With the rumors that have Ryan Mallett and quarterbacks coach Scott Loeffler heading to UCLA, it’s a good time to look at the next item in the eBay watch series. Many of you know that Michigan legend Tom Harmon is the father of actor/pretty boy Mark Harmon, and that the younger Harmon played quarterback at UCLA. What you may not know that Mark’s Bruins actually faced his old man’s team in the early seventies and they both returned to Michigan the following year to battle the Spartans. Here’s the programs for each game which were recently auctioned on eBay:
There were a couple storylines leading into the Wolverines trip to Los Angeles in 1972. The week prior UCLA started their brutal schedule with a huge win over #1 Nebraska, snapping the Huskers’ 32 game winning streak. It was Harmon’s first game for the Bruins, and a wishbone offense was installed to suit the new quarterback. Mark was named the MVP of the game and finished with 71 rushing. A headline in Sports Illustrated that week declared, “YOUNG HARMON MAKES HIS MARK: From Out of Hollywood Comes the Saga of Mark Harmon, Handsome, Articulate, the Son of Old No. 98″. Geez SI, take a cold shower.
The other storyline for the game was of course the son playing his legendary father’s former team. Mark mildly considered following his old man’s giant footsteps in Ann Arbor but eventually chose UCLA over Oklahoma, Michigan, Miami and Colorado. From an interview with SI.com a couple years ago:
SI: Did you ever think about going to Michigan, where your father [Tom] won the Heisman Trophy in 1940?
Harmon: I was recruited there, but my dad stayed completely out of it. He would be there to talk if [I] wanted to discuss things but he would not venture an opinion of what he thought. He believed it should be my decision and it was. But I came close to going to Oklahoma.
Schembechler’s defense didn’t give the latter storyline a chance to play out as Harmon was knocked out on the second series of the game after attempting and missing on his only pass. Ahh, the wishbone. In the end, #12 Michigan upset #6-ranked UCLA in a 26-9 drubbing. The Wolverines finished the ’72 season 10-1 with their only loss on the road in Columbus. Harmon’s Bruins finished up 8-3, but the Nebraska upset is still talked about today.
The following season both Harmons returned to Michigan when UCLA visited East Lansing. The program cover for the game is a Mount Rushmore likeness featuring Spartan coaches Duffy Daugherty, Biggie Munn, Denny Stolz along with Michigan grad and Spartan athletic director Burt Smith. Smith was infamous for voting for Ohio State to go to the Rose Bowl at the end of the 1973 season. According to Don Canham, Smith eventually lost his job over the ill-advised choice and Ufer, Schembechler, Canham, and MVictors haven’t forgotten.
UCLA’s Kermit Johnson ran for three touchdowns in Spartan Stadium, two of them in the decisive second quarter as UCLA won 34-21 and went on to a 9-2 season. The cool thing about the program is that there’s a good article and Q&A with the Harmons inside the program. Here’s the full article spliced together for you, and here’s a bite:
And as far as the question posed in the pic leading this post, no, Harmon obviously didn’t win the Heisman. He didn’t even finish in the top 10 as Penn State’s John Cappelletti took the prize 1973. The top 6 featured three Buckeyes (Tackle John Hicks #2, Archie Griffin #5, and LB Randy Gradishar #6). Harmon’s teammate Kermit Johnson finished 10th.
But I’m confident no one’s shedding any tears for Old 98′s son as he’s enjoyed a sustained acting career highlighted by the epic Summer School. Harmon’s currently found on one of those shows I never watch, NCIS and he’s the proud uncle of the band “Nelson”, soon to be featured on a celebrity reality TV show: