Indiana is a basketball state. The University of Indiana Hoosiers are a basketball school. They live, breath, eat and sleep basketball. From the days of Bobby Knight and his national championships and even before, this state goes nuts over basketball. 41,000 rabid fans once showed up at the Hoosier Dome to watch Indiana High School sensation Damon Bailey win the state championship in
The state has produced such stalwarts as Larry Bird, Calbert Cheaney, Steve Alford, Kent Benson, Bryce Drew, Rick Fox, Shawn Kemp, Scott May, Eric Montross, Greg Oden, Oscar Robertson, Glenn Robinson, and of course, Damon Bailey.
Many of those guys won the prestigious Indiana Mr Basketball award given out yearly to the state’s best high school basketball player.
Football is another thing entirely in the great state of Indiana.
Whatever talent this state produces tends to leave the state for greener pastures other than the ones that choose to attend Notre Dame.
Indiana and Purdue, two great Big 10 schools, both tend to produce good basketball teams, but they struggle in football.
The Hoosiers have been playing college football since 1887 in a conference that sends it’s champion to the Rose Bowl and Indiana has been to Pasadena a grand total of one time.
The 1967 edition of Indiana’s team was the one and only trip the Hoosiers have made to the Rose
They weren’t a particularly talented team with first round pick Doug Crusan who played for the Miami Dolphins and was a Defensive Tackle for the Hoosiers. He was picked as an Offensive tackle and played there in the NFL for a number of years. Crusan was a starter at Offensive Tackle on the NFL’s only ever undefeated team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
Running Back Terry Cole was a 9th round pick by the Baltimore Colts and was a marginal player in the NFL. Cole was a big Running Back for his day at 6-2, 220, but he only ran for 641 yards in 4 NFL seasons.
Linebacker Brown Marks was picked in the 16th round by the Cincinnati Bengals but never played.
So, what was special about this team?
They were coached by John Pont, who played at Miami of Ohio for Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghian and is one of only three players in the history of Miami to have his number retired. Pont later became head coach for Miami of Ohio and posted a 43-22-1 record while there. He left Miami and became the head coach at Yale.
Maybe he saw the pointlessness of football at Yale, I do not know. But, he left Yale after two seasons and took the job at Indiana. He agreed to coach the Hoosiers even thought they were on NCAA probation at the time.
After posting a 2-8 record in 1965, the Hoosiers went 1-8-1 in Pont’s first season there.
Then, the miracle of miracles happened. The Hoosiers went 9-1 and won the Big 10 Conference.
This edition of the Indiana Hoosiers had a lot of fight in them. They started the season off with an 8-0 record winning close games over Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Then, they traveled up to Minnesota and just got hammered by the Gophers, 33-7.
After beating Michigan, they had entered the Polls at #10. Then, they destroyed Arizona and dropped to #7. They dropped to #5 after whipping Wisconsin and Michigan State.
After losing in Minneapolis, they were out of the Polls again and entered the game against #3 ranked Purdue unranked.
Purdue had Mike Phipps at Quarterback and Leroy Keyes at Running Back and they were a strong team.
The Hoosiers upset the Boilermakers 19-14 with Indiana Running Back the 6-2, 220 Terry Cole outshining Leroy Keyes with a 63 yard Touchdown run and another 42 yard run to set up another score. The Hoosiers won 19-14 and clinched their one and only Rose Bowl trip.
Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue actually finished in a 3 way tie for first, but Indiana got the Rose Bowl bid because Purdue had gone the season before and Minnesota had been to the Rose Bowl after the 1961 season.
Once in the land of Disneyland and wonders, of course, the 4th ranked Hoosiers were no match for the talented top ranked USC Trojans with their All Americans and OJ Simpson. But, they did keep it close losing only 14-3.
Those were different times.
Purdue was a national power in the 1960’s. So were the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Purdue went 8-2 in 1967 with losses coming to the Giant Killers of Oregon State who I wrote about here: http://collegefootballcrazy.com/the-earthquake-and-the-giant-killers/ and to their rivals the Indiana Hoosiers in their last game.
Notre Dame went 8-2 in 1967. The Irish did not go to Bowl Games in those days. Neither did the schools that were not champion of the Big 10 or the Pac 8 Conference.
With the Indiana Hoosiers going 9-1 and the Purdue Boilermakers finishing up 8-2, plus the Irish finishing at 8-2 this was the one and only time in modern history that the state of Indiana had such college football success.
But, winning did not last long at Indiana with the 1968 Hoosier team going 6-4 and then Pont’s teams going into a nose dive with 4-6 and 1-9 records to follow.
After 8 seasons, Pont was out at Indiana and he moved on to Northwestern where he had no success at all.
Another important piece of information about the 1967 football season was that the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Wolverines of Michigan were really down. The Buckeyes had legendary coach Woody Hayes in those years and he had an incredible group of freshmen in that season. However, freshmen were not eligible to play varsity football in those days so they had a really good freshman team and the varsity Buckeyes team went 6-3 with a 5-2 record in the Big 10.
Michigan finished 4-6 that season, but those were the years that Bump Elliott was coaching at Michigan. Bo Schembechler would come along in 1969 and Michigan would be changed forever.
Ohio State would return to domination in 1968, and then Michigan joined them in 1969 and together they controlled the Big 10 for years to come.
Present day Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has only achieved a won/loss record of 14-34. However, he is a brilliant offensive mind and even though there is talk that he is on the hot seat and in danger of losing his job, I feel that the Hoosiers should hang on to him.
Wilson may not ever take them to the Promised Land, but nobody else has either and coaches like Urban Meyer or Nick Saban aren’t exactly beating down the Athletic Director’s door trying to get hired at Indiana.