Monthly Archives: January 2015

31 Saturdays The Old Oaken Bucket

College football just ended  with an Ohio State Buckeye beating of the Oregon Ducks to capture the first ever playoff system championship.

We have  the Super Bowl remaining. Plus, we have various All Star games if you are a hard core nut such as myself. We have the NFL Draft and the Spring practices and games, and then that’s it for a long, long time for football.

We have basketball and March Madness. We have the Masters if you are into golf, as I am.

There’s the NBA playoffs, and then there’s baseball.

It’s a long, dry period for football fans.

Last year, before football got started up strong, I posted a series about great historical football games in college football.

This year, I am just going to write about random historical events in college football history.

If you have read my blog in the past, you know I try to present as unbiased of a view as I possibly can about my favorite subject, college football. I love the game in it’s present state, but I also love the history of the game and my blog’s theme is college football from 1967 until the present day.

Why 1967? Because that’s the first year I really remember watching college football.

I love the rivalry games that go back since the beginning. I love the games where they play for a traditional trophy like the Little Brown Jug, Territorial Cup, the Golden Egg, Paul Bunyon’s Axe and all of the rest of them.

The Old Oaken Bucket is the yearly trophy handed out to the winner of the Purdue – Indiana football game.

This game has not always meant anything. In fact, nearly every season it’s a meaningless game unless you are a fan of either team.

But, in the 1960s Purdue was something of a power. The Boilermakers had great players like Leroy Keyes, Mike Phipps, Bob Griese, Jerry Shay and Jim Beirne.

The Bob Griese led Boilermakers went 8-2 in the 1966 season and finished second in the Big 10 to Michigan State who finished at #2 in the nation in 1966. The Big 10 had a no repeat rule back then so that one school could not go back to the Rose Bowl which was stranger than any odd rules we have these days. Purdue got the Rose Bowl shot and took advantage of it with a  14-13 victory over the USC Trojans.

 

Only one time in my lifetime has this battle for the Old Oaken Bucket had meaning in which of these 2 schools would earn a berth in the Rose Bowl. That was in 1967, which also happened to be my very first year of following college football.

 

A lot has changed in the Big 10 since 1967.

Michigan was 2 years away from Bo Schembechler. Woody Hayes and Ohio State were down that season and finished fourth behind Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. Michigan State was one year away from playing in the Game of the Century against Notre Dame that ended in an exciting 10-10 tie. Yes, that was sarcasm.

The Spartans finished near the bottom at 3-7 after starting the season ranked #3.

Iowa was horrible in most of the 1960s and finished 1-8-1 in 1967. Wisconsin has been strong the last few years, but was 0-9-1 and the tie was against fellow bottom dweller, Iowa.

The very idea that Purdue and Indiana were playing for not only the Old Oaken Bucket, but the right to represent the Big 10 Conference in the Rose Bowl was big news in itself.

Another difference in those days and present day is that the winner of the Big 10 conference got to go to the Rose Bowl and everyone else just had to stay home for the holidays. No other school was allowed to go to a bowl game.

This game was for all or nothing.

Indiana came into this game with an 8-1 record with their only loss coming in a 33-7 humiliation at the hands of the Minnesota Gophers just the week before.

Going into the Minnesota game the Indiana Hoosiers were 8-0 on the season and ranked #5. What other time in the history of college football was Indiana 8-0 with a number 5 ranking? Uh, never. This was truly an event that was historical.

Purdue was loaded in those years. They had Running Backs Heisman candidate Leroy Keyes and Perry Williams. They had another Heisman hopeful in Mike Phipps at Quarterback, who was in his first season as a starter replacing legendary Bob Griese. They had Split End Jim Beirne. They also had Dick Marvel and Chuck Kyle, lessor known players but All Big 10.

The Boilermakers were ranked 10th in the polls when they hosted and beat number 1 ranked Notre Dame in their annual grudge match. They moved up to the 4th spot in the polls.

After beating Northwestern the following week, they moved up to the 2nd position. Purdue was flying high when they traveled to Columbus, Ohio and just destroyed the Buckeyes 41-6.

Then, Purdue’s perfect season came to an end with the crushing defeat to the team that became known as the Giant Killers, Oregon State. But, they still had a shot at winning the Big 10 outright.

As was the tradition of it’s day, this game was a defensive battle.

Purdue’s Perry Williams rushed for 124 yards and Johnny Keyes ran for another 114.

In spite of rushing success by the Boilermakers’ top two Running Backs, the Hoosiers held a 19-14 lead with time running out in the game. The Boilermakers were driving the ball when they fumbled on the Indiana 1 yard line giving the game to the Hoosiers.

 

This game just presented more problems for the Big 10 Conference in 1967. Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota all finished 6-1 in Big 10 standings. It was a 3 way tie.

Indiana had just beaten Purdue, 19-14. Purdue had beaten Minnesota, 41-12. Minnesota, in turn, had beaten Indiana, 33-7.

The Big 10 Conference decided to send Indiana because Purdue and Minnesota had been to the Rose Bowl before.

Indiana would get the Rose Bowl berth and have to take on top ranked USC and OJ Simpson.

The USC Trojans beat the Indiana Hoosiers, 14-3 and the Trojans would win the national championship in 1967. OJ Simpson went on to win the 1968 Heisman Trophy and break NFL records and become one of the more infamous athletes in the history of the world.

The Purdue Boilermakers would be good a few more years and then disappear into mediocrity until the arrival of head coach Joe Tiller in the 1990s.

Indiana is a basketball state. Little info is available about this magical season for the Indiana Hoosiers.

 

January 1st, 1968 was Indiana’s one and only trip to Pasadena, California to play in the Rose Bowl. 46 years have passed and they have never been back, or even gotten very close.

 

John Pont was their coach in 1967 and he led them to a 9-2 record. In the 1966 season, the Hoosiers had gone 1-8-1.

In the season following, 1968, the Hoosiers would slip back to 6-4. By 1970, the Hoosiers were back to 1-9. Two years later, John Pont was gone.

 

As soon as it started, it was gone and Hoosier fans were loving basketball again.

History has not been so kind to Indiana Hoosier football, but in 1967 they were ranked #5 and played in the Rose Bowl and held their own against the national champions.

The Old Oaken Bucket name came from an old poem by Samuel Woodworth in 1817.

“How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
…And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well—
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.