GRIDIRON GLORY DAYS

Festivities will honor the 30th anniversary of WCU’s national championship appearance

By DANIEL HOOKER ’01

The 2013 football season marks the 30-year anniversary of Western Carolina’s improbable run to the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship game. Plans are in the works to commemorate that accomplishment and honor the 1983 football team during the weekend of the final home game this fall – Saturday, Nov. 16 – against the Furman Paladins.

Bob Waters 1983 Team

Festivities include a 1983 team reunion for former players, administrators, athletic trainers, managers and other students affiliated with the season, followed by a pregame tailgate for reunion participants and their families. During the football game, members of the 1983 team will be honored as the Catamounts battle the Paladins, an opponent that has special significance: Western Carolina and Furman met twice during the Catamounts’ 1983 season, tying in Cullowhee while WCU pulled off a 14-7 victory on the road in the semifinal round of the playoffs to advance to the title game.

Ten years ago, the 1983 football team was enshrined in the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame – coincidentally also on the same day the Catamounts faced Furman in Cullowhee. Eight individuals off the ’83 squad have been inducted, as well. Under the direction of legendary Head Football Coach Bob Waters, the 1983 Catamounts rode a string of 12 straight unbeaten weeks to make the Southern Conference’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS) title game.

The squad got off to a slow start, dropping its first two games before starting its run of 12 weeks without a loss to earn a post-season bid. The span included the 17-17 tie with Furman, which also made the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Catamounts upset three teams, including Furman in a rematch. WCU dropped the title game to nationally ranked Southern Illinois to end the season.

The 11 victories compiled in 1983 remain the benchmark for WCU football, while the 15 games played by the Catamounts marked the most by any NCAA football team at all divisions in a single-season at the time. WCU finished ninth in the final NCAA national rankings, the highest for a Catamount squad all-time.

Eleven Catamounts landed on the post-season All-SoCon squad, including eight first-team selections and three honorable mentions. Seven members of that team went on to earn All-America honors during their WCU careers: Eric Rasheed and Tiger Greene in 1983; Mark Buffamoyer ’86 MAEd ’88, Louis Cooper ’87 and Steve Kornegay ’87 in 1984; and Alonzo Carmichael and Clyde Simmons ’96 in 1985. Players Dean Biasucci ’88, Cooper, Greene and Simmons all went on to play in the NFL.