1969 Football Champs Stood Among the Best
Loyola football, which was among the nations best college football teams in late 1960s, will have its 1969 title team inducted to LMU Hall of Fame on Saturday.
March 25, 2003
The late 1960s were a time when football was followed with the highest of interest, not too unlike today.
It was a time when national champions met with presidents and some of the nation's most famous of people. Not unlike today.
However, it was a time when Loyola (now known as Loyola Marymount University) had one of the best college football teams in the nation.
Actually, it was the best.
In 1967 Loyola, driven by the support of its student body, brought football back to the Westchester campus and put together a team that competed in the National Club Football Association (NCFA). Loyola was one of four schools from California (Saint Mary's College, the University of San Francisco and the University of San Diego) to play in the NCFA. The entire association comprised of at least 125 teams nation wide and was held in the same regard as the three main levels of the NCAA and the NAIA.
Within two years of coming back and joining the NCFA, the 1969 Loyola football team climbed the ladder of success and was named national champs.
And 34 years later, LMU will recognize the team that finished 8-1 on the season and ranked No. 1. The 1969 football team will be inducted into the LMU Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 29 at the induction ceremony starting at 6:00 p.m. Joining the football team will be Sheri Brown (women's basketball, 1994), Kerry House (women's volleyball, 1991), Kristi Anderson (women's tennis, 1989) and Art Jones (LMU supporter, 1950).
As just the second team to be inducted into the LMU Hall of Fame, the 1969 football team will once again relive a time when it was #1.
"I loved it there," said former Head Coach Jim Brownfield, who was one the greatest high school coaches in California state history. "Loyola was a great school and the guys were so easy to coach. We had very good talent, enough to stand up against anyone we played."
The Lions did more than stand-up; they usually flattened those they faced. In the first year under Brownfield in 1967, the Lions were ranked 6th in the nation and finished with a record of 6-3. They would post a 7-3 record to finish 2nd in the nation in 1968 to set-up the 1969 season.
"This was a very special group of guys," said former offensive tackle Bill Crone (#77, OT, Anaheim, Calif.). "We had a very cohesive, very bright group. The thing that made us feel better was that the students committed to having us back on campus. They fully embraced us like any of the other varsity teams on campus. I really enjoyed the years there. I would do them again, gladly."
Crone and his other teammates is what made Loyola so successful, according to their former coach. "It was such an easy school to recruit kids to," said Brownfield. "I had a great coaching staff, most of whom were volunteers. It really was an easy job because of the people that made up Loyola."
The 1969 team had four players named All-American by the nation's media and had a fifth who was an All-American in 1968. Leading the way was Crone, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1969. Crone, whose professional career was cut short due to recurring knee injuries, was on the same All-American team as Terry Bradshaw, who became a NFL Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"This was not just a club sport," said Crone. "We were competing against NCAA teams and winning a good portion of them. We were earning recognition and honors not just at the club level, but at the national level as well. That is how special and talented this team was."
Joining Crone on the All-America list was defensive end Pat Ward (#78, DT, Los Angeles, Calif.), tailback Dean Jelmini (#24, TB, Fresno, Calif.), linebacker and center Bill Eller (#68, FB, Costa Mesa, Calif.) and quarterback Jim Ertman (#15, QB, Ventura, Calif.), who was an All-American in 1968.
"Since there were only four schools in California that competed at the NCFA level, it was relatively unknown to the amount of success we were having on the national level," said Brownfield. "The NCFA was really big outside of the west coast and was held in the same regard as any of the other collegiate levels. It really was a big deal and very competitive."
The recognition of Loyola's accomplishments and the number one ranking that came with it sent Brownfield to New York for the annual National Football Foundation dinner where the national champions from all collegiate levels were recognized.
"It was a real honor to be a part of the event that featured all of the nations best," said Brownfield. Among those in attendance was the University of Texas, who won the NCAA championship that season, President Richard Nixon and actor John Wayne. "Football at all levels was popular. Division I, II, III, NAIA, the NCFA, everyone was there and honored."
Brownfield coached two more years, including his final season of 1971 when the Lions were once against ranked No. 1 in the nation and should have had another title to their names.
"We really beat everyone that year," said Brownfield. "However, at the end of the year when we were expected to be named national champions, we found out that the dues had not been paid and they did not award us the title."
Following that season Brownfield left to coach for John McKay at USC and the Loyola program was cancelled two seasons later.
However, the success shared at Loyola would carry on in the lives of those affiliated with the program. Brownfield coached two seasons at USC and after a 14-0 season and a trip to the Rose Bowl, he left for Cal State Northridge for a couple of years to serve as associate athletic director and assistant football coach to Jack Elway.
In 1977 he wanted back into coaching and settled down at John Murir High School in Pasadena. At Murir, Brownfield became a legend. He led the school to league titles in nine of the 10 seasons he was head coach, guiding the team to back-to-back state championships in 1985 and 1986. In his tenure he coached 12 future NFL players, including Chad Brown (Seattle Seahawks), Marcus Robertson (Seattle Seahawks), Ricky Irvin (Washington Redskins), John Hardy (Chicago Bears), Don Brown (New York Giants), Anthony Miller (Denver Broncos) and Al Barnes (Detroit Lions).
Brownfield also coached women's track at John Murir, earning two state championships and three national records, including the 4x100 hurdle relay, which still stands today. As the head of the track team, Brownfield coached Inger Miller, a gold medallist in the 400-meter relay during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, and Lynetta Wilson, who was on the gold medal 1600-meter relay team of the Atlanta Olympics.
Brownfield, now retired, spends time with his "little people," two grandsons and four great grandchildren. "We are buddies," comments Brownfield. "They always come looking for 'Jimbo' so we can spend time at the beach."
While the accomplishments of Brownfield have been documented, so to are those who played for him at Loyola. Crone is just one on that list as he is currently a successful businessman, working in labor relations for Star-Kist Foods.
Loyola, known for its strong law program, has had many successful individuals from the championship team go into law, including Joseph Lawrence (#21, SB, San Gabriel, Calif.), Mike McClain (#74, G, Torrance, Calif.), and Jelmini. There also have been successful physicians, including Bill Heringer (#35, FB, Ft. Thomas, Kent.) and Bernie Weinstock (#87, TE, Santa Barbara, Calif.).
Former wide receiver Steve Rhodes (#82, SE, New Orleans, La.) went on to become Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and the Chief Domestic Affairs Advisor for George Bush when he was Vice President to President Reagan. Rhodes was then named US Ambassador to Zimbabwe when Bush became President. Others have gone into real estate and construction, including Mike Murphy (#60, OT, Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and Dennis Desmond (#86, SE, Westchester, Calif.). Tony Parent (#26, DB, Los Angeles, CA) has become an expert in his field, teaching slavery history at Wake Forest University. In addition, assistant coach Jim Wolfe, who also played for Loyola, is a colonel in the United States Air Force and is the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the United States Air Force.
The 1969 national club football national title was just the beginning of successful lives for the 50-men that made up the team. When the team gathers again at LMU for the induction ceremonies, their achievements will forever be a part of LMU's winning tradition.
- GO LIONS -
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