Sept. 10, 2010
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The 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowl championship teams will be honored as the Husky legends during the Sept. 11 Syracuse game. Perhaps the face of those teams was quarterback/defensive back Bob Schloredt. He epitomized their perseverance, toughness and skill level that helped the Huskies rebound from a 3-7 record in 1958 to consecutive 10-1 campaigns and Rose Bowl wins over highly-favored opponents. Schloredt joined Huskies Gameday Magazine to reflect on those seasons that highlighted his Hall of Fame collegiate career.
Huskies Magazine: What do you remember most about the 1959 season?
Bob Schloredt: "We had just come off a 3-7 season as sophomores and we had lost a lot of close games and won just one conference game against Oregon, but we were pretty confident. We felt we had physically man-handled a lot of the teams we had played and ended up losing a lot of the games because of some mental mistakes. We went into the season having confidence in ourselves but we weren't ranked and were predicted to come in last in the conference. We ended up going through and knocking a lot of people off and having a great year. We ended up in the Rose Bowl and it ended up being the first Rose Bowl that Washington had won. We played a Wisconsin team that was a couple touchdown favorites over us. The season itself was one of lots of thrills and tough games that we won in the last part of the ballgame. The guys stuck together and played well and everything we seemed to touch turned to gold. Everything worked out for us."
HM: At what point did you realize that you had something special during the 1959 season?
Schloredt: "We really realized we had something special during our sophomore year. When we played Ohio State - the previous year they were No. 1 in the country - and they had a three yards and a cloud of dust type of game. They were a very physical team. We went back there as sophomores and played in their stadium, which at that time held 85,000 people. We were used to playing at Washington where at the time the stadium held crowds in the 30,000 range. They ended up blocking a punt in the last part of the game and ended up beating us 12-7 and we kind of felt from that game on, even though we had some losses during the season, that we had the makings of a good ball team. The games we lost were largely because of mental errors - not physical. We figured we could match anybody physically and we were in great shape and were able to beat a lot of people in the fourth quarter. That is when we thought we had something pretty special, and then when things started to roll in our junior year that is when things kind of fell right in line. It wasn't surprising to us in a way, other than the fact that we stopped making mistakes."
HM: I have a feeling that when you told people after the 3-7 season that you were going to be pretty special in 1959 that there were a few doubters out there.
Schloredt: "There certainly were. But the coaches were very positive and did a heck of a job coaching us. They made us believe that we hadn't physically been beaten by anybody and that if we just quit making mistakes we would be the winners. And that certainly is the way things turned out our junior year."
HM: In that 1959 season, your lone loss was the USC. What do you remember about that game and how it affected your season?
Schloredt: "I remember that it was a close ballgame (USC won 22-15) and that we ended up going ahead in the last part of the game. In those days, you substituted by teams. The first team would play and then the second team would come in. You couldn't substitute individuals and there were a lot of rules about coming in and out of the game during quarters. Anyways, they ended up breaking out in a long run against our second team to set up the go-ahead touchdown. We physically ended up beating the heck out of them and they ended up losing some games after that, while we ended up winning the rest of ours. We got stronger and the loss really upset us mentally in a way that we were determined to not let that happen again."
HM: You are remembered for your offensive prowess, but you also led the team with six interceptions in 1959. Talk about playing on both sides of the ball.
Schloredt: "I came in as a freshman and we had a junior college quarterback in Bob Hivner, who had more playing experience than I did because he had played in college for two years. He started the season as the No. 1 quarterback, but he broke his finger in the first ballgame, and so I stepped in and played. My stronger suit as a junior was running the football and when they ended up stacking it up on us I was able to throw under their defense. Our defense during my junior year still holds the record of only allowing 72 point against us during the season, so quite often the coaches would choose the starting quarterback base on who was the better defender. I was bigger and stronger than the other quarterbacks and I ended up playing linebacker against Ohio State my sophomore year and played fullback in part of the game. My strength to start with was on defense because I was big and strong comparatively to the other backs and it worked out that I got the nod my junior year. We really improved out offense my senior year, but our defense was always rock solid and that was probably the best thing we had going for us."
HM: After such a successful campaign in 1959, how did you prepare for the 1960 season with so much hype and expectations heaped on the team?
Schloredt: "It was a long hot summer and the training was tough. In those days, you didn't have a TV timeout, especially in 1958 and 1959. We would play through for three quarters and we figured we could beat anybody in the fourth quarter because we were in better shape. We won a lot of games because we were in better physical shape than a lot of the other teams."
HM: Jim Owens was notorious for running his players through the wringer. What do you remember about the workouts and what was so tough about them?
Schloredt: "The first couple of years were pretty tough. By the time we got to be seniors, we had some injuries, so it was not quite as tough. But, the first three years were more mentally tough that we were pushed to the limit where we were just about to drop and couldn't handle anymore. We pushed our way through it and it really helped us to be mentally tough. When you get tired and fatigued you think you cannot go any further...well you can. It's just a question of mentally thinking that you can and going ahead and doing it. That was Jim Owens' approach. We hit with the helmet - which they changed the rule on three of four years later - and made it tough physically on everybody. We kept a high, quick pace going all times and didn't take much time to rest. We didn't wander back to the huddle and walk up to the line. We sprinted up to the line, got set, got down and got off."
HM: During your senior season in 1960 you broke your collarbone against UCLA. Can you reflect on that day and what was going through you mind after the injury?
Schloredt: "That was a tough day. I was upset of course. But my teammates made me feel better because they assured me they were going to still win all the games, we were still going to be champions of the conference and that I'd be back for the Rose Bowl - which I was. It worked out great. We had a lot of starters that were injured. Of our front line of seven guys only Ray McKasson, who ended up being All-American that year, did not miss at least two games. We had some guys from the gold team (the second unit) step in and play like champions. They ended up picking it up and rose to the occasion. That is why it was such a team effort. Not just the first teamers could do it, but the second unit as well.
HM: What do you remember about the Navy game that was the lone imperfection on the record during the season?
Schloredt: "It was one of those games where both of the teams put a lot of yards on the board and neither team scored too many times (Navy won 15-14). The guy who ended up kicking the winning field goal for them had never kicked one that far before. We had a mishandled snap from center on a low snap and had a poor punt that gave them good field position for the first time during the game. We had a 2 to 1 yardage advantage and should have won the game. We physically handled them, but the last minute field goal ended up sinking us. It wasn't a lot of fun."
HM: What are your memories of the 1961 Rose Bowl against No. 1 Minnesota?
Schloredt: "That was a great game. We knew Minnesota was going to be tougher than Wisconsin had been. We figured we were faster and quicker than they were and we knew we were as mentally tough as they were. They were a very strong and physical team and we ended up getting some misdirection on some plays and used our quickness to score some points early. We punted the ball and played great defense for the most part in the second half and made sure that we weren't making mistakes and making it easy for them to move the ball. It was a heck of a ballgame."
HM: Is it hard to believe that this all happened over 50 years ago?
Schloredt: "It sure is. It has gone by rather quickly but we remember it very vividly. We were the first team to win the Rose Bowl and the first team to win two in a row. We kind of helped establish the Husky tradition of being hard-nosed and being a tough defense. That kind of carried over into other seasons."
HM: What are your impressions of Steve Sarkisian and the direction of Husky football?
Schloredt: "I'm impressed. He is a real energetic, enthusiastic coach with a positive attitude. He has the guys doing the right things and he is obviously a good recruiter. Put that all together and hopefully we can turn it all around this year, because Jake Locker is back and he has some pretty good people with him. If our defense can just stand up and not make us have to score 40 points every game, we are going to be alright."
HM: Do you think that the 2010 Huskies can draw any inspiration from the 1959 team that turned around a 3-7 season in 1958 into a 10-1 year and Rose Bowl appearance?
Schloredt: "Very much so. At the end of the 2009 season, they were pretty confident about what was going on and still had a positive attitude. They didn't get down on themselves like some of the other teams had before them. I think there is a little bit of similarity from that standpoint that they got a taste of winning, which we did too. We beat Oregon (in 1958), which was one of our most-hated rivals and we played well against Ohio State and should have won that ballgame. It kind of reminded me of them beating USC. They had a chance to feel that they are capable of winning when they just got over that hill and quit making mistakes and just played football. From that standpoint, we were able to carry over the positives from the previous season into the next and this Husky team has a chance to do the same thing."
HM: What is it going to be like reuniting with your old teammates once again at Husky Stadium on Sept. 11?
Schloredt: "We had the National Championship celebration in 2007 and we got together then and we've had other reunions, but we have guys scattered all over the country. The ones that are around close, we see each other periodically and of course it is nice to get together reunion style. I'm looking forward to meeting with some of the old-timers again. This may be our last hurrah from the standpoint that we're getting up in age."
HM: How often do you make it to Husky football games?
Schloredt: "I'm a Tyee member and I have season tickets. I go to all the home games and I usually go to some of the away games now and then again. I'm at every home game for sure. My fall schedule is based around Husky Football. I like college football real well and I've even made it to a couple of Seahawks games too. To me, it's a different atmosphere. College kids are unpredictable but they usually lay everything on the line every play, every game. You don't always get that going for the throat mentality...I'm not saying that the Seahawks don't, but I'm just saying that the atmosphere around a college football game is great."
HM: Could you ever imagine when you picked Washington as your college choice over 50 years ago that it would still be such a large part of your life?
Schloredt: "No, not really. When you are that age you think about what is going to be happening when you are there and not so much in the future as far as whether you're going to be a Husky fan all of your life. I thought more about what I was doing on the football field and how our teams were going to be. It's pretty short-sighted - you don't look down the road very far. It is trying to anticipate and get ready to play ball. I ended up making All-American and MVP of a couple of Rose Bowl games, but I was just happy to be playing for the Huskies when I got started. I was just glad I made the team. A lot of guys were quitting during our time. It was physically tough training, like a heavyweight fighter going 15 rounds rather than quitting after 10. It was just pound, pound, pound and you felt like you should quit but mentally you just pushed yourself through it."
HM: Through the years, are there any Huskies that you have especially enjoyed watching?
Schloredt: "I like Locker! He is a great athlete. He runs the ball, which I did. I threw the ball - probably not quite as much as he is going to be this year. Other than him being bigger, stronger and faster than I was (he laughs and stops short of finishing the comparison). I think he is a great young man and a great leader. It was a godsend that he ended up staying with the Huskies for his last year. That took a lot of courage. But, he made up his mind that was what he wanted to do from the beginning and that he wanted to put the program back on track. He certainly can do that too...there is no doubt about that."