09/12/2019 by Matt Cohen – thehoosiernetwork.com
Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” played in the background as black and white images appeared on the screen in front of a group of over 70 seated at circular tables. It was quite fitting.
Years go falling in the fading light. Time passages.
They wore the same ring. A gold band around a wrinkling finger, the words “Indiana University” curved around the center hugging the red face of the ring, a gold IU trident in the middle.
They wore white hats with a red “Holiday Bowl Champions” logo on the front covering heads of graying or balding hair, and red polos with the same logo on the left, over their heart.
The youngest players were in their 60s. The oldest coaches in their 90s. They laughed and reminisced, telling the stories from years ago. Stories about football and kids and the years gone by. Stories that have gotten better with age. Stories from a glory left behind in decades past.
The 1979 IU football team, a “brotherhood of warriors” as team captain Terry Tallen put it, gathered in the Henke Hall of Champions 40 years after Tim Wilbur’s punt return touchdown in San Diego.
Wide receiver Steve Corso had the same energy as his dad and IU head coach Lee. Running back Mark Harkrader’s 5-foot-7-inch frame hidden between his taller teammates, just like back in his day behind his offensive line. The time since their college days was evident on the faces of the players. But some, like Tallen, didn’t look like they missed a day in the weight room.
Quarterback Tim Clifford led the 1979 team as it walked behind the 2019 group, entering the stadium before facing Eastern Illinois. He carried the Holiday Bowl trophy along the walk from Assembly Hall to Memorial Stadium, signifying the success of years past followed a group searching for that in the present.
The 1979 Hoosiers returned to Bloomington and were in the stadium Saturday for the 40th anniversary of the Holiday Bowl victory, the first bowl win in program history. For some it was the first time seeing their teammates and coaches in decades. Many brought their wives, some brought their kids. They didn’t all recognize everyone. They joked about their AARP cards. But they were together.
“40 years later, the light of this team shines bright as ever,” Mark Deal, IU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Alumni Relations, said to the crowd at the dinner. “That light of this team will shine forever. What we did, nobody can take away from us. It will outlive us all.”
They called themselves the “Corso Men.”
It was the nickname given to the players on the 1979 IU team, the players under head coach Lee Corso.
They were the ones who saw Corso on the gridiron, and not behind a desk on ESPN. They knew the energetic and quirky coach long before America did.
“The thing about my father is people watch television now, on ESPN, and they think, ‘Wow, how fun is that guy,’” Steve Corso said. “But he was a coach before he was television person. The things he brought to coaching were inventive and fantastic and wild. This thing at ESPN is great, he loves it. As a coach he was entertaining to his own players day after day after day. We would show up and want to hear from our coach. You never knew what he would say or do.”
Read the full story here: https://www.thehoosiernetwork.com/2019/09/12/40-years-later-the-corso-men-returned-to-bloomington/