The University of Utah recently announced the 2014 class who will be inducted into the Crimson Club Athletics Fund Hall of Fame at Rice Eccles Stadium of Tower on Friday, September, 5, 2014. This year’s class, which features five former Ute athletes, one former coach, and one team will join the ranks of Utah Athletics greats such as Megan Marsden, Rick Majerus, Missy Marlow, Jerry Chambers, and Ron McBride.
For the next seven weeks, BlockU will bring you an in-depth look at this year’s inductees: Kevin Dyson (football), Elaine Elliott (women's basketball coach), Amy Kofoed (soccer), Andre Miller (men's basketball), Kim Turner (volleyball), Sandy Woolsey (gymnastics) and the 1964 Liberty Bowl team. We’ll kick off our Hall of Fame series with a look at the 1964 Liberty Bowl team.
1964 Liberty Bowl
By 1964, the University of Utah football team was in a bowl dryspell. Even though the team was a regular conference title contender and won several titles, the team hadn’t made a major bowl appearance since 1938.
However, at the end of the 1964 season, Utah (8-2) found itself with a surprise no. 14 national ranking and also a shared WAC title, earning the team a last-minute invite to the sixth annual Liberty Bowl (over favored team, Villanova), one of eight major bowls at the time.
In recent years the Liberty Bowl had struggled to attract fans, putting the bowl’s future in serious jeopardy. Media around the country frequently referred to the only bowl in the Northeast as the "Deep Freeze Bowl," the "Masochist Bowl" or the "You’re-Out-Of-Your-Mind Bowl."
Cold weather forced bowl organizers to move the game from Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia and convert the Atlantic City Convention Center into the bowl location, making it the first-ever indoor college football game.
Utah (who at the time went by the nickname Utah Redskins) lined-up to faced Southern Conference champions West Virginia, who although had a 7-3 record, were highly favored to win the game.
Utah’s All American Roy Jefferson led his team in all phases of the game, playing three positions: defensive back, wide receiver, and kicker. Utah’s team also featured Ron Coleman, Mel Carpenter, Andy Ireland, C.D. Lowery (who still holds the school record for interceptions in a single season), Allen Jacobs, and future Utah assistant coach John Pease. Quarterback duties were split by between Richard Groth and Ernest "Pokey" Allen.
Upon arriving in Atlantic City, it was immediately evident that few people respected Utah’s program when compared to the traditional Southern Conference powerhouse school. Utah fullback Allen Jacobs, the school’s leading rusher, remarked after initially meeting West Virginia’s team, "I remember their guys looked like playboys, dressed up in their fancy clothes . . . They got there first and were making fun of us as we walked by."
However, despite entering the game as underdogs, Utah football dominated the Mountaineers in the bowl game on live studio TV. The ABC broadcast also marked the first-ever national broadcast of intercollegiate football in history.
Racking up 466 yards in total offense, Utah routed WVU in a lopsided 32-6 win. The Mountaineers never really stood a chance, trailing Utah 19-0 at half after big rushing touchdowns from Coleman and Ireland, the team’s fullbacks, successful field goals from Jefferson, and two other touchdowns.
WVU’s lone touchdown of the game came with just 10 seconds left at the end of the third quarter. Utah had put another touchdown on the scoreboard early in the third, still holding on to a shutout lead of 25-0. A seven-yard pass from Mountaineer quarterback Allen McCune to end Milt Clegg would be the only play that ended in points for WVU.
Utah answered the lone WVU touchdown in the fourth quarter, with a 33-yard pass from Groth to Morley to finish the game with a 32-6 final score.
In addition to being the first-ever indoor college football game, the 1964 Liberty Bowl game also marked the Utah’s best finish at the time. The game marked Utah’s first season with nine or more wins and stood as the school’s best season record for 30 years.
Members of the 1964 team who were inducted previously into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame include Coleman (2001) and Jefferson (1986).