By Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis
In the 1970s player introductions for college football games were very different compared to the productions that they are now. There were no fancy graphics, no computer generated backgrounds and no animations some forty years ago. While the intros back then lacked the glitz and glamour of today’s game, they made up for it in uniqueness and creativity.
In 1973, the player introductions for the Michigan-Ohio State game were announced over the Michigan Stadium public address system. ABC-TV’s Bill Fleming was live on the field and had the players run up to the on-field camera as he announced their names to the sell-out crowd and national TV audience, literally minutes before kickoff. Those introductions were epic and captured the emotion of the moment. None were better than Michigan’s Curtis Tucker, Dave Gallagher and Paul Seal’s introductions.
A few years later, ABC decided to use video mug shots at the Friday walkthroughs for both teams instead of delaying the start of the game with on-field player introductions. This was relatively boring as the players were usually just standing there in their team-issued sweat-suits as the camera moved down the line, one by one.
Then, in 1978, Michigan tailback Harlan Huckleby added a subtle coolness to his intro for the game against Notre Dame. When the camera moved in front of #25 and paused for about 3 seconds, Huckleby winked:
The next time Michigan was on National TV, Michigan’s Russell Davis, Ralph Clayton and Doug Marsh all decided to continue the tradition of the Huckleby Wink. During the 1978 Michigan-Ohio State game, all three players winked when the ABC camera got in front of them. The next year, during the 1979 Notre Dame mug shot player intros, Stan Edwards, Lawrence Reid, Clayton and Ed Muransky all winked to the ABC camera. Who knew that what Huck started on a whim a year earlier would continue with the next group of Wolverines?!
For the 1979 Rose Bowl, NBC took the player introductions to a new level. The peacock network already had the players introducing themselves, as well as their hometown and degree of study for the previous few Rose Bowl telecasts. In 1979 NBC decided to have the starters for each team hang out in a picturesque garden while they shot their player intros. It was a little more dynamic and flashy than ABC’s Friday walk-through mug shots, but not by much.
For Michigan quarterback Rick Leach, NBC decided to add a little pizzazz to his intro. After announcing all the offensive starters, NBC had Leach crouch down behind his offensive linemen. As legendary broadcaster Curt Gowdy announced that “you can’t hide an All-American,” the Wolverine offensive linemen all knelt down on one knee and up stood the Guts and Glue behind them. It was classic!
I’ve made a video collage of some of the more memorable Michigan player introductions of the 1970’s for all to see and remember:
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