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Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Tom Osborne says Nebraska wanted to play Michigan for '97 national title, but the Rose Bowl got in the way

By Nick Baumgardner

Tom Osborne wanted to settle the 1997 national championship with Michigan, fair and square, on the field.

But the former Nebraska football coach, and current Cornhusker athletic director, says the Rose Bowl ultimately got in the way of settling an undisputed champ.

"We were undefeated, and Michigan was undefeated, and we very badly wanted to play Michigan and we were pretty much a free agent and able to move at that time, but Michigan had contractual obligations with the Rose Bowl," Osborne told Sirius XM radio recently. "So as the champion in the Big Ten they had to go to the Rose Bowl and they couldn’t’ play us. We weren’t allowed to go to the Rose Bowl at that time.

"I think those kinds of scenarios led to the BCS and the desire to get 1 and 2 together."

Thumbnail image for UMFB_Carr_Griese_97_NationalTitle.jpg

Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne says he wanted to play Lloyd Carr's 1997 Michigan team to settle the national title, but the Rose Bowl got in the way.

Associated Press file photo

After both finishing the 1997 regular season with unbeaten records, Michigan and Nebraska took different paths with similar results in their respective bowl games.

The Wolverines, ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press, went on to beat No. 8 Washington State, 21-16, in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska, ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, throttled No. 3 Tennessee, 42-17, in the Orange Bowl.

Following the game, Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost made a plea to voters in the Coaches' Poll to vault the Cornhuskers to No. 1 overall.

"One, if you can look yourself in the mirror and say if your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska to keep your job, who would you rather play?" Frost remarked after the game. "You watched the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Michigan won with a controversial play at the end. We took apart the third-ranked team in the country.

"The second point I have is: I can't see how any coach outside the Big Ten or the Pac-10 would vote for Michigan. Because if somebody from North Carolina, Florida State, West Virginia, Notre Dame--wherever it might--if they were undefeated and won the Alliance bowl game, they would expect to share the national title.

"It's been split before. Colorado and Georgia Tech split it. Washington and Miami split it. It's OK to split it. It should be split and it's up to the coaches."

The coaches eventually listened and crowned Nebraska -- in Osborne's final season -- as their national champion. Michigan kept its spot atop the AP poll, and the title was split.

The next season marked the debut of the Bowl Championship Series.

As for the current college football playoff situation, Osborne says he has some concerns over the newly-proposed four-team playoff model -- especially if it diminishes the importance of the regular season.

"We’re a little bit uneasy as to where this thing is going to head," Osborne told Sirius. "There will be a clamor for an eight-team playoff and then a 16-team playoff, and you have to worry about the student-athletes. How many games are they going to have to play and still go to school.

"So there are a lot of things in the mix and no one has a clear answer right now."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

0-6. the record of the bowl opponents (5 big 10 and ND) on 97 Michigans schedule in 97. 0 and freaking 6. That is so bad it is almost unbelievable! they all lost! I mean I can see if a team only has 2-3 bowl teams on the schedule, not so absurd that all would lose. But 6!? Good lord! oh and by the way.. these 6 teams didn't just lose, they all got their rear ends handed to them by an average score of 30-10! nealry 3 td beatdowns.. Big 10 in 97 O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D probably more than any conference in history! 0 and 6!


Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

97 Nebraska would have dismantled the 97 Wolvies had they played. Probably something very similar to what happen to P. Manning and his Volunteers. Interesting info.. 97 Tenn and 97 Mich ran basically the same pro-style offense with drop back style Qb's. With less than two minutes left in the Orange Bowl P. Manning and his offense have 9 points on the scoreboard before a garbage time window dressing td. Comparison of 97 Mich and 97 Tenn offensive units Qb's P. Manning >>>>> B. Griese RB's J. Lewis >>>>>> A. Thomas Wr's Fair, Nash >>> no names, Woodson because they have no playmakers at wr. And Manning's more talented group manages 9 points!! I'd give 97 Mich 10-14 points agaisnt 97 Nebraska.. "Oh but 97 Mich defense would hold 97 Huskers offense to less than 14 points." rolling on floor... sure they would


Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Funny that I haven't heard the "common opponent" thread yet that seems a regualr ploy used by 97 Mich fans to somehow say 97 Mich was better agaisnt common opponents.. Just for fun... Lets examine. Mich beats Baylor 38-3 and Colorado 27-3. Nebraska beats Baylor (in Waco, TX) by the way, 49-21 and beats Colorado (in Boulder, Co) 27-23. Here we go.. the fun stuff.. Before the end of the third quarter in Waco, Tx Nebraska is up 49-7 (boxscore shows just this) over the Bears and would go on to win 49-21! Huh?? A Nebraska offense that was going through the Bear's defense like butter for nearly 3 full quarters suddenly runs into a brick wall?? Really??? A Baylor offense that for nearly 3 full quarters had barely 100 yards of total offense and 7 points suddenly goes through the Blackshirt defense like butter for 14 points in the 4th quarter? Strange isnt it? Let me tell you what happened.. T.O. pulled his starters and 2nd team on offense and defense from late 3rd quarter on! He foeld up his playbook and let the Bears save a little pride by tacking on a few td's agaisnt walkons! What this really shows.. is that 97 Nebraska did to the Baylor Bears in Waco, TX in less than 3 quarters what the mighty Wolverines couldn't do in an entire game! If T.O. had chosen to he could have beat Baylor 65+ - 7! Could have played name that score with the bears! Colorado... Huskers up 17 points late 3rd and again T.O. folds up his playbook and calls off the dogs. Baylor game already clearly establishes just this point. Nebrask a went through that Buffalo defense like butter in the 3rd quarter for 17 points and could have easily tacked on another 14-17 and then the common opponent argumanet is out the window for any Mich fan.


Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Good lord Mich fans... For 15 years we have all heard the cries about the withc in the coaches poll after the bowl games and it MUST have been because Tom said he was retiring or Frost' comments. For once I'd like to hear a Mich fan say, "You know what, going into the Rose Bowl Mich had its destiny in their own hands. Play well, look like a champion, against WSU and it shouldn't matter what Nebraska does against Tenn." But the fact is, Mich didn't play well agaisnt a weak WSU team, didn't look really like a champion. had Mich looked good agaisnt WSU and beat that weak team convincingly there would have likely been no swithc in coaches poll. Lobbying... Mr Griese did plenty of that from his ABC pulpit!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 9:32 a.m.

The best point of the article is this, 1997 split MNC brought forth the BCS, it absolutely solidified the onset of the BCS and ultimately the forthcoming 4 team playoff. You could say that it truly is the most important debate (split MNC 1997) that leads us to a crowned National Champion. As a fan of Michigan football, I will take great pride in knowing that as sour my memories remain due to the '97 split title it had a profound effect that will benefit ALL college football fans, teams, players, universities, everyone. Period. Go Blue! Grats to Nebraska and it's great that they are a part of the B1G and I personally look forward to future Michigan vs Nebraska games deciding many Legends division championships. Tom Osborne is a class individual. Good article.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

iamcris, what you said makes sense. I would have liked to see Mich and Neb. play that game and it's anybody's guess both teams were good. At least now we get to see both teams square off each year, I like it. Both Neb and Mich have great tradition and winning records.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

The reason we had to split the National Championship with Nebraska is because we almost lost the game to a team we should have easily handled. I think we were better than Nebraska of course I'm a Mich. fan. Mich. does not play well in the Rose Bowl I don't care who they play. Ryan Leaf may have been a bust in the NFL but that kid played lights out in college and this is not unusual for college athletes. QB temper tantrums don't sit well with NFL players.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

Hi Hailmary, The reason Michigan does not do well in the Rose Bowl is because it is a home game for the opposition. The Big 8/Big 12 had to deal with that for years as well. Four of NU's MNC's were vs SEC teams and all were in the Orange Bowl (LSU, 'Bama, Florida, Tenn). The 5th was vs Miami in the Orange Bowl, talk about a home game... I guess that is the downfall to being located in a mid-western/coldweather state! Go Big Red/Go Blue!


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Julie Lee hit this nail square on its head and I have always felt the same. In order to get his "national championship" Osborne had to retire. It was a gift unearned.

Stephen Landes

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

I'm sure this will sound old fashioned to some, but I like the Rose Bowl tradition and don't think a mythical national championship is worth losing the tradition and expecting more from our student-athletes. The drive for a championship is really a drive for money. Everything the commissioners are talking about still requires a committee to pick teams. I see this as not much different from what we have now. The only way to do this without some committee deciding on which teams are best is to have a tournament of conference champions -- you finish second in your conference and you're out. Unfortunately that would require several MORE weeks of football games and, for that reason, is unacceptable. Leave the bowl system in place, have everything wound up on New Year's Day, and forget the beauty contest for national champion.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Rose Bowl: dumb Crystal Bowl: promised land


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

Theo, I believe we won a split National championship in the Rose Bowl playing a Pac 12 team, what's wrong with that ?


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

D21, Scott Frost is an offensive assistant coach at Oregon and is poised to become a coordinator very soon. His comments after the Orange Bowl were definitely cringe-worthy, even to the blindest Husker fan. However, let's put this into context. They were 13-0 (yes even with the lucky play at Mizzou, which by the way was a 3rd down so they would have had another shot at the endzone. The fluke/lucky play only tied the game, they still had to win the OT) and he had just gotten done destroying Peyton Manning and the next years BCS champion. Then, a reporter sticks a microphone in his face and asks him what he would say to the voters about NU's claim of the MNC. Regrettable; the kid was so hyped up he put his foot in his mouth for sure, no one at NU denies that. I am sure TO had a chat with him about that, thanked him for his support but let him know that is not how it is done. Scott Frost before and after that has been nothing but a solid guy and a great teammate and coach.. Go Big Red/Go Blue!


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Scott Frost, where is he now? What a pure whiner who is similar to Urban Meyer.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

D21, if Scott Frost is similar to Urban Meyer then it goes to say that Scott is going to have a great career in college ball as a coach.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

There's someone in Arizona, he should get together with and talk. They're good at the shoulda', coulda', and woulda's - they were almost there !


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Some very interesting facts SPG, thank you and I always did like Tom who I considered a coaches coach.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

Terry Star21, As I stated earlier, he was merely answering a question asked of him in an interview, not complaining. The context of the question pertained to the proposed playoffs and matching the top teams. He never shied away from competition, never gloated when he won and was humble in defeat. Anyone remember him going for two to win the Orange bowl in '83 when an extra point would have tied the game with Miami and still won them the title? Tom coached to win and not back in to anything. Sounds alot like Bo and Brady to me!! I think if you got to know him, like Michigan fans knew Bo, you would see that he is a great leader and quite humble. He just speaks kind of "aw shucks" matter of factly. Ask David Brandon what he thinks of Dr. Tom (I have) and you'll see what I mean. Also to your point, Osborne is not Nebraska's RR, that dishonor goes to Bill Callahan, a bigger disaster than RR was by far, and he had four years to destroy the program not three that RR did. Knowing both schools and both programs like I do, you would be amazed at the similarities. FYI Fielding Yost coached the Huskers before he coached Michigan.... Go Big Red/Go Blue


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

I'll echo what Marcus Ray and others said at the infamous pep rally at Crisler after we won the National Championship. "They give out 4 major trophies to the National Champion at the end of the season. 3 sit here. You do the math."


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Life can be cruel but that was a great and fascinating year for Mich. I suspect a game that year between Mich. and Nebraska would have been worth the ticket price.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

All I know is, Michigan went 12-0, crushed #1 PSU @ PSU 34-8, beat OSU, beat the Pac-10 champ, and had a defense led by the only defensive Heisman winner in history, not to mention a QB that actually played several years at the position in the NFL. Michigan was legit, no matter what any other teams did that season.

Barry MaCaukiner

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

First off: In 1997, Penn State was ranked #2 in both polls - not #1 - when Michigan went to State College PA. Secondly: In the end, the Nittany Lions finished a modest 9-3, but with devastating blowout defeats against Michigan State (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) and Florida. PSU also struggled at home with Minnesota (3-9, 1-7 - winning just 16-15) and against Northwestern (5-7, 3-5 - winning just 30-27). This confirmed what most pundits believed before and during that 1997 season (and 2-3 year stretch run for PSU) that the Nittany Lions were over-hyped and over-rated by the sports media and polling. Their bowl game result (along with results of the rest of Michigan's opponents' bowl games) was proof positive of the Big Ten's overall questionable standing among the top conferences. The numbers and results simply do not lie.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Dr Tom was merely answering questions from an interview. They also asked him about 1994 and Penn State and he gave the same answer about that, that it was a shame that the school was tied into a particular bowl game and a #1 vs #2 scenario could not play out. No whining and no complaining, just answering a question posed to him. Also, the 5th down you refer to was not in this game, I believe it was the 1990 Mizzou vs Colorado game. Nebraska did win on a lucky play vs Mizzou that year for sure and paid for it. That is when they were jumped in the polls and Mich took over as #1 even though they won the game. Nebraska fans were not happy about that but understood it. We all knew we were lucky that game, no one will deny it least of all TO. I am a Nebraska grad living in A2 for the last 23 years and have grown quite fond of UM sports. I was very happy for Lloyd and the boys that year as I was for my Huskers. As for who would have won, there is no way to know. Each team was dominant in certain areas. The comment about Michigan stopping Nebraska's one dimensional offense by putting 9 in the box...what do you think defenses did all that year? The Huskers still averaged 40 pts a game running the ball up the gut with 9 in the box. I have very fond memories of that 1997 Wolverine team and tell my Husker friends that they would have loved them too. Tough as nails and exciting to watch, especially Woodson. Anyone going to Lincoln for this year's game, be prepared. You are about to meet the best fanbase out there. Wear Maize and Blue head to toe and you won't pay for a drink and you can go into any tailgate to talk football. They are going to want to hear all about Bo and the Big House and the Ten Year War! Go Big Red/Go Blue!


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Mike D, I did a bit of research and Googled "Nebraska 5th Down". There are several pages of articles about the infamous Colorado vs Mizzou 5th down game and nothing about a game with NU involved that referred to a 5th down. Some articles surrounding that game mention the 5th down Colorado game, putting it into context with another heartbreaking loss fo Mizzou, perhaps that is where the confusion is coming from. Here is a Wiki: And here is where confusion may be coming from regarding a coach unwilling to forfiet a game when he knew there was an error. It is a quote from Bill McCartney of Colorado: "Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, a former Missouri Tigers player, did little to soothe the controversy. Asked whether he would consider forfeiting the game, McCartney declared that he had considered it but decided against it because "the field was lousy." He complained about the unusually slick Omniturf artificial turf surface, which he said had caused repeated slips and falls during the game.[8] It is alleged that Missouri purposely did not put sand on the field in order to make it slippery, and that their players, knowing this in advance, wore longer spikes on their shoes to compensate (Colorado did not know this and had to make do with shorter spikes)." If you Google "5th Down" it will only refer to this game and a couple more in the early 1940's, one involving Ohio State!!!!! Go Big Red/Go Blue


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

Mike D, Hi, I wonder if you are referring to the "5th Down" that keeps being mentioned here when talking about an error in that game. The 5th down was actually in the 1990 Colorado vs Mizzouri game. Unless I am in denial :>) I do not remember a 5th down or anything like it in that game at all. I do remember that on a 3rd down play, the pass from Frost to Shevin Wiggins got deflected. An astute Mizzou player grabbed Wiggins by the shoulders and pulled him down towards the ground (a legal play as the ball has already been tipped). As Wiggins was being pulled down, his feet flipped up in the air and kicked the ball. Matt Davison was there to grab the ball just before it hit the ground. An incredibly lucky, lucky paly, there is no debate about that. But that put the Huskers behind by one. They still had to kick the extra point and then win it in overtime so there was still work to be done. That is the game when The Wolverines jumped them in the polls even though they won the game. It was because of the lucky play and the Wolverines convincing victory that day that created the jump. Go Big Red/Go Blue!

Mike D

Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Thanks SPG for your diplomatic response. However, if Dr. Osborne was such an honorable man, he would have also disclosed the Missouri game error. And although he didn't forfeit the game at the time. he should have disclosed the play and stated (for moral reasons) that Nebraska did not deserve the #1 ranking because of it.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

At My wife and I are going to the game. We expect the same class shown by the Nebraska fans we invited up to Ann Arbor last Nov. They were great - unlike the fans of a team to the south.southern living

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

Osbourne and RR should get together; 'Shoulda', woulda', coulda' all day long - that's what their good at.....


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

I hear you about the Big 12 that year, but it wasn't as down as you may think. NU beat #17 KState by 30 pts, OU by 62 pts (yeas they were really down but OU was still NU's "Buckeyes". They then beat #14 Texas A&M in the CCG by 39 pts. Before league play they beat #2 Washington by 2 TD's so their schedule was not quite a cakewalk. Also, NU averaged 46.7 pts per game that year, not 40 as I previously stated. Then the dismantling of Tenn was beautiful. It was 42-10 when Peyton got pulled and Tenn scored aginst an all walk-on defense with 1 minute to go. Several future NFL all-pro's on thet Tenn team and they won the 1st BCS championship the next year. Anyway, I love this subject, loved both teams and appreciate the welcome to the B1G. We got clobbered in the Big House last year, let's hope we do better in Lincoln this year! Go Big Red/Go Blue

Julie Lee

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

Nebraska was very dominate in a very weak conference. Maybe 1 or 2 challenges all year & the rest cupcakes.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Great comments, SPG. I love to talk football with an Alumnus whose university sports a great football program, unlike some neighbors down south we know who are less than civil. Valid points, but I will say this: the Big 12 was incredibly awful that year, you guys ran up the score on a lot of cupcakes. In any event, glad to have you in the Big Ten. Go Blue!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

it was a going away gift for Osborne Michigan would have LOVED to shut Frost up they played MUCH better QB's than him and shut them down. braska was LUCKY to beat missouri on an Illegally kicked ball that ended up being caught by one of their receivers for a winning TD or they wouldn't even be in the discussion.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Tom, You did not even beat Missouri, so go back to your little whole and shut up. You got a CLEARLY blown call. FIVE DOWNS. What this season did was lead to instant replay. You cheated and got away with it. An HONORABLE person would not try to gain an extra down. A penalty is one thing, downright cheating is another, and you knew it.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

That 1997 team was the first in modern history to go into their bowl game ranked #1, win their bowl game, and then get ousted from the #1 spot. It was a sign of respect for Osborne, coupled with taking a shot at the Rose Bowl. Michigan would have won because Nebraska was one dimensional. They would have played with nine in the box


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Maybe someone should check facts about how Michigan has done against SEC schools in bowl games. I think Michigan would have handled Neb that year, Neb should have had a loss to Missouri that year I do not think Neb should be talking about bad calls.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

That makes no sense at all. Michigan's best teams went to the rose bowl so when we did play sec teams in bowls we were evenly matched usually second or third in the conference. Michigan's record speaks for it's self.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

Yes, it's a winning record. But do note that of the 11 games, UM has only played 3 SEC teams with 10 or more wins in the regular season. UM is 1-2 against them. UM has played four 8 win SEC teams, winning 3 of them. so, basically, UM has played predominantly the 2nd rate SEC teams. Your record isn't so good when you play our tier 1 teams. Both the Florida teams you mentioned were 8-4 as was Auburn. Arkansas was 9-2 and Alabama was the only 10 win SEC team UM has ever beaten. so comparing the "top PAC" teams to the lower SEC teams isn't exactly a good comparison.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9 p.m.

SEC Fan...that's called a winning record. So, while the SEC can talk about dominance over the B10 all they want, they are not dominant over Michigan. In fact, while Lloyd was the coach, I can recall victories over Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and Florida (twice). Not that it means much, because the top Pac-12 teams are better imo anyway (see USC - nobody can touch them in bowl games...and the SEC is lucky they never had to play them in one).


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

I believe that UM is 7-4 against SEC teams in bowl games.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

You don't have to like Tom Osborne but the guy is a legend and one of the greatest coaches of all time. In his last 5 years at Nebraska he only lost 3 games and went undefeated 3 times. Sure there were some lucky calls. But in my 43 years of paying attention to Michigan football I've seen a few questionable calls both help and hurt my team out too. The most flagrant to me was Charles Whites phantom touchdown in the 1979 Rose Bowl.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

I know I have stated it several times in the comments, but please know that there was no "5th down" in this game. Search for archival articles from Lincoln and Columbia as well as the national press. There was no extra down, the controversy was a kicked ball, which while incredibly lucky, was a legal play as the ball had already been deflected. On top of that it was on a 3rd and goal (not a 5th down as keeps being mentioned here). And it wasn't even a kicked ball, it actually bounced of Wiggins' shin and not his foot, but that is not the point. The point is there was no extra down in this game. There was, however, an extra down in the 1990 Mizzou vs Colorado game and that must be where the confusion lies. It was brought up during conversation about this Mizzou vs NU game as another example of a heartbreaking loss by the Tigers. Go Big Red/Go Blue


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

johnny, easy johnny, it's almost painful to read your angry rhetoric. Take a deep breath and think, would Bo have raced out on the field and refuted an extra down with the refs. Bo would likely have, chuckled and noted it for a latter insertion in a book.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Craig, I was at that Rose Bowl game on the 10 yard line in the USC student section. I wore a Mich. hat and got a lot of beer dumped on my head, didn't care but when stoned Charles White dropped that ball I almost took on the whole USC student body.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Still does not change the fact he cheated. He played an extra down. The fact the officials did not catch it is not relevant. A penalty is part of the game, but an extra down is CLEARLY not in the rule book. The play NEVER really happened. Osborne and ever Nebraska player knew they were cheating. In fact,. your officials were probably paid to make sure they did not lose the financial benefit of a number 1 season. Sorry Tom, you are a dishonorable man. Go away already


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

It's fascinating how fans know who "would have won." Pfffft! You don't know unless they play. And the Rose Bowl arrangement made that impossible. That's the whole point. I do know that most of the computer rankings at the time had Nebraska at No. 1 (Sagarin, Scripps Howard, Glantz-Culver, Seattle Times, New York Times). The computers didn't listen to Scott Frost (or to Bob Griese). So, the notion of sharing the title is not the absurdity that Michigan fans like to paint it as.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

AP, FWAA, and NFF had Michigan #1. USA Today / ESPN, Coaches, and Congrove had Nebraska #1. Congrove is a composite computer ranking.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Do you have any links to back up what the computer polls said back then or are we just supposed to believe you because you're so knowledgeable?


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

nor Brian Griese - lol


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

here here!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

#2 soundly beats #3. # 1 barely beats #8...and Michigan claims championship. guess that's why the Big 10 keeps insisting it must have an automatic invite to a playoff and why Michigan hasn't been close since. Thank you BCS for at least ensure that silliness hasn't happened since. oh...sorry, I'm spouting facts again...


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

Sorry about Tennessee...SEC's best team in 1997. Sure things have changed and SEC has been dominating; however, the Big Ten is healthier than any conference in the country in college football. Our time is coming again, just like 1997. In addition, speaking of facts, Michigan does very well head to head against SEC opponents in bowl games.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

@Julie Lee - You posted the key fact that was missing in the article and the discussion. SEC Fan should consider that one missed as well. Had Fulmer not pouted like a punk and ridiculously voted Michigan # 4 in the final poll, Michigan would have been the undisputed champion that year and rightfully so. That said, I wish they could have played Nebraska and settled it on the field.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

Moeller certainly didn't leave the cupboard bare for Carr.

Julie Lee

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

Correction he voted Michigan 4th not 3rd.

Julie Lee

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

You have to remember that Osborne announced his retire before the game. That Bowl was the only game on that night. And the announcer of the game where almost begging the coaches to give part of the title to Osborne as a going away gift. The Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer was still made that Charles Woodson won the Heisman over Peyton Manning that he vote Michigan 3rd in the final coaches poll. Which was enough to make the difference in the coaches poll.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Oh, I agree they went in as #1. but you have to admit, playing a #8 team is not exactly a good reason to maintain the # spot. We've seen before during the season where a #2 has become #1 because they soundly beat a top 5 team and the #1 team beat a lesser opponent. Look at last year. Oklahoma beat un-ranked Missouri but lost the #1 spot (in AP) to LSU who beat #16 West Virginia. But I'll still pay up on the cookie for not including everything :-)


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

That's just 1 game each, how about Michigan dismantling penn state (#3) on the road or beating tsio (I think #4 at the time), Tennessee is in the sec too.....the game didn't happen in 2010.....

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

you point is valid. But Michigan went in to the Bowl all alone as #1 and it was the first time a team ever lost that spot in the AP while winning. They also were ranked #1 by Football News, Football Writers Association of America, National Championship Foundation, National Football Foundation, and Sporting News. So there is a bit more to the story SEC Fan. Now I think you owe me a cookie for skipping some facts. ;)


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Frost was nothing but a whining little girl begging mama for a piece of cake. I can't believe Osbourne is still reliving that year. Give it up dude it's over. Michigan would have put a whuppin' on Nebraska anyway. Frost would have spent half the game on his back. Quit living in the past Osbourne and worry more about your current Nebraska team that will get spanked by Michigan again this year.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

I remember the announcement of the ESPN poll at about 5 in the morning, accompanied by wild on-set cheering as Nebraska was revealed as their number one. At that point, I realized there's nothing preventing an organization like ESPN from altering the polls. As for Frost's complaints - the last play was not that controversial. What was controversial was Charles Woodson being pretty much tackled by the WSU receiver on the 50-yard pass play that kept that final drive alive. You could use that play in a "textbook" of offensive pass interference. And second, Nebraska needed overtime to beat Missouri that year - an overtime forced by a play far more controversial. One of the Nebraska receivers kicked the ball to a teammate on the score that tied the game in the closing seconds. Michigan had a far cleaner season, but the ESPN/Osborne campaign switched one of the polls. I agree that a "+1" game a week later would have been nice, but Michigan had the best record in 1997 and deserved what we call the "national championship."

Mike D

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Thanks for bringing back bad memories. However you should have added the ref's bad call that allowed Nebraska to defeat Missouri on an additional down. Michigan should have been number 1 on that condition alone, forget aboutthe Orange Bowl.