Trump’s Alabama visit evokes memories of 1969

The scenario is the President of the United States attending a college football matchup of the top two ranked teams in the AP poll and there are protesters.

No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump’s visit to Alabama: I’m talking about 1969, a year that was one of the most memorable in college football history.

It started that summer when the late, great ABC executive Beano Cook convinced Texas and Arkansas to move their game to Dec. 6 for national television.

It wasn’t expected to be a game for No. 1 during the season because unbeaten Ohio State was ranked No. 1 and rolling to the national title.

Then came the first of the nine memorable Border War games between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler and Michigan upset Ohio State.

Suddenly, Texas and Arkansas were ranked 1-2 and President Nixon decided to attend the game. There were Vietnam War protesters outside the stadium. Listening in London was a Arkansas graduate named Bill Clinton.

Nixon came with a plaque to award to the winner designating they were the national champions. Texas won and got the plaque.

But that was not the end of the story. Texas still had to play in the Cotton Bowl.

The bowl bids went out before the Ohio State was upset and unbeaten Penn State turned down an invitation to go to the Cotton Bowl to meet Texas.

They figured at the time a Texas-Penn State wouldn’t be for the national title and they preferred to go to sunny Miami for the Orange Bowl against Missouri.

Notre Dame then ended its self-imposed bowl ban and agreed to go to the Cotton Bowl where they lost to Texas, which was declared the national champion.

Penn State beat Missouri in the Orange Bowl and went unbeaten and finished No. 2.

Penn State was upset but could only blame themselves for not accepting the Cotton Bowl bid.

We’ll never know whether Penn State would have beaten Texas but they had more talent and shouldn’t have been ranked behind Texas.

It showed how flawed ratings are. Penn State was still being downgraded as an eastern football team and Joe Paterno was still early in his career.

They had two future NFL Hall of Famers in Jack Ham and Franco Harris plus Mike Reid and Lydell Mitchell.

Texas had just one player – tackle Bob McKay – drafted on the first round and none of the Texas players became NFL stars, much less HOFers.

Penn State never got over the Nixon plaque.Paterno even turned down a White House invitation to honor their perfect season.

And four years later when Nixon was engulfed in Watergate, Paterno, a Republican, said, “How could he know so much about college football in 1969 and so little about Watergate in 1973?”

Those were the days.

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