The 1976 Team
The 1976 Javelina football team has been called one of the greatest in collegiate football history, at any level. A few of the squad’s accomplishments are:
.....Became the first American college team to play in Europe.
.....Extended a school victory streak to 39 in a row.
.....Won a third consecutive national championship.
.....Went undefeated with a 13-0-0 record.
.....Won a third straight Lone Star Conference title.
.....Performed in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Astrodome in Houston.
.....Hosted Slippery Rock (Pa.), a school that had received nationwide attention because of its name. .....Averaged 45.6 points a game while allowing 8.2.
The Javelinas were invited, along with Henderson (Ark.) State, to participate in a three-week exhibition tour in Europe in May and June. It introduced American-style football to the Continent. Games were played in Berlin, West Germany; Vienna, Austria; Paris, France; Mannheim, West Germany, and Nuremberg, West Germany. The Javelinas and Henderson played five games, and the Javelinas swept the series.
The Javs entered the 1976 regulation season with a 26-game victory streak. The opening game was with Texas Southern in the Astrodome. The Javelinas prevailed, 36-20. In the second outing, the Javelinas hosted Slippery Rock, a team that received a lot of national attention because of its name. The University of Texas public address announcer gave the Slippery Rock score each week during the Longhorn games. The Javelinas defeated the Rockets, 58-7. And in the third game, the Javelinas returned to Honolulu for a second consecutive year, and beat the Rainbow Warriors, 56-21.
The Javelinas rolled through their remaining eight regular-season games, racking up scores like 77-7 against S.F. Austin, 63-2 against Western New Mexico and 44-6 against Southwest Texas in the finale. The team finished the season No. 1 in the NAIA poll for the third consecutive year.
The Javelinas had little trouble in the playoffs, beating Western (Colo.) State, 57- 14, in the semifinals and Central Arkansas, 26-0, in the championship game.
Honors flowed in for the players. Quarterback Richard Ritchie, who closed his career with a 39-0 record as a Javelina starter, and linebacker Larry Grunewald were Associated Press Little All- America first team picks. Ritchie was on the NAIA All-America first unit and was chosen the NAIA player of the year. Linebacker Joe Henke and defensive line- man Wade Whitmer made the Academic All-America first unit. Defensive back Leonard Avery, defensive lineman Johnny Barefield, running back Larry Collins, tight end Clem Franks, Grunewald, offensive lineman Larry McFarland, Ritchie and defensive lineman Larry Seidel were NAIA all-district first team.
And on the All-LSC first team were Avery, Barefield, Collins, Franks, Grunewald, Ritchie and Seidel. Collins was named the most valuable back in the national championship game, Grunewald was the most valuable lineman in the NAIA title game, Ritchie was the most valuable offensive back in the NAIA semifinal game and Seidel was the most valuable lineman in the semifinal round of the playoffs. Running back George Franklin was selected to play in the East-West Shrine game in San Francisco.
Javelina legendary coach Gil Steinke was named the LSC coach of the year, Ritchie was the LSC most valuable back and Grunewald was the LSC most valuable lineman.
Captains were Avery, McFarland and Ritchie. Other members of the coach staff were David Corley, John Cosgrove, Fred Jonas, Pete Murray and Gene Walkoviak. The squad set numerous records, some still on the books.
The 1976 team becomes the second football squad to be inducted into the Javelina Hall of Fame. The 1959 national championship Javelinas were inducted last fall.