Sept. 18, 2013
FRISCO, Texas - The Southland Conference, as part of its year-long 50th Anniversary commemoration, has announced its All-Decade Football Team from the 1970s with Louisiana Tech leading the league’s selections. The team includes stars from its member institutions from the 1970 season through 1979.
A total of 67 former student-athletes make up the 1970s All-Decade Team, including honorees from each of the eight institutions that were members during a period when Southland teams won four national championships and originated the Independence Bowl that continues today in Shreveport, La. Arkansas State won a college division national championship in 1970, and was followed by three consecutive national titles (1972-74) taken by Louisiana Tech, including the first-ever NCAA Division II crown in 1973.
“One can certainly look at the 1970s as a golden era of Southland Conference football,” league commissioner Tom Burnett said. “It’s definitely difficult to find a more concentrated period of individual and team success for the conference when you look at the national championships won by the Southland during this stretch, the startup of the Independence Bowl, and the great number of professional players produced by the league.”
The 1970s all-decade team includes 19 former student-athletes from both Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State, 10 from Texas-Arlington, six from Lamar, five from both McNeese State and Louisiana-Lafayette, two from Trinity, and one from Abilene Christian.
Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Fred Dean was selected as the 1970s player of the decade. The first four-time All-Southland first-team selection was also the league’s 1972 and 1974 defensive player of the year, and was a first-team All-American in 1974. After being selected in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, Dean went on to a stellar 11-year professional career with the Chargers and 49ers. He was named the NFC’s 1981 Player of the Year, was a four-time bowler and played on San Francisco’s Super Bowl XVI and XVIII championship teams. Dean was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, the only Southland player enshrined in Canton, and followed that with induction into the College Football Hall in 2009.
Maxie Lambright, who led Louisiana Tech throughout most of the period, was named the 1970s Southland coach of the decade, accumulating a 73-17-2 overall record and a 34-6-1 league mark during his league tenure (1971-78). Lambright’s Southland teams that won three national championships and an Independence Bowl, and included 56 first-team All-Southland players and nine NFL draft picks.
Arkansas State’s representatives on the all-decade team include running back Calvin Harrell, a three-time (1969-71) all-Southland choice, leading the league in rushing all three years, and earning first-team All-American honors in 1970 and 1971. A 1972 draft choice of the Miami Dolphins, Harrell went on to excel in the Canadian Football League for five seasons, and helped the Edmonton Eskimos win the 1975 Grey Cup.
Other Arkansas State players include running back Leroy Harris, who went on to a five-year NFL career with Miami and Philadelphia, defensive linemen Dick Dixon and Dave Muckensturm, and Robert Speer, quarterback David Hines, end Steve Lockhart, linebackers Mike Malham, Jerry Muckensturm and Wesley Williams, defensive backs Dennis Meyer and Roy Painter, kicker Joe Duren and a cast of offensive linemen: Jerry Castor, Ken Jones, Wayne Dorton Doug Lowrey, T.J. Humphries and Bill Phillips.
Texas-Arlington’s 1970s contingent is led by running back Dexter Bussey, a two-time first-team All-Southland (1972-73) choice that was drafted by Detroit in the third round of 1974 NFL Draft. He went on to a superb 11-year career with the Lions, rushing for more than 5,100 yards and 18 touchdowns as a pro. Another outstanding UTA running back, Derrick Jensen, was also a two-time All-Southland choice (1976-77) and a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1978. He was a valuable member of the Raiders’ Super Bowl XV and XVIII championship teams.
Other UTA players on the all-decade team include quarterback Roy Dewalt, a two-time Southland Offensive Player of the Year who went on to play nine years in the CFL, leading the B.C. Lions to the 1985 Grey Cup. Also, linebacker Cliff Odom, a 13-year NFL veteran, defensive back Ernest Baptist, wide receiver Ron Barnett, offensive linemen Bob Beckner and Dewey Wakefield, and linebackers Hiram Burleson and Willie Thomas round out the Texas-Arlington selections.
Six Lamar representatives include defensive back Rondy Colbert, a three-time all-league pick who went on to a three-year NFL career, end Joe Bowser, offensive lineman Victor Enard, and defensive linemen Gary Crockett, Donnie Davis and Leon Babineaux. McNeese players on the all-decade team include defensive backs Charles Jefferson and Billy Blakeman, tight end James Moore, and offensive linemen Ray Martin and James Files.
Louisiana-Lafayette players include kicker Rafael Septien, a two-time all-Southland pick and 10-year NFL veteran with the New Orleans and Dallas, offensive lineman Don Blair, defensive back Ron Irving, kick, and defensive linemen Les Vogel and Keith Walker. Trinity representatives were linebacker Bruce Jackson and offensive lineman Bill Keresztury, while Abilene Christian was represented by offensive lineman Wayne Walton, a second round NFL pick of the New York Giants.
Among the many storylines for Southland Conference football in the 1970 seventies was the league’s attainment of Division I football status in 1975 (and I-A status in 1978). Following Arkansas State’s undefeated 11-0 record in 1975 when no bowl was available for the team, the Conference and officials from Shreveport petitioned the NCAA for a new postseason bowl game following the 1976 season. The Independence Bowl, named for the commemoration of the nation’s Bicentennial that year, was the home of the Southland Conference champion through the 1980 season.
McNeese State defeated Tulsa, 20-16, in the inaugural game, followed by Louisiana Tech’s 24-14 win over Louisville in 1977. East Carolina defeated Tech, 35-13, in 1978, and Syracuse topped McNeese, 31-7, in 1979. In the 1980 Independence Bowl, the final game with the Southland champion as the host, Southern Miss nipped McNeese State, 16-14, before a record crowd of 42,000.
To best assess the candidate pool for the all-decade team, the Southland Conference developed a metric that analyzed numerous elements of a student-athlete’s performance and value within the league at the time. Most notably, the conference honored “real-time” factors such as all-conference selection by coaches and a player’s statistical performance among his peers at the time. Further, other components of selection including a player’s effort toward helping his team win a championship or finish near the top of the conference, whether he earned individual honors from the league, if he participated in postseason bowls, and if he was drafted by or participated in the NFL.
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1970’s All-Decade Football Team (67 players)
PLAYER, POS., SCHOOL 1st TEAM ALL-SLC SUPERLATIVES
Larry Anderson, DB, Louisiana Tech 1976-77 1977 Defensive Co-Player of the Year; 1978 4th Round Pick of Pittsburgh Steelers; Participated in Super Bowls XIII and XIV; 7-year NFL Veteran with Steelers and Baltimore/Indianapois Colts.
Leon Babineaux, DL, Lamar 1973-74
Ernest Baptist, DB, Texas-Arlington 1970-71-72
Mike Barber, E, Louisiana Tech 1974-75 1974 First-team All-American (AP); 1976 2nd Round Pick of Houston Oilers; 10-Year NFL Veteran with Oilers, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos.
Ron Barnett, WR, Texas-Arlington 1974-75
Bob Beckner, OL, Texas-Arlington 1975-76
Jimmy Blackshire, LB, Louisiana Tech 1977-78
Don Blair, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette 1971-72
Billy Blakeman, DB, McNeese State 1972-73 25 Career interceptions (SLC 2nd all-time)
Joe Bowser, E, Lamar 1972-73
Hiram Burleson, LB, Texas-Arlington 1971-72
Dexter Bussey, RB, Texas-Arlington 1972-73 1974 3rd Round Pick of Detroit Lions; 11-year NFL Veteran with the Lions, rushing for over 5,100 career yards and 18 touchdowns as a pro
Roger Carr, E, Louisiana Tech 1972-73 1972 Offensive Player of the Year & Receiving Leader; 1972 & 1973 First-team All-American (AFCA, AP); 1974 1st Round Pick of Baltimore Colts; 10-year NFL Veteran with Colts, Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers; 1976 NFL Pro Bowler
Jerry Castor, OL, Arkansas State 1978-79
John Causey, DB, Louisiana Tech 1972-73
Rondy Colbert, DB, Lamar 1972-73-74 1975 17th Round Pick of N.Y. Giants; 3-year NFL Veteran with Giants and St. Louis Cardinals
Gary Crockett, DL, Lamar 1969-70-71 1972 14th Round Pick of Houston Oilers
Donnie Davis, DL, Lamar 1974 & 76
Fred Dean, DL, Louisiana Tech 1971-72-73-74 First 4-time All-SLC first-team player; 1974 First-team All-American (AFCA, AP); 1972 & 1974 Defensive Player of the Year; 1975 2nd Round Pick of San Diego Chargers; 11-year NFL Veteran with Chargers and San Francisco 49ers; 1981 NFC Player of the Year; Four-time Pro Bowler; First Southland Conference player elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame (2008); Also inducted to College Football Hall of Fame (2009); Participated in Super Bowls XVI and XVIII
Roy DeWalt, QB, Texas-Arlington 1978-79 1978 & 1979 Offensive Player of the Year; 1978 Total Offense Leader; 1980 9th Round Pick of Cleveland Browns; Participated nine seasons in CFL, leading B.C. Lions to 1985 Grey Cup championship and earning MVP honors
Dick Dixon, DL, Arkansas State 1974-75
Wayne Dorton, OL, Arkansas State 1971 1971 First-team All-American (AP); 1972 6th Round Pick of New Orleans Saints
Joe Duren, K, Arkansas State 1971 63-yard field goal against McNeese State in 1974 still stands as SLC record
Denny Duron, QB, Louisiana Tech 1972-73 1973 Offensive Player of the Year & Passing & Total Offense Leader
Victor Enard, OL, Lamar 1977-78-79
James Files, OL, McNeese State 1973-74-75 1974 First-team All-American (AFCA); 1976 2nd Round Pick of Pittsburgh Steelers
Pat Greer, OL, Louisiana Tech 1972-73
Calvin Harrell, RB, Arkansas State 1969-70-71 1969, 1970 & 1971 Rushing Leader; 1970 Scoring Leader; 1970 & 1971 First-team All-American (AFCA, AP); 1972 7th Round Pick of Miami Dolphins; Participated five seasons with CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, leading team to 1975 Grey Cup championship.
Leroy Harris, RB, Arkansas State 1975-76 1977 5th Round Pick of Miami Dolphins; 5-year NFL Veteran with Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles
David Hines, QB, Arkansas State 1975 1975 Offensive Player of the Year & Scoring Leader
T.J. Humphries, OL, Arkansas State 1975-76 1976 First-team All-American (AP); 1977 9th Round Pick of Philadelphia Eagles
Ron Irving, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette 1977-78
Bruce Jackson, LB, Trinity 1969-70-71
Charles Jefferson, CB, McNeese State 1976 & 78 1979 4th Round Pick of Denver Broncos
Derrick Jensen, RB, Texas-Arlington 1976-77 1976 Offensive Player of the Year; 1977 Offensive Co-Player of the Year; 1976 & 1977 Rushing Leader; 1978 3rd Round Pick of Oakland Raiders; 8-year NFL Veteran, all with Raiders; Participated in Super Bowls XV and XVIII
Ken Jones, OL, Arkansas State 1972 & 75 1975 First-team All-American (FWAA)
Bill Keresztury, OL, Trinity 1970-71
Ken Lantrip, QB, Louisiana Tech 1971 1971 Offensive Player of the Year & Passing & Total Offense Leader
Steve Lockhart, E, Arkansas State 1970-71 1972 12th Round Pick of New Orleans Saints
Doug Lowrey, OL, Arkansas State 1971 1971 First-team All-American (AFCA); 1974 17th Round Pick of New York Jets
Mike Malham, LB, Arkansas State 1974-75 1976 17th Round Pick of Chicago Bears
Ray Martin, OL, McNeese State 1978-79
Ardis McCann, DL, Louisiana Tech 1978 1978 Defensive Player of the Year
Charles McDaniel, RB, Louisiana Tech 1971 & 74 1974 Offensive Player of the Year; 1971 & 1974 Scoring Leader; 1975 13th Round Pick of Chicago Bears
Joe McNeely, LB, Louisiana Tech 1972-73 1973 Defensive Player of the Year
Dennis Meyer, DB, Arkansas State 1970-71 1970 & 1971 Defensive Player of the Year; SLC Career (27) and Season (11) interception leader; 1971 First-team All-American (AFCA, AP); 1972 6th Round Pick of Pittsburgh Steelers
James Moore, TE, McNeese State 1972 First-team All-American (AP)
Dave Muckensturm, DL, Arkansas State 1970-71-72
Jerry Muckensturm, LB, Arkansas State 1975 1975 Defensive Player of the Year; 1976 7th Round Pick of Chicago Bears; 7-year NFL Veteran, all with Bears
Cliff Odom, LB, Texas-Arlington 1980 3rd Round Pick of Cleveland Browns; 13-year NFL Veteran with Browns, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins
Roy Painter, S, Arkansas State 1976 1976 Defensive Player of the Year
Donnie Perry, DB, Louisiana Tech 1975 & 77
Bill Phillips, OL, Arkansas State 1969-70 1970 First-team All-American (AP); 1972 3rd Round Pick of Denver Broncos
Jerry Pope, K/P, Louisiana Tech 1973-74 & 76
Johnny Robinson, DL, Louisiana Tech 1978-79-80 1979 Defensive Player of the Year; 1981 4th Round Pick of Los Angeles Raiders; Participated in Super Bowl XVIII
Billy Ryckman, WR, Louisiana Tech 1976 1976 Receiving Leader; 1977 10th Round Pick of Atlanta Falcons; 3-year NFL Veteran, all with Falcons
Rafael Septien, K, Louisiana-Lafayette 1975-76 1977 10th Round Pick of New Orleans Saints; 10-year NFL Veteran, mostly with Dallas Cowboys; Participated in Super Bowls XII and XIII; 1981 Pro Bowl pick
Robert Speer, DL, Arkansas State 1975-76 1977 9th Round Pick of Atlanta Falcons
Willie Thomas, LB, Texas-Arlington 1976-77 & 79
Pat Tilley, WR, Louisiana Tech 1974-75 1974 & 1975 Receiving Leader; 1976 4th Round Pick of St. Louis Cardinals, 11-year NFL Veteran, all with Cardinals; 1980 NFL Pro Bowl selection
Les Vogel, DL, Louisiana-Lafayette 1972-73
Dewey Wakefield, OL, Texas-Arlington 1977-78
Keith Walker, DL, Louisiana-Lafayette 1976-77
Wayne Walton, OL, Abilene Christian 1970 1971 2nd Round Pick of New York Giants; 3-year NFL Veteran with Giants and Kansas City Chiefs
John Henry White, RB, Louisiana Tech 1975 & 77 1977 Offensive Co-Player of the Year; 1978 8th Round Pick of Kansas City Chiefs; Participated 10 seasons with CFL’s B.C. Lions, leading team to 1985 Grey Cup
Wenford Wilborn, DB, Louisiana Tech 1973-74
Wesley Williams, LB, Arkansas State 1978 1977 Defensive Co-Player of the Year
1970’s Coach of the Decade:
Maxie Lambright, Louisiana Tech (SLC Years: 1971-78): 73-17-2 overall record (.804), 34-6-1 SLC record (.841)… Four-time SLC Coach of the Year (1971-72-73-77)…Led Louisiana Tech to three consecutive national championships from 1972-74, including the first-ever NCAA Division II Championship in 1973… Bulldogs also won six SLC Championships in his eight years in the Conference… Team Participated in seven bowl games during his Southland tenure, including the 1977 and 1978 Independence Bowls… Tech players earned 56 first-team All-Southland Conference honors from 1971-78, and nine of Lambright’s players were drafted by NFL teams.
1970s Player of the Decade:
Fred Dean, DL, Louisiana Tech (1971-74)