The Teams: 1980 Comment Count

Seth January 14th, 2019 at 7:09 AM

Michigan historian Dr. Sap and I have started a new podcast on the lore of Michigan football. The plan is to bounce around doing one season per episode, talking about the players, the games, that year's place in the pantheon of Michigan teams, and usually having one segment with a guest.

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1. The Recipe to Win

starts at 0:40

Coming off a disaster of an end to 1979 and major changes on the roster and coaching staff, the 1980 team started off with two nonconference losses and ended as Rose Bowl champs. We talk about how stodgy old Bo learned to adapt to the strange new landscape of modern football, extending his magnificent career into a very different decade than the one he'd just dominated.

2. Interview with 1980 Team Captain Andy Cannavino

starts at 33:33

Andy tells how the locker room problems hit their worst point in the 1980 preseason, when five players were kicked off the team for marijuana and John Wangler was knocked out by Lawrence Taylor. How do you come back from that? Well, grousing about practicing too hard didn't do the trick, but hollering at Andy Cannavino appeared to.

3. 1980 in Context

starts at 57:27

Team MVP, most important moment, etc., but mostly this segment talks about what kind of team 1980 was and how it compares to 2018 and some of the other seasons that began on a down note but accomplished far more than they thought possible.

MUSIC

  • "NBC Rose Bowl Theme"
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

Comments

Kewaga.

January 14th, 2019 at 7:53 AM ^

"We talk about how stodgy old Bo learned to adapt to the strange new landscape of modern football, extending his magnificent career into a very different decade than the one he'd just dominated."

 

Hmmmmm, Apropos.

MGoGrendel

January 14th, 2019 at 9:40 AM ^

Ufer at his Rose Bowl talk to the team:

”You are indeed...the finest football team in America today”. 

I used to listen to that (and others) on a “best of” record.  That’s vinyl for the kids out there. 

rhenson2000

January 14th, 2019 at 12:01 PM ^

Love the podcast and the idea of additional season reviews. One of my first games in the Big House was the 26-0 Purdue dismantling. I Have to take exception with a couple of points made during the podcast though. I doubt very highly that Northwestern ever gave up a home game in Evanston to play in Ann Arbor and the occasion in which they played consecutive years in AA was purely a scheduling quirk.  These may have happened way back in the day, but certainly did not during this era of college football. Also, the Cal game was played in AA  in 1980 on turf and not on the west coast as was indicated.  They had played out in Cali the previous year and had a narrow victory.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

January 14th, 2019 at 2:18 PM ^

Northwestern played 3 games in a row at U-M from 1979 to 81, according to Wikipedia (link is for '79, you can click to following seasons at the bottom of the top right sidebar box). They were the first game in '79 & '80.

My memory may be faulty, but I think there was a time or times where ND was the first game on our schedule, but 2nd on theirs. Not wanting to let ND have a week of game film to fix things, Bo got a pre-ND game scheduled. So maybe that's the reason 1980 was also home vs Northwestern.

4th and Go For It

January 14th, 2019 at 1:03 PM ^

Really cool idea and great way to learn more about some of the teams that pre-date my fandom. I didn't move to Michigan until the early 90s so my understanding of history has come from a couple books and that's about it. Thanks for adding this to the roster and hope you'll be able to get through some of the more interesting teams at the least if not the whole history. 

markusr2007

January 14th, 2019 at 2:10 PM ^

That 1980 Michigan team was only 5 points from being 12-0, and the Harry Oliver FG was absolutely divine intervention for the Sugar Bowl bound Irish that year. 

The Notre Dame team was 9-0-1 and ranked No. 2 before losing 3-20 vs. USC, and sort of backed into the Sugar Bowl somehow at 9-1-1 and ranked 7th.  The Sugar Bowl should have selected No. 3 ranked 11-1 Pitt with Dan Marino instead because Hugh Green+Rickey Jackson vs. Herschel Walker. Really a dumb decision.

Although that 1980 South Carolina football team had Heisman Trophy winner tailback George Rogers, that 14-17 defeat in Michigan Stadium was a really "bad loss". South Carolina finished the season 8-4 and was obliterated by USC (that USC), Clemson and Pitt in the Gator Bowl, though they did play Georgia tough in a 10-13 loss in Athens.

Correction on the 1980 Cal game. That game was NOT played on natural grass, but rather right in Michigan Stadium on Tartan surface.  That 1980 Cal team was terrible (3-8).  The 1980 Cal @ Michigan game highlights are on Youtube: https://youtu.be/aF2bfe3Wty4.

The 1979 Michigan @ Cal game was tougher. Call was unbeaten going into the Michigan game at 3-0 and almost ranked themselves. But Cal lost to Michigan 10-14 and that game was played on natural grass. Cal was a better team in 1979 (6-6) because they had Rich Campbell and star running back Paul Jones and were more balanced. Lost to Temple in 1979 Garden State Bowl though. Ouch!

 

 

 

 

markusr2007

January 14th, 2019 at 2:21 PM ^

Please do the 1977 and 1978 teams as well with guests.

I am particularly interested in knowing more about:

1977 Season:

  • The No. 1 ranking pre-season and the slow start.
  • Beating the brakes off of No. 5 aTm in Michigan Stadium with chorus from 100k fans of "We're No. 1!!"
  • How in the world could Michigan get shut out at Minnesota? Mobile QB in Wendell Avery and tailback Marion Barber and PK Paul Rogind. Locker room after? Week of practice after? The natural grass lore was B.S. Michigan trounced Purdue 40-7 in West Lafayette that year.
  • Curt Stephanson had some great catches that year as Michigan's SE.

1978:

  • Beating Notre Dame 28-14! They had the students on the field pre-game. WTF?
  • Loss vs. Michigan State at home 14-24.
  • Beating Woody third straight time. Ohio Stadium experiences/reactions?
  • Rose Bowl "Phantom Touchdown". How annoying was OJ Simpson at NBC really?
  • TE Doug Marsh would be a great guy to interview here, IMO, and Rick Leach, Russell Davis, Harlan Huckleby, Roosevelt Smith.

 

 

Don

January 14th, 2019 at 3:44 PM ^

Of the Michigan teams I've seen with my own eyes, the 1980 team is second only to the '97 squad in my esteem. By the end of the season, they were playing as well as anybody in the country.

WNY in Savannah

January 14th, 2019 at 3:58 PM ^

I LOVE that you are doing this.  This is a contender for "favorite thing the blog has ever done," along with The Climb series and the all-time team draft and a couple of others.  I will be happy to listen to as many of these as you can do.  To misuse Bob Hope a little bit, "Thanks for the memories."  I, for one, really appreciate it and eagerly look forward to more.

markusr2007

January 14th, 2019 at 4:31 PM ^

I disagree with the assertion that the 1980 seasons "convinced Bo to open things up" a bit off.

Anthony Carter arrived in 1979 and started as a true freshman, and really opening things up because he was lightning in a bottle. Something no one had seen at Michigan. The last great receiver at UM before this was WB Jim Smith on end-around plays and buck counters, and Michigan was a 98% option team in 1973-1976.

It was the 1979 season itself that convinced Bo to evolve and pass more, though Michigan started passing a lot more starting in 1977 with Rick Leach and talented WRs like Ralph Clayton and TE Doug Marsh. 

Yes, Michigan lost Rick Leach to graduation, but 1979 had Michigan with returning backup BJ Dickey (great passer in HS, but utilized more as quick option runner at UM), John Wangler and then true freshman sensation Rich Hewlett.

The 1980 season was impressive for the UM passing attack because of Wangler's accuracy and his more perfected timing with Carter, as well as a tough screen game. On the edge no one could adequately cover Carter, even with double-coverage tactics.

Truth is, Bo was so convinced to open up the passing offense from the 1980 season that in 1981 he started sophomore QB Steve Smith, the No. 1 college QB recruit in the nation, and moved Hewlett to DB.  Dickey did not start, and served as backup QB. The 1981 version of Steve Smith was essentially a full blown return to the Option I attack of the 1970s that Bo so loved, because Smith was a very quick and also tough runner, and very good at operating the triple option reads. Smith was the second coming of Rick Leach basically.  Like Leach, Smith's passing as a sophomore left a lot to be desired, but it improved gradually in 1981 and subsequent seasons.  But Steve Smith's legs kept Michigan in the option offense groove until Jim Harbaugh became in the starter in the 1984 season.

 

 

markusr2007

January 14th, 2019 at 4:31 PM ^

I disagree a little bit with the assertion that the 1980 seasons "convinced Bo to open things up".

Anthony Carter arrived in 1979 and started as a true freshman, and really opening things up because he was lightning in a bottle. Something no one had seen at Michigan. The last great receiver at UM before this was WB Jim Smith on end-around plays and buck counters, and Michigan was a 98% option team in 1973-1976.

It was the 1979 season itself that convinced Bo to evolve and pass more, though Michigan started passing a lot more starting in 1977 with Rick Leach and talented WRs like Ralph Clayton and TE Doug Marsh and SE Curt Stephanson.  1977 was the year college football started to see the rise of innovative passing attacks at Washington State, BYU, Stanford, Washington and others, while Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan and USC were still throttling opponents on the ground.

Yes, Michigan lost Rick Leach to graduation, but 1979 had Michigan with returning very experienced backup BJ Dickey (great passer in HS, but utilized more as quick option runner at UM), John Wangler (injured in 1977 with pinched nerve in neck) and then true freshman sensation Rich Hewlett.

The 1980 season was impressive for the UM passing attack because of Wangler's accuracy and his more perfected timing with Carter, as well as a tough screen game. Wangler was not as good of an option QB as Dickey. On the edge no one could adequately cover Carter, even with double-coverage tactics.

Truth is, Bo was so convinced to open up the passing offense from the 1980 season that in 1981 he started sophomore QB Steve Smith, the No. 1 college QB recruit in the nation in 1980, and soon moved Hewlett to DB.  Dickey, a 5th year senior, did not start, and served as backup QB and holder. The 1981 Michigan offense with QB Steve Smith was essentially a full blown return to the Option I attack of the 1970s that Bo so loved, because Smith was a very quick and also tough runner, and very talented at operating the triple option reads and breaking tackles. Smith was the second coming of Rick Leach basically.  Like Leach, Smith's passing as a sophomore left a lot to be desired, but it improved gradually in 1981 and subsequent seasons.  But Steve Smith's legs kept Michigan in the option offense groove until Jim Harbaugh became in the starter in the 1984 season.

 

 

Chitown Kev

January 14th, 2019 at 10:05 PM ^

I will confess that I still think that the defense on this 1980 team was even better than the '97 defense...I was at that game when that amazing streak of giving up no TD's started (against Illinois)

IMB87

January 16th, 2019 at 9:22 PM ^

I know you guys came up with the 1985 season as a comparison, but how about the 1988-89 team?  Like the 1980 team, this one also came back to have a great season after opening with two losses, including games we could have won against ND and Miami. Also like the 1980 team, the 1988 team was coming off a somewhat disappointing 1987 season (losses to ND, MSU, OSU and Indiana).  Both teams finished ranked fourth in the nation.   

There was a special, probably unique, appreciation of that Rose Bowl win on January 1, 1981.  You had to see Michigan lose all those bowl games up until then and you just never thought we'd win one.