Some games need further review

As the pandemic enters its fifth month, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Gov. Wolf’s county-by-county map of the commonwealth employs the same color scheme used to promote the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Classic.

Perhaps the governor envisions himself The King and Pennsylvania’s taxpayers as Arnie’s Army following him on the back nine as he charges up the leaderboard.

But let’s move on to more pressing matters, namely what passes for sports these days.

Evidently the interns who ESPN programming execs dispatched to the archives with instructions to return with yesteryear footage found in dusty film canisters either never came back or managed to lock themselves inside some adjacent room for eternity.

My assertion stems from the fact that I have now watched Reggie Jackson’s three-homer World Series game against the Dodgers so many times I can recite the entire Yankee infield in my sleep.

I enjoy those America’s Game retrospectives that occasionally air on the NFL Network, finding myself captivated by the commentaries offered up by the former gladiators regarding the event or a full season.

More than a few games involved finishes leaving fans to wonder what the players were thinking.

Here are two games I wouldn’t mind rewatching, albeit this time with player-infused commentary.

1) The 1979 Sugar Bowl between Penn State and Alabama.

As painful as it would be for Nittany Lion fans to watch, I’d be interested to hear guys like Mike Guman or Chuck Fusina talk about what took place in the huddle during the fateful goal-line stand.

Another player in that backfield was Bob Torrey, a bruising fullback who stood 6-foot-4 and weighed over 230 pounds. Torrey rumbled for 107 yards a year earlier in a Fiesta Bowl win over Arizona State.

I always wondered if Joe Paterno ever gave serious thought to having Torrey bulldoze his way forward behind a line that included future NFL standouts Keith Dorney and Irv Pankey.

That 1978 team remains the only Penn State squad to enter a bowl game ranked No. 1 in the country, falling roughly two feet (and seven points) shy of a perfect season and Paterno’s first national title.

2) Ohio State versus Clemson in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

On a foggy night in Jacksonville, Buckeye freshman quarterback Art Schlichter led his offense on a potential game-winning drive, but his ill-advised pass was picked off by Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman.

What happened next was the stuff of legend.

Bauman’s unlikely theft and short return occurred near the Ohio State sideline where, in a fit of uncontrollable rage, embattled coach Woody Hayes slugged Bauman in the Adam’s apple prior to being removed from the ensuing fracas.

No definitive replay ever aired prior to game’s end and no sideline reporter ever stuck a microphone in front of Woody to inquire about the incident.

Can you imagine Jim Lampley pressing Hayes to explain why he would punch a player wearing a helmet, mouthpiece and shoulder pads?

“Well Jim, it just sorta happened.”

Hayes never coached another football game. I would have relished hearing what Bauman thought as well.

What’s yours? I’d welcome feedback on any games fans never get the chance to see unless somebody posts them on YouTube.

At this point anything’s better than watching Mr. October launch Burt Hooten’s knuckle-curve into the chilly Bronx night air again.

Contz was a starting offensive tackle on Penn State’s first national championship team in 1982 and played six NFL seasons. He published a book in 2017, “When the Lions Roared: Joe Paterno and One of College Football’s Greatest Teams.”


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