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Football Champs Stood Among the Best

March 25, 2003

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Los Angeles, CA (Mar. 25) - 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. Thirty-four 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).

The Class of 2003 will be inducted during the Hall of Fame Dinner, which will start on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail hour. The dinner and presentation will start at 7:00 p.m. in the Roski Dining Room in University Hall on the LMU campus.

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.

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 Bill Crone, who was selected as a free agent 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).

The 1969 national club football national title was just the beginning of successful lives for the 50-men that made up the team. In addition, all of this year's inductees went on to great success after graduating from LMU. When the team and all the inductees gather again at LMU for the induction ceremonies, their achievements will forever be a part of LMU's winning tradition.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, contact the Office of Special Events at (310) 338-5278.

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