Brown Football Team of 1976
Year Inducted: 2001
In the fall of 1976, head coach John Anderson and the Brown Football team enjoyed a season for the ages, winning the Ivy League title for the first time since the League was formed in 1955. A 28-17 victory over the Columbia Lions on the final day of the season clinched Brown’s first-ever Ivy League Championship, and forever be etched the 1976 Brown Football Team in the annals of Brown football history.
Brown’s storied defense was recognized nationally throughout the season, for holding its opponents to seven or less points, and limiting the opposition to just 102 points for the entire season. The defensive efforts proved to play an integral role in the team’s success that season. First team All-Ivy linebacker, Scott Nelson, a senior co-captain, was a key part of Brown’s defensive success, leading the team in tackles, with 93.
While, defensively, the Bears recorded consistently strong performances throughout the 1976 campaign, the team was also impressive on the offensive end, breaking eight Brown team season marks.
Records were set for single season rushing attempts (528), and single game rushing attempts (74), as well as total offense (3,249 yards) and number of plays (716). The Bears’ high-powered offense also set school records for total first downs (181), and first downs rushing (110).
Leading the way for the offense was the duo of quarterback Paul Michalko, an All-East and All-New England performer, and split end Bob Farnham, an AP honorable mention All-American, who teamed for several Brown records. Michalko set a single-game record in passing versus Dartmouth, throwing for 314 yards, while Farnham broke his own single-game pass receptions record of nine, with 12 against the Dartmouth Big Green. Both Michalko and Farnham earned First Team All-Ivy Honors.
Co-captain Mike Prairie, a first team All-New England selection, also played an integral role in the success of the Brown offense, anchoring the offensive line at center.
Coach Anderson would go on to be named the UPI New England Major College Coach of the Year, the New England Coach of the Year by the New England Sportswriters, and the Rhode Island Coach of the Year.
The magical Bruins, as they were referred to in 1976, recorded Ivy League wins over Yale (14-6), Princeton (13-7), Cornell (28-12), Harvard (16-14), Dartmouth (35-21), and Columbia. The only blemish on Brown’s record was a 7-6 loss to Penn. Brown also posted non-league wins over Rhode Island (3-0) and Holy Cross (28-18) for an 8-1 overall mark.
Although the Bears had to share the title with Yale at 6-1 in the league standings, Brown reveled in the accomplishment, having beaten the Elis in head-to head competition. Since 1976, only one other Brown team has won eight or more games, the 1999 Ivy Champions, who posted a 9-1 mark. The 1976 Brown Football team had established a new standard of greatness for future generations of Brown football.