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January 07, 1998 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-07

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 7, 1998 - 7B

Streets leaves
fingerprints on
Rose Bowl win

WARREN ZINN/Daily
Michigan quarterback Brian Griese outshined his Washington State counterpart
Ryan Leaf, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and earned MVP honors in the Rose Bowl.
Griese an Unlikely,

hutdesen
By liutelie Rumore
Daily Sports Editor
PASADENA, Calif. - Brian
Griestood on the podium, receiving
an~ aWard that was a mere dream a
year ago. As the eyeblack dripped
down his face and a smile erupted,
reaching ear to ear, the nation smiled
ck and Griese stood on top of the
orld.
The Michigan quarterback led the
Wolverines to a 21-16 victory over
Washington State in the 1998 Rose
Bowl, culminating in Michigan's
first-ever 12-0 season and its first
national title since 1948. Griese com-
pleted 18 of 30 passes for a 251-yard
performance, including three touch-
down passes, to earn Rose Bowl MVP
nors. The fifth-year senior, who
t a;year ago was a pooch punter
and almost opted not to return to
school, was the Rose Bowl's unlikely
hero.
"I have been through so much, and
to win the game and the national
championship is my ultimate goal and
the team's." Griese said.
In the press box stood Bob Griese,
Brian's father, legendary quarterback
Purdue and the Miami Dolphins
d now an ABC college football ana-
lyst. Until last Thursday, Bob was the
one with the Rose Bowl title, the
Super Bowl ring and the accolades.
Now Brian had the one award that his
father had never won.
"Did his old man ever win this tro-
phy?" asked Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr as Brian Griese received the
MVP trophy on the podium in front of
the sellout crowd of 101,219.
The question sparked a hefty laugh
the response, "I knew that was
coming," from Griese's father in the
press box. It also prompted a few
tears from the man who had remained
rather emotionless and objective
while broadcasting Michigan games
all season and in years past.
Afterwards, Griese found his father
for an embrace.
"I was kind of choked up," Brian
*iese said. "I gave him a hug and I
said I loved him, and he said he loved
me."
Last Thursday, Griese outshined
everyone else on the field, including
teammate and Heisman Trophy win-
ner Charles Woodson and highly-tout-
ed Washington State quarterback
Ryan Leaf; both of whom are expect-
ed to be taken in the top five of this
year's NFL Draft.
Griese made key play after key play
d engineered the Wolverines' last
drive, arguably their best of the sea-
son, which ate up 6:56 of the remain-
ing 7:25 minutes on the game clock.
Griese silenced critics who said he
had a weak arm with two perfectly
placed touchdown passes to receiver
Tai Streets, one for 53 yards and one
for 58 yards, and another 23-yarder to
tight end Jerame Tuman on a rollout,
ich proved to be the game winner.
"I knew Brian could throw that
ball," said Streets of the 58-yard pass.
"He's been a great quarterback."
But the play which probably sealed
The award for Griese was his 11-yard
carry on the Wolverines' key last

ving MVP
drills following the 1995 season after
Griese was arrested for throwing a
chair through a window of a local
Ann Arbor bar. He was reinstated but
spent the season, his senior year, as a
pooch punter and holder.
Junior Scott Dreisbach was the
starting signal caller until he left mid-
way through the last game of the reg-
ular season against Ohio State with an
arm injury. Griese stepped in and led
the Wolverines to a victory and then
quarterbacked the team in its Outback
Bowl loss to Alabama. Afterward, he
almost didn't return for his fifth year
of eligibility.
"I'm sure glad he did comeback
because we couldn't have done it
without him," Michigan offensive
guard Zach Adami said.
The urge to help Michigan bounce
back from four straight four-loss sea-
sons and earn a Rose Bowl berth
prompted Griese to return.
"I wanted to come back," Griese
said. "I don't know if I believe in fate;
I believe in never giving up. I never
wanted to be an All-Star quarterback.
I just wanted to be part of this team,
to be part of something special."

By John Leroi
Daily Sports Editor
PASADENA, Calif. - For 12
weeks, Tai Streets had a lot of
explaining to do. The only problem
is, nobody was really around to lis-
ten. Only Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr and receivers coach Erik
Campbell had time for Streets.
The media? No way. Instead of
Streets, quarterback Griese looked
to Jerame Tuman and Chris Howard
as his major targets. Streets had
caught just 24 passes in 1997 and
only five in the Wolverines' final
four games. For whatever reason,
Streets wasn't the same receiver he
was last year.
And because Streets didn't have
an opportunity to tell anybody why
- not that he wanted to - Carr did
it for him. The junior from Matteson,
Ill., was playing with a dislocated
finger on each hand, with pain so
sharp that every time he touched a
football, it felt like he was breaking
his finger off.
So Streets' performance in the
Wolverines' 21-16 over Washington
State in the Rose Bowl was surpris-
ing if not extraordinary.
"I told you guys all year long that
Tai Streets was a great player," Carr
said. "He played through the pain
and made two huge plays that we
needed to win the game."
It would be difficult to underscore
Streets' importance in the Rose
Bowl. He had four catches for 127
yards, but no catches were ever more
important than the two touchdown
passes, one for 53 and one for 58
yards, that Streets hauled in. Both
came at times when the Wolverines'
offense was struggling and the
Cougars had Michigan down a
touchdown.
And for the first time since
Michigan's upset of Ohio State last
season, Streets found himself in the
spotlight, once again the hero, play-
ing the role of the great receiver that
Carr always thought he would be.
"It was difficult to endure the pain
for so long," said Streets, staring
down at his fingers, so swollen that
he couldn't wear his receivers'
gloves. "But I always worked hard
and I just hoped I'd be able to con-
tribute in the Rose Bowl. It just feels
great to do it this way."
Streets hadn't always done it that
way. Streets caught 10 balls in his

"I haven 't had a
bigger thrill than
this ... I hope it
gets better, but I
don't know how
anything can top
this."
--Tai Streets
Michigan wide receiver
first three games and looked like he
might improve on his solid 1996 sea-
son when he caught 44 passes for
730 yards. But his production slowly
dwindled in the Big Ten season, par-
tially because of his injury and par-
tially because of a lack of confi-
dence.
By the middle of the conference
season, Streets had not one, but three
dislocated fingers. Carr told him that
if he wanted to be in the lineup, he
had to play through the pain. No
excuses.
Streets never asked for any.
Although he dropped the only pass
thrown to him in the Wolverines' 34-
8 win over Penn State and didn't
catch one pass against Minnesota or
Ohio State, Streets still contributed.
He worked hard in practice, he
tried to play through the pain and he
always, always blocked until the
whistle on every play.
"A lot of guys would not have
played through that kind of pain,"
Carr said. "Tai Streets has the
courage that it takes to play this
game. The season didn't go the way
we wanted it to go for him because
he was hurt. But Tai Streets still did
all the little things, he blocked well,
he ran good routes, and then he got
healthy and made two big plays."
And those two big plays made
what was an otherwise dismal season
for Streets a successful one. Nobody
cares that Streets didn't blossom into
the All-American people thought he
could be. All that matters are two
touchdowns that Streets scored when
Michigan needed them most.
"I haven't had a bigger thrill than
this in sports so far," Streets said. "I
hope it gets better but I don't know
how anything could top this."

WARREN ZINN/ Daly
Tai Streets races into the end zone to score his first of two touchdowns on a 5
yard pass from quarterback Brian Griese.
Pp rally. Crisler Arena. Sunday. 7 pam.
.. ..

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