BTN is Getting into the Sports Documentary Game with 'Tiebreaker,' the Story of the 1973 Ohio State–Michigan Game that Ended in a Tie

October 31, 2013 at 7:29a    by Jason Priestas    
26 Comments

Great news, people that love to watch good television.

BTN is getting into the feature-length sports documentary game – the same game ESPN's "30 for 30" series has done so well in – and will kick things off with Tiebreaker, examining the aftermath of the controversial 10-10 tie between Ohio State and Michigan in 1973, sending the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl after a vote of Big Ten athletic directors.

Tiebreaker features rare archival footage and interviews with student-athletes, coaches and administrators. The film includes drama and excitement from the battle on the gridiron, featuring audio from legendary Michigan radio announcer Bob Ufer, as well as details surrounding the controversial vote.

The film also includes footage from an historic dinner BTN convened for key contributors from Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes and Schembechler’s Wolverines for each side’s perspective. Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, 1973 Heisman Trophy runner-up John Hicks, Buckeye signal caller Cornelius Greene, linebacker Randy Gradishar, defensive back Steve Luke and offensive lineman Steve Myers represented Ohio State. Quarterback Dennis Franklin, co-captain Dave Gallagher, fullbacks Ed Shuttlesworth and Bob Thornbladh, kicker Mike Lantry and defensive lineman Don Warner represented Michigan.

The program will air at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.

At the time, the Big Ten only sent one team to the postseason each year and the 6-4 vote to send the 10-0-1 Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl over the 10-0-1 Wolverines was that era's announcement of "Legends and Leaders." Michael Rosenberg's book War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and America in a Time of Unrest, provides a pretty good account of that tumultious weekend, and it's fascinating.

Michigan, undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the country, had thoroughly outplayed Ohio State, then the nation's No. 1 team, even if the score didn't reflect that. Following the game, Woody Hayes attempted to swat a photographer, knowing his team needed the win to go to the Rose Bowl and play for a national championship. He was quoted in the postgame press conference saying as much.

Since the teams finished tied on the scoreboard, in conference and overall, a vote of the league's 10 athletic directors would determine the Big Ten's Rose Bowl participant. Ohio State had gone the previous season and although the league had abolished it's "no-repeat" rule, the spirit remained. And because the Buckeyes had gone to Pasadena more recently, Michigan needed just a 5-5 split in the vote.

Five of the athletic directors had either played or coached at Michigan and Schembechler felt so good about his team's performance that he told reporters that he'd vote the Wolverines No. 1 in his Coaches Poll ballot. He wasn't alone – the Ann Arbor News headlined Sunday's paper with "It Smells Like Roses!"

When the vote did come in, it shocked everyone. Athletic directors from Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and Indiana voted for the Wolverines. Meanwhile, Ohio State received votes from Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan State, and of course, OSU athletic director Ed Weaver.

Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin suffered a broken collarbone in the game and some believe that factored into the vote of Big Ten athletic directors – the thought being that the conference wanted to send the team with the best chance of beating its Pac-8 opponent. Michigan partisans weren't having any of that, however, with many thinking Michigan State was paying the Wolverines back for working to prevent the Spartans from joining the Big Ten two decades earlier. Northwestern was even fingered as a suspect because Michigan athletic director Don Canham had killed a stadium lease plan Northwestern had been working on with the Chicago Bears.

Two days after the game, Schembechler, speaking at the Ann Arbor Touchdown Club, told the audience, "A great wrong has been done to these kids. I wouldn’t trust the older generation either. All they do is scurry around worrying about themselves. The players don’t factor into it at all."

He was crying when he said it.

Ohio State would go on to throttle USC 42-21 in the 1974 Rose Bowl, but the events of that weekend still cut deep for those involved on the Michigan side.


For more, here's footage of that game:


26 Comments

Comments

Hoody Wayes's picture

This is the moment "The 10-Year War" began, for me.
Bo had no reasonable argument. When Van Decree busted Dennis Franklin's collar bone, Michigan's chances of winning the Rose Bowl, diminished. That made a healthier Ohio State - not only, the logical choice to represent the Big 10, in Pasadena - the de facto winner of, The Game (1973).
Being up here in Toledo - within reach of Detroit's radio/television networks - I assure you, we got a steady dose of "Crybaby" Bo's protestation's to the contrary - and well-beyond, 1973.
And we won the 1974 Rose Bowl, 42-21, over USC.
But, it was another missed opportunity to win a MNC, in a decade when Ohio State could/should have won MNC's in '73, '74, '75 and '79.  
And for those who hate the BCS, yet think, the wire service polls-era was better, this is for you: "Although Notre Dame finished No. 1 in the AP Poll to claim the AP national title, they were not awarded the Coaches' title, since Alabama was awarded the Coaches' Poll title before the bowl season." The Fighting Irish won the (AP) title by defeating the previously unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl by a score of a 24-23
So, Alabama's 1973 UPI title is bullshit. Take it off the board!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish_football_team
 
 

Orlando Pancakes's picture

I completely agree with everything you said. By that logic though, we would also need to vacate our 1970 National Championship as we also lost our bowl game.

Hovenaut's picture

My uncle loved, LOVED, OSU getting that vote....used to say it really helped erase the memory of the '69 loss.

The decision was indeed validated when Ohio State whupped, just whupped I say, the Trojans in the Rose Bowl.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

buckeye56's picture

'73 was also the year of the M Club banner incident. Hopefully that gets talked about as well.

spqr2008's picture

I hope they include the Dead Schembechlers' "Ballad of Mike Lantry" in it.

Jonnferrell's picture

"Wide left!"  LOL  Love the Schembechlers!
The Ballad of Mike Lantry
HE BUCKS WERE LOCKED IN BATTLE
IN THE FALL OF SEVENTY FOUR
THE WOLVERINES WOULD BE THE CHAMPS
IF THEY GOT ONE SCORE MORE
BUT WHO WOULD WIN THE GAME THAT DAY
TO PLAY THE BOWL OF ROSE
SCHEMBECHLER BET HIS SEASON
ON MICHAEL LANTRY'S TOE
HIS TOE, HIS TOE, HE BET ON LANTRY'S TOE
WELL LANTRY WAS PURE EVIL
FOR HE HAD SOLD HIS SOUL
HE SOLD IT TO THE DEVIL
TO KICK SOME FIELD GOALS
HE STRODE INTO THE HORSESHOE
AS SECONDS TICKED AWAY
HE PLANNED TO BEAT THE BUCKEYES
DURING THE FINAL PLAY
LAST PLAY, LAST PLAY, UPON THE FINAL PLAY
THE SNAP IT CAME TO LANTRY
HE KICKED IT WAY UP HIGH
THE BALL FLEW PAST AN ANGEL
WHO SWIPED AS IT WENT BY
BY GRACE OF GOD, HE HIT IT
FOR HE WAS QUICK AND DEFT
THE BALL IT STARTED SPINNIN'
THEN SAILED TO THE LEFT
WIDE LEFT, WIDE LEFT, THE BALL IT WENT WIDE LEFT
THE DEVIL HE WAS ANGRY
THE ANGEL HAD HIM BEAT
THE WOLVERINES DEFEATED
SCHEMBECHLER STAMPED HIS FEET
MIKE LANTRY HE TRIED SUICIDE
BECAUSE HE FELT BEREFT
BUT WHEN HE TRIED TO SHOOT HIMSELF
THE BULLET SAILED LEFT
WIDE LEFT, WIDE LEFT, THE BULLET WENT WIDE LEFT

"I miss Brady Hoke."

spqr2008's picture

The best part for Buckeye fans is that he missed twice in the 1973 tie, and once more in 1974, although aside from Ohio State games, he was a very solid kicker.

hetuck's picture

Note MSU voted for OSU. I heard Jack Park say it was because scUM voted against their entry into the Big Ten back in the 50s. That's a long time to carry a grudge. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

M Man's picture

That was the big thing for a lot of us.  I think that there was more fury aimed at MSU and Bert Smith, than anything OSU/Woody ever said or did.
In 1970 - 1980, Bo's teams were 10-1 against Little Brother.
 
That's where my own hostilities lie.  It was a great game; one of the best in The Rvalry.  No hard feelings at all toward Woody and his Buckeyes.

Haybucks's picture

Classic example of “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold”.

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was. - Irish proverb

 

sb97's picture

The BTN does a great job with the Journey and the Big Ten Elite show isn't bad either.  Seems like this is the kind of thing they can do well at.

Doc's picture

Why didn't Penn State or Nebraska vote?

"Say my name."

Jonnferrell's picture

 Carl Pelini had a smoke out party and they all went to White Castle.  Completely forgot about that vote.

"I miss Brady Hoke."

BUCK-I-FAN's picture

I hope you are joking, as they were not in the conference in 1974.

cronimi's picture

Note the italics, i.e., sarcasm font.

Doc's picture

Bingo^^

"Say my name."

Notthatguy's picture

Could you imagine how nuclear the blogs would have been if would have had them? Mercy....

I would've sent a check but I already sealed up the envelope...

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Their tears would taste so delicious, and there would be gallons and gallons and gallons of them.  That cursing chart on MGo would be off the charts.

Class of 2010.

GrayDay's picture

My father went to UM, though we were an Ohio family and my siblings and I went to OSU.  I never saw my father angrier in my life than he was when UM lost that vote.

Notthatguy's picture

Bet you had to leave the room...you know mad dads get.

I would've sent a check but I already sealed up the envelope...

GrayDay's picture

I was 12, excited that OSU got the nod, but also kind of freaked out by my dad's reaction so I kept very quiet.

Notthatguy's picture

I know that's right. As James Brown said, papa didn't take no mess.

I would've sent a check but I already sealed up the envelope...

BoFuquel's picture

And 40 years later, TSUN STILL SUCKS! GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Well when you read the facts as stated above...
If I were a TTUN fan and alive in 1973, I'd have been pissed.  Especially if my backup was Kenny Guiton-style.

Class of 2010.