Mississippi State University

1967-68 Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




The double-duty position of AD and head coach was offered to former MSU All SEC guard as a player, and assistant coach Bill Dooley who gave consideration to the job for four days before accepting the head coaching offer from North Carolina. Next in line was Charles Shira, a Texas A&M tackle before entering the military service during World War II, who returned to reap All America honors as a tackle at West Point. He honed his coaching skills as an assistant at Tennessee before joining Murray Warmath’s Mississippi State staff. He left to follow Darrell Royal to Edmonton in the CFL before returning to Starkville when Royal was named head coach. With Royal as the head coach at Texas, Shira became his trusted defensive coordinator, where he contributed to the great defenses that won Southwest Conference and National Championships. Shira’s willingness to work hard and long hours with the expectation of overcoming any shortfalls in talent proved to be faulty reasoning at State due to the lack of talent. As was noted in Sports Illustrated, “Charles Shira faces an enormous task…Mississippi State’s winning seasons have sometimes seemed to appear as infrequently as Halley’s Comet…Occasionally battles have been won. Seldom have wars been won.” Thus the 1-9 finish to 1967 wasn’t totally unexpected despite the great play of captain and All America linebacker D.D. Lewis who would be a leader on the Dallas Cowboys defense for thirteen years. He was bolstered by safety and punter Conn Canale and DB John Woitt who lasted two seasons with the Forty Niners. Shut out in five games and scoring forty-nine for the entire season reflected the offensive woes but the defense too was shaky and gave up big points. Quarterback Tommy Pharr rushed for 326 yards but the team had no real passing game. Shira, as most new coaches do, introduced a new helmet style, a white shell with three-inch maroon numerals on each side as the Bulldogs uniform with two thin stripes on each jersey sleeve, mimicked the look of the Texas Longhorns.


Born in 1945 at the conclusion of the Second World War, Dwight Douglas Lewis, the youngest of fourteen children, was named after two revered American generals, Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur. A terrific football player at Knoxville’s Fulton High School, he was an All State linebacker and tough, in part from holding his own within his family structure. Unfortunately he was also a tough guy on the streets, drank alcohol, and found enough trouble to spend time in a reformatory. At Mississippi State he was a model football player, leading the Bulldogs in tackles and assists during his three varsity years, named to the SEC All Sophomore team and named All SEC in his other two seasons. Bear Bryant called him “the best linebacker in the country” and he consistently played to that level, being named to the College Football Hall Of Fame. A three year starter at center and linebacker, team captain as a senior, and eventual member of MSU’s All Century Team, he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round and tried at center but was quickly moved to outside linebacker where he backed up veteran Chuck Howley. Losing 1969 to military service, Lewis took over the starting role in ’73 and remained there as a cornerstone of the Cowboys’ defense until his retirement after the 1981 season. Considered to be “too small” by many in pro football at the conclusion of his college career, Lewis played in five Super Bowls, started 135 consecutive games, and was voted as the Cowboys’ Fan Favorite on numerous occasions. Overcoming alcohol and drug related problems, he built a post-football career in the fertilizer business where he spends much time in community outreach, speaking with youth groups throughout the south.

Believing that things could not get worse, especially with an easier schedule, 1968 ended in a winless season, with ties against Texas Tech and Ole Miss the only salves to the program’s wounds. All SEC quarterback and total offense leader Tommy Pharr inspired a much improved offense, while receiver Sammy Milner was also All Conference and for much of the season was the number two receiver in the nation. The offense averaged 301 yards per game and point production rose to 146 but the Bulldogs still had not defeated an SEC opponent since 1965!

If interested in any of these Mississippi State helmets please click on the photos below.