In a trip down a few memory lanes here are some interesting articles from the Sports Illustrated archives…
“IF PITT GETS BIT, THE ROSE BECOMES THORNY”
First off let’s go back to 1976, our favorite Pitt football year, and see what would have happened in college football had we lost the Sugar Bowl and National Championship. But even more interesting is how Pitt ended up in the Sugar Bowl in the first place.
What may be worse is ABC’s implied involvement—and possible duplicity—in the Sugar Bowl’s team selection, which was made more obvious this year because the Sugar pulled out the plum in top-ranked Pittsburgh and its marvelous Heisman Trophy winner. Tony Dorsett.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Sugar Bowl getting Pittsburgh. It is a deserving bowl, and New Orleans is a good place to go for oysters, and though it cannot match the Orange’s or Cotton’s $1 million payoff to competing teams, $750,000 sure ain’t hay.
But maybe it can, too, match the others. With a little help from its friends at ABC, all things become possible. Near the end of the regular season, Pitt, apparently Orange Bowl-bound, was suddenly presented an ABC regional telecast—worth $190,000—for its game with five-time loser West Virginia. One Miami newspaper, hardly a disinterested observer—called the West Virginia telecast “an outright bribe.”
A couple of days after the game a survey taken by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed that the majority of the 22 Pitt players questioned wanted to go to the Orange (Dorsett said he preferred “a good time on the beach—doesn’t Miami have a beach?”). When the actual vote was taken, the Sugar was selected.
As always and even today money rules and TV (soon Internet) money is King.
“GOODBYE BIG D, HELLO DENVER”
We all love Tony Dorsett but when we think of him we 1) remember his wonderful Pitt days and 2) recall how good he was for the Dallas Cowboys as their 1st round pick (2nd overall) in 1977.
What we Pitt fans tend to forget is that he finished his career with the Denver Broncos. Here is a nice piece that describes what it was like in the first days of the Broncos pre-season camp after TD arrived on the scene.
For all his agility, the greatness of Tony Dorsett is his toughness. Sitting back there in that I formation eight yards deep, he’s great at running for the tough yards. I don’t know what he weighs, 185 maybe, but he hits like 220. Shoulders level. God, he’s a great player. I like to think that our guy, Eric Dickerson, will be like that someday.
LOS ANGELES RAMS COACH, 1983
Tony Dorsett, for 11 years a Dallas Cowboy and for a month a Denver Bronco, is conducting a slow, carefully paced workout at the Broncos’ training facility in Denver.
The trade that brought him from Dallas for a 1989 draft choice that could range anywhere from the fifth to the first round is four weeks old. In another week he will report to camp with the veterans. He’s running striders, three-quarter-speed sprints, across the width of the practice field. On the sidelines, eyes narrowed, two of the Three Amigos, quarterback John Elway’s collection of moving targets, watch him run.
Dorsett’s time in Denver didn’t last long – only one season and then he hung up his cleats for good. But for some time he was the only football player in America who won the Heisman Trophy, won a college national championship, then won the NFL Most Valuable Player trophy and played on a Super Bowl winning team.
He was superb at every level of football he played.
For a longer trip in this history lesson let’s go way back to 1960 when The East’s football teams were all independents and vie for the coveted Lambert Trophy, which BTW is still being awarded on an annual basis. Here is a bit discussing the changing QB role.
Pitt’s John Michelosen, who plays what appears to be the most difficult schedule in the country this year, is another who believes the game scene has changed. “The quarterback is going to do a lot more on offense this year than just be a hand-off man and thrower,” he says. “He will run and block more. Also, the trend to change the defense is giving tackles a wider area to roam. They can shoot the gap, take quicker pursuit and enter into more spectacular play.”
Penn State’s affable Rip Engle, who had the ideal “new look” quarterback in versatile Richie Lucas last season, also agrees. “A mobile quarterback is a necessity today,” he says, “especially at Penn State where our entire offense depends upon his ability to pass and run. There will be more and more pressure on the flanks by the use of rollouts and options. We may throw only 15 or 16 passes a game, but our quarterback will call many more pass plays which will develop into runs when he exercises his option.”
They wouldn’t even recognize what we see today behind center.