The time has come on Pac-12 Friday to move to a new era in this miniseries, as we can examine original picks now for the Conference of Champions football MVPs now that we have reached 1975. The B1G wouldn’t get around to this for another half dozen seasons, so it is what it is. Bring on the fun!
Surprisingly, neither conference won our MNC for the year, so there’s less drama, right? Right!
1975 Pac-8 MVP: Chuck Muncie, RB, California (original, confirmed)
California and UCLA tied for the conference lead with 6-1 records, and in the head-to-head matchup, the Bruins emerged victorious. However, Stanford and Washington also posted 5-2 marks in league play, so there could be a lot of options for league MVP as no other school finished above .500 in Pac-8 play.
In truth, USC running back Ricky Bell might have been the best player in the league: He ran for 1,957 yards, which was almost 500 yards more than league MVP vote winner, Cal’s Chuck Muncie (1,460). But USC finished just 3-4 in conference play. Meanwhile, Golden Bears quarterbacking legend Joe Roth led the conference in all major passing categories pretty readily, as well.
The Bruins ran a run-oriented attack on offense, and they placed three players in the Top 7 for rushing yards. There was plenty of value to go around there. Muncie, however, added almost 400 yards receiving, while also topping the conference in scrimmage touchdowns (15). Yet his teammate, wide receiver Wesley Walker, also scored 10 times, so the Cal offense was loaded at the triplets positions.
So, where do we go here? All things being equal, as they are, we will stick with the voted MVP at the time, simply because we cannot see anyone else here with a clear-cut case for the hardware.
1975 B1G MVP: Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State
In another surprise—not—Ohio State posted a perfect 8-0 record in conference play, and Michigan finished 7-1 for second place. No other school was able to secure a winning mark for league games, so the pool for MVP candidates is very small here. But the top guy should be a familiar one.
Buckeyes RB Archie Griffin topped the conference in rushing yards (1,450) and scrimmage yards (1,620), despite ceding a lot of scoring opportunities to his backfield mate, fullback Pete Johnson (1,085 scrimmage yards and 26 TDs overall). Griffin only scored 4 times in 1975, mostly because Johnson got all the goal-line work—just like the in the 1974 Rose Bowl.
Either way, Griffin was the part that made the machine work at Ohio State, so he wins this award from us for the third straight year (1973, 1974, 1975). He remains the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy as well (and only time will tell if he gets to keep both of them in our minds as we take on that analysis in the future!).
1976 Rose Bowl MVP: John Sciarra, QB, UCLA Bruins (original); Wendell Tyler, RB, UCLA (revised)
The Bruins, despite losing to the Buckeyes earlier in the season, beat then-No. 1 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl to deny the chance at the MNC. After taking a 3-0 halftime lead, the Buckeyes collapsed, giving up three straight scores to fall behind 16-3 and eventually losing, 23-10. It would be four years before Ohio State returned to the Rose Bowl, after this, their fourth-straight appearance in Pasadena.
UCLA outgained the Buckeyes, 414 yards to 298 yards, as both teams ran for over 200 yards. But two Bruins stood out despite inconsistent play at QB: both UCLA RB Wendell Tyler (172 yards, 1 TD) and UCLA WR Wally Henry (113 yards, 2 TDs) had outstanding games. How do we pick between the two?
Bruins QB John Sciarra won the MVP vote, despite throwing 2 interceptions, so we won’t pick him. Clearly, Tyler was dominant for UCLA, and Henry was the beneficiary, even with the handicap of a mediocre QB throwing him the ball. Sciarra was 13-for-19 on the day, so it’s interesting to think about how/why he still turned the ball over twice. Without Tyler, there’s no way UCLA wins this game.
While Henry scored the first two TDs for the Bruins, it was Tyler’s back-breaking, 54-yard TD scamper (at 1:02.30) that nailed the door shut on Ohio State with under 5 minutes left in the game, putting the game out of reach. Even taking away that effort, he still ran for 118 yards on 20 carries. Tyler was huge.