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The man who made my father a football fan won the Heisman Trophy in 1963. Quarterback Roger Staubach of the United States Naval Academy was named the best player in college football that season with his daring feats of running and passing. It was a memorable year for Staubach, the Naval Academy and the United States in ways magic and tragic.

Roger Staubach Navy


My father always had respect for Staubach as a player. As a Washington Redskins fan, he watched as "Roger the Dodger" tormented his team while playing for their bitter rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. When Staubach was on the field, no lead was safe and no game over until the final seconds ticked off of the clock. I always thought that my father hated Staubach until he told me the story of seeing him play for the first time.

After Staubach retired in 1979, my father was watching some of his highlights and suddenly mentioned how it was Roger who made him a football fan. My father told us a story of how he happened to come across a football game on television in which Navy was playing. Since baseball and boxing were my father's sports he hardly watched football. The fact that his family didn't have a television set made it even harder to watch a game.

This day, he happened to be somewhere that had one and Staubach just happened to be playing. My father told us how much of a kick he got out of watching Staubach run around while his opponent's chased him in vain. He immediately became a fan of the Navy Midshipmen and their quarterback.

Staubach Life Magazine


Staubach made a lot of fans in his four years at the Academy, especially in 1963. He led the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record which earned them a trip to the Cotton Bowl. Many people forget that Navy lost that game to Texas, but everyone remembers that Staubach won the Heisman Trophy. They also remember that he won it during a year in which the United States suffered the unspeakable tragedy of a President being assassinated. In the same city, Dallas, Texas, where Staubach would lose the Cotton Bowl in January, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed the previous November.

The assassination bumped Staubach from the cover of "Life" magazine and led to the Army-Navy game being moved back a week. When the two academies met, they played one of the most memorable games in the series with Staubach's Midshipmen holding on to win 21-15.

Another thing that many people do not know is that Staubach had a chance to become the first man to win the Heisman twice as he won it as a junior. However, 1964 was not as magical as the previous year. The Middies finished out of the bowl picture and Staubach was beaten out for the Heisman by quarterback John Huarte of Notre Dame.

By that time, it did not matter what Staubach did as he had already left his mark on college football. To this day, he is revered as the Navy's last Heisman winner and a peerless leader of men. Staubach is in the pro and college football halls of fame.

Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy in 1963 and made my father a football fan. Fifty years later, there is still no quarterback that my father holds in higher regard.
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This is hard to believe, because they played against each other so much from 1969 to 1980, but the Ohio State Buckeyes and Southern Cal Trojans have not met in the Rose Bowl since New Year's Day 1985. Each team has played in the game multiple times, but for almost 30 years not against each other.

Rose Bowl


This came to me while I was recently reading a book on Rose Bowl history that was written in 1988. As a fan of both teams, with USC being my favorite, I can remember them battling it out for the national championship in the 1980 Rose Bowl. The Trojans won 17-16 on a last second touchdown by Heisman Trophy winner Charles White. The loss cost the top ranked Buckeyes the title and USC finished second to undefeated, untied Alabama.

Before then, Ohio State and USC met in January of 1969, 1973 and 1975 with the championship on the line. For three straight years from 1973-1975, the Buckeyes and Trojans met in Pasadena. The teams split the four games with Ohio State taking home the title in 1968 and USC in 1972 and 1974. I was too young to remember any of those games, but have seen plenty of highlights. I have a full copy of the 1975 affair.

In 1985, they met in an unexpected affair as USC came into the game with an 8-3 record and Ohio State 9-2. The Trojans weren't even the best team in the Pac-10 in 1984 as Washington University finished with a 10-1 overall record. The one loss came against USC and cost Washington the conference championship. The Trojans, however, proved to be worthy champions by defeating the Buckeyes 20-17. It wasn't a typical titanic Ohio Sate-USC battle, but no one who watched could have ever imagined that these two schools would not meet again in Pasadena for almost three decades.

From 1985 to 2000, Ohio State and USC combined to play in five Rose Bowls. Ohio State played in one in 1997. USC played in the game in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1996. After the 1997 season, the Rose Bowl became a part of the Bowl Championship Series rotation with the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar. This meant that the Big-10 and Pac-10 did also. So when their champion is ranked number one or two in the nation they play in the BCS Championship game. This meant that the Buckeyes and Trojans missed out on playing each other after the 2006 and 2007 seasons when each won their conference, but Ohio State played for the title while USC went to the Rose Bowl.

In recent years, both teams have had to deal with NCAA violations that cut into scholarships and banned them from bowl games. In all honesty, this may lead to Ohio State and USC meeting sooner rather than later. They may both be just good enough to win their conference, but not to play for the national championship.

In the meantime, a Rose Bowl rivalry that helped define college football in the 1970's has yet to be continued.

A generation of fans has yet to see Ohio State and Southern Cal meet in Pasadena.
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The 1983 Georgia Bulldogs saw their chances of winning national a championship all but disappear when star running back Herschel Walker decided to skip his final season and sign a pro contract with the New Jersey Generals of the new United States Football League. The Bulldogs were national championship contenders all three years that Walker played for them. They would have been again if he had returned for his senior season.

Herschel Walker


From 1980 to 1982, Georgia lost a grand total of three games. The Bulldogs won the tough Southeastern Conference and played in the Sugar Bowl after each season. In 1980, they put an end to the stranglehold that Alabama head Coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant had on the conference by going a perfect 12-0 and winning the national championship. Walker was named All-American as a freshman and was Most Valuable Player of the Sugar Bowl.

In 1981 the Bulldogs only regular season loss came to eventual national champion Clemson in a game that Walker played with a broken wrist. Georgia was actually still in the hunt for the national championship until they lost to Pittsburgh University in the Sugar Bowl on a last second touchdown pass by Dan Marino.

Georgia went undefeated in the regular season again in 1982 and headed to New Orleans ranked number one. There, they met second ranked Penn State for all of the marbles and lost 27-23. Walker won the Heisman Trophy and it was believed he would come back to win it again in 1983. It was also believed that Georgia would win another SEC title and play for the national championship.

New Jersey Generals


However, the USFL changed everything by offering Walker a chance to sign with them. The National Football League had a rule against signing players who were not four years removed from college, but the new league did not. Since there was no law stopping them from signing underclassmen, the Generals inked Walker to one of the most lucrative deals in pro football history and he turned in his letter man's jacket.

For three years, Georgia's offense had basically been Walker left, Walker right, Walker up the middle. Occasionally quarterbacks Buck Belue and John Lastinger threw the ball, but everyone knew that Walker was going to get it three out of every four plays. With Walker gone, the Bulldogs had to find another way to win.

Fortunately, head coach Vince Dooley had put together a team that could still challenge for the title without Walker. The Bulldogs did not win the SEC or compete for the national championship, but did go 9-1-1 to earn a trip to the Cotton Bowl. There they faced the undefeated, untied Texas Longhorns who with a victory and a loss by the Nebraska Cornhuskers later in the Orange Bowl could win their first national championship since 1970.

John Lastinger


The Bulldogs defeated Texas 10-9 on a touchdown run by Lastinger. For once, Georgia was the one who spoiled someone else's national championship hopes. For the fourth straight season, Georgia finished a season with 10 or more wins.

It was a great year, but could have been a championship one had Walker returned for one last championship run.
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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a rdshirt freshman in 2012 and will try to become the second man to win it twice in 2013. Many have tried to win the Downtown Athletic Award statue two times, but only Archie Griffin of Ohio State did. How did other returning Heisman winners fare?

Doc Blanchard

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I did not become a full-fledged college football fan until 1982. When the NFL Player's Association decided to go on strike that year, I had no choice. The college game was all there was until late November.

Herschel Walker

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Will the Miami Hurricanes football program ever return to greatness? Will 'The U' which boasted some of the greatest teams in college football history from 1982 to 2003 ever recapture the glory of that past?

Jimmie Johnson

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College Football: SEC Rule

March 26th 2013 20:15
Going into every season, the question of when the Southeastern Conference's dominance over college football will end must be asked. The conference has produced the NCAA's last seven BCS national champions. With the best talent pool to recruit from and top notch recruiters to mine it, there seems to be no end in sight to the SEC's dominance.

Alabama Crimson Tide
Daniel Shirey- US Presswire

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The Alabama Crimson Tide can't win college football's national championship again, can they? Head coach Nick Saban and the Tide can't roll to a third consecutive title and fourth in five years. It's never been done so why should they be the first?

Alabama Crimson Tide

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The College Football Weekend

September 24th 2012 11:31
The college football weekend saw Oklahoma fold again, LSU win a Southeastern Conference nail biter, Florida State introduce James Wilder Jr. and Notre Dame resurrect talk of a return to glory.


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College Football has Grown Stale

September 20th 2012 10:57
College football needs a shot in the arm. The game is becoming a little stale. The concentration of talent is centered too much with one conference, the Southeast. There are no more coaching personalities like Paul 'Bear' Bryant, John McKay, Woody Hayes, Barry Switzer and Jimmie Johnson. Teams shifting conferences has destroyed tradition and rivalries.


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