The William & Mary Indians / Tribe football[a] teams represented the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. Now known as the William & Mary Tribe, the program was established in 1893. Their long-time football rival is the University of Richmond. Their annual meeting is dubbed the I-64 Bowl (renamed the Capital Cup starting in the 2009 season), so named for the highway connecting the two nearby schools.
The 1970s was a time of transition for the William & Mary football program. Aside from switching head coaches after the 1971 season, the Indians would also eventually switch athletic conferences and create a new nickname. Prior to the 1977 season, William & Mary left the Southern Conference after having been a member since 1936. Then, effective as of the 1978 season, the NCAA decided to split their Division I status for schools into two sub-groups: Division I-A and Division I-AA. It was also this year that William & Mary switched their long-standing nickname, the Indians, to a more politically correct Tribe.
Though the overall decade winning percentage was below .500 (49–61–1), the era started off on a strong note. Future College Football Hall of FamerLou Holtz, in his second year as head coach, guided the Indians to be the 1970 Southern Conference Champions and make an appearance in the school's third (and final) major bowl game. Though the Indians would lose the Tangerine Bowl, 12–40, they later took solace in knowing that they lost to a Toledo Rockets team who were in their second of three straight undefeated seasons (Toledo went into the contest ranked 15th by the Associated Press and would finish #12 in the final AP Poll).
William & Mary had seven NFL Draft selections, and they were also able to split the decade's I-64 Bowl series with Richmond 5–5.
When William & Mary played the 20th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers on September 12, it marked the first game as future college football legend Bobby Bowden's career as the Mountaineers' head coach. Bowden would go on to coach West Virginia from 1970–1975, going 3–0 against the Indians (Tribe) in the process.
In October 1977, William & Mary met heavily favored East Carolina in the Oyster Bowl. In the fourth quarter ECU led by three points. During the game's final seconds, William & Mary quarterback Tom Rozantz broke loose and ran for the end zone. Jim Johnson, a former head coach for the ECU football team, who was described by The Virginian Pilot as "a portly 65-year-old gentleman in a raincoat," ran from the sidelines and threw a block tackle on Rozantz before he could score the winning touchdown. The unusual turn of events silenced the screaming William & Mary fans, and the officials gathered to discuss their course of action. After deliberation, the play was ruled a touchdown and William & Mary went on to win, 21–17.
a Between 1896 and 1909 their nickname was "Orange and White," deriving that name from the school's former colors (William & Mary now uses green and gold). Since white uniforms dirtied too quickly, they became known as the "Orange and Black" from 1910 through 1916. Between 1917 and 1977 they were known as the Indians, and throughout this period a man dressing up as a Native American would ride around on a pony along the sidelines during games. This practice was discontinued when the outcry of stereotyping Native Americans as well as the use of a live animal became controversial. Since the 1978 season William & Mary has adopted the nickname "Tribe."