• RICH WATCHES OLD GAMES: 1987 Fiesta Bowl- PART TWO



    PART TWO: Game Summary

    -The Crew: Charlie Jones, Bob Griese and Jimmy Cefalo. Jones was a NBC-lifer and broadcast games for 32 years. We still know Bob Griese and Jimmy Cefalo was a Penn State alum who became the voice of the Miami Dolphins.

    -The Hurricanes are booed while running onto the field.

    -Again, I must mention that Geoff Toretta had a hand in getting the ‘Canes into the game by beating East Carolina. Career college stats: 44-75, 796y, 7td, 3int.

    First Quarter

    -Time to break down key names each side of the ball along with their future NFL experience.

    -PSU O: QB-John Shaffer (0), RB-William Henry “D.J.” Dozier (5)-plus one year with the New York Mets in 1992 (.191 BA), FB-Tim Minoa (0), G-Steve Wisniewski (13), T-Chris Conlin (3)= Total relevant NFL experience= 21 years

    -MIA D: DL-Dan Stubbs (10), DL-Dan Sileo (1), DE-Jerome Brown (5*), LB-Bill Hawkins (4), LB-Winston Moss (11), George Mira Jr. (Son of former Niners-Canes QB) (0), Rod Carter (0), CB-Selwyn Brown (1), CB- Bennie Blades (10)= 42 years

    -Rod Carter never played in the NFL, but was good in this game. He eventually won a settlement from the Teamsters a few years ago after he was stabbed during a fight while he was on strike with UPS. I can’t make this stuff up.

    -MIA O: Vinny (21), RB-Mel Bratton (2), FB-Alonzo Highsmith (6-#3 pick of the draft), SE-Michael Irvin (12-HOF), WR-Brian Blades (11), TE-Charles Henry (1), WR-Brett Perriman (10), C-Gregg Rakoczy (6)= 69 years

    -PSU D: DL-Bob White (0), DL-Mike Russo (0), DT-Tim Johnson (10), LB-Don Graham (3), LB-Trey Bauer (0), LB-Pete Giftopoulos (0-but 9 in CFL with Hamilton), LB-Shane Conlan (9), CB-Duffy Cobbs (1), CB-Eddie Johnson (0), CB-Ray Isom (2), DB-Marquis Henderson (0)= 25 years

    -The kick returner for Penn State: future Jets bust Blair Thomas!

    -The first drive went as expected for Penn State. They tried to throw a bit and got sacked for a loss of 15 and a loss of six on two pass plays. Game MVP (not really, but he was really good) John Bruno (9 punts-43+ yd average) punts Miami back to their own 36.

    -First Vinny throw is a 12 yard gain on a perfectly run 8 yard out by Mike Irvin. He ran a few more of those in his career.

    -It should be noted that Jimmy Johnson came into the game with a 1-3 bowl record.

    -Penn State ran a 3-4 defense for this game. I always remembered PSU as a 4-3 team my whole life. They blitzed a lot early and Vinny was patient enough to find Highsmith on a few hot routes to still move the ball.

    -As weird it is now to say this; the Penn State defense ran a lot of modern concepts during this game that were brilliant. He ran zone behind the blitzes frequently and dared Testaverde to try to beat cover 3 looks behind stunts and blitzes. Some of the plays involved fakes to the A gap by Conlan and Giftpoulos (that’s just too long to write, I’m going with G-pus for the rest of the game), only to see them drop into coverage. They looked like fake zone blitzes. Maybe Lebeau was watching this game?

    -Miami goes for it from the Penn State 29 and fails. Guts on the first drive.

    -Penn State gets the ball and manages to move the ball forward some. There was a throw to Smith of Penn State that was called an incomplete pass. Replay today would rule it a fumble. The scale balances when Maimi gets away a spleen hug by the corner on third down. The punt is downed at the Miami 2.

    -Testaverde is showing the ability to throw to tight spaces, but no one is catching them. Shane Conlan is hurt on the drive by being leg-whipped by his own man. He would finish the game.

    -The first real turnover occurs after a perfectly run post by Irvin, who catches the ball and then fumbles on the Miami 44. The Penn State corners all ran 5' 8" and 5' 9", but they could hit.

    -Griese mentions that Shaffer would not even be on the Miami team. It seems like that harsh statement is true so far.

    -Griese says that Penn State should not even try to pass. Pass attempts do decrease form here on out for the Nittany Lions.

    -Miami begins from their 9 yard line. Penn State sacks Vinny on a coverage sack. He should have thrown it away. Another drop. Griese says Testaverde is just throwing the ball too hard.

    -Vinny pulls one out of his uh, hat. A 23 yard scramble on 3rd and 4. He had 15 rushing touchdowns in his NFL career. 14, if you are counting in Seattle. No score after one quarter.

    Second Quarter

    -Total yardage so far: Miami 133, Penn State 7. This would be a theme.

    -PICK #1. Vinny forces it deep for no reason. (Jets fans are nodding a bit, Bucs fans are nodding like fem-bots before their heads explode). Duffy Cobbs probably owes Vinny a paycheck or two from his short time in the NFL.

    -Penn State tries to throw deep to Ray Roundtree (cup of coffee with Lions in 1988). Shaffer overthrows him and he was open by about 3-4 yards. Bruno punts 51 yards and a clipping is added.

    -The game is becoming the G-pus and Conlan Domination Hour. Jeff Feagles comes into punt for Miami. I think Feagles was signed by somebody this week. That dude just won’t retire. (Editor’s note: He has now retired)

    -This game would be Paterno’s 199th victory. He would get about 100 more, officially.

    -Penn State begins on the 16. Shaffer is 1-5 for 3 yards thus far. Jerome Brown runs through the Penn State offensive line for the 45th time this game (he did it twice one play a lot). Bill Hawkins gets a sack-fumble.

    -Miami gets the ball on the PSU 23 and scores in 3 plays. Melvin Bratton with the score. 7-0 Miami.

    -The Lions decide that they should give the ball to the guy who was 8th in Heisman voting. William Henry Dozier starts getting the ball.

    -The drive is temporarily stalled by a Dan Stubbs sack. He had 17 in 1986 and was the Miami career leader for a while. Dan Stubbs also walked off the Miami team plane wearing fatigues as a "17 Star General."

    -This drive would go 13 plays for 74 yards. Shaffer rushed out the pocket and dove for the TD to tie the game at 7. Penn State gained 88 yards besides this drive.

    -DJ would become an inexplicable nickname for William Henry. The Miami returner was actually named JC Penny. He was from Youngstown, OH.

    -7-7 at half. Time for Bob Costas and Ronald Reagan. Reagan is rambling.

    Third Quarter

    -Miami begins on their 15 yard line. Highsmith commits a bad drop on 2nd & 8. ‘Canes go 3 & Out.

    -Penn State does nothing except for fumble a snap. They get it back and punt.

    -Miami goes 3 & out again and Vinny is now 13-27, 161 yards and a pick.

    -Penn State now has three plays. Dozier left. Dozier right. Failed pass to the tight end. This failed pass leads to a pick by Selwyn Brown. Miami begins on the Lion 40.

    -PICK #2: After a quick first down due to a 7 yard run by Highsmith and another successful play, Vinny throws it right to a dropping-into-coverage Shane Conlan. This was one of zone blitz type of concepts Penn State ran. Conlan was one of three linebackers dropping into coverage, but Conlan cut across toward the sideline into a passing lane on the side of the 3 WR set that had 2 WR on that side. Vinny never saw him.

    -Tim Minoa fumbles the ball right back to Miami. He had three fumbles in the game, but only two counted. With replay, he would have had a third.

    -Warren Williams (6 years in the NFL, 5 with the Steelers) rushes for 6 yards. G-pus records a sack. Michael Irvin draws a controversial pass interference on a play where he tripped himself. Just a terrible call. One we still sometimes see.

    -Mark Seelig, not be confused with Selig, muffs a short field goal.

    -Penn State goes three and out.

    -Tied at 7 after three. Penn State is being out-gained 291-150.

    Fourth Quarter

    -PICK #3, Pete G-pus gets a gift early in the quarter and Penn State gets the ball on the Miami 36.

    -Penn State goes 4 & Out. Massimo Munca shows Billy Cundiff a movie on how to really shank a field goal. I had to replay that. I did it a third time. I have never played soccer in my life and I think my awkward big feet would make kicking look funny, but I KNOW I could have done what Munca did there.

    -Miami begins on the 30. Another outside run fails. Highsmith goes inside and gains a big one.

    -Highsmith is now 15-92.

    -Griese mentions that Vinny shoots a gun, writes and eats with his left hand. Not sure which hand Vinny uses when spending time alone, but I’m pretty sure that was part of the questionnaire.

    -This time the field goal is good and Seelig looks like the 3-time letterman he was.

    -Penn State begins on their own 25. Jerome Brown records the 5th Miami sack. Bubba McDowell (7 years in the NFL) puts great pressure on John Bruno and almost wins the game with a block.

    -Miami begins on their own 21.

    -PICK #4, Shane Conlan steps in front of another pass and returns it to the Miami 5.

    -William Henry Dozier scores from 6 yards out after a time out. PSU leads 14-10.

    -Miami gets one last shot with about 3 minutes left from their 27.

    -Griese mentions that Penn State is 3-0 versus Heisman winners during the last five seasons.

    -Penn State forces a third and long and then a 4th & 6. Testaverde completes one to Brian Blades for 31 yards and Miami was in business.

    -Miami got to the Penn State five after five more straight completions.

    -Tim Johnson sacks Vinny on a play that may have been a penalty today. Third down.

    -Pass is incomplete to the right flat.

    -Testaverde is forced to throw in desperation towards the end zone on the final play.

    -PICK #5: G-pus gets his second turnover of the game. Miami finishes with 7 turnovers to Penn State’s 3.

    -Vinny won the following awards in 1986: Heisman, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, Walter Camp, All American, Club College Athlete of the Year.

    -Miami out-gained Penn State 445-162.

    -Dozier finished with 20 carries for 97 yards.

    -Penn State set a record for full neck rolls with 73.

    MIA–0–7–0–3–10
    PSU–0–7–0–7–14


    -On the next day, the Jets and Browns played their famous 1987 playoff game.

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Good stuff Rich. The game is a bit of a painful watch at times, but at the same time, it lived up to the billing. Conlin, Giftopoulos, and Isom in particular stood out throughout. Despite the yardage differential, I thought Penn State clearly controlled the game by making it ugly.

      I was 8 when the game happened. I'll never forget it. I've seen it again a few times over the past couple of years. It's amazing that games between #1 and #2 didn't happen every year, but that fact played a big role in making that game as big as it became. Other than the Super Bowl, I don't feel like we get "events" like that anymore.
    1. edave's Avatar
      Very nice write up Rich, thank you.

      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      I was 8 when the game happened. I'll never forget it. I've seen it again a few times over the past couple of years. It's amazing that games between #1 and #2 didn't happen every year, but that fact played a big role in making that game as big as it became. Other than the Super Bowl, I don't feel like we get "events" like that anymore.
      I think it was largely seen as a true national championship game, something that had rarely happened. As you point out, it was a big deal. The BCS was ostensibly formed to make sure more games like this happened and has largely been an improvement.

      Will recent games like Auburn vs Oregon or Texas vs USC will look as good through a 25 year filter? I think they might.

      Did you both watch the 90 minute DVD? If so, is that the complete game in a semi-compressed format?
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by edave View Post
      Very nice write up Rich, thank you.



      I think it was largely seen as a true national championship game, something that had rarely happened. As you point out, it was a big deal. The BCS was ostensibly formed to make sure more games like this happened and has largely been an improvement.

      Will recent games like Auburn vs Oregon or Texas vs USC will look as good through a 25 year filter? I think they might.

      Did you both watch the 90 minute DVD? If so, is that the complete game in a semi-compressed format?
      No, I have the complete NBC telecast, complete with full pregame and halftime coverage. The only thing eliminated are the commercials.

      I agree with you on Texas vs. USC. That's probably the closest game that compares as far as pregame hype is concerned. You can also throw the Miami-OSU national championship into that mix.

      The year before the PSU-Miami game, Penn State was #1 and played Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma was #3 at the time. Miami was #2, but ended up playing Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl. If I remember correctly, Miami and Oklahoma were close enough in the standings that Oklahoma may have surpassed them in the polls anyway by beating Penn State, which they did soundly. Meanwhile, Miami was shellacked by Tennessee, which fully guaranteed Oklahoma's ascension.

      And as crazy as all of that sounds, it's part of what made New Year's Day so fascinating. Penn State-Miami was the apex because it was the perfect setting. It was not only #1 vs. #2, but since both teams were undefeated, there was no dispute in whom should be 1 and 2 in the polls. It had the suspected clean-cut, simpleton old-school "good guys" vs. the rebellious, flashy, arrogant new-school "bad guys", giving the game added juice. For the first time, NBC gave the game its own window. Miami Vice was pre-empted (a HUGE deal). The President was interviewed at halftime. It remains the highest rated college football game ever, and with good reason. For everything surrounding it, I think we can look upon that game as the most important in the history of college football.

      It was this game that eventually led to action regarding a true national championship. However, many years we still have a dispute as to whom should be playing in that game, which in a sense, dumbs down the game, much like when the bowls didn't care to match up the 2 best teams every year. But every now and again, we get the undisputed matchups, like in 2002, 2005, and 2010, and those games are gigantic.

      The difference is, while back then, the New Year's Day bowls all felt important, now, the other bowls, including the BcS bowls feel anti-climactic. I contribute that to a public that is much less naive in 2012 than we were 25 years ago.

      Also, one last point. I'd like to bring up Steve Smith, who was a team captain that year. Smith is one of the few players who won 2 national championships at PSU, and as a redshirt freshman, he played the role of Herschel Walker on the scout team prior to the 1983 Sugar Bowl between Penn State and Georgia. Smith was drafted by the Raiders as a fullback, playing for 7 years there, while most notably paving the way for Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson. He also played 2 additional years in Seattle before retiring from the NFL after the 1995 season. Smith is currently suffering from ALS. Amazingly, he's been fighting the disease for over 10 years. He is paralyzed, confined to a bed, breathes through a ventilator, and can no longer speak, other than through a computer system. Yet, he amazingly continues to battle the disease, still convinced that he's going to eventually beat the disease. His former teammates, including Shane Conlin and DJ Dozier have helped to raise money for Smith's medical bills.

      It is suspected that his ALS came about due to the repeated head trauma he incurred playing football.

      Also, Penn State punter John Bruno, the true MVP of that game, died in 1992 of skin cancer at the age of 27. Bruno is the person who led the skit about Jimmy Johnson that set off Jerome Brown and the Hurricanes at the pre-game steak fry.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      eDave, I have the full game as well on DVD. Trumpet, I did think about including the stories on Smith and Bruno, but ultimately decided on keeping the article football-centric only as much as possible.

      Thank you guys for the kind words. I am glad you enjoyed the articles.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Each section of this article was great. Rich does a great job of adding context in Part 1, but wikipedia--of all places--has a cool, succinct write-up on the bidding process which came out of the Fiesta-Citrus competition and how it affected the other major bowls that season.

      I'm only taking a brief part of what Trumpet said (you can read his comments in full above), but as someone young enough to remember the pre-Alliance and pre-BCS days, I miss when New Year's Day was New Year's Day. I expect to be in the minority when I say that I don't really have much interest in determining a 'true' national champion or a whole lot of enthusiasm for the new playoff. I think Trumpet is right that each game felt more important as opposed to anti-climactic BCS bowls (and others), but I don't know if it's because of lost innocence as much as it is over-saturation. Each decent bowl more or less has its own window now, which makes the viewing plodding enough and overly available, but the 1v2 bowl format and now the BCS Championship has diminished the meaning of all the other bowl games. There's only one game that matters and one possible national champion. What made major games compelling previously was that, because of traditional tie-ins, you could have a range of teams deciding the national championship in different places all at once. It's unconventional to say it, but it was a hell of a lot more fun--if occasionally more frustrating--than what we have now or will have in year or so.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      Each section of this article was great. Rich does a great job of adding context in Part 1, but wikipedia--of all places--has a cool, succinct write-up on the bidding process which came out of the Fiesta-Citrus competition and how it affected the other major bowls that season.

      I'm only taking a brief part of what Trumpet said (you can read his comments in full above), but as someone young enough to remember the pre-Alliance and pre-BCS days, I miss when New Year's Day was New Year's Day. I expect to be in the minority when I say that I don't really have much interest in determining a 'true' national champion or a whole lot of enthusiasm for the new playoff. I think Trumpet is right that each game felt more important as opposed to anti-climactic BCS bowls (and others), but I don't know if it's because of lost innocence as much as it is over-saturation. Each decent bowl more or less has its own window now, which makes the viewing plodding enough and overly available, but the 1v2 bowl format and now the BCS Championship has diminished the meaning of all the other bowl games. There's only one game that matters and one possible national champion. What made major games compelling previously was that, because of traditional tie-ins, you could have a range of teams deciding the national championship in different places all at once. It's unconventional to say it, but it was a hell of a lot more fun--if occasionally more frustrating--than what we have now or will have in year or so.
      I've said this exact same thing many times to many people over the years. We are clearly in the minority, but I'll vouch and say that you're not alone. I agree with 100% of what you just said.

      The BcS has always felt like a poorly constructed compromise that isn't a playoff, and eliminates the fun of the bowl games. New Year's Day is no longer New Year's Day because of the BcS, and because of the networks need for maxing out ratings. I'm not sure a 4 team playoff is the answer either.

      If we somehow eventually end up with a 12-16 team playoff, perhaps I'll revisit my stance, but until then, I miss the old days.

      Of course, I'm also someone who isn't exactly in favor of replay either. A contrarian, I am.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Absolutely. New Year's Day created chaos in the same that the NCAA Basketball Tournament manufactures it on the opening weekend. And make no mistake about it, the chaos was part of the fun for both events. Sure, you could make the argument that that weekend is part of a wider tournament, but I don't think it's indefensible to claim that the first weekend is significantly more compelling to a wider group of people than the Regional Finals and even the Final Four, as well.

      The best example of this, I think, is 1993. In 1993, you had two (really, three) teams entering New Year's Day with no losses (#2 Nebraska and #3 West Virginia; this excludes an undefeated Auburn team on probation) and a further three conference champions with one-loss (#1 Florida State, #9 Wisconsin, #7 Texas A&M) and one-loss Notre Dame (#4). Nebraska controlled their own destiny, but realistically, you had at least four--and as many as six or seven--teams who could claim a national championship in the event Nebraska lost. Notre Dame, by virtue of their win over Florida State earlier in the season, certainly could (this happened and FSU was awarded the title anyway). If West Virginia defeated Florida in the Sugar Bowl to finish their season undefeated, they could certainly stake a claim (they in fact lost badly). The national title went to Florida State, and there was a certain amount of expectation that the winner of the Orange Bowl would take the national title, but it didn't need to go to them.

      The range of possible outcomes and the importance of each individual game is overwhelming. Imagine this: #4 Notre Dame vs. #7 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl; #9 Wisconsin vs. #14 UCLA in the Rose; #3 West Virginia vs. #7 Florida in the Sugar; #1 Florida State vs. #2 Nebraska in the Orange; all happening on the same day, and with #13 Penn State's upset over #6 Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl and #16 Arizona's dismantling of #10 Miami in the Fiesta Bowl spliced in for good measure while undefeated Auburn sits at home. I will take that any time over four games that are basically meaningless unless you are a fan of one of the participating schools over the course of a week, followed by one game where there is actual skin on the line. I will also take it over a four-team playoff accompanied by the same number of bowls, which will now be even less compelling. The only reasons to have a rooting interest in bowls now is (a) your team is playing in one because they're not in the game (soon to be games) that matter, (b) conference pride, and (c) sports hate. I watch them, and I'm enough of a college football nut that I even care a little, but that's just not enough to really excite me.

      I could potentially get behind a 16-team tournament. That's broad enough to include a wide spectrum of participants who are all involved in meaningful games. It wouldn't have the chaos of a New Year's Day of old, but we've lost almost all of that anyway. It would at least involve a number of traditional powers playing consequential games and drama could build with each week. It wouldn't be what we had, but I could live with it. What we have now is just... well, boring, honestly.