Buckeye memories (part one)

Submitted by k.o.k.Law on November 4th, 2012 at 2:26 PM

(fact checkers, knock yourselves out, am going purely off memory)


I walked by the TV my Dad was watching, asked him who was playing. Michigan – Ohio State. About 60,000 in the stands, not a vintage year for UM or Ohio. I watched maybe 3 plays. We lost.

In fact, one week that year Notre Dame, Indiana, and Purdue were all ranked in the top ten.

Purdue, Minnesota, yes, and, Indiana all tied for first. Purdue having gone the year before, it was ineligible for the Rose Bowl.

Next tie-breaker: who went most recently. The Gophers actually subbed for the Buckeyes in 62, when the faculty vote went against Woody, as they saw no reason why Ohio should go out west to play UCLA, having already whomped UCLA out there in the regular season.

Or, maybe they just did not like Woody. You decide.

So, Indiana made its only trip. I believe they were the first second place Big Ten team to lose the Rose Bowl.

That was back in the days when you could rake up the leaves, pile them on the drivewaway, and burn them. Even in the suburbs.

And only one or two UM games were televised each year, so, tend the burning leaves and listen on the radio.


Now, I am a serious Michigan fan.

Now a football player myself, having been way over the CYO weight limit in grade school, with high hopes of running through the tunnel in four years.

The good? I did start both ways.

The bad? We lost all out games.

Listening on the radio. In the upstairs of the neighbors' garage.

UM dropped the opener to Cal, at home, but has won 8 straight.

The Buckeyes are undefeated, consensus #1, the super sophs, who could not play the year before, freshman being ineligible.

Kern. Tatum. Stillwagon, et. al.

Close at the half, 21-14 Ohio.

Then, the roof fell in at Columbus.

48 for Ohio, and Dr. Strangehayes goes for two.

My hatred of Buckeyes begins. Unabated to this day.


I did not know it, but my career had peaked, having been called up to the championship varsity team for a cup of coffee. Though not playing.

My Dad buys us tickets for the showdown.

This is a juggernaut Buckeye team, defending national champs, going for the Big Ten record for consecutive conference wins. They enter the game having never trailed, for even a minute, the entire season.

17 point favorites.

A win sews up back to back titles, as the Rose bowl no repeat rule is still in effect.

If UM wins, they go to the Rose Bowl.

Though WJR sports director Bob Reynolds announced during the week on his 6:15 p.m. Daily radio show that the conference Ads had already voted to send UM

The game is not nationally televised.

My first UM game was a 7-6 loss to Georgia, I think 1965.

(The next time an SEC team ventured north of the Mason-Dixon line was Alabama at Penn State last year.)

I also saw Ron Johnson's record setting performance against Wisconsin in 1968.

Don Canham has taken over as AD and hired Bo when Bump Elliot retired.

Seems hard to believe these days, but NO ONE was marketing college football.

ABC did not even pretend to show the best game each week, and limited the appearances a team could make in one year.

A couple of years later, they telecast Indiana at Wisconsin, 9th and 10th in the league at the time.

Wisconsin won to break a long losing streak, and the fans tore down the goalposts.

So, Canham advertised tickets in Columbus. And sold about 40,000 to Buckeye fans.

I remember having to stop on 94 westbound at 23. Solid Buckeye traffic.

One charter bus covered in a gray blanket with scarlet letters:

Today: Michigan. Tomorrow: The World.

We are there early and seated in plenty of time, for the first sellout of a non MSC game since, who knows.

The Buckeyes score first. They kick the point, but UM is offsides, so Strangehayes goes for two. And misses.

So when we score and kick the point, for the first time that season, Ohio is behind.

Turns out, they were not a come from behind team.

Our 24-12 halftime lead holds up, scoreless second half.

The crowd counts down the clock, the players hoist Bo on their shoulders, and the upset of the century is complete.

And a legend is born.


This time, I sent in for two tickets, take my Dad for his birthday.

One morning he sees in the paper that the game is already sold out, and ruefully apologizes for having missed the boat.

I am delighted to tell him we are covered.

The super sophs are gone, so Ohio is in a rebuilding year. They lose at home to Colorado, MSC, and to Northwestern.

Don't laugh. If you read our media guide, Northwestern was the only ranked team our 11-0 squad beat that year.

The Big Eight reigned, as Nebraska finished #1, Okalahoma #2, and Colorado, losing only to #1 an #2, finished 3rd in the polls.

Why I remember this stuff. . . . . .

So, ten and 0 UM up against 6-3 Ohio. Rose Bowl trip is already sewn up, with narrow win at Purdue the week before.

We trail 7 -3 before getting our only touchdown.

"Touchdown!  BIlly Taylor!" one of the most played Ufer recordings.  Sprung by a block by FB Fritz Seyferth.  What is forgotten is that Fritz made the 4th and one the play before that kept the drive going.  As well as scoring our only TD in the Rose Bowl, a 13-12 loss to Stanford.

The Buckeyes are driving when we make the pick that drives Strangehayes into one of his tantrums, breaking the down markers.

We complete an undefeated season.

Overview: the 70s

Bo lost his first game to Sparty. Woody lost at Ann Arbor in 69, 71, tied in 73, and lost in East Lansing in 72 and 74.

He won all the rest of his conference games all those years, plus 1968.

After that MSC loss, Bo lost only to Woody until being upset by one team per year 76-78, and Woody went until a 78 loss to Purdue before losing to a non-Michigan based Big Ten school.

These records will not be duplicated.

And if you think the Big Ten is bad now, after Purdue fell off around 72, the Big Two and Little Eight featured an extremely weak Little Eight.


The way the schedule works, this game is after thanksgiving.

The Ohio game sells out early, again beating my Dad's ticket order.

To get him into the game, I buy the student season tickets of a bunch of friends who are not going to the games.

Back in the day, no student ID required. Students paid half the full price for tickets.

So, I found myself with a bunch of tickets to the other games to sell, and ended up in the ticket broker business through 1981.

So, for the first time, both teams enter the game unbeaten and untied, 10-0.

I am sure I can make a fortune selling tickets on the street the day of the game. But, most students are still home for the holiday weekend, and you can get tickets for face value or less. Another lesson in humility.

Bo gambles early with a pass, which is picked off.

I am told that Bo would say to Woody before the game, “I'm running right. Try and stop me.” Talk about predictible offenses.

Having listened to the replay on WTKA a few years ago, I was struck by one statistic: Ohio penalties: zero. Zip. Nada. Not a one.

Down ten zip in the fourth quarter, fourth and one, as Ufer says, everyone knows it will be Shuttlesworth up the middle, but, No! Franklin takes the ball outside and bootlegs untouched into the end zone!

The crowd reaction is the loudest noise I have heard in my life.

We hold them, get the ball back, and drive for a tying field goal.

And my Dad says, not likely we can score three consecutive possessions, after being shut out all day.

This is the game the Michigan player called time out after an incomplete pass, or out of bounds play. Bo was not happy.

Lantry missed about a 57 yeard FG near the end, but we students all assumed we were going to the Rose Bowl. Ohio had been the year before, conference records even, head to head even.

I was driving home from Ann Arbor when I hear the result of the athletic directors vote. 6 to 4 to send Ohio. By rule, a 5-5 vote would have sent Michigan.

The excuse?

Dennis Franklin broke his collarbone during the game; the Ads did not want to lose to the Pac Eight again in the Rose Bowl, so they voted to send Ohio.

I had trouble maintaining control of my car.


I will see Bert Smith in hell, or know the reason why.

And Ohio went on to beat USC, 42-21. We would have one that game.


I was planning on going to the game in Columbus, but sustained an injury in MSC's victory over Woody.

I was in the student section with my friend, the last time I wore green and white, actually.

Ohio unbeaten, untied, and number one in the country.

13 to 9 Ohio, with a couple minutes left. The punt pins Sparty back at his own 12 yard line.

In a daring call, on first down, Denny Stoltz sends his fullback, Levi Jackson, off tackle. He goes 88 yards for the touchdown. 16-13 MSC leads.

I am thrilled! However, thrilled as I am, I am even more inebriated and am unable to negotiate a landing after jumping in the air, twisting my left ankle.

I was, literally, feeling no pain.

No OT in those days. Woody drives all the way down the field to the one yard line.

No tying field goal for him.

No timeouts. Ohio snaps the ball, one official throws the flag. One official is waiving his hands, snap not off in time, game over. A third official signals touchdown when the Ohio running back crosses the goal line.

It took an hour for the outcome to be determined, as most of the crowd waited. Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke is at the game, and, the powers that be eventually determine that Sparty has, indeed, pulled off the upset.

My friend abandons me to join the crew that carries off the goal post, to a pre-arranged site where it is cut into souvenir sections for the organized team. Which had pulled off the same feat after the 1972 upset of Ohio.

His brother assists my limping ass back to the dorm.

I forget how I got back to A2; I know I did not drive.

One of my roommates took me to U hospital.

I was sure my ankle was not broken, because I could wiggle my toes.

However, when the doctor moved my foot to the left, I screamed.

When he moved it to the right, I screamed again. When he moved it up, the same result was produced. When he pushed it up, I turned up the volume all the way.

Torn ligaments.

In a cast for a month. No trip to Columbus.

So I watch on TV at the SAE house. Up 10-0 in the first quarter. Awesome.

The defense holds Ohio to four field goals.

We move down for the game winning attempt on the last play. And, the kick was good! Way higher than the upright, and called, no good.

The Denny Franklin years are over, my first 3 years at UM, 30 wins, 2 losses, one tie.

No bowl games.



November 4th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^


You and the rest of the neighborhood kids jumped on those leaf piles before burning them, right? Just verifying nostalgia credentials. I hear contemporary kids don't, it would be considered an affront to Nature and there might be kittens underneath.
A fine thread and appreciated.


November 4th, 2012 at 5:53 PM ^

I think it was that 74 game at MSC, I was watching on TV - does anyone else remember this - They caught this on TV - the MSC "students" rushed the field after the victory and one of them ran up behind Woody as he was walking off the field and put his arm around Woody's shoulder. Woody punched the kid right in the face. The anouncers didn't notice it or it least didn't say anything about it. I thought it was hilarious and confirmed my low opinion of Woody even though I was still in high school at the time.


November 4th, 2012 at 6:00 PM ^

First, Lantry hit a field goal, and then Franklin scored. In the final minutes, Lantry missed not one, but two field goals. He was a great story, a Vietnam vet who had returned to play for Michigan. Despite those two misses, he was a very good kicker, and should be remembered as such. 

The truth? No, that '73 team didn't win a national title, but they didn't lose a game all season. Next year, they should be honored at The Big House for their accomplishments. For a lot of people my age, that was the team that made us diehard Michigan fans. Paul Seal for president!








November 6th, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

That was the first game I went to. I was 13 and sitting with an older cousin and his girlfriend. People passed a joint around – my introduction to weed, though I didn't really partake. That day was the sound of mass groaning on an epic scale, first when Franklin got hurt and then on the kicks. We were behind the goalposts. One of them – I forget which – looked good to us. Everybody went crazy. Then the groan…


November 7th, 2012 at 3:22 AM ^

Yes, another friend of mine.  Came up behind Woody and said:  Hey, you f------ lost today!  Woody elbowed him without even turning around.  The fan walked around after the game with dried blood around his mouth saying:  Wood Hayes did this to me!


November 4th, 2012 at 9:47 PM ^

both teams enter the game unbeaten and untied, 10-0."

I believe both were undefeated and untied at the time of the 1970 game as well, although that year Michigan played a 10-game season and OSU played a 9-game season.


November 5th, 2012 at 6:17 PM ^

was Michigan State AD and cast his vote for Woody's boys to go to Pasadena for the second consecutive year (the no-repeat rule had been repealed).
IIRC, about a week after the Rose Bowl decision, and MSU AD's vote, the Michigan Legislature took up the issue of whether MSU should have a law school; that measure went down to defeat.