ETSU Football

East Tennessee State Normal School fielded its first football team in 1920. Navy blue and old gold, chosen in 1911, were the school colors. The team only played five games that year including two against local high school teams. W.R. Windes was the head coach for the first two seasons. In 1925, the school's name was changed to East Tennessee State Teachers College. The athletic teams were named "The Teachers". John Robinson was the head coach for the next 5 years.

In 1930, the school's name changed again to State Teachers College, Johnson City. In 1932, Gene McMurray was named the head coach. He coached for 10 straight seasons until the school stopped playing due to World War II. He came back to coach the team in 1946. His winning percentage during his 11 seasons was the highest in the history of Buc football. During his tenure, the team won the Smoky Mountain Conference Championship (1938) and the team's name changed to the "Buccaneers" (1935).

In 1943, the school's name changed to East Tennessee State College. In 1952, Star Wood became head coach. He led the team for 13 seasons from 1952-1953 and 1955-1965. Coach Wood tops the list of total wins with 64. East Tennessee State College joins the Ohio Valley Conference in 1957.

In 1963, the college gains university status to become East Tennessee State University. Coach John Robert Bell led the team to a 10-0-1 record in 1969. They won the Ohio Valley Conference Championship and defeated Louisiana Tech, led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw, in the Grantland Rice Bowl. The Memorial Center opened in 1977 and was nicknamed the "Mini-Dome". The football team played their homes games indoors until the program was discontinued. In 1978, ETSU joins the Southern Conference.

In 1996, ETSU football team led by Coach Mike Cavan had a record of 10-3 and participated for the first time in the NCAA Division IAA Playoffs, defeating Villanova in a first round game.

In 2003, ETSU decided to discontinue the football. The last game was played at home on Nov. 22, 2003 against The Citadel. ETSU won the game 16-13 with a last second field goal.

Memorable team moments include:
  • The football team won the Smoky Mountain Conference Championship in 1938
  • The 1969 team that went undefeated and beat Louisiana Tech, led by Terry Bradshaw, in the Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge, LA.
  • The 1987 team defeated North Carolina State University, 29-14.
  • The 1996 team that went 10-3 and advanced to the Division I-AA quarterfinals after defeating Villanova, 35-29, in a first-round playoff game in Memorial Center.
  • Buc Football had it's first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked team in 2001. ETSU 19, Georgia Southern 16.
The individual accomplishments are too numerous to list. Over the years, ETSU has had its share of All-Conference and All-American players. Several players have played professionally. We encourage you to visit the ETSU Football Record Book for a variety of stats on both the individuals and the teams that made history at ETSU.

  Buc Football & Friends Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 250 • Mountain Home • Johnson City, TN 37684