Ohio State has produced a raft of great linebackers, including Chris Spielman, Tom Cousineau, Andy Katzenmoyer and A.J. Hawk, among others. And Randy Gradishar was one of the best. In fact, he may have been the best. After an All-American career in Columbus, Gradishar went on to a stellar pro career with the Denver Broncos and led the team to Super Bowl 12. But his days as a Buckeye remain special. And one of Gradishar’s most memorable moments was the 1973 game against Michigan, which is the topic of the BTN Originals documentary “TIEBREAKER” airing Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
I caught up with Gradishar to get his thoughts on the historic game.
Q: How often are you asked to talk about this game?
A: The great thing about that game 40 years ago … that kind of memory, opportunity and experience was great. You don’t talk about it every day, but it comes up on a pretty regular basis. Every time I meet people from Michigan, it sets me up to remember that the 1973 game ended in a tie after their kicker missed two field goals. And then we get voted to go to the Rose Bowl and we beat Southern Cal badly and thought we had a chance to be No. 1 in the nation.
|How to watch “TIEBREAKER“||This BTN Originals one-hour documentary premieres Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET with multiple re-airings – check the BTN TV schedule for upcoming show times. You can also watch the entire program on BTN2Go. Learn more at BTN2Go.com.|
Q: Do you recall what Coach Hayes said in the locker room after the Michigan game?
A: I don’t. I remember after Michigan missed that last field, we didn’t know what to do. I don’t think there was enough time left for us to get the ball and drive for the winning score. It was a numb feeling. The fans stopped cheering. They didn’t know what’s going on. What’s this mean? The game is over, there is no playoff. What’s going to happen? Everyone was kinda moping around the sideline. We had to wait until the next day to find out our fate because they had to call Wayne Duke and get a vote
Q: Where were you at when you found out Ohio State was voted to the Rose Bowl over Michigan?
A: After the game, I asked Coach Hayes if I could stay in Michigan with some friends and not go back to Columbus with the team. I was a senior. We were driving back and I heard on the radio that (Big Ten commissioner) Wayne Duke said the Big Ten had voted Ohio State to go to the Rose Bowl. I stopped the car and yelled and screamed, beeping the horn. We didn’t know what would happen after the tie. I think a big reason why we went was because we were No. 1 in the nation entering that game and the whole year. Woody was excited and I’m sure Bo wasn’t.
Q: Did Michigan out play Ohio State in the game?
A: I don’t know how you can be out played in a tie. Their kicker missed two kicks. We had a great defense. The 1972 and 1973 games, our defense was very, very good. When you look at the statistics in making the decision, Bo Schembechler wouldn’t agree. But I know Woody did.
Q: Did Ohio State deserve a share of the national title?
A: Because of the tie and because we handily beat USC, we thought we would be voted No. 1. But then Notre Dame beats No. 1 Alabama and they ended up No. 1. That was depressing. Still, we felt good about representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl and winning that game.
“TIEBREAKER” is the first feature-length documentary produced by BTN. The 60-minute film examines the aftermath of the 1973 Ohio State-Michigan football game, which ended in a 10-10 tie and left the determination of which school would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl up to its Athletic Directors. Learn more at www.BTNTIEBREAKER.com.