We close out the 1950s in our latest Pac-12 Friday series that examines the league MVPs for the Conference of Champions and its Midwest adversary, the B1G. This was a season where the mythical national champion did not come either conference, leaving us with some fun analytical work to do here.
It’s a free for all this week, so let’s get to it …
1959 AAWU MVP: Bob Schloredt, Washington
Due to a cheating scandal, the Pacific Coast Conference dissolved after the 1958 football season, and the Athletic Association of Western Universities took its place. For this season, only 5 teams competed in the sport, with three teams tied for the conference title with 3-1 league records: Washington, USC, and UCLA.
Stanford quarterback Dick Norman was the only prolific passer in the league, but the Indians went winless in conference play. However, Trojans running back Jerry Traynham topped the conference in rushing yards (583) while finishing second in yards from scrimmage (659).
Bruins QB Billy Kilmer finished second in passing yards (702) and second in total yards (1090) and second in total touchdowns (10), putting him right up there with Traynham in the MVP discussion. He also finished fifth in rushing yards (388), while throwing more TDs (7) than interceptions (5).
Lastly, Huskies QB Bob Schloredt was second in passing yards (733), third in total yards (988), and second in total TDs (10), while personally running for 7 TDs to top the league—and throwing more TDs (3) than INTs (2) as well. With Washington beating UCLA head to head on the road by double digits, we will give the MVP nod to Schloredt.
1959 B1G MVP: Johnny Counts, Illinois
Wisconsin (5-2 in conference play) topped the league standings, where just one game separated five teams: Illinois (4-2-1), Purdue (4-2-1), Michigan State (4-2), and Northwestern (4-3) all had legitimate shots to win the B1G this season. That could mean a lot of MVP candidates to sort through right here.
Iowa QB Olen Treadway was the only QB to qualify for the efficiency rating, and the Hawkeyes finished 3-3 in league. But in truth, Badgers QB Dale Hackbart looked like the best QB: seventh in rushing yards (387), first in rushing TDs (6), and first in total yards (1,121). But alas, he also tossed 7 INTs to just 2 TD passes!
Illinois RB Johnny Counts topped the B1G in scrimmage yards (730) although he scored only 2 TDs on the year, while no one else really stood out at all during the year. We’d rather give the MVP to a guy who didn’t commit 7 turnovers, so Counts—in his only season of college football—is going to get our award here.
1959 Rose Bowl MVP: Bob Schloredt & George Fleming, Washington (original), George Fleming (revised)
The Huskies rolled the Badgers, 44-8, in the Granddaddy of Them All, and it was never in doubt after Washington took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Schloredt shared MVP vote honors with his halfback/kicker, George Fleming. But this award should be Fleming’s alone, as he scored twice in the first quarter—first on a 36-yard field goal to make it 10-0 and then again on a 53-yard punt return to make it 17-0.
Those special-teams efforts were huge as Wisconsin never recovered despite scoring a TD and a two-point conversion in the second quarter to make it 17-8. Schloredt added a TD pass before halftime to make it 24-8, and then he ran for a score in the fourth quarter to make it 37-8. Overall, though, Fleming kicked five extra points and a field goal to go along with his return TD, to be the Huskies’ top scorer on the day.