FanPost

Remembering Gary Beban

This post got a little buried late last week. Bumping it up because want to make sure no one missed it. GO BRUINS. - N

Seeing Gary Beban at the game last Saturday really brought back memories from my student years at UCLA.  I was an undergrad from 1966-1971 which was really a great time to be at UCLA.  We won the national championship in basketball all five years I was there, while in football we had Gary Beban my first two years and also had very good teams my last two years led by quarterback Dennis Dummit.  (My last year at UCLA a freshman named Jimmy Connors won the NCAA tennis tournament).

At the game a few weeks ago there was on the seats a free Sports Illustrated magazine special on all the Heisman trophy winners which featured Gary Beban.  It focused on the 1967 game against Tennessee when down 16-13 with four minutes to play in the fourth quarter and with 4th and 2 at the Tennessee 27 and the game on the line Beban moved right then cut into the line and then cut left towards the sideline for a touchdown run to win the game.  I was at that game and vividly remember that play.  I frankly can't remember much else about the game but will never forget Beban's great clutch run into the west end zone of the Coliseum.  Beban was truly an all time great college quarterback.  He was an extremely accurate passer, a really good running quarterback who ran for a lot of yardage, a great team leader, and maybe the best clutch player in UCLA football history.  Of course in 1965 when I was still in high school and watching on TV he made those two great touchdown passes in the last four minutes including the game winning 50 yarder to Kurt Altenberg after trailing USC 16-6 with four minutes left in the game. That great comeback kept Mike Garrett from ever playing in the Rose Bowl.  Beban of course then led UCLA to the historic upset of #1 Michigan St. in the Rose Bowl.

And of course I'll never forget the 1967 game against USC. While it was horrible to lose, it was still an amazing experience to be at that game which is considered one of the greatest in college football history.  UCLA was #1 and USC #2 and the atmosphere was just unbelievably electric.  In those days both sides got pretty much the same number of seats, and the south side of the coliseum was all UCLA fans and the north side was all USC fans.  After many plays there would be a huge roar from either one side or the other.  The student seats were all first come first serve, and I'll never forget what it was like a couple of hours before the gates opened with people crowded up to the gates hoping to get in first so as to get good seats.  The crowd of UCLA students was so crammed together that people were fainting from the heat, and they were passing people who had fainted back over the crowd.  We were so tightly packed in that I remember lifting up both my feet just to see that I could actually stand up without having either foot on the ground.  Beban of course played great passing for over 300 yards while suffering from badly bruised ribs and sometimes having to be helped off the field. We really lost the game because of blocked and missed field goals and extra points.

(As an aside I was at the 1980 game when Freeman McNeil's deflected touchdown reception won the game.  I was given free tickets by a doctor whom I worked with who had played for Howard Jones at USC.  The seats were in about the 20th row on the 40 yard line.  Unfortunately they were of course in the middle of the USC section.  Boy was that weird!  Thank God we won.)

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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