1966 MAC Championship Team Returns to Waldo
The 1966 Western Michigan football team represents the program's first ever Mid-American Conference championship on the field but, 45 years later, represents so much more off it.
Marty Barski, Jerry Collins, Gene Hamlin, Dave Hudson, Dale Livingston, Bob Rowe, Pete Wysocki - These names represent seven of the 100 players that make up the WMU Football All-Century announced in 2005. They also represent seven of the names that put together the Broncos' first MAC title. More importantly, they represent seven friends.
Every five years members of the 1966 MAC championship football team return to Kalamazoo during the fall to take in a game, catch up and tell stories of playing days gone by. Since the championship season until now spans 45 years, and the group has never missed a reunion.
The driving force behind these reunions is Glenn Cherup, a three-year letterwinner with the Broncos, according to former All-Pro defensive tackle Bob Rowe.
"Glenn he is the keeper of the pack. He keeps everyone up to date about what is going on with the group, what is going on with the team. He is a blessing and has helped keep this group together," commented Rowe.
This year there are already 108 ticket requests for the 88th Annual Homecoming game between WMU and Bowling Green. According to Rowe those are not all player tickets but mainly family and friends. He estimates about 35-50 former players will be at Waldo Stadium this Saturday.
Rowe and the rest of the Broncos from 1966, playing under then head coach Bill Doolittle, became only the third team at the time to win seven games in a season at WMU and did so in part by having a perfect 5-0 record at home.
"It sounds like a cliche' but we wanted to win and played hard to win. We had a tremendous group of guys and you can tell that by the fact that 45 years later we still will have close to 50 guys come back to see each other. I think it's a great story," continued Rowe.
Rowe, originally a walk-on at WMU, is not without gridiron accomplishments. He spent nine years in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals, earning trip to the Pro Bowl in 1968. He is one of three players from the 1966 team to eventually be drafted into the NFL.
Torre Ossmo was a 10th round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers 1967. Dale Livingston was a third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, was a starter at punter and kicker for two seasons in Cincinnati and one year in Green Bay.
Pete Wysocki was an All-CFL linebacker in the Canadian Football League before starting six
seasons, 1975 to 1980, with the Washington Redskins on special teams and defense.
After all of that though, Rowe describes his time in Kalamazoo as, "the greatest four years of my life."
"I told Glenn yesterday, this trip is a highlight for me, to get back together with everyone every five years," added Rowe. "Western Michigan has such a beautiful campus. It has so much going for it, and the students are tremendous. It was the best four years of my life."
All members of the 1966 team that are attending this year's reunion will be honored during the Broncos' Homecoming game against Bowling Green, which begins at 2 p.m.