The 1973 graduating class of Ross High School in the small northern Ohio city of Fremont contained two of my all time favorite players. One of them, did the Woody Hayes thing and signed with Ohio State, while the other signed with that dreaded school up north.
Not known as a top producer of talent, Fremont is also the home town of one of football’s all time greats, Charles Woodson.
Fremont’s defensive end Bob Brudzinski signed with Ohio State and running back Rob Lytle signed with Michigan.
The 1973 season was right in the middle of the bitter 10 Year War between Michigan’s Bo
Schembechler and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. The teams fought to a very controversial 10-10 tie with the Buckeyes winning the first half and the Wolverines winning the second. Ohio State got the vote by the Big 10 schools to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. Bo Schembechler was beside himself with anger and thought his team should have gone to the Rose Bowl. Supposedly, he never got over it.
Woody Hayes and his Buckeye squad went to Pasadena and completely destroyed the USC Trojans, but the tie kept both Ohio State and Michigan out of the national championship picture. Notre Dame beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to claim the 1973 title.
Both Michigan and Ohio State were incredible teams in 1973 with the Wolverines finishing unbeaten with a 10-0-1. The Buckeyes also finished 10-0-1 after they beat up the Trojans. The tie kept Ohio State from winning a national title and I believe they might have been the best team in the country that season. 1973 was an unusual college football season with a lot of unbeaten teams at the very end. 1973 College Football season
Rob Lytle and Bob Brudzinski were both sophomores in 1974 and both became important players for their teams. Bo Schembechler talked Lytle into moving to fullback to help the team and he ran for
802 yards. further south, former high school teammate, Brudzinski moved into the starting lineup at defensive end.
The Buckeyes started the 1974 season ranked 2nd, but before they ever even played a game they were moved to the 4th place in the polls. After beating Minnesota, they were back at 2nd and then it was to number 1 when they crushed Oregon State 51-10.
Keeping the number 1 ranking, the Buckeyes were just crushing everybody they played until November 9th, when they visited East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. Ohio State came in unbeaten at 8-0 while the Spartans were 4-3-1. This game had a very controversial ending, but when all was said and done, the Spartans came away with a 16-13 upset. Naturally, Woody Hayes was livid.
The Buckeyes only fell to the 4th spot in the polls, and that’s where they remained until the Michigan game.
Michigan began the 1974 season ranked 6th and they won every game coming into the Ohio State game. The Wolverines were now ranked 3rd. The Michigan defense led the way with 4 shutouts, but the offense with Dennis Franklin at quarterback, Gordon Bell and Chuck Heater at tailback, then Rob Lytle at fullback was hard to stop. Bell ran for 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns while Heater ran for 660 yards and another 7 touchdowns. Lytle ran for 802 yards on 140 carries, not bad for a fullback.
Ohio State pulled out a tough 12-10 win over Michigan, which earned the Buckeyes another Rose Bowl trip and the Wolverines had to stay home because of that crazy Big 10 rule.
Brudzinski and his teammates made the Wolverines fight for every inch on the field that day and even with Heisman winner Archie Griffin pounding the middle of the Michigan defense the Buckeyes could not score a touchdown. Brudzinski’s play as a sophomore set him up for future honors.
Michigan recruited super quarterback Rick Leach in 1975 from Flint, Michigan. But, a true freshman at quarterback would have a few hiccups along the way.
After beating Wisconsin, Michigan tied Stanford and Baylor. Then, they won 7 in a row, including
wins over 5th ranked Missouri and 15th ranked Michigan State.
Ohio State came into the Michigan game with a 10-0 record and a number 1 ranking. They had beaten 11th ranked Michigan State and avenged the previous year’s loss to the Spartans, in game one. In their second game, the Buckeyes beat 7th ranked Penn State and then they beat 13th ranked UCLA. Teams back then did not play the cupcake schedules of today’s teams.
Ohio State beat Michigan 21-14 and earned another Rose Bowl trip. In the 1960’s the Big 10 had a silly rule that the same team could not go to the Rose Bowl two years in a row. They got tired of losing to the Pac 8, so they finally did away with that ridiculous rule. For the 1975 season, the Big 10 finally changed the rule not allowing other teams besides it’s winners go to bowl games.
Michigan lost to Ohio State, but they were invited to the Orange Bowl to play 3rd ranked Oklahoma.
Two major bowl berths was great for the Big 10, however, both teams lost. Ohio State faced another game against UCLA, a team they had beaten earlier in the year. But, this time was different with the Bruins dominating the Buckeyes and Archie Griffin in his last ever college game was held to under 100 yards rushing for the first time all season.
Michigan lost to Oklahoma, 6-14.
Bob Brudzinski was a first team All Big 10 as a junior, while high school teammate Rob Lytle ran for 1,040 yards.
1976 was the last college football season for both of our stars. Lytle ran for Archie Griffin kind of numbers with 1,469 yards that season, while Brudzinski was again a first team All Big 10 selection
and a first team All American
Michigan finally beat Ohio State again, 22-0, but the Wolverines went on to lose to USC in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State had something of a down year, for them, with a 9-2-1 record. Without Archie Griffin, the offense was not quite as impressive, but they did go out with a bang when they beat 12th ranked Colorado in the Orange Bowl.
Brudzinski was drafted in the 1st round by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1977 draft. In the NFL, Brudzinski had more than a solid career in the NFL playing 4 seasons with the Rams before basically forcing the Rams to trade him to Miami. With the Dolphins, he was a member of the Killer B’s from 1981 till he retired after the 1989 season.
My other hero, Rob Lytle, broke the Michigan all time rushing record with 3,317 yards rushing. He was a consensus All American in 1976 and then was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round. He played 7 seasons in the NFL and on one Super Bowl team.
In high school, I was a mischievous lad. Growing up a very shy kid was tough, but in my later teen years, I became something of a class clown.
I often would sign my paper in a class with my own name first, but I would sometimes write AKA Billy Bob Brudzinski just to amuse my teachers. Sometimes I would write AKA Billy Rob Lytle. A few teachers enjoyed my humor, although some did not. One teacher wrote on the last page of my test, ‘great job Billy Bob Brudzinski, or whatever your name is.’
Whatever it takes to make life a little more fun.
These guys grew up together in the same small Ohio town. I have no idea how close they were, or if they were even friends at all. One of them made the state of Ohio very angry and when to that dreaded school up north. He became a star and Bo Schembechler called him one of his best players ever.
The other, stayed in state and went to Ohio State. Both played in the NFL, but again for different teams.
I admired them both and consider both of them two of my all time favorites, the fast running back and the tough defensive lineman.