MGoHistory - The Year In Review - 1980

Submitted by saveferris on August 30th, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Previous MGoHistory [1986, 1971, 1997, 1989]

As the long winter that is the college football offseason approaches its merciful conclusion, we pause once again to review the glory of Michigan past before we witness what is sure to be the glory of Michigan future.  So enter the TARDIS and join me and The Doctor as we take a look at the year that was….1980.

America enters a new decade as a country suffering, as President Jimmy Carter refers to it, a “crisis of confidence”.  Watergate and Vietnam have left the American people disillusioned with their government.  The US economy, battered for the better part of the previous decade by recession, inflation, gasoline shortages, and high unemployment has many doubting in the future of the country.  Adding insult to injury, the Soviet Union’s brash invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis calls into question America’s position on the world stage.  The morale of the country in 1980 is not good. 

Enter this guy.  Former actor and governor of California, Ronald Reagan, bringing a message of optimism and hope, wins a landslide victory in November to become the 40thPresident of the United States.  Reagan’s policies of increased deficit spending and lower taxes help pull the economy out of the doldrums of the 1970’s and sends the American consumer culture into overdrive, a culture that is still strongly imprinted on America to this day.

The countrys’ morale is also given a big boost in 1980 by these guys.  The XIIIth Winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, NY open under the specter of a US-lead boycott of the upcoming Summer Games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  Rather than lead a boycott of their own, the Soviets attend the US-hosted games determined to humiliate the Americans on their home soil.  The event the Soviets are most favored to win is the mens hockey tournament, where the Soviet National Team has been widely regarded as the best hockey squad for going on 20 years.  The US National Team is a collection of 20 college amateurs lead by Minnesota Head Coach Herb Brooks and is not expected to compete for a medal.  The US team surprises many by scrapping its’ way into the medal round only to be faced with a semi-final match-up against the Soviets which nobody believes can be won.  In what is now referred to as the Miracle on Ice, the Americans stun the Soviets 4-3 and then go on to win the gold medal by defeating Finland in the final.  The US win in hockey sparks a wave of patriotism throughout the country and is widely regarded at the greatest sports upset in history.

Other notable news items of the year is the eruption of Mt St. Helens in Washington state which kills 57 people and causes upwards of $3 billion in property damage.  The Voyager 1 space probe has a rendezvous with the planet Saturn, giving humans their first up-close look at the spectacular rings around the planet.   The Chrysler Corporation, headed by Lee Iacocca, negotiates a federal loan to avoid bankruptcy.  Consumer products like Post-It Notes, the Rubiks Cube, and the video game Pac-Man appear.  And the Information Age gets somewhat of a start with the development of the telephone modem and the launch of CNN, which will ultimately lead to the 24 hour news cycle and the ubiquitous presence of the media in everyday life.

In the sporting world, 1980 is a banner year for Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania professional teams are represented in every major sporting championship contest in 1980.  The Pittsburgh Steelers, lead by future Hall of Fame quarterback and NutriSystem pitchman Terry Bradshaw, win their 4thSuper Bowl championship by defeating the LA Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV.  On the ice, the Philadelphia Flyers fall to the New York Islanders in 6 games of the Stanley Cup Finals.  On the hardwood, the 76ers featuring the legendary Julius Erving lose the NBA Championship in 6 games to the LA Lakers and a rookie Magic Johnson.  The Commonwealth is redeemed by the end of the year when the Mike Schmidt leads the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series title, defeating the Kansas City Royals in 6 games (this is not a typo, KC was at one time very good at baseball).

In the entertainment world, people watch “Dallas” by the millions and everyone becomes obsessed with the question of , “Who shot JR?”.  Other popular television programming includes “Three’s Company”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “The Love Boat”, and “The Dukes of Hazzard”.  On the big screen, we flock to see “The Empire Strikes Back” and learn that {SPOILER ALERT} Darth Vader is Luke’s father.  Nobody flocks to see “Heaven’s Gate”, which winds up bankrupting United Artists; and we are all blessed with some of the great comedic releases of all time in “Caddyshack”, “Airplane!”, and “The Blues Brothers”.

On the radio we are enjoying the post-disco sounds of Blondie and Kool and the Gang.  We rock out to power bands such as Queen and AC/DC, who release their classic album “Back In Black”.  The rumblings of a second British invasion are also starting to be felt in New Wave bands such as Devo, The Talking Heads, and David Bowie.  Sadly, the music and entertainment world are dealt a stunning blow late in the year with the murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman. 

Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor, morale is high.  Michigan Football is entering its second century of existence and head coach Bo Schembechler only a year removed from having won the Ten Year War against his nemesis Woody Hayes, sits atop the conference as the master of the Big Ten.  Team 101 is one of Coach Schembechler’s most talent-laden squads featuring All –Americans George Lilja and Anthony Carter as well as future All-Americans Bubba Paris, Kurt Becker, Ed Muransky,  Butch Woolfolk, and…..Anthony Carter.  The Wolverines, coming off a lackluster 8-4 record the previous season begin the season ranked 12thin the country only to fall to 1-2 and out of the polls early in the season with heartbreaking losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina by a grand total of 5 points.

Once conference play is underway though, Michigan finds its legs and rolls through opponents by massive margins including three straight shutouts of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Purdue to set up another showdown with Ohio in Columbus.  The 10thranked Wolverines face off against 2ndyear coach Earle Bruce and the 5thranked Buckeyes with the conference and Rose Bowl hanging in the balance.  Michigan grinds out a 9-3 victory earning  Schembechler his 9thBig 10 title and 6thRose Bowl appearance.

Leading up to Rose Bowl contest against Pac-10 Champion Washington, the primary focus of the media was on Schembechler’s bowl record, which included 5 losses in Pasadena and a loss in the Orange Bowl and Gator Bowl.  Inspired to break the streak, Michigan plays an inspired 2ndhalf, lead by Rose Bowl MVP Butch Woolfolk’s 182 rushing yards to crush the Huskies 23-6 and earn Schembechler his first Rose Bowl Championship and Michigan’s first since 1965.  The 1980 Wolverines finished the season 10-2 and ranked 4thin the country and would be the pre-season Number One team the following season.

The 1980’s saw America emerge from the tumultuous 70’s to a new age of prosperity and affluence.  A parallel that can be drawn to the 1980 Michigan team that entered the season extremely talented but with low expectations coming off a lackluster season previously.  Has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?  As Team 134 embarks on the 2ndthird of Michigan Football’s 2ndcentury, we all wait expectantly to see if this is the year where Brady Hoke and his team of highly touted recruits finally takes hold and leads Michigan back to where it hasn’t been for 9 years, the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl.  Hope you all enjoyed this stroll through the past and we’ll see you all after the conclusion of the season in 2014.  Go Blue!



August 31st, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

my buddy's step-mother makes $85/hour on the computer. She has been unemployed for six months but last month her paycheck was $17025 just working on the computer for a few hours. her response



August 31st, 2013 at 11:28 PM ^

I have vivid memories of both the Rose Bowl and Olympic hockey win.  I was the South Carolina game that year -- George Rogers just ran over Michigan.

Team 101

September 1st, 2013 at 12:12 PM ^

I was a freshman at U-M in 1980 and remember the season well.  Not only did we start the season 1-2 but the lone victory was a narrow 17-10 squeaker against a lowly Northwestern team.  The tide seemed to turn only after Bo inserted John Wangler as the starting quarterback (in response to the "We Want Wangler" cheers from the student section) and Wangler to Carter had a banner year.  But it really the defense that came alive and made Team 101 special - especially the consecutive quarters with no touchdowns that ended the season.  Despite Bo's tough record in bowl games, there was no doubt thestreak would end with th 1981 Rose Bowl and so it did.  1980 was a milestone year as is began to see the tradition from the run oriented offense to the more balanced attack that became the staple between 1985 and 2007.