On the Glory of 25 and 50 Years Ago

I earned by undergrad degree at Bowling Green State University, thus a proud Falcon. The end of 2009 marks the end of celebrating two monumental sports moments from years gone by: the 1984 NCAA Hockey Championship and the 1959 NCAA Football Championship.

I imagine someone is scratching their head about the 1959 gridiron feat because references list Jim Brown-led Syracuse as national champions, but the Falcons were the NCAA College Division (Small College) champions. The team numbers are impressive: 9-0-0 and outscoring opponents 274-83 … and to think that rival Toledo scored 21 points while the defense held 6 opponents to single digits. Here are some notes about the personnel.

  • Coach Doyt Perry led the BG for 10 years with a .855 winning percentage (77-11-5) and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • Bernie Casey (RB) was an All-American, the ninth pick of the NFL draft, and had a successful career with the 49ers and Rams
  • Jack Harbaugh (QB/DB), had a successful college coaching career and father to John and Jim
  • Ron Blackledge (TE/DE) had a successful coaching career and father of Todd
  • Larry Smith (WR), served as head coach at Tulane, Arizona, USC, and Missouri
  • Jim Young, assistant coach, served as head coach at Arizona, Purdue, and Army; member of College Football Hall of Fame
  • Dick Young, assistant coach, served as AD at BG, Oklahoma State, and Washington State
  • Dave McClain (QB) coached at Ball State

Here’s a short article about the team. By the way, the players above and below with hyperlinks are enshrined in the BGSU Hall of Fame.

Twenty-five years later (1984) the Falcon icers won the national championship. Although BG had a stellar record (31-7-2) and ranked #2 in the final poll, an OT loss to Michigan State in the league championship game sent BG to Boston to face the Terriers in two-game total-goal series. Having lost by 3 the first night, BG roared back to win by 4.

A rematch semi-final win over MSU then vaulted the Falcons into the finals. Trailing by 3 to Minnesota-Diluth in the final period, the Falcons roared back to tie with 1:47 left, and then eventually winning in the fourth overtime!

Here are some of the roster notables.

  • Garry Galley (D) – 18 years in the NHL
  • Dave Ellett (D) – 16 years in the NHL
  • Gino Cavallini (W) – 8 years in the NHL
  • Iain Duncan (W) – 4 years in the NHL
  • Todd Flichel (D) – 3 years in the NHL
  • John Samanski (C) – 11 years playing in Europe
  • George Roll (W) – Head coach at Clarkson
  • Jerry York (Head Coach) – Currently head coach at Boston College where he has also won a national championship

See the full roster
Read about the season

On a Dying Team

During my years on the campus, I was an avid Bowling Green Falcon hockey fan.

  • bglogoI stood outside the arena doors for an hour in the cold BG wind waiting for the doors to open to get my preferred seat.
  • I didn’t miss many home games as a student, and sat (most of the time) in the same general admission seat – along a rail above a stairway at center ice on the east side for most of the games over five years. (Observable below).
  • After seated, I played crazy 8s with friends since gametime was still an hour away.
  • I saw the early wave of the 34 Falcons who played in the NHL, and others made the U.S. Olympic team.
  • I saw coach Ron Mason on his way to becoming the most-winning coach in NCAA hockey history.
  • I saw many great games, including numerous exciting moments that shook the arena. (The close aluminum ceiling had the place roar.)

hockeywinAlthough I wasn’t a student when the Falcons won the 1984 National Championship on Gino Cavallini’s fourth-overtime goal, my heart was there and tuned into ESPN. I wasn’t there to see two Hobey Baker Award (hockey’s Heisman) winner, George McPhee and Brian Holzinger, but they increased my pride.

Today, the BG Ice Arena faces the threat of becoming nothing more than a physical education facility. While surfing this part Friday I discovered the university is considering disbanding its hockey program.

ice_arenaThe facility and finances are at the heart of the issue. After years of neglect, the 40 year-old arena is antiquated – in need of both repair and renovation. Updating has been delayed – funding decreased and eventually cut. Surely the facility hasn’t made recruiting easy, thus it’s been a tough last 10 years for Falcon faithful.

Past neglect (by choice) and tough economic times have put the university’s administration between a rock and a hard place. Part of investing in a team is investing in the facilities, and I hope this is not a search-for-financing plea as clearly used by pro franchises.

As avid of a fan I was and as much as I still bleed orange, I say pull the plug. Instead of continuing as a bottom dweller and having one of the worst facilities in the CCHA, I’ll settle for no more embarassment and living in my memories – the kind I’ll get when I return to campus, sit in the seat, and remember when the building shook.

Support Articles: Toledo Blade and NHL FanHouse

Images from the Associated Press and Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune

PS: It’s 4:15 pm (same day of the post) and the BGSU Athletic Director posted an open letter today stating all sports are safe for next year – but also emphasizes the budget constraints.