MGoHistory - The Year In Review - 1989

MGoHistory - The Year In Review - 1989

Submitted by saveferris on March 13th, 2013 at 1:19 PM

[Previous MGoHistory: 1986, 1971, & 1997

We now find ourselves on a strange planet, standing before a large, rocky arch that emits an eerie glow.  Inside the arch scenes flash in rapid succession.  “What the hell is that?”, one of us asks.  Surprisingly the arch responds in a booming voice, “I am the Guardian of Forever!  I can be your guide to any time and place you desire!  Heed the instructions of the man next to you.”  We turn to find a tall, lithe man, with pointed ears dressed in a tight blue shirt staring impassively at a small black box that hums.  “When I tell you”, the strange man says, “step through the portal.”  We turn to each other and shrug.  His shirt isn’t red, so we must be in good hands.  “Go now!” he instructs.  We leap and hurl ourselves through time and space to find ourselves arriving in….1989.

The end of the 80’s kicks off with the end of the Reagan era, sort of.  Reagan’s former Vice President, George HW Bush is inaugurated in January, becoming the 41stPresident of the United States.  The Bush Administration starts off on a positive note when, in February, the Soviets withdraw the last of their troops from Afghanistan, ending their 9 year occupation.  Things take a turn for the negative in March as Americans discover the inconvenient truth that drunk tanker captain, plus broken navigation system, equals bad; resulting in the Exxon Valdex running aground and spills hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska.  By spring, world attention turns to China as student protesters march on in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square demanding democratic reforms of China’s communist regime.  The demonstration ends violently in early June as China’s hardliners deploy the military to disperse the protesters, resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths.  Meanwhile throughout the year, the Iron Curtain starts to crumble as Soviet-supported regimes across Eastern Europe are deposed in numerous free elections.  This wave of democracy propagates with astonishing speed and incredibly culminates, in late autumn, with the fall of Berlin Wall, symbolically ending the Cold War.

In other news, the American space probe, Voyager 2, makes the final planetary rendezvous of its mission when it flies by Neptune.  Author Salman Rushdie discovers that it’s a bad idea to piss off Iranian clerics after Ayatollah Khomeini issues a fatwa for the publication of “The Satanic Verses”, forcing Rushdie to go into hiding for several years.  Later, he’ll be compensated for this inconvenience by getting to sleep with Padma Lakshmi.  Lastly, an anonymous computer scientist at CERN, Timothy Berners-Lee, invents a revolutionary internet-based information management system that he calls the World Wide Web.  The Web makes the internet accessible to virtually every person on the planet, revolutionizing the way humans communicate and eventually leading to mankind’s greatest achievement; blogs.

In sports, iconic players dominate the championship scenes of several leagues.  Joe Montana wins the 3rdof his 4 Super Bowls by leading the San Francisco 49ers over the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16, in Super Bowl XXIII, with the great Jerry Rice earning MVP honors.  The Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys”, lead by Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, end years of frustration against the Celtics and Lakers, by besting the LA Lakers in 4 games to finally win the franchise’s first NBA championship.  In golf, British legend Nick Faldo wins his first of 3 Masters titles by defeating American Scott Hoch.  German tennis players dominate the pro circuit with Boris Becker being named the ATP Player of the Year after winning Wimbledon and the US Open.  Meanwhile, on the womens side, Steffi Graf continues her rise to making a claim as the greatest female player of all time by following up her 1988 Grand Slam with victories in 3 of the 4 majors, coming in as a runner-up only in the French Open.  In mid-October, the “Bay” Series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants is interrupted 30 minutes before Game 3 by the Loma Prieta earthquake.  The Series is delayed 10 days before Oakland would complete a four game sweep of the Giants.

On the big screen, people flock to see Harrison Ford and Sean Connery quest for the Holy Grail in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.  “Batman” is released and reinvigorates the superhero movie genre, which continues to thrive to this day.  Kevin Costner and Michigan Alum James Earl Jones star in “Field of Dreams”, which teaches us that “If you build it, he will come”.  And Morgan Freeman achieves mainstream stardom in the Oscar-winning “Driving Miss Daisy”. 

Television sees the premier of several programs that will be archetypes of the 90’s such as “Seinfeld”, “The Simpsons”, and “The Arsenio Hall Show”.  We also see the premier of such Saturday morning cult favorites “Saved By The Bell” and “American Gladiators”.  The year sees the departure of mainstay programming that had endured for decades prior.  “American Bandstand” and the original “Doctor Who” air for the final time.  TV in the 80's gets a symbolic farewell when “Miami Vice” airs for the last time.  In addition to TV programming, people amuse themselves with next generation video game consoles such as Sega Genesis and Ninetendo comes out with the GameBoy.

In other entertainment, more and more of America’s youth are listening to rap and hip hop.  Acts such as Public Enemy and “Fear of a Black Planet”, and N.W.A with their album “Straight Outta Compton” gain mainstream acceptance.  Former Michigan student Madonna continues to be pops biggest draw with her hit “Like A Prayer”, Poison releases the definitive hair metal power ballad, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”, and boy band pioneers New Kids on the Block strike it big with their album, “Hangin’ Tough”.

In Michigan football, Bo Schembechler’s 21stMichigan team opens the 1989 season with a #1 vs #2 showdown against Notre Dame in Ann Arbor.  On a dreary, rainy September day, Michigan outplays the defending National Champions but the Irish still prevail 24-19 on the strength of two Raghib Ismail kickoff returns; leaving fans to this day wondering, “Why the {BLEEP} did we kick to Rocket Ismail again?!!”  Michigan would go on to win the remainder of their games that season, including a 28-18 victory over Ohio that clinched the outright Big 10 title and Michigan’s 10thRose Bowl berth under Bo.  The ’89 Wolverines featured All-American safety Tripp Welborne on defense.  The offense was lead by quarterback Michael Taylor along with what is arguably the best backfield in Michigan history in tailbacks Tony Boles and Leroy Hoard and fullback Jarrod Bunch.

The Ohio victory and conference championship proves bittersweet when fans and alumni are shocked in mid-December with Coach Schembechler announcing that the 1990 Rose Bowl would be his last game as head coach.  Stating that “Giving up my football team is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”, a teary-eyed Schembechler names Assistant Coach Gary Moeller his successor.  Schembechler’s coaching career ends on a sour, but not unfamiliar, note when the #3 ranked Wolverines are defeated by the #12 ranked USC Trojans 17-10 in the Rose Bowl.  Bo’s last team finishes 10-2 and ranked 7th.  After 21 years as Michigan’s head coach, Bo leaves as the winningest coach in program history with a record of 194-48-5, accruing 13 Big 10 titles, 2 Rose Bowl titles, and 10 Rose Bowl appearances, and 17 bowl appearances overall.

While one coaching dynasty was coming to an end in 1989, another was gaining steam.  The 1988-89 Wolverine Hockey team posted their second straight winning season under Coach Red Berenson.  The team, lead by All-American defenseman Myles O’Connor, finished the season 22-15-4 overall and 17-11-4 (4thplace) in the CCHA.  The Wolverines also picked up the first of 13 Great Lakes Invitational titles under Berenson, defeating the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota.  While Berenson's program was still two seasons away from returning to NCAA Tournament play, Red makes one of Michigan hockeys most enduring contributions by introducing the winged helmet as part of the team's uniform on the eve of the CCHA playoffs, a design cue that seems impossible for hockey to go without today.

The 1988-89 Michigan basketball team starts the season expecting to compete for the Big 10 conference championship.  Lead by Coach Bill Frieder, the Wolverines feature a talented roster that includes seniors Glen Rice, Mark Hughes, and Mike Griffin, as well juniors Loy Vaught, Rumeal Robinson, Terry Mills, and Sean Higgins.  The Wolverines have a solid but underwhelming season finishing 24-7 and 12-6 in conference, 3rdbehind Indiana and Illinois and ranked 10thin the polls.  Entering the tournament, Michigan is a 3 seed in the Southeast Region and expectations are modest. 

Michigan’s chances in the tournament seemingly take a turn for the worse when, days before the opening round, Coach Frieder is dismissed by Michigan Athletic Director Bo Schembechler.  Upon learning that Frieder has accepted the job at Arizona State, Schembechler canonically declares, “A Michigan Man will coach Michigan” and installs Steve Fischer as interim coach.  Inspired by fiery pep talks from Schembechler and record setting scoring by Rice, Michigan wins games against Xavier, South Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia to earn a spot in the Final Four.  In the semi-final Michigan upsets 1 seed Illinois 83-81, forever earning the ire of the Illini and cementing Michigan as Illinois’ main rival, unbeknownst to most Michigan fans.  In the finals, Michigan battles Seton Hall to an 80-79 overtime win, the final margin being provided by two free throws from Robinson with just seconds to play, earning Michigan its first National Championship ever in basketball and Glen Rice is named the tournament Most Outstanding Player.

The 1989 Michigan basketball team was considered to be a group of talented underachievers heading into the NCAA Tournament, only to finally have all the pieces fall into place and go on an epic tournament run.  Many comparisons have been made between this years squad and that historic bunch.  With the conference championship just slipping through our grasp and our post-season journey about to begin, let us hope that the Wolverines of 2013 find some of the magic that struck in 1989.  Go Blue.