Sept. 24, 2007
By W. Thomas Porter
This article is the last of four parts leading up to the Washington-USC game on September 29. During the half-time of that game, the 1960 Husky team will be celebrated. The articles have chronicled the team's rise from ashes to roses and a national championship.
The final Associated Press and United Press International regular season polls crowned Minnesota as the national champions. The Gophers were followed by Mississippi, Iowa, Navy, Missouri, and Washington. Arkansas, Ohio State, Alabama, and Duke rounded out the top ten in the Associated Press poll. Washington finished fifth in the UPI poll behind Minnesota, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri. Both polls were taken before the bowl games were played.
On November 22, Minnesota was invited to face Washington in the 47th Rose Bowl, to be played on January 2, 1961. It would be the Gophers' first appearance in Pasadena.
Meanwhile, post-season honors came in bunches for Husky players. Six were selected to the all-conference team -- Chuck Allen, Roy McKasson, and Don Mcketa were unanimous choices and George Fleming, Kurt Gegner and Ray Jackson rounded out the first team. Pat Claridge, Bill Kinnune, and Charlie Mitchell were named to the second team. Allen, McKasson, and McKeta were selected to the AP's All-Coast team with Claridge, Fleming, and Gegner on the second unit. Allen, Fleming, Gegner, and McKasson were selected to the UPI's All-Coast team.
Check out the results of the 1960 team by clicking here.
Washington had the most representation of any team in the nation on the AP's's All-America teams. In addition to McKasson's first team selection, six teammates received honorable mention -- Allen, Claridge, Fleming, Gegner, McKeta, and Bob Schloredt.
In the 1961 Rose Bowl, Washington would face a much tougher opponent than Wisconsin, the team they thrashed 44-8 the year before. Minnesota had a grinding mobile line that averaged 223 pounds, almost 20 more than the Husky front wall. The hub of the line was 243-pound Tom Brown who was acclaimed as the best interior lineman in all of the land. He received not only a fist full of national awards but also was crowned the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. He was only the eighth lineman to receive the award in its 37-year history.
The two teams matched up pretty well. Minnesota scored 221 points in nine games to Washington's 255 in ten games. Minnesota gave up 71 points, Washington 100. The Gophers big scoring quarter was the fourth -- 86 points to the Huskies' 51. One of the major differences was in the punting game. Washington allowed 3.75 yards per punt return to Minnesota's eight-yard average.
Bob Hivner and Schloredt would share the quarterbacking duties. Hivner deserved to start. He had done a masterful job of guiding the Huskies to six straight victories after Schloredt went out for the season with an injury in the UCLA game. Hivner was poised under pressure in engineering come-from-behind wins over Oregon State and Oregon and hitting McKeta for the two point conversion in the 8-7 thriller over the Cougars. During the regular season, he completed 54.4 percent of his passes and led the Huskies in total offense and passes intercepted.
In its long history, the Rose Bowl probably had never been shaken by such passion from the stands. Nearly 30,000 Washington fans had assembled in the stands. Two hours before kickoff, 12,000 had filled the student section. Over 300 more students with tickets stood outside the bowl throughout the whole game, unable to crowd themselves into the tiers of seats.
On third down in the Gophers first offensive series, quarterback Sandy Stephens initially set up over his center and then dropped back five yards in the end zone. He booted the ball to Fleming who took it at midfield and danced between several defenders up the middle to the Gopher 34. Four plays later Washington's kicking game would swing into action. On fourth and three, Fleming lined up on the 34. He remembers that some of the Minnesota players started laughing and saying `No way' about his kicking a field goal from that distance. They shut up as he swung his leg perfectly into the ball, sending it sailing through the uprights for a 3-0 lead. "I got back there and just boomed it. It went about 60 yards." His 44-yard field goal was the then longest one in Rose Bowl history. It was also a personal best for Mr. Automatic.
Near the end of the first quarter, the maroon and gold section of the stands went absolutely quiet. Starting on the Washington 38, the Huskies went the distance. On second down, Schloredt hid the ball on his hip as he rolled to his left behind some great interior blocking. Jackson, who had slipped out of the backfield, was open near the left sideline and tucked Schloredt's pass in on the Minnesota 48 for a 12-yard pickup. Jackson then darted over left tackle through a lane of Husky blockers down to the Gopher 29. Schloredt pitched to Mitchell, who initially cut up toward the tackle and then sped around right end for six more. Jackson for three. On third and one, Schloredt followed the blocks of McKasson and Bullard over the left and a first down on the 18 as the quarter ended.
Four plays later, the Huskies scored. Mitchell dashed over left end for 11. Schloredt, on a rollout over the right side, slipped for no gain. He then rolled left for four behind a punishing block by Jackson. On the right side, Schloredt faked the run and overthrew Mitchell who was open in the right side of the end zone. Fourth down. Wooten initially set up on the left side and then went in motion in an arc to the right. He kept on running after the snap and was wide open when Schloredt hit him with a short toss on the one and he went untouched into the end zone.
Near the middle of the second stanza, Washington started a scoring drive on its 32. Fleming, Jackson, and Schloredt got the big yardage. Jackson over left guard for 10. Fleming took it for nine yards in two carries. On third and one at the Gopher 49, Schloredt looked over an eight-man Minnesota front. He hesitated after the snap just long enough to get great blocking over the left side. He then jumped through the front wall and cut left in the secondary. At the 40-yard line, Folkins laid a terrific block outside-in on the corner back. Schloredt cut outside of Folkins to the left sideline and rumbled down to the 18 before the pursuit caught him.
Jackson bounced over right guard for three. Schloredt rolled right for eight yards and a first down at the seven. Jackson drove to the four and then again over the same spot to the goal line. Everybody in the crowd and on the sidelines thought he had scored. The referee set the ball down inches from the big white stripe. Schloredt then followed a host of linemen over the left side for the touchdown. After the successful kick, Fleming was flattened by a Gopher squarely in front of the official who presumably was only intent on making a perfect signal on the conversion. The Huskies raced into the locker room with a 17-0 lead.
In the bowels of the stadium, Minnesota coaches and players were trying to figure out how to fool the Huskies in the second half. Statistics clearly showed Washington's domination in the first half. Washington had held the Gophers to 61 total yards and gained 158. Minnesota had not completed a pass -- two were intercepted -- and had only two first downs. They bested the Huskies only in punting -- averaging 44 yards to 40.3 -- but netted zero yards on returns compared to the Huskies 29.
The Washington coaches were telling the players to stay with the straight ahead running plays. Schloredt succinctly summed up the Huskies strategy. "We were going to play it close to the vest. We wanted ball control." It was going to be conservative football. Washington did not attempt one forward pass in the second half.
Warmath wasn't too concerned. "We were such a great second half outfit all year. I thought we would tramp the Huskies in the last 30 minutes." And he was right for much of the final two periods.
At the outset, Minnesota drove to the Husky 35. On fourth and inches, Chapple, crashing in from the left tackle position, met Hagberg head on and dropped him for a one-yard loss. No chest thumping, no pointing to the sky, just the satisfaction of doing his job as the Husky senior trotted directly off the field.
The Huskies set up to put the game away early in the third quarter as they did a year ago. But not this time. On the first play, Hivner backed away from the center a wee bit early, fumbled the exchange, and Bob Deegan recovered on the Husky 32. In three plays, the Gophers reached the end zone.
Near the end of the third quarter, Stephens punt rolled out of the bounds on the Husky 11. The next Husky series took away the Minnesota momentum and ate up precious minutes. Through a gaping hole on the left side, Jackson ran straight ahead for nine. Next, Schloredt faked to Jackson and handed off to Mitchell circling left. He was met by the end crashing in from the right side. No gain and no minutes left in the quarter.
The Gophers set up in an eight-man front. Schloredt knew if he got past the first wave, he was going to pick up a lot of yards. He momentarily set up for a hand-off and then busted through the left side. The hole was widened by McKeta trying to get there ahead of Schloredt. The two hit the gap together. McKeta joined Folkins on his left side to take care of the corner back and make it difficult for the safety to get a good shot at Schloredt. Finally, help arrived from the other side to bring the Husky quarterback down on the Washington 42 after a gain of 22 critical yards.
Minnesota then turned the tables. They forced the Huskies into third and 19. Schloredt punted 47 yards to put the Gophers 76 yards away from making the game much tighter. In eight plays, they reached the Washington 26 where they faced fourth and two. Hagberg then fumbled and Husky sophomore Ray Mansfield recovered. But Washington had jumped offside and the Gophers had new life on the 21.
After Stephens rolled around right end for six and Judge Dickson plowed over right guard for a first down on the 11, Minnesota reached the six. On third and five, Stephens dropped straight back to pass. As he turned to throw, he found McKeta blitzing in from his corner back position. "I actually lined up as a linebacker. It was just a gut feeling to get near the line of scrimmage," McKeta recounted. "I just knew Stephens was coming my way. I had to go in and cut him off." Stephens was dropped on the 18. Coach Tipps would later say one of the keys to the victory was "...when McKeta crashed through and hit their passer for a loss -- when they were knocking at our goal line for their second touchdown."
With the crowd standing and all the coaches and players on the sidelines encouraging the men on the field, Minnesota set up for a field goal attempt on the 25. Stephens, the holder, caught the snap, rose, rolled right, right arm cocked. He continued running down to the 20 where three Huskies were converging on him. He then threw toward the goal line where a column of four Huskies had the passing lane to the lone Gopher receiver covered. McKeta was the third one in the phalanx and in front of the receiver -- Fleming was covering behind. The gutty and gritty Husky came to the rescue one last time. He stepped up to catch the underthrown pass on the one and returned it out to the nine. McKeta would later say that he didn't want to catch the ball at the goal line. "But I was afraid if I batted it into the air, a Minnesota player might grab it and we really would be in trouble. So, I caught it and ran as far as I could. My terrific speed," he laughed, "carried me all the way to the nine."
On third and 12 on the Husky seven and less than five minutes to go, Schloredt set up in his end zone to punt. With a hang time of 4.7 seconds enabling three Huskies -- Fleming, Kinnune, and McKeta -- to run down field and get set to flatten him, Stephens made a fair catch on the Husky 44. Minnesota was now getting desperate.
Stephens rolled left and lobbed a short pass to fullback Jim Rogers, near the left sideline on the Husky 40. As Rogers turned to head downfield, Schloredt came up from his deep corner spot at full speed. He aimed his helmet right at the opponent's right shoulder and chest and drilled it with the might of his body and extended legs. He not only straightened the Gopher fullback up but drove him back several yards and toppled him to the ground. It was the essence of the Husky defense -- hitting with the helmet to inflict pain and physical punishment on the ball carrier. The game was over.
For Schloredt, Hollywood couldn't have scripted it any better. From a broken collar bone in October and all those gut-wrenching one point victories to get to the Rose Bowl, Schloredt had played a large part in another Rose Bowl victory. Back on the big stage, his flair, his ability, and his bruising style led the Huskies to a stirring victory over the regular season national champions. He had gained 68 yards and averaged 13.6 yards per carry. He scored one touchdown and threw for another. For the second year in a row, he was voted the game's Most Outstanding Player award -- he shared it with Fleming in 1960. He was the first player in the 47-year history of the Rose Bowl to receive the award twice.
It was the second straight time the Huskies, as the underdog, had risen up and smashed a Big Ten opponent with a decisiveness that left only the size of the score, never the winner, in doubt. It was the first time in the continuous series with Big Ten teams, that a West Coast team had won two Rose Bowls in a row.
The Huskies had demonstrated their remarkable camaraderie, their close-knit team unity, and their overwhelming desire to pay the price for victory. The seniors had laid four years of work on the line to become champions.
In the final analysis, it was Owens' philosophy and system for success clearly in evidence on the battlefield. Fast lean linemen, speedy backs, two heady and confident field generals, vicious tackling, the kicking game, and finely conditioned athletes who had become a band of brothers in battle.
Washington had defeated the regular season national champions. In the pre-game venues where the players came together, the Huskies noted that the Gophers sported watches inscribed with "National Champions." The Washington coaches and players believed that the Rose Bowl game was a championship bout and that when you win a championship match, you get the title. They felt that they just didn't eke out the victory, they won decisively.
Over the two-year period -- 1959 and 1960 -- the Huskies had forged the second best record of any collegiate football team in America -- 20 wins and two losses. With 20 victories, one tie, and one defeat, Mississippi had a slightly better resume.
In 1960, the system of selecting a national champion was seriously flawed. Some polls made their final selections before the bowl games were played. The Associated Press finally recognized the problem in 1965 when it selected a champion after the entire season was over.
Controversy reigned as much in 1960 as in the early 21st century. Imagine -- some were even calling for a national playoff system.
At that time, there were two polls that selected a national champion after all the evidence -- regular season records and bowl game results -- was in. They were the Helms Foundation Poll founded in 1900 and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) which started in 1954. The FWAA selected Mississippi. The Helms Foundation selected Washington as the national champion.
Before crowning the Huskies as national champions, the Foundation sought the opinions of a number of football coaches and sportswriters around the country. The majority favored the Huskies. In making its decision, the Foundation narrowed its analysis down to Mississippi and Washington. The Foundation staff carefully weighed the merits of the two teams as to results and strength of their opponents. As a result of the Helms Foundation decision, Washington could lay claim to the national title outright or at least to a shared title with the Rebels. Owens and his staff and their band of football brothers has taken a program on probation and won back-to-back Rose Bowl games and a national title. Washington's football program had risen from the ashes to fields of roses and a national championship.
Tom Porter has written three books about Husky athletics. He co-authored with Jim Daves The Glory of Washington: The People and Events That Shaped the Husky Athletic Tradition and Husky Stadium: Great Games and Golden Moments. His latest book -- A Football of Band of Brothers: Forging the University of Washington's First National Championship can be purchased from Amazon.com, the Husky Team Shop, the University Book Store, and directly from the publisher -- Trafford Publishing (Trafford.com/06-2420). To order a personally inscribed book for yourself, a family member, or your favorite Husky fan, please contact Porter at BoB.firstname.lastname@example.org