BLOOMINGTON – For the boys who lived it, the 1979 IU soccer season started years previous.
That staff used to be constructed through the dogged recruiting of Lee Corso, and led through a gaggle of skilled avid gamers who had grown up in combination within the rough-and-tumble Giant Ten.
That crew knew it used to be just right. When assistant trainer Bob Otolski challenged the Hoosiers to “be Neil Armstrong” — to be the primary IU staff to win a bowl sport — he wasn’t dealing in fable.
“It used to be an overly particular staff,” defensive again Tim Wilbur mentioned.
The ones Hoosiers erased an enormous deficit at Iowa, went 2-Zero towards the SEC, completed ranked within the height 20 and ended BYU’s undefeated season simply ahead of Christmas in San Diego. That is their tale.
1979 used to be Corso’s 7th season in Bloomington. After a rocky starting selecting up the items of the John Pont technology, Corso had gained 14 video games over the former 3 seasons, narrowly lacking out on profitable data two times. In ’79, he returned an skilled staff, with veterans similar to Terry Tallen and Mike Friede anchoring a assured locker room. He used to be breaking in a brand new quarterback, Tim Clifford, from Cincinnati Colerain.
Bob Hammel, sportswriter, Bloomington Bring in-Instances: Tim Clifford used to be roughly the easiest quarterback for Lee. I feel they have been so much alike, being keen to take possibilities and roughly relishing the truth that they have been gonna be disrespected through BYU in (the Vacation Bowl), however through the league generally. I consider (former Ohio State trainer) Woody Hayes, at some of the Giant Ten luncheons, supposed to go with Lee, however he known as him Lou. Lee, he introduced that up a couple of instances.
Corso: (Clifford used to be) a super chief, however the factor about it’s, he by no means as soon as misplaced his cool. He used to be a groovy buyer.
Corso scheduled difficult within the nonconference within the 1970s, taking the Hoosiers to Nebraska, Washington and LSU. The ones schedules, then-graduate assistant Mark Deal contends, saved the Hoosiers out of bowl video games in previous seasons, however hardened them for 1979.
Deal: This wasn’t the ’67 (Indiana) Rose Bowl staff that went 1-8-1 and closing within the Giant Ten in ’66 after which out of nowhere went 9-1 and gained the Giant Ten and went to the Rose Bowl. This have been construction.
Extra: 50 years in the past, IU soccer made the Rose Bowl — no, in point of fact
Terry Tallen, defensive lineman/staff captain: That ’78 staff used to be 4-7, and we had was hoping to do higher, and we’d labored to do higher. We got here again with an edge that subsequent yr.
Hammel: (The preseason feeling used to be) rather related to at the moment: that there’s a beautiful first rate staff there. They only wish to win some video games.
Indiana started the season with a shuttle to Iowa. Hayden Fry would grow to be a legend in Iowa Town, advancing to a few Rose Bowls, however in 1979, he used to be in yr one on the training process.The Hawkeyes had misplaced three-straight to IU, together with two at house. Once they burst out to a 26-Three lead at halftime, everybody used to be stunned.
Tim Wilbur, defensive again/punt returner: We have been roughly younger, and the primary part, we were given our butts whipped just a little bit.
At halftime, the Hoosiers rallied. As Hammel and Max Skirvin broke down the part on IU’s radio broadcast, Hammel remarked that both Iowa used to be a lot better than other folks anticipated, or Indiana would mount some roughly comeback.
The Hoosiers did.
Tallen: We have been decided to move out and win that ballgame. The way in which Tim Clifford performed, the way in which (operating again) Lonnie Johnson performed, the way in which Mike Harkrader performed, the way in which numerous guys performed, it used to be very inspirational for us at the defensive facet, to just about close them out the remainder of the sport.
In the back of Clifford and operating backs Johnson and Harkrader, IU rallied. The Hoosiers began the second one part with a 10-play landing power, capped through a 51-yard cross from Clifford to Johnson.
Iowa would now not rating once more. Johnson ran for a landing at the first play of the fourth quarter, then Clifford recovered from an interception through Iowa defensive again (and eventual national-champion Oklahoma trainer) Bob Stoops to sneak into the top zone with 11:21 left.
Indiana’s rally appeared lifeless when the Hoosiers neglected a brief box objective with 2:41 to play. However on Iowa’s subsequent power, Tallen stopped operating again Dennis Mosley for a vital no acquire on 2nd down, after which Phil Suess threw an incomplete cross. The Hawkeyes needed to punt yet one more time, downing the ball on a good catch on the IU 34. Corso known as on Johnson.
Deal: Ran a wheel course.
Hammel: Lonnie Johnson popping out of the backfield taking place the sideline, and Tim Clifford hit him for a landing.
One of the crucial enduring photographs of that season presentations Johnson racing up the sideline, Stoops in futile pursuit. The comeback used to be entire, and secured at the closing play of the sport, when Suess threw an interception.
Clifford: The Iowa sport roughly used to be the catapult for us, however we anticipated it. That’s the most efficient phrase I will be able to use. The expectancy used to be we’re gonna win, we’re gonna compete in each and every unmarried sport.
Corso: We make a comeback like we did, I feel that used to be the spark that gave the blokes the arrogance to be a super soccer staff. … That used to be the making of that soccer staff.
The Hoosiers adopted Iowa with a couple of wins over SEC groups, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, each at house, ahead of shedding narrowly at Colorado to finish their nonconference agenda. They returned to Giant Ten play at Wisconsin, towards a staff that had crushed Indiana 34-7 in Madison the season ahead of.
Deal: We gained 3-0, kicked a box objective within the first quarter, I feel we grew to become them over 4 instances. We ended the sport on a 92-yard power that took 12 mins and we didn’t rating.
Corso: It used to be 4th-and-1 ½ on our personal 20 (all over that ultimate power), and I went for it. We made it. We moved the ball down there and close them out.
Corso recognizes now how unconventional the verdict to move for it on fourth down used to be, so deep in his personal territory all over the sort of tight sport. However he had religion sufficient in his staff not to simply name for that conversion, but in addition to endorse a fourth-down take a look at close to the top of the sport on the different finish of the sphere, somewhat than kick a 2nd box objective.
Corso: I didn’t kick a box objective, as a result of I didn’t wish to lose the sport 7-6. We went for it on fourth down on in regards to the 5-yard line. … It used to be the similar form of scenario (as Iowa). They by no means gave up. That staff had nice management. That’s arduous to do, to visit a Giant Ten staff and close them out in their very own position.
Indiana adopted that with a wholesome defeat by the hands of Ohio State, the Buckeyes on their option to an 11-Zero common season in Earl Bruce’s first season as head trainer. Then Corso’s staff returned house to close out Northwestern, 30-0, ahead of an interesting come upon at Michigan.
4 years previous, in Corso’s 3rd season in rate, IU misplaced 55-7 in Ann Arbor. That day, Corso promised himself he’d construct a staff that might stand toe-to-toe with Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines.
Corso: I mentioned sooner or later, we’re gonna come again up right here and play them guy to guy.
Mike Friede, vast receiver: After I discovered how just right we have been used to be after we misplaced to Michigan. I do know that’s roughly a silly factor, however god dang, we had 105,000 other folks lifeless quiet.
It used to be homecoming in Ann Arbor, and Michigan duly answered through construction a 21-7 lead. However the Hoosiers dug in and clawed again two rankings.
Corso will say he kicked the additional level to verify the tie, and stroll out of Michigan Stadium with a outcome to check his promise to himself made years previous. Deal issues out IU had only one loss in convention play at that time, theoretically nonetheless looking for a convention identify. Clifford believes Corso would possibly were tempted to move for 2 had Clifford now not pinched a nerve in his shoulder diving on a fumble most effective moments previous.
Regardless of the explanation why, when Clifford hit tight finish Dave Harangody for a landing with 55 seconds left, Indiana appeared poised to go away Ann Arbor with a proportion of the spoils. What adopted stays one of the vital incredible (and for Michigan enthusiasts, loved) performs in Giant Ten historical past.
Friede: The unlawful play that trainer nonetheless talks about?
Tallen: We have been cheated. There’s no two techniques about it.
Out of timeouts, Michigan took one closing snap simply in need of the 50. Quarterback Tim Wangler dumped the ball right down to Lawrence Reid who, spotting he used to be about to be tackled in bounds, threw the ball to the sideline deliberately to prevent the clock. It in reality landed in Corso’s arms.
Corso: I will have to’ve went down and spiked it!
Via rule, Reid will have to now not were allowed to deliberately fumble the ball out of bounds to prevent the clock, which will have to have run out. However officers allowed Michigan yet one more snap with six seconds left. This time, Wangler discovered Anthony Carter, simply as two IU defensive backs bumped into one every other. Stepping round them, Carter grew to become upfield and outran yet one more Hoosier to the top zone for the game-winning rating as time expired.
Deal: That used to be taken clear of us. Completely taken clear of us.
Later on, two referees boarded Indiana’s bus and advised Corso the top of the sport have been botched.
Friede: When I used to be enjoying within the USFL and (Carter) used to be with the Michigan Panthers, I am getting to the stadium, and AC comes up, he is going, ‘Mike, are you continue to mad at me?’ I’m going, ‘Sure, I’m nonetheless mad at you!’ …
I don’t understand how a few years in the past it used to be, however my son had just a little tape, and it used to be “incredible finishes.” He is going, ‘Dad, have been you on this sport?’ I’m going in there, and it’s AC operating down the center of the sphere into the top zone. ‘Yeah, I used to be in that sport. I used to be in that sport, and the place’d you get that tape? Let’s throw it away.’
Hammel: Although they took an overly disheartening loss there at Michigan, it nonetheless had its certain facet. It used to be extra of an uplifting loss than a dismal one.
Tallen: We felt the ache, and we used that as a motivator.
Indiana gained its subsequent two video games, house to Minnesota and at Illinois, through a mixed 49 issues. The Lawn State Bowl, held on the Meadowlands in New Jersey, confirmed pastime. So did the Vacation Bowl in San Diego.
Regardless of an Outdated Oaken Bucket sport loss, there used to be a way the Hoosiers had clinched a berth once they hit seven wins. Slumping again into the locker room after a 37-21 defeat towards No. 12 Purdue, the Hoosiers discovered a person wearing a game coat looking forward to them.
Deal: We’re distraught that we misplaced to Purdue such as you at all times are, the loser of that sport, and there’s a man in there in a game coat, Vinnie Vinson, the chairman of the Vacation Bowl, who right away presented us a bid to the Vacation Bowl proper after the sport.
You cross from depression to roaring cheers within the locker room, after shedding to Purdue. It used to be in point of fact the most eldritch Purdue outcome I ever used to be round.
The Hoosiers have been showed to play top-10 BYU. Mythical trainer LaVell Edwards had simply finished the primary of what would in the end be six seasons in seven with double-digit wins. Brigham Younger got here to San Diego 11-0, and a heavy favourite.
That yr, the Vacation Bowl used to be performed on Dec. 21, so the Hoosiers started arrangements proper after the Purdue loss. Corso put his groups thru rigorous practices within the late-fall chilly at Memorial Stadium — complete pads, lengthy days, arduous hits.
Friede: I feel trainer sought after, after that Purdue loss, to get us again at the box, get our self belief degree again up. Do the issues in apply we have been in point of fact just right at — operating the choice towards our protection, throwing the ball the way in which we threw the ball.
We labored in point of fact arduous in Bloomington, and after we were given at the aircraft in Indianapolis, Evergreen Airlines, to move out to San Diego, you couldn’t be round a host of looser guys.
Corso reversed his method as soon as his staff were given to California. Rather than rigorous practices, he passed his avid gamers vital freedom. They have been required merely to test in for breakfast and attend practices, which have been ceaselessly run with out pads.
Deal: Trainer Corso had two regulations for the staff after we were given there: Make sure to display as much as breakfast each and every morning, and feature a blank blouse on.
Tallen: We’ve were given guys getting rent-a-wrecks, giant previous, nearly limousine issues, and hauling everyone round. We’re at the seaside, and simply checking in at breakfast. It used to be rather the revel in.
Corso believed he may just believe his staff, and he sought after everybody to benefit from the bowl shuttle.
Deal performed Torrey Pines golfing route. Wilbur took his female friend to the zoo. At one level, Corso allegedly arranged a staff shuttle to Tijuana, one thing everybody recalls however no person will admit to having taken phase in.
Friede: I will be able to truthfully say I didn’t get at the bus to Tijuana. I noticed the photographs after the reality, however I didn’t get at the bus.
Whilst the Hoosiers unwound, BYU practiced arduous: complete pads, on occasion two times an afternoon. The 2 groups participated in bowl actions in combination, and there used to be for Indiana an inescapable feeling the Cougars didn’t cling IU in very top regard.
Deal: They weren’t delighted about enjoying the fourth-placed staff within the Giant Ten, they usually made it identified. We had just a little chip on our shoulder on account of that. We, frankly, felt just a little disrespected. They idea they will have to be enjoying within the Cotton Bowl, enjoying Texas, and it helped us.
Hammel: Indiana wasn’t very well-respected moving into. That each one performed into it. I feel Indiana avid gamers sensed that, or even at the box, they sensed that.
The sport changed into a vintage.
Clifford handed for 171 yards and a rating. Marc Wilson, his counterpart, gained co-bowl MVP honors with 380 passing yards and 3 overall touchdowns. However he additionally threw 3 interceptions, and the lead modified arms 8 instances. Ultimately, a sport that includes 874 mixed yards of offense grew to become on particular groups.
Hammel: It used to be an overly bold play.
Down 37-31 within the fourth quarter, Wilbur dropped again to box a BYU punt in IU territory. Wilbur let the ball hit throughout the 40 ahead of he noticed it hit a teammate.
Wilbur: It hit and it bounced off Craig Partitions’ again, and I knew I needed to cross get it. I used to be on the brink of fall on it, and as Lee mentioned, it used to be like an act of God, announcing right here, Tim, select it up. It bounced up proper in stride. Stuck it in stride and took off.
Tallen: We might tease Tim Wilbur: If you happen to have been to run a 40-yard sprint with him, even though you have been a lineman, chances are you’ll beat him in that 40-yard sprint. Tim by no means appeared rapid, however the factor about Tim Wilbur, no one ever stuck Tim Wilbur from in the back of.
No person did. Wilbur took the punt go back again 62 yards for the go-ahead rating, atmosphere the level for some of the most-repeated tales in IU soccer historical past.
As time ticked down within the fourth quarter, BYU moved the ball deep within Indiana territory. There have been simply seven seconds left when Edwards despatched Brent Johnson on to check out a 27-yard box objective. Corso grew to become to Father James Higgins, his longtime buddy and sideline better half, with a plea.
Corso: I mentioned, ‘Father Higgins, it’s you towards two million Mormons. Are you able to do it?’ He put his head down, and mentioned, ‘It’s carried out.’
As legends do, the quantity adjustments relying upon who’s telling the tale. What doesn’t trade is the end result: Johnson’s kick sailed to the left as time expired. Indiana had gained the Vacation Bowl, its first postseason victory ever.
Tallen: You have a look at the tape now, you’ll’t inform if it used to be blocked, squibbed or divine intervention. The ball is going off to the facet. Trainer Corso throws his fingers up within the air and says, ‘Thank God!’ Father Higgins pats him at the again and says, ‘You’re welcome.’
IU completed that season ranked No. 16 within the coaches’ ballot, and No. 19 in keeping with the media. Friede, Clifford and others would cross directly to play within the NFL, and Clifford gained the Chicago Tribune Silver Soccer trophy as Giant Ten most precious participant.
The staff itself has stayed remarkably shut, each to this system and to one another.
Tallen dedicated a multimillion-dollar donation simply closing yr that helped spark wide-scale renovation of IU’s locker room and staff amenities. When Indiana had its 40th-anniversary party honoring the 1979 Vacation Bowl staff previous this yr, he used to be considered one of 105 avid gamers, coaches and executives who returned to have fun some of the perfect seasons in Indiana historical past.
Tallen: We’ve been announcing this for 40 years: We have been a brotherhood of warriors.
Once they do get in combination, previous teammates reconnect as though they by no means left the locker room. They learn about each and every different’s other halves and kids, strikes and jobs, the entirety. They usually surely know, to a person, that they met Otolski’s problem.
Deal: Trainer O, he advised us the entire time, he mentioned, ‘Males, we wish to be Neil Armstrong.’ What he supposed through that used to be, we’d be the primary. First guy at the moon. We wish to be the primary staff at IU to win a bowl sport. That truth is essential to the 1979 Hoosiers, that we have been the primary IU staff to win a bowl sport. That suggests so much to us. It in point of fact does.
Observe IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.
Extra IU historical past:
50 years in the past, IU soccer made the Rose Bowl — no, in point of fact
The Steve Alford tale, Phase 1: ‘The entirety trainer Knight promised me, all of it got here true’
The Steve Alford tale, Phase 2: Finding out from Bob Knight — the arduous means