1979 Rose Bowl: 2 phantom touchdowns

Submitted by stephenrjking on August 11th, 2012 at 2:17 PM
The "What If" thread mentioned Charles White's phantom touchdown, one of the worst calls in football history. Most of the readership of this board is too young to remember it, but those who were (including my dad) still seethe with rage when the topic is brought up.

But it was worse than that. A few years ago ESPN classic showed this game and I, desiring punishment, watched. And I saw it, the same as a Michigan player who was vigorously pointing to the right side of the USC offense:

On USC's first touchdown play, a USC player committed a false start penalty that was not called. The play should never have counted. It wasn't from close to the end zone, either--it covered some distance, and there's every reason to think that Michigan would have had a chance to at least hold SC to a field goal if the penalty is called correctly.

Both USC touchdowns were phantom in the '79 Rose Bowl. Just to remind you that we were robbed.



August 11th, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

Michigan QB Rick Leach was intercepted by USC's Ronnie Lott (SF 49er) and returned 33 yards to the Michigan 16. 3 plays later, USC 7, UM 0.

Leach was also later intercepted by USC LB Dennis Smith (ironically also a Flint, MI native).

Yes, the refs hosed Michigan in that game, but Michigan had a lot of offensive miscues and dropped passes.  

Both teams actually played great defense in the game. Michigan forced a turnover and a lot of 3 and outs.

The real reason Michigan lost  the game was not the refs, USC's defense or TB Charles White. It was because of USC punter Marty King, who put Leach and Co. in shitty field position all game long with punts of 59, 53, 42, 48. Special teams and turnovers.

True Blue Grit

August 11th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

In fact the Michigan player who jumped on the loose ball was Jerry Meter who played H.S. ball at my alma mater Bloomfield Hills Andover.  He was one of 3 future Michigan players who played for Bo on our team in 1974.   He was a beast of a LB for us and he was a defensive captain for Bo his senior year.  (I try to think about this instead of getting really pissed about the blown call by the refs.  The frickin ball was loose at least a yard and a half short of the goal line. 


August 11th, 2012 at 4:34 PM ^

I was a year away from being born so I didn't witness this, thank GOD.  I've been told O.J. Simpson was in the broadcast booth sort of yucking it up too. 

It's amazing the stupid shit that happens when we play USC in the Rose Bowl.  You have this phantom touchdown in 1979, the phantom holding call on Chris Stapleton's fake punt in 1990 (and a message to Bo that the call was on purpose), even when we beat them in 1989, we got screwed on a 2 point conversion while we were trailing when a USC defender was in the neutral zone at the snap and the ref didn't throw a flag. 

Then there's the bizarre shit like Bo having a massive heart attack the night before we played USC in 1970, with our players going to the game in tears.  And of course, while it didn't decide the game there was the 04 Rose Bowl where the ball bounced off Braylon's heel and right into the hands of a USC defender giving them the ball inside the 15 yard line.  That kind of play happens 1 out of a million times and naturally it went USC's way.

What I wouldn't give to see USC get screwed on a horrible call in the Rose Bowl or to see something flukey go against them at the worst possible time.  I keep waiting for that old saying, "what goes around, comes around," in regards to the Trojans and it's taking awfully long for that coming around part on their side.


August 11th, 2012 at 5:14 PM ^


Wolverine Historian:


Here are some more interesting factoids about the 1990 "holding" call:


1. The ref who called it was a Pac 10 ref

2. The number of the player he said was holding wasnt on the field for the play

3. When shown the replay of the game and asked who the holding call was on two days later he was unable (or unwilling) to say who exactly he saw hold

That was easily one of the most blatant examples of a "fuck you Bo - you are NOT going to win this game no matter what " call ever.  Argueably as bad as the 79 Rose Bowl TD referenced.  I had not heard before it was premeditated but it surely looks that way now.  


August 11th, 2012 at 6:02 PM ^

I remember Charles White not having the good graces to keep his mouth shut ---saying that when he saw he crossed the line he let the ball go.

Hate that guy.


August 11th, 2012 at 11:01 PM ^

I was a big Leach fan and really wanted Bo to win a bowl game that year! I was 15 and in the tenth grade at the time. Thought the offense would play better. The phantom TD pissed me off, I don't know how any of the refs could count this as a TD!!!! Too bad we did not have instant replay!