Request information

Visit Campus

Facebook McMurry on Facebook

Twitter McMurry on Twitter

Instagram McMurry on Instagram 

View More of McMurry Social


  • Alumni

Aldridge reflects on 1980 McMurry playoff team as 2011 squad joins slim company


ABILENE, Texas – The NCAA Division I-FBS is in constant conversation about a playoff system being put in place, and yet after more than a century of football, no resolution has been found. That’s where the small-college football excels; playoffs. A sure-fire, well at least a more fair way, of trying to determine the best team each season.

McMurry University will be making its first NCAA Playoff appearance Saturday against Trinity in San Antonio, and it will be only the second time in program history a football team has reached a playoff situation

Wilford Moore’s 1947 squad participated in the Boys’ Ranch Bowl before Moore led the team to a 1949 Oleander Bowl victory. Then, it was 44 seasons between bowl appearances when Joe George took McMurry to the Aztec Bowl in 1993, which did not count towards the overall record of the school.

Moore’s 1947 team fell to Missouri Valley College 20-13 at the Boys’Ranch Bowl, and the Indians finished the season at 6-3-1. McMurry got its revenge two years later when the same two schools squared off in the Oleander Bowl with McMurry taking a 19-13 win. In 1993, Joe George’s bunch finished the regular season at 8-2 and headed to Mexico City face a collection of the top players from around the country and fell 32-20. However, the NAIA would not allow McMurry to count the game as official.

But, the 2011 team joins slim company with head coach Spud Aldridge’s 1980 Indians. The 1980 squad was the last McMurry team to win a conference championship when the team won the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association title and posted a 9-1 regular season record.

Then, McMurry competed in the NAIA Division II where teams could compete with up to 17 scholarships, but the Indians had zero. The Indians took down larger schools Tarleton State and Trinity twice apiece during the season with its only blemish to Austin College.

The Indians were selected to play host to the quarterfinals round of the NAIA Division II playoffs at Indian Stadium. Their opponent: Valley City State of North Dakota.

“The sad thing about it was that week in North Dakota, it was in the 60’s all week; and in Abilene we had six inches of snow on the ground,” Aldridge recalled. “We worked out on the Aldersgate Church parking lot because the snow wouldn’t melt, and by the time we played the game there was no grass left. We were an option team, and we could throw, but we played in the mud, that killed us and we got beat. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Valley City State took a 16-7 win over McMurry that day, but Aldridge said that making the playoffs and winning the championship was a badge of honor for the university.

“It was real important for the school, we were a small school and to get there we had to beat a lot of teams at larger universities that had scholarships,” he said. “McMurry was non-scholarship, so to do what we did was exciting for the kids and all the folks at McMurry.”

Aldridge said that he was proud and excited for the 2011 team and head coach Hal Mumme.

“I was able to serve on the search committee that brought in Coach Mumme, and in fact two players from that 1980 team served on the selection committee with me,” said Aldridge. “We had a lot of good players, and Hal does too. It’s not all about coaching, you’ve got to have the players, and there are going to be some good ones out there for McMurry Saturday.”

Another accomplishment the 1980 team has is the school record for wins in a season with nine. McMurry, at 8-2 in 2011, could not only match that but take the first playoff win in school history with a win over Trinity.

The War Hawks, ranked No. 19 by the AFCA and No. 15 by D3football.com, will play at Tiger Field to take on No. 15/No. 11 Trinity at Noon Saturday.