It’s 1982 on Pac-12 Friday today. The Conference of Champions had been awarding a league MVP nod for a handful of years already, and the B1G finally joined the modern world by doing it themselves. That means that all three of our awards in this miniseries are true evaluations now, without guesswork involved. Oh, and future B1G member Penn State won the mythical national title this season, too.
On this lovely Black Friday, enjoy our trip through the past!
1982 Pac-10 MVP: John Elway, QB, Stanford & Tom Ramsey, QB, UCLA (original, tie); Ramsey (revised)
Four teams finished in a clusterfuck atop the standings: UCLA (5-1-1), Washington (6-2), Arizona State (5-2), and USC (5-2). The Sun Devils needed to win the Territorial Cup in their final game to clinch the title, but they lost on the road in Tucson, handing the championship to the Bruins, who escaped the Trojans with a one-point victory in their final game. The Huskies also blew it by losing the Apple Cup.
Meanwhile, a tie for the MVP occurred between Stanford quarterback John Elway (who won the vote in 1980, too) and UCLA QB Tom Ramsey. It’s our job to pinpoint one winner here, and like two years ago, it probably won’t be Elway, who couldn’t even lift his team to a winning record, thanks to The Play. Yes, it was that kind of year in the Pac-10. It was the best, really. But we digress … who is the real MVP?
With no runner or receiver surpassing 1,000 yards in their speciality, and the scrimmage yards leader compiling only 1,171 yards (Stanford running back Vincent White), it’s clear the real MVP was Ramsey: He led the conference in passing efficiency rating (151.5), while throwing for 2,986 yards with 21 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Without him, the Bruins are not going to the Rose Bowl, period.
1982 B1G MVP: Anthony Carter, WR, Michigan (original); Tim Spencer, RB, Ohio State (revised)
In one of the sillier results, Michigan won the B1G with an 8-1 conference record, despite losing to Ohio State (7-1 in league play). Uneven scheduling was still a thing? Laughable, for sure. Meanwhile, Iowa finished 6-2, and Illinois posted a 6-3 record. Wolverines wide receiver Anthony Carter won the league’s first MVP vote, but any of these four teams could have produced the league’s most valuable player.
Carter didn’t even top 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and he finished with just 8 TDs, as well. He had no business winning this award. Meanwhile, Buckeyes RB Tim Spencer topped the B1G in rushing yards (1,538), scrimmage yards (1,676), and scrimmage TDs (15). He was the league’s real MVP, and with the Ohio State victory over Michigan, it’s clear that the Buckeyes needed him to finish where they did.
This is a puzzling vote: Carter didn’t even lead the B1G in yards per catch. He caught only 43 passes all season, minimizing his impact. Big plays or not, when you’re not even cracking 1,000 yards from scrimmage, you’re not that valuable. When you finish sixth in TDs, you’re not that valuable. What the heck were the voters thinking here? It’s clear they weren’t. This was more of a career nod, in truth.
1983 Rose Bowl MVP: Tom Ramsey, QB, UCLA & Don Rogers, FS, UCLA (original, tie); Rogers (revised)
The Bruins dominated the Pasadena affair, beating the Wolverines, 24-14, after taking a 10-0 lead into halftime. There was a tie vote (again!) for the MVP between Ramsey and UCLA free safety Don Rogers. Ramsey only threw for 162 yards without a TD, although he did run for the game’s first TD. Meanwhile, Rogers made 11 tackles and had an interception—as well as the biggest hit of the game.
That hit was huge, as it knocked Michigan starting QB Steve Smith out of the game. Rogers picked off Smith earlier, too, and then he knocked him out with a hard tackle that separated his shoulder. His backup threw two INTs, including a pick six to UCLA linebacker Blanchard Montgomery for the Bruins’ final score of the game that made it 24-7 in the fourth quarter.
Rogers’ defensive plays set the tone for the game in the first half, and we see Ramsey as the mere beneficiary of that. Therefore, we give this MVP nod to Rogers, alone.