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.



March 13th, 2013 at 3:48 PM ^

To me the 1990 Rose Bowl was the crown jewel in the Pac10's annual robbery of the Rose Bowl from Bo.  Year after year we got screwed out there by hometown officials seeming dead-set on providing the local team a winner but in the 1990 game they took the blatant homerism to new highs.

Phantom Touchdowns by Charles White be dammed (see 1979 Rose Bowl), this one featured a phantom penalty that was called on a player not even on the field at the time!  With less than 4 minutes to go in a 10-10 tie, Bo did the unthinkable (for Bo anyways) and ordered up a fake punt from about the Michigan 40 with under three minutes to go in the game and it worked!  The play took the ball all the way down inside the Trojan 10 yard line and it was first and goal Michigan with time running down.  

But wait....there's a late flag on the field for holding.  The play is coming back!  Who is the holding call on screamed Bo....who was it on?  (back then the officials didnt have to identify players by name for the call) and when he got his response it turned out the player wasnt even in the game!  Replay after replay showed no holding on any player and it wasnt even close!

 Bo went ape-shit nuts and got a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty (how dare he question the sancitity of a Pac10 ref) moving the ball back a full 25 yards from LOS when coupled with the fake 10 yard holding call.  Michigan, demoralized, punted now from inside their own 10 and USC took advantadge scoring the winning touchdown shortly before the game ended.

Many have said through the years that the referees doing that game have said they weren't going to let Bo win his last game out there no matter what.  If you saw it live as I did you will never, ever forget it and you'd be hard pressed to say the "fix" (or whatever you want to call it) wasn't in for Michigan that day.  It was brutal.


March 13th, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

i mean the general scenario is right, but i remember that the holding call was on Bobby Abrasm, an outside LB (if memory serves) who was the end man that the punter ran past on the fake punt. he basically had his arms out hugging the end man who was facing upfield. after the game, the camera crew found him and interviewed him as he cried.

from an article:

``The one thing I won`t miss in retirement is incompetent officiating,``

Schembechler rages afterward. He is asked about whom he speaks.

``The most imcompetent one,`` Bo barks, with a furtive grin. ``Absolutely ridiculous. You couldn`t go out and find another official who`d make that call. If I see the films and I`m wrong, I`ll retract. But that was terrible.`` At the movies, Bo will see Charles Czubin deliver the laundry. He is a line judge from the Pac-10 Conference, confirming another of Bo`s jangles, that the Rose Bowl deserves a neutral crew, not a mixed one. Czubin fingers Michigan linebacker Bobby Abrams for holding on the fake punt, though the initial report Bo receives on the sideline is an alleged infraction for blocking below the waist. This convinces Bo that Czubin is confused, though Czubin might also be flabbergasted at Michigan`s unusual diversionary tactic. ``In my humble opinion,`` Bo rages on, ``you can`t have all amateur officials anymore. The game has passed them up. They can`t keep up.``


March 13th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

I debated recounting the infamous holding penalty in the 1990 Rose Bowl, but the diary was getting pretty long and, frankly, I couldn't bear going over that play again.  That call was absolute bullshit.  If any coach deserved to go out a winner, it was Bo, and he coached a hell of a game that day.  Michigan deserved to win that game.  Still chaps my ass to this day.


March 15th, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

Actually, Bo himself said it in an additional chapter for the paperback version of his autobiography.  By then, he was with the Tigers, and started out by saying that he didn't work for Michigan anymore, and could finally speak freely with no threat of retaliation by the NCAA.

He said in the book that he walked by the refs' locker room, and heard them lauging about the call.  According to Bo, one said, "There's no way I was gonna let that son of a bitch win his last game here."

All it really did was confirm what everybody who watched the game knew anyway.


March 13th, 2013 at 5:31 PM ^

Really nice job and an enjoyable read. The Final Four in 89 was in Seattle, where my brother was doing an internship with the city. He was not a hoops fan back then. Some folks from North Carolina came to his office that day and he hit it off with them. They said they had an extra ticket for the game that night (it was in the Kingdome) and invited him. He was a student at Brown at the time, but we are a major Michigan family and he's a big Michigan football fan. He didn't even know who was playing in the game!

It was the first NCAA final to go into OT in something like 25 years, Michigan's only national championship, and to this day it's the only basketball game my brother ever attended. Some people…


March 13th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

A great year? OR THE BEST YEAR?

My Sophomore year at UM.

Started with Rose Bowl win, ended with 1990 Rose Bowl hopes, partitioned with a Basketball Championship.

The best year.


March 14th, 2013 at 1:39 AM ^

After graduating in '85, I was living and working near A2 and got to go to many Michigan games through the 80s. Then job promotions took me out of state in August of 1990 and have never been back...except for visits of my family and an occasional game! I agree that holding call was criminal! I can't believe '89 was so long ago...24 years! I miss being 25!


March 14th, 2013 at 3:21 AM ^

I am told by a UM friend from Wenley House days that the official who made the call was on a sports radio show in Indiana, when he admitted he made the call just because he did not like Shembechler.  I was at the phantom TD Rose Bowl.

Ah, but who remembers such things after all these years.  :)

Darth Saedd

March 14th, 2013 at 3:34 AM ^

in my infinite ignorance I was not aware unitl this Year In Review that one of the very few living men who can lay claim as being A Dark Lord Of The Sith(James Earle Jones) attended The University Of  Michigan

As a comple mark for both Star Wars and anything the The University of Michigan related I feel compelled to ask...considering at 1 point he was the 2nd most powerful man in the galaxy, is Darth Vader the greates alumn ever (former president/leader of the free world Gerald Ford as an obvious #2 ha ha)


PS   sorry for the tangent


March 14th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

Thanks for bringing back all of those great memories (except the Rocket Ishmail part -- still remember standing in the rain, pissed off about that one).  I was a freshman in 88-89.  I went to the final game of the regular season against Illinois with my brother that year.  Illinois didn't just beat us, they blew us out in our own gym.  As we were walking out, I said to my brother, "I think we just saw the national champs" ... of course, I was right, but about the wrong team.

steve sharik

March 14th, 2013 at 10:53 AM ^

My first year as a student at Michigan was 88-89.  We won the Rose Bowl and the National Championship in basketball.  I thought this would be the norm, not realizing at the time how amazing it was.  

I'm optimistic we'll soon see a day when we pull a 06-07 Florida and win both national titles, and hopefully go a step further and get a hockey title the same year.  I don't think a national title in more than two major sports has ever been done.


March 14th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

I don't think a national title in more than two major sports has ever been done

Certainly not by any school where one of the sports is hockey, since there are very few schools that carry hockey that also compete in football and basketball as well. There might be some schools that are strong in baseball, football, and basketball....Florida comes to mind.

Michigan came pretty close in the 1997-98 school year. Won the national title in football and hockey and the basketball team won the Big 10 tournament championship (vacated).


March 14th, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

You just brought back some memories of 1989. I remember that Final game very well. We just lost our CYO basketball championship game that weekend and I was very disappointed, but after the Wolverines beat Seton Hall Monday night,  I forgot all about it after i seen Rumeal Robinson sink those 2 free throws to win it, and seeing them cut down the nets in Seattle. Also I revisited that 1990 Rose Bowl which the Pac-10 refs gifted wrapped that game to USC and still shudder at that 89 ND-UM game where Rocket ran both kickoffs back. Some good and bad memories of being a UM fan. Good review overall!