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Top-5 Runningbacks in the SEC (1970's)

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Top-5 SEC Runningbacks (Decade of the 70's):

Decade%20of%20SEC%201970_zpsnfoznbfr.jpg

Charles Alexander (6-1, 224) 1975-1978

Louisiana State

Until the recent arrival of Leonard Fournette, Charles Alexander held nearly every rushing record in LSU school history. He appeared in 45 games during his career, amassing 4350-yards and 43 touchdowns on 4.91 yards per attempt. Alexander combined size, power and speed to become one of the most prolific running backs in the history of the Southeastern Conference. Alexander rushed for over 100-yards on twenty occasions, and his best game came against Oregon in 1977, when he rushed for 237-yards on 31 carries for four touchdowns. LSU made it to two bowl games during the Alexander era, where he rushed for 197-yards against Stanford and 133-yards versus Missouri. He averaged 158.1 yards per game when he surpassed 100-yards and 139.5 yards per game with 20 carries or more.

Charles Alexander was a consensus All-American in 1977 and 1978 and was All-SEC both seasons. He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1977 when he had his most productive season. Alexander rushed for 1864-yards on 328 carries and 18 touchdowns. The 1864-yards was an SEC record at the time. He also caught 53 passes for 446-yards during his collegiate career. Alexander was a Heisman finalist in 1977 and 1978. He was the nation's 2nd leading rusher in 1977 and 19th during 1978. Selected in the 1st round of the 1979 NFL Draft (12th pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals, Alexander spent seven years in the NFL and his best season came in 1980, when he rushed for 702-yards on 169 carries. He finished his pro career with 3775-yards in total offense and 15 touchdowns.

Sonny Collins (6-1, 196) 1972-1975

Kentucky

Sonny Collins of the Kentucky Wildcats remains the school's all-time leading rusher. The majority of records he set from 1972-1975 stand today. He appeared in 43 games during his career, rushing for 3835-yards on 777 carries and 26 touchdowns. Collins rushed for over 100-yards on 18 occasions with his career game versus Mississippi State in 1973. During that game, Collins rushed for 229-yards. As gifted as Collins was, he played on below average teams as Kentucky failed to become bowl eligible. From 1973-1975, Kentucky had one of the top run offenses in the conference, averaging 250.6 yards per game over a 33-game run.

Collins was a three-time All-SEC player during his career and was a 2nd team All-American in 1972 and 3rd team during 1974. He was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1973. His junior year was the best season of his career when he rushed for 1213-yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the nation's 11th leading rusher in 1973 and 17th in 1975. Drafted in the second-round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Collins played for the Atlanta Falcons for one season. He appeared in only 11 games, where he rushed for 319-yards. He rushed for over 100-yards against the 49ers his rookie year, but later suffered a career-ending knee injury the same year. Born in Madisonville, Kentucky Sonny Collins rushed for over 6200-yards in high school and remains a State legend.

James Brooks (5-10, 180) 1977-1980

Auburn

James Brooks remains one of the most electrifying running backs to come through the Southeastern Conference. Before arriving at Auburn, Brooks led his high school team (Warner Robbins) to a State and National Championship in 1976. During his Auburn career, he rushed for 3523-yards on 621 carries for 24 touchdowns. Brooks spent the majority of his career, splitting carries with Joe Cribbs. He produced fifteen 100-yard games, and his best game came against Kansas State when he rushed for 226-yards and three touchdowns. He became a second-team All-American and finished his career with 5.596 all-purpose yardage. As an Auburn Tiger, he carried the football at least 15 times on 21 occasions, where he averaged 119.1 yards per game. With 20 carries or more, Brooks averaged 154.1 yards per game.

James Brooks was All-SEC in 1979 and 1980. He along with Joe Cribbs became the first tandem in the conference to rush for over 1000-yards during the same season. He was the nation's 11th leading rusher in 1979 and No. 6 during his senior year. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers, James Brooks spent 12 seasons in the NFL, becoming a 4-time Pro Bowler. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers, he spent 8 of his 12 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. When he left, he was the Bengals all-time leading rusher. He was an exceptional weapon as a runner and receiver, finishing his NFL career with 14,910 yards in all-purpose yardage. He also totaled 79 offensive touchdowns during his professional career.

Joe Cribbs (5-11, 190) 1976-1979

Auburn

Teamed up with James Brooks, Joe Cribbs gave Auburn one of the best run offenses in the nation. From 1977-1979, Auburn averaged 260.2 yards rushing per game, with Cribbs and Brooks accounting for 180.2 yards per game. Joe Cribbs rushed for 3368-yards on 657 carries and 34 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100-yards on thirteen occasions with his best game coming against the Georgia Bulldogs in 1978. Cribbs rushed for 250-yards on 34 carries for two touchdowns against the Bulldogs. His best season came during 1978 when Cribbs rushed for 1205-yards and 16 touchdowns. When Cribbs left Auburn, he was the school's all-time leading rusher, while establishing the new touchdown record.

Joe Cribbs was All-SEC during the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Splitting carries with James Brooks and William Andrews, Cribbs managed to compile 27 games, where he had at least 14 carries. He averaged 110.6 yards per game on 5.4 yards per rush. Joe Cribbs averaged 137.5 yards per game with 20 carries or more. Cribbs was the 17th leading rusher nationally in 1978 and 16th in 1979. Originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills, Cribbs spent eight seasons in the NFL, primarily with the Bills and 49ers. He also played in the USFL with the Birmingham Stallions. He rushed for over 1000-yards with the Bills three times and two times for the Stallions. In total Joe Cribbs rushed for 7870-yards as a professional. He was the 1980 Rookie of the Year in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl three times.

Johnny Musso (6-0, 205) 1969-1971

Alabama

Known as the "Italian Stallion" Johnny Musso was a key figure in run offense offense. Alabama sprung the Wishbone on Southern Cal during their 1971 season opener. Despite sharing the carries in a triple-option offense, Musso managed to rush for over 1000-yards during two of his three seasons at Alabama. He rushed for a total of 2741-yards on 574 carries, scoring 34 rushing touchdowns. When he left Alabama, he held the school record for career rushing yardage and touchdowns. He received All-American honors in 1970 and 1971 as well as being All-Southeastern Conference during both seasons. His career game came against Auburn in 1970, when he rushed for 221-yards. Johnny Musso rushed for over 100-yards on nine occasions. Alabama averaged over 229-yards per game during the Musso years as Musso accounted for nearly 40 percent of Alabama's rushing totals. He also caught 61 passes for an additional 495-yards.

Musso was the 10th leading rusher nationally during the 1970 season and No. 26 in 1971. At the end of the 1971 season, Johnny Musso finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting, won by Auburn's Pat Sullivan. After leaving Alabama, Johnny Musso spent three years with the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. After rushing for 1029-yards in 1973, Musso was named to the West All-Star team. He spent three seasons with the Chicago Bears of the NFL, where he appeared in 30 games while totaling 365-yards rushing and six touchdowns. Musso also spent one season with the Birmingham Vulcans of the World Football League. In 1989, he was named to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and in 2000 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

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Looks like Auburn had the best RBs during that era. It was a shame that we did not win more games and an SEC title or 2.

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Brooks, Cribs and Andrews all on the same team...we put sum amazing offensive talent on the field during that time...it was my time at Auburn...unfortunately, Doug Barfield was coach and it was wasted.

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On 2/12/2016 at 11:44 PM, japantiger said:

Brooks, Cribs and Andrews all on the same team...we put sum amazing offensive talent on the field during that time...it was my time at Auburn...unfortunately, Doug Barfield was coach and it was wasted.

Barfield's tenure as HC was doomed before it began. Shug's personal choice was Paul Davis to succeed him, but his alleged "night out" on the eve of the 1971 season Sugar Bowl loss to OU (22-40) drew the ire of then-president Harry Philpott who swore as long as he was in charge Davis would be black-balled. He was.

Barfield was a hell of an OC, and with the full support of the Auburn administration probably would have been more successful. But there were two camps resulting in a split. I remember his era very well, and he made very few bad decisions. However, the one he did make was his loyalty to P.W. Underwood who had talent galore on defense but it never translated to the field.  I liked Barfield and I don't share the same disdain as history seems to have bestowed upon him.  He was just the easiest one to blame because he was the HC. 

Edited by Swamp Eagle
Autospell

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Thank you @StatTiger and @Swamp Eagle for these posts.  I literally cut my teeth on AU football during the late 70's and have fairly decent memories but never knew those details about Doug Barfield.  Good stuff!

Edited by AUsince72
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On February 12, 2016 at 10:50 PM, doc4aday said:

Looks like Auburn had the best RBs during that era. It was a shame that we did not win more games and an SEC title or 2.

We also didn't get to see them on TV much.

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6 hours ago, AUinTLoosa said:

We also didn't get to see them on TV much.

I think that back then, teams were lucky to get 3 games televised during the mid to late 70s. That changed during the 80s of which I am thankful for! May Cam kick the broncos out of Denver tonight!

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On ‎2‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 10:30 AM, StatTiger said:

Top-5 SEC Runningbacks (Decade of the 70's):

Decade%20of%20SEC%201970_zpsnfoznbfr.jpg

Charles Alexander (6-1, 224) 1975-1978

Louisiana State

Until the recent arrival of Leonard Fournette, Charles Alexander held nearly every rushing record in LSU school history. He appeared in 45 games during his career, amassing 4350-yards and 43 touchdowns on 4.91 yards per attempt. Alexander combined size, power and speed to become one of the most prolific running backs in the history of the Southeastern Conference. Alexander rushed for over 100-yards on twenty occasions, and his best game came against Oregon in 1977, when he rushed for 237-yards on 31 carries for four touchdowns. LSU made it to two bowl games during the Alexander era, where he rushed for 197-yards against Stanford and 133-yards versus Missouri. He averaged 158.1 yards per game when he surpassed 100-yards and 139.5 yards per game with 20 carries or more.

Charles Alexander was a consensus All-American in 1977 and 1978 and was All-SEC both seasons. He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1977 when he had his most productive season. Alexander rushed for 1864-yards on 328 carries and 18 touchdowns. The 1864-yards was an SEC record at the time. He also caught 53 passes for 446-yards during his collegiate career. Alexander was a Heisman finalist in 1977 and 1978. He was the nation's 2nd leading rusher in 1977 and 19th during 1978. Selected in the 1st round of the 1979 NFL Draft (12th pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals, Alexander spent seven years in the NFL and his best season came in 1980, when he rushed for 702-yards on 169 carries. He finished his pro career with 3775-yards in total offense and 15 touchdowns.

Sonny Collins (6-1, 196) 1972-1975

Kentucky

Sonny Collins of the Kentucky Wildcats remains the school's all-time leading rusher. The majority of records he set from 1972-1975 stand today. He appeared in 43 games during his career, rushing for 3835-yards on 777 carries and 26 touchdowns. Collins rushed for over 100-yards on 18 occasions with his career game versus Mississippi State in 1973. During that game, Collins rushed for 229-yards. As gifted as Collins was, he played on below average teams as Kentucky failed to become bowl eligible. From 1973-1975, Kentucky had one of the top run offenses in the conference, averaging 250.6 yards per game over a 33-game run.

Collins was a three-time All-SEC player during his career and was a 2nd team All-American in 1972 and 3rd team during 1974. He was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1973. His junior year was the best season of his career when he rushed for 1213-yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the nation's 11th leading rusher in 1973 and 17th in 1975. Drafted in the second-round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Collins played for the Atlanta Falcons for one season. He appeared in only 11 games, where he rushed for 319-yards. He rushed for over 100-yards against the 49ers his rookie year, but later suffered a career-ending knee injury the same year. Born in Madisonville, Kentucky Sonny Collins rushed for over 6200-yards in high school and remains a State legend.

James Brooks (5-10, 180) 1977-1980

Auburn

James Brooks remains one of the most electrifying running backs to come through the Southeastern Conference. Before arriving at Auburn, Brooks led his high school team (Warner Robbins) to a State and National Championship in 1976. During his Auburn career, he rushed for 3523-yards on 621 carries for 24 touchdowns. Brooks spent the majority of his career, splitting carries with Joe Cribbs. He produced fifteen 100-yard games, and his best game came against Kansas State when he rushed for 226-yards and three touchdowns. He became a second-team All-American and finished his career with 5.596 all-purpose yardage. As an Auburn Tiger, he carried the football at least 15 times on 21 occasions, where he averaged 119.1 yards per game. With 20 carries or more, Brooks averaged 154.1 yards per game.

James Brooks was All-SEC in 1979 and 1980. He along with Joe Cribbs became the first tandem in the conference to rush for over 1000-yards during the same season. He was the nation's 11th leading rusher in 1979 and No. 6 during his senior year. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers, James Brooks spent 12 seasons in the NFL, becoming a 4-time Pro Bowler. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers, he spent 8 of his 12 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. When he left, he was the Bengals all-time leading rusher. He was an exceptional weapon as a runner and receiver, finishing his NFL career with 14,910 yards in all-purpose yardage. He also totaled 79 offensive touchdowns during his professional career.

Joe Cribbs (5-11, 190) 1976-1979

Auburn

Teamed up with James Brooks, Joe Cribbs gave Auburn one of the best run offenses in the nation. From 1977-1979, Auburn averaged 260.2 yards rushing per game, with Cribbs and Brooks accounting for 180.2 yards per game. Joe Cribbs rushed for 3368-yards on 657 carries and 34 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100-yards on thirteen occasions with his best game coming against the Georgia Bulldogs in 1978. Cribbs rushed for 250-yards on 34 carries for two touchdowns against the Bulldogs. His best season came during 1978 when Cribbs rushed for 1205-yards and 16 touchdowns. When Cribbs left Auburn, he was the school's all-time leading rusher, while establishing the new touchdown record.

Joe Cribbs was All-SEC during the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Splitting carries with James Brooks and William Andrews, Cribbs managed to compile 27 games, where he had at least 14 carries. He averaged 110.6 yards per game on 5.4 yards per rush. Joe Cribbs averaged 137.5 yards per game with 20 carries or more. Cribbs was the 17th leading rusher nationally in 1978 and 16th in 1979. Originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills, Cribbs spent eight seasons in the NFL, primarily with the Bills and 49ers. He also played in the USFL with the Birmingham Stallions. He rushed for over 1000-yards with the Bills three times and two times for the Stallions. In total Joe Cribbs rushed for 7870-yards as a professional. He was the 1980 Rookie of the Year in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl three times.

Johnny Musso (6-0, 205) 1969-1971

Alabama

Known as the "Italian Stallion" Johnny Musso was a key figure in run offense offense. Alabama sprung the Wishbone on Southern Cal during their 1971 season opener. Despite sharing the carries in a triple-option offense, Musso managed to rush for over 1000-yards during two of his three seasons at Alabama. He rushed for a total of 2741-yards on 574 carries, scoring 34 rushing touchdowns. When he left Alabama, he held the school record for career rushing yardage and touchdowns. He received All-American honors in 1970 and 1971 as well as being All-Southeastern Conference during both seasons. His career game came against Auburn in 1970, when he rushed for 221-yards. Johnny Musso rushed for over 100-yards on nine occasions. Alabama averaged over 229-yards per game during the Musso years as Musso accounted for nearly 40 percent of Alabama's rushing totals. He also caught 61 passes for an additional 495-yards.

Musso was the 10th leading rusher nationally during the 1970 season and No. 26 in 1971. At the end of the 1971 season, Johnny Musso finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting, won by Auburn's Pat Sullivan. After leaving Alabama, Johnny Musso spent three years with the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. After rushing for 1029-yards in 1973, Musso was named to the West All-Star team. He spent three seasons with the Chicago Bears of the NFL, where he appeared in 30 games while totaling 365-yards rushing and six touchdowns. Musso also spent one season with the Birmingham Vulcans of the World Football League. In 1989, he was named to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and in 2000 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Musso was actually Albanian. (just trying to keep you on your toes!)

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I went to high school with musso's nephews.  spent the night at his house in b'ham one time.  my friends introduced me to him as "my auburn friend".  he told them, nothing wrong with an auburn fan.  it is a fine school with great people.  I liked the man.  I gave him a big war eagle.  I think I was like 15.

Edited by Butthead

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When I was a freshman in the fall of 1972, Coach Barfield was our head coach for the freshman team (along with Coach Rose), he came in that year from Southern Miss.....freshman football came to an end in 74...Coach Lorendo was the OC through Coach Jordan tenure ('75)....we were told at the beginning of spring practice (on the practice field) in 75 that Coach Jordan was retiring and that Coach Barfield would become the head coach...at the time, there wasn't much discussion by the team about Coach Barfield being named....today, I would assume there would have been a search team to find a person who had previous head coaching experience....the one mistake, but maybe why he got the position is he kept a lot of the assistant coaches and wasn't able to bring in his staff except for PW Underwood, another Southern Miss. coach...

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19 hours ago, Swamp Eagle said:

Barfield's tenure as HC was doomed before it began. Shug's personal choice was Paul Davis to succeed him, but his alleged "night out" on the eve of the 1971 season Sugar Bowl loss to OU (22-40) drew the ire of then-president Harry Philpott who swore as long as he was in charge Davis would be black-balled. He was.

Barfield was a hell of an OC, and with the full support of the Auburn administration probably would have been more successful. But there were two camps resulting in a split. I remember his era very well, and he made very few bad decisions. However, the one he did make was his loyalty to P.W. Underwood who had talent galore on defense but it never translated to the field.  I liked Barfield and I don't share the same disdain as history seems to have bestowed upon him.  He was just the easiest one to blame because he was the HC. 

I was in school then.  Coach Barfield was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.  You would see him on campus and he would always take time to stop and talk to us students.  I always had a lot of respect for him.  When things go bad everyone wants to tell the coach how to fix it and I'm sure that gets old.  

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In my stupid opinion, pound for pound James Brooks is the best running back to have played for Auburn.

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5 hours ago, SumterAubie said:

In my stupid opinion, pound for pound James Brooks is the best running back to have played for Auburn.

He was sure fun to watch.......................

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I may very well be incorrect on this, but I remember reading or hearing that Barfield was the second winningest coach in the SEC during his tenure. The dominate teams, (excluding Alabama) where mostly out west in the Big 12 and Pac 10.

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14 hours ago, augolf1716 said:

He was sure fun to watch.......................

Hit the hole like a bullet.  Loved watching Warner Robbins' finest play.  Bo aside, can't think of a better AU running back.

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William Andrews was the blocker in that three-some. Not used much as a runner but became all pro with the Atlanta Falcons and led the NFL in rushing one year. Maybe the best three running backs on one team I ever saw. All three were great running backs in the NFL. What other team can say that.

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I remember AU used to stay in that Holiday Inn right off I-65 in Bham the night before the Iron Bowl when it was still played at Legion Field.  Met and got autographs from Brooks and Cribbs.  For those who did not experience those times, they were tough years.  As to Barfield, I am not going to google it but if Barfield was the second winningnest coach during his tenure then I am Tucker Frederickson.  WDE

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4 hours ago, auskull said:

I may very well be incorrect on this, but I remember reading or hearing that Barfield was the second winningest coach in the SEC during his tenure. The dominate teams, (excluding Alabama) where mostly out west in the Big 12 and Pac 10.

2nd with Bryant and Dooley still coaching? Lol...you have been terribly misinformed..

Barfield's was 29-25 or something like that. 

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7 minutes ago, Swamp Eagle said:

2nd with Bryant and Dooley still coaching? Lol...you have been terribly misinformed..

Barfield's was 29-25 or something like that. 

Ok, all this time I always believed that during his Auburn coaching career, for those years only,  he was only behind the Bear in wins. Nobody in the SEC stood out for that timespan. Thanks Eagle, I'll laugh with you.  I wonder what coaches in the SEC had more wins for those years that Barfield coached Auburn?

Edited by auskull

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I think during that five year period Dooley won substantially more than Barfield, you are correct by a wide margin Eagle. I never bothered to look this up. Maybe it was his high school days, Pee Wee or something.  

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6 hours ago, Swamp Eagle said:

2nd with Bryant and Dooley still coaching? Lol...you have been terribly misinformed..

Barfield's was 29-25 or something like that. 

I wasn't loling at you, skull.I was chuckling because the "terribly misinformed" quote is from Chevy Chase in Fletch...

Barfield's SEC record never eclipsed 4-2 in actual wins and losses in his 5 years. In fact, I think he finished at .500 or better in the conference just twice (78, 79). 

 

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Just watched the Auburn Football Review from Sat's game and Joe Cribbs was one of the attendees (the 76 team, I think?)...  That man looks like he could STILL play! Wow!

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The Andrews, Brooks and Cribbs backfield was special.  We had some in the 80's that were special too. James, Jackson, Fullwood, Collins, Campbell, Agee, Pratt, Oneil...just to name a few. All of the players I mentioned didn't all get to play at the same time, but I would have loved to have seen a wishbone in the 80's with Jackson, Fullwood and Collis Campbell! Watching Pat Madden play basketball always made me wonder how good he would have been running the bone and distributing the football.

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was brooks the kid who could not read after he left auburn? it was during that era.and reading or not does anyone know how he is doing these days? would love to have his autograph. and when he was on the field you could hardly take your eyes off him. just say fullwoods name as well. it might be him. i always got the two confused for some reason.

Edited by aubiefifty

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