Kennedy, now president emeritus of Stanford, the Bing Professor of Environmental Science, co-director of the Center for Environmental Science and Policy, and editor-in-chief of Science, was in attendance that day.
“One of the funny personal aftermaths to this came a couple of years later. I have always been good friends with the late Wally Haas [for whom Cal’s Haas Pavilion and the Haas School of Business as well as Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service were named]. So Wally and Evy invited me up to their place on the Boulder River in Montana to do some fishing. When I got there, I was directed to the cabins and there was a tape recorder on the table with instructions for me to push ‘play’ before I went fishing. So I pushed play, and there was the famous recording of Joe Starkey’s call of the Play. That was vintage Wally Haas.”
Head official for the 1982 Big Game, Moffett retired as a football official after that season—a move, he says, that had nothing to do with the game. Now a retired Boeing executive, he lives in Palm Desert, Calif.
“I was at the goal line, waiting for the kickoff and then trailing the play. I couldn’t see if Garner’s knee was down, as I was quite a ways away. I’ve seen the replay at least 100 times, and I can’t tell. But the people who could see it clearly called it correctly, as far as I’m concerned.”
If it weren’t for the Play, Harmon, ’85, would be one of the biggest Big Game heroes ever. It was his field goal with four seconds left that gave Stanford a 20-19 lead. Today, he is a claims manager for Liberty Mutual in the Portland, Ore., area, and is married to Cheryl Sailer, ’84.
“Unlike some of my teammates, I really didn’t get angry about it. However, I think I started to despise Cal more after that. It was just the way they handled it. They had this attitude of, ‘We played the whole game, and Stanford, you know, [gave up].’ It also taught me to appreciate the rivalry. I didn’t really understand it, because I didn’t grow up in the Bay Area.”
Wiggin, ’57, MA ’59, now the coordinator of professional scouting for the Minnesota Vikings, was the Cardinal head coach from 1980-83. He admits that the ’82 Big Game loss contributed to the program’s 1-10 record the following year, after which he was fired.
“I know it would be more meaningful if I told you that I’ve been suicidal over this for the last 20 years, but I haven’t been. It’s history, and I really don’t think about it anymore. It was intense and painful at the time, but my life has gone through multiple transformations since then. I do remember, though, right afterward, I told my wife as we were leaving the field, ‘You know, the ramifications of what just happened are going to go on and on and on from here.’ It had a big effect on our program, especially on recruiting.”
Geiger was the Cardinal athletics director from 1979 to 1990. He then became the AD at the University of Maryland, moving on to Ohio State University in 1994.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the Cal people, in that they were very creative, with a very clever execution of the concept. I always will admire them for that. But what disturbs me is that it was an unjust outcome. It devastated our program.”
Williams, ’86, a Cardinal wide receiver who also played baseball at Stanford, is now the general manager of the Chicago White Sox.
“People ask me to this day, ‘Do you think the knee was down?’ Which knee? Several knees were down on that play. Although I was angry at the time, I figured out pretty quickly that this was just a football game. That’s what athletics are about—someone wins, someone loses, we have umpires and referees, and it’s that human element that makes sports so unique and unpredictable. If you live with the good of it, you’ve got to live with the bad of it.
“Of course, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t mind suiting up and playing it again.”
Murphy, ’53, a member of the Cardinal Athletic Hall of Fame, is best known today as the voice of Stanford basketball and football. He was not announcing the 1982 Big Game but was in the press box with his friend Larry O’Neill, who was the golf professional at the Stanford Golf Course at the time.
“So we’re in the press box, and we’re standing because the game, we figure, is essentially over. Then the Play develops. I turn to Larry and say, ‘You’ve never seen a Big Game before, and now you’ve seen the most dramatic play, not just in Big Game history, but in all of college football history.’ And he says, ‘What happened? I was in the bathroom.’
“Eight years later, at the 1990 Big Game at Memorial Stadium, I was down on the sideline for the last minute or so, because I was doing a locker-room show afterward. The Bears were winning, and it was like a funeral on the Cardinal sideline. Then, Stanford recovered an onside kick, and all we needed was for John Hopkins [’91] to kick a field goal to win. I found myself standing in front of the Stanford Band. Now, of course, these were all different kids than were there in the 1982 game—at least I think so. So I found myself walking up and down in the end zone, pointing at the goal line explaining to all these kids with the musical instruments, ‘Now he is going to kick that ball and it’s going to go between those two little posts. There’s a bad history here that you guys should take note of. There was a game eight years ago when you, the Stanford Band, came over that line. You do not want to do that again, because that can be very harmful. So make sure you stay behind that line.’ Hopkins kicked that field goal, the Band stayed behind the line, and Stanford won.”