Part two of a 12-day series profiling each member of the 2012 Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame, leading up to the induction ceremonies on Thursday, Nov. 15. Today's profile is on Joe Garten, a two-time All-American offensive lineman who helped the Buffaloes to the 1990 national championship. Click here for more information and to register for the 2012 induction ceremony.
"If you ask any offensive lineman out there, we would rather run block," Garten said. "Run blocking you can be aggressive. I think we had the most rushing yards ever at CU in that stretch. That is something we focused on. That was something that I hold dearly."
In 1988 the Buffs continued their success with the same formula, hard-nosed running. CU continued to depend on the offensive line to open holes for the running game. Colorado had 3,095 rushing yards on the entire 1988 campaign averaging 5.0 yards a rush.
|Joe Garten (left) with fullback George Hemingway and the 1989 Big Eight Trophy
In 1989 Colorado had the best offensive line in college football. CU went into the season with a No. 14 national ranking and rolled over their opponents by an average score of 41-14. The only team to lose to Colorado less than a touchdown was Nebraska in a 27-21 classic. Garten and the Buffaloes finished the 1989 regular season with an 11-0 record and the No. 1 national ranking.
Unfortunately Notre Dame spoiled Colorado's bid for a national championship by upsetting the Buffs 21-6 in the Orange Bowl.
"I still have a sour taste in my mouth over that Orange Bowl. I felt like we were a better team that season they just played better than us that day," Garten said.
Garten and the Buffs came back in 1990 and played the toughest schedule in college football. Colorado opened against No. 8 Tennessee in the Disneyland Pigskin Classic without their Heisman Trophy candidate Eric Bieniemy. With a wide receiver (Mike Pritchard) playing running back, the offensive line opened up holes which allowed Colorado to rush for 368 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Colorado tied Tennessee 31-31, defeated Stanford 21-17, and then lost a heartbreaker to Illinois 23-22 to start the season 1-1-1. Garten and the Buffs pulled out an emotional 29-22 come-from-behind win over Texas and held on to beat Washington 20-14. The year before, Colorado was accustomed to beating teams by comfortable margins, but it became apparent that these Buffs were different in that they were going to need to win games by holding on in the fourth quarter.
Colorado continued to pile up wins and went into Lincoln to play the undefeated and No. 3 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. CU pulled out a very convincing win by outscoring Nebraska 27-0 in the fourth quarter for a 27-12 win.
"The Nebraska game always stood out because that turned into a huge rivalry," Garten said. "I was redshirting in 1986 and we beat them, it just proved that anybody could win on any given Saturday. Every Nebraska game was special. That was our big rally game of the year. 1990 really stood out because it was in nasty conditions and we turned it around in the fourth quarter."
Colorado climbed back to the No. 1 team in college football and won the Big Eight Championship for the second year in a row. CU beat Notre Dame in a rematch of the previous year's Orange Bowl 10-9 to clinch Colorado's first, and to date, only football national championship.
"It was good to beat them in 1990 because you don't get an opportunity like that too often to avenge a loss in the postseason," Garten said.
|Garten and Hemingway, this time with the national championship trophy, at the 20-year reunion in 2010.
A unanimous first team All-American his junior and senior seasons, Garten helped anchor the best offensive line in the country. Garten set a school record with 44 career regular season starts, and 47 total games including bowl appearances. He missed only one game his entire career, a 21-9 victory over Kansas his sophomore season in 1988 as he was overcoming an ankle injury.
Garten played in over 2,400 career snaps, allowed only three sacks and was flagged for a penalty only twice. His senior season he allowed only one sack and was called for one penalty in 739 plays against the toughest schedule in the country. He garnered serious contention for the Outland Trophy, an honor given to the nation's best interior lineman. Miami's Russell Maryland beat out Garten for the honor by one vote.
"Growing up you look at the Outland and that is the ultimate prize for a lineman, it was a huge honor to be a finalist for it. It was something really exciting to be a part of. I have never been in the spotlight but that was something fun to be a part of. But individual honors are down by the wayside for me. I just wanted to help the team be successful. But, not very many people get to be nominated for an award like that, I was lucky to be one of those guys."
On being inducted into the Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame, Garten said. "It is a tremendous honor, I am from southern California and I went to a lot of USC games, but once I got to Colorado I have been a Buff ever since. I have received a lot of honors in college football, but this one stands out the most along with seeing my name in the stadium. This is icing on the cake for my career at Colorado and this validates what we did back in the day and there should be more guys on that 1990 team that will be receiving the same honor. I think they should induct the entire National Championship team into the Hall of Fame."