In just a few short months, the long-awaited 2012 PAC-12 football season will be upon us pigskin fans. Some noteworthy changes in the conference include USC moving on from its two-year postseason ban, and UCLA bringing in some NFL coaching blood with Jim Mora. But before we paint our chests and exhibit our wild team spirit, let’s throwback to the best seasons (since 1980) of each of these twelve teams. They always say you can learn something from the past; so maybe recalling these teams’ glory days will inspire an exciting season.
First, we kick off with the Colorado Buffaloes football program. Indeed, the Buffs 2011 performance left them in last place, but that’s not to say they haven’t experienced the sweet taste of victory; well, maybe just once. The 1990 University of Colorado football team won the school’s first and only National Championship. Led by head coach Bill McCartney, Colorado capped the season with a record of 11 wins, one loss, and one tie.
Not only was this Colorado’s best season, but arguably its’ most memorable as well. If you recall, the Buffs split the National Championship with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets that year. The Associated Press Poll named Colorado as the winner, but the UPI/Coaches Poll deemed Georgia Tech its champion by just one vote. According to Mike Tierney for the AJC, the lack of consensus triggered a run of “split” champions.
However, what made this 1990 team historic was the major argument against the Buffaloes in claiming the title. Who could forget the fifth down game against Missouri? On October 6th, 1990 the 12th ranked Buffaloes traveled to face the Missouri Tigers, and with less than three minutes to go, Colorado gained possession of the ball deep in its own territory. Trailing by the score of 31-27 but nearing the end zone of its opponents, quarterback Charles Johnson called the team’s third and final timeout. During that pause and by some force of idiocy, the officiating crew failed to change the marker from second down to third down. In a contentious fifth down play, the Colorado Buffaloes scored a touchdown in the last two seconds of the game to win 33-31. The call cast doubt on the Buffaloes claim to the national championship, and was even voted the Number Three Worst Call in Sports History by ESPN. According to Stuart Whitehair of The Bleacher Report, coach McCartney refused to forfeit the game, saying that “it would be unfair because the field was treacherous; it was not a playable field.”
The University of Colorado Boulder football team ended the season with a win over number one ranked Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. Linebacker Alfred Williams was the 1990 Dick Butkus Award winner. Williams, along with Eric Bienemy and Joe Garten, was named an All-American. Eight players were drafted into the NFL and McCartney was named the Big Eight Coach of the Year.
Despite the controversy, the 1990 season for the Colorado Buffaloes was indeed a huge success. Perhaps in 2012, the Buffs can hope for another gift from some oblivious officials. Maybe then it can improve its poor 3-10 record from this past season.