100 days until Texas Football: The '100' helmet and the teams that wore it
In 1969 college football honored the 100th anniversary of the sport’s first contest, a Nov. 6, 1869 game held in New Brunswick, N.J. that saw Rutgers defeat Princeton by a score of 6-4. The game had evolved plenty in its first 100 years, with Texas adopting the sport as a varsity athletic program in 1893.
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Many teams elected to add a decal to their helmets or patches to their uniforms in order to honor the occasion. Texas did the same, a slight alteration to the ‘work uniforms’ famous across the southwest. Above the steer head logo on the helmet, a large football-shaped decal with a ‘100’ was affixed.
By 1969, the Longhorn program had become one of the best in the country. It hadn’t been around for all 100 years, but it had provided a lot of victories. The program was led to great heights by Dave Allerdice, Clyde Littlefield, and Dana X Bible, but it never reached the mountaintop like it did in 1963 under Darrell K Royal.
A few years later, Texas entered the 1969 season ranked No. 4 behind No. 3 Penn State, No. 2 Arkansas, and No. 1 Ohio State. With James Street operating the wishbone under center, plus a fearsome running back trio of Steve Worster, Jim Bertelsen, and Ted Koy, and capable wideouts Cotton Speyrer and Randy Peschel, Texas ran off nine-straight wins wearing the decal-laden helmets, including smashings of Texas Tech, Navy, Rice, SMU, Baylor, TCU, and Texas A&M.
The decal received its time in the spotlight on Dec. 6, 1969. ABC, President Richard Nixon, and the eyes of the college football world were fixed upon Fayetteville, Ark. for the ‘Game of the Century’ between the No. 1 Longhorns and the No. 2 Razorbacks.
The story is well known by Longhorn faithful. On Right 53 Veer Pass, Street found Peschel for a fourth-down conversion on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive. Featured that entire time? The 100 logo across the Texas helmets.
Nixon, in Fayetteville rather than anywhere near Happy Valley, Penn. to honor Joe Paterno’s 10-0 Nittany Lions, called Texas the national champions in Razorback Stadium at the conclusion of the regular season celebrating the 100th anniversary of college football.
The Longhorns’ weren’t finished, as Texas faced No. 9 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. There, one of the most iconic pictures in Texas football history was taken, with the 100 decal front and center.
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As the picture notes, Texas was faced with another 4th down. Street converted on the way to another game-winning touchdown on a rush by Billy Dale. Texas surged back from 10 points down to top the Fighting Irish and end the 1969 season undefeated and untied as national champions.
The 100 sticker wouldn’t appear on a Longhorn uniform for another few decades, until Texas decided to wear it in 2015 in a Nov. 7 game versus Kansas.
The Longhorns remained undefeated with the decal on, topping the Jayhawks 59-20. John Burt caught an 84-yard touchdown pass and D’Onta Foreman scored on a 93-yard rush to move the Longhorns past KU and to a 12-0 record with the uniforms on.
In 2019, Texas honored the 1969 team in its game versus Kansas. They used the same uniforms as the 1969 team, but used a helmet that swapped out the 100 for a 150 in the same style to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Rutgers vs. Princeton.
The next time the Longhorns wear a 100 decal? Maybe it’s in 2024 when the 55th anniversary of the 1969 national championship is celebrated. Maybe it won’t be until 2069, but that seems unlikely.
Whenever the Longhorns don the 100 decal again, they’ll have high standards to uphold and an undefeated record to protect.