four times. It was the first decade since the 1950s to feature multiple losing seasons (1986, 1988 and 1989). It was the first decade since the 1930s to feature at least three losing seasons. It was the first decade to feature back-to-back losing seasons since the 1930s.


But Texas nearly won a national championship in 1981 and 1983.

The 1980 season continued to feature a great defense. Kenneth Sims began to emerge as a force for Texas along with Kiki DeAyala, Ken McCune and Dewey Turner. Sims recorded 11.5 sacks, while McCune went for 14 and Turner 11.5.

Doug Shankle and Bruce Scholtz remained play-makers at linebacker and Mike Hatchett had five interceptions for Texas.

Offensively, Donnie Little and Rick McIvor spent time at quarterback, with Little finishing with 648 rushing yards and 1,098 passing yards, combining for 13 touchdowns. A.J. “Jam” Jones led Texas with 657 rushing yards with eight touchdown.

The Longhorns opened the season with No. 6 Arkansas and won 23-17. It started a five game winning streak that was capped by a 20-13 win over No. 12 Oklahoma. Texas went to No. 2 in the nation, and like the year before, followed that big Oklahoma win with a crushing loss. Texas lost to unranked SMU 20-6 at home and fell to No. 12 in the nation.

The next week, Texas lost to unranked Texas Tech 24-20. That dropped the Longhorns from the rankings for the first time in the Fred Akers era and the first time since Darrell Royal’s final season in 1976. Losing to to two unranked teams in the same season was rare in that day as it had only happened at Texas twice since 1968.

After starting the season 5-0, Texas finished 1980 2-5 with losses to Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina to end the season.

Luckily, Akers was about to follow this disappointing season with one of his best at Texas.

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