Texas Tech mourns passing of Steve Sloan

LUBBOCK, Texas – Steve Sloan, an All-American quarterback at Alabama under Paul “Bear” Bryant and one of the winningest head football coaches in Texas Tech history, passed away Sunday. He was 79.


Sloan compiled a 23-12 overall record in his three seasons leading the Red Raiders, including a 10-2 campaign and a share of the Southwest Conference title in 1976. He remains third all-time in Texas Tech history with a .657 winning percentage that ranks behind only Pete Cawthon (.693) and Mike Leach (.661).


“Coach Sloan was a great coach but an even better person,” said Rodney Allison, a standout quarterback under Sloan and now the recently retired executive director of the Double T Varsity Club. “He won games at Tech and brought in a great staff and an innovative offense that was so different from what everyone else was running. The combination of the veer running game and the drop back pass was very unique back then.”


At only 30 years of age, Sloan was tabbed the eighth head coach in Texas Tech history prior to the 1975 season, bringing with him a reputation as one of the game’s top offensive minds not only from his time as a quarterback for Alabama but from stints as an offensive coordinator at both Florida State (1971) and Georgia Tech (1972).


Despite his age, Sloan arrived in Lubbock with seven years of coaching experience, including two as the head coach of Vanderbilt (1973-74). The Commodores finished 5-6 in their first season under Sloan before improving to 7-3-2 a year later, earning him SEC Coach of the Year honors and an appearance in the 1974 Paech Bowl against his future school.


Sloan announced within hours of the conclusion of the 6-6 tie that he was departing Vanderbilt after two seasons to take over as head coach of the Red Raiders. Sloan was 12-9-2 in his two seasons as he and current Penn State head coach James Franklin remain the only two Vanderbilt head coaches since 1952 to post a winning career record at the school.


That same success followed Sloan to West Texas as he was quickly dubbed “Kid Coach” by Red Raider supporters. Sloan had a knack of identifying top coaches around him, hiring future NFL head coaches Bill Parcells and Romeo Crennel as well as Mike Pope, a future longtime assistant in the NFL.


The Red Raiders finished 6-5 in Sloan’s first season before following with a memorable 10-2 campaign a year later. Texas Tech won its first eight games that season and was ranked No. 5 in the country before falling to ninth-ranked Houston at home. It marked the fifth 10-win season in school history at the time as the Red Raiders ranked No. 13 nationally in the final Associated Press poll.


Sloan departed Texas Tech for Ole Miss following the 1977 season where the Red Raiders finished 7-5 overall despite a season-ending injury to Allison in only the third game of the season. Allison, a senior, was a Heisman Trophy candidate entering that season but instead watched not far from Sloan, who he would remain close to decades later.


“He was like a father to me, and I thought so much of him, I named my son Sloan after him,” said Allison, who moved from Lubbock to the island of Maui in Hawaii following his retirement this past August to be closer to his son. “(Coach Sloan) was the best man in my wedding and because my dad passed away when he was only 51, he was like a father figure to me. All who played under Coach Sloan mourn his passing today.”


Following his time at Texas Tech, Sloan was the head coach at Ole Miss from 1978-82 and Duke from 1983-86. He moved into administration soon after, serving as the athletics director at Alabama, his alma mater, from 1978-82, North Texas (1990-92), UCF (1993-2002) and finally Chattanooga (2002-06) where he later hired Allison as head football coach in 2003. He returned to coaching for only one season, serving as Vanderbilt’s offensive coordinator in 1990.


Prior to his coaching career, Sloan was one of the top quarterbacks in Alabama history, leading the Crimson Tide to the national championship in 1965 after a 39-28 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Sloan, who was a consensus All-American that season and the SEC Most Valuable Player, was previously the back-up to Joe Namath a year earlier as part of Alabama’s SEC and national championship team.


Sloan, who grew up in Cleveland, Tennessee, was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 was selected as one of the top athletes of the century from the state by Sports Illustrated. He was enshrined in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and later earned the Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athletic Award from the university in 2019.


Sloan is survived by his wife of 55 years, Branda, and a son, Stephen Sloan Jr. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.




Release provided by Matt Dowdy Texas Tech Athletics

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