Classic CU is a part of the CUBuffs.com network. Brought to you by the University of Colorado Athletic Department and the Univeristy of Colorado Heritage Center, ClassicCU.com will feature top teams, players and athletes, and events and moments from CU's rich tradition of excellence.
Anderson's Switch Beat Hoosiers In '69
Arguably the most famous position change in CU football history occured just before the Buffaloes were to play Indiana in the third game of the 1969 season. All-Big Eight quarterback Bobby Anderson moved to tailback and ran his way to an All-American season capped by record-setting performance in the 1969 Liberty Bowl.
The following is a story published by the Boulder Daily Camera on Sept. 24, 1980, reflecting on the Indiana game of 1969.
By Dan Creedon
Bobby Anderson will be up in the KBOL radio booth high atop the Folsom Field press box helping Jim Kithcart analyze Saturday’s 1980 Colorado home football opener with Indiana.
But Anderson and a former coach who will be down the hall in the athletic director’s booth, Eddie Crowder, are certain to be thinking back 11 years, to the last time an Indiana University football team played at Folsom Field.
It produced the first victory ever by CU over a Big Ten school, featured a scintillating performance by a quarterback-turned-tailback three games into his senior season (Anderson) and triggered a chain of events leading to the installation of AstroTurf at CU.
Indiana had a team dominated by seniors many of whom had been to the Rose Bowl as sophomores after the 1967 season. At 1-1, the game in Colorado was pivotal to Harry Gonso, John Isenbarger, Jade Butcher and the rest of the Hoosiers.
Pivotal Game for CU
It was a pivotal game, too, for Colorado. The Buffs were coming off a disappointing 4-6-0 1968 season. And they’d split the first two games of ’69, winning in a rather sluggish home opener with [Tulsa] and then losing to perhaps Penn State’s finest team ever at State College, Pa., 27-3.
But Colorado was a troubled team.
CU had a do-everything all-American candidate in quarterback Bobby Anderson, Boulder’s most heralded prep athlete ever. But otherwise Crowder’s cupboard was virtually bare of top-notch athletes at the other skill positions, except for a workmanlike “I” fullback, Ward Walsh.
Steve Engel, a bruising I-back four years of coaching and honed into a standout prospect, went down with a knee injury three days before the opener. Cliff Branch, a world class sprinter who figured as either I-back or wingback, was declared ineligible on the eve of the opener when it was discovered he had insufficient junior college credits at Wharton, Tex. Ron Rieger, the No. 2 I-back, went down in the Penn State game. Steve Whitaker, who had opened at I-back at Penn State, belonged at a wingback or wide receiving spot. Receivers Monte Huber and Steve Dal Porto weren’t 100 percent physically heading into the non-league finale.
There had been talk even before the season that Crowder might try Anderson at I-back, since he had two very promising sophomore quarterbacks, Paul Arendt and Jimmy Bratten. But Anderson had quarterbacked every CU game since his sophomore season in 1967 and was on his way to becoming the Big Eight’s all-time total offense leader.
Early in the week leading up to the Indiana game, Crowder issued his umpteenth denial of the possible move of Anderson to I-back. Then he went on to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon and made the switch that would turn around CU’s season. Crowder and his aides had argued over the radical move the previous two nights. The assistants were wary of the switch, but most agreed the season was lost without a running threat at I-back.
By the time the Buffs and Hoosiers lined up Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field, Indiana coaches had heard whispers of the change.
Field conditions were atrocious for the game. A sneak snowstorm hit Boulder Friday afternoon and continued right through the game. Folsom Field, of course, wasn’t covered with AstroTurf then, and the grass field was a quagmire before many plays with 10 inches of wet snow sitting on top of it.
Crowder couldn’t have planned it any better. A power runner like Anderson was at his best in the snow and mud.
Colorado played out the charade in the pre-game work on the field, with “Andy” taking quarterback snaps. When the Buffs lined up from scrimmage, No. 11 was at I-back.
He played like it had been his natural position for years. He smashed off tackle for nine yards on his first carry after returning the game’s opening kickoff to the 27, then swept end for nine more yards on second down. He wound up ripping off 161 yards in 30 carries. For the first time in his CU career, he did not throw a single pass. The Buffs marched 70, 80 and 92 yards on their first three possessions to a 17-7 lead on the way to a 30-7 upset.
Arendt, a rangy pre-med student from Denver Thomas Jefferson, showed excellent poise in his first start.
“This is the kind of weather Dick (Anderson) and I used to love when we were kids. We go out and slop around in the mud and snow and go one-on-one every chance we had,” the youngest of the All-American brothers was to recall.
The move wasn’t a one-shot deal. It started CU to a season remembered for “8-3 and Liberty.” After a 7-3 regular season that included a Homecoming upset of Big Eight champion Missouri, Colorado outscored Alabama 47-33 in a Liberty Bowl in which Anderson capped off his CU career with a 254-yard rushing afternoon in Memphis.
Only Oklahoma, coached at the time by Chuck Fairbanks but struggling despite the presence of Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens in its backfield, and Nebraska, beat CU after the switch of Anderson from quarterback to I-back. Anderson and Owens wound up the consensus all-American running backs.
Eddie’s assistants had called “gutsy” had
saved a season.
|All content, including but not limited to photos, logos and articles, are © Univeristy of Colorado, All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute anything from this website without consent of the University of Colorado Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or the University of Colorado Heritage Center.|