BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Not many college football teams run the triple option anymore. It has become a dinosaur in big time college football. But 26 years ago, nobody ran it better than the CU Buffaloes.
In 1989, the football rivalry between Colorado and Nebraska had gotten pretty lopsided. CU hadn’t beaten their neighbors to the east in more than 20 years at that point.
Enter quarterback Darian Hagan.
“When I came in here as a freshman, they told me we hadn’t beaten Nebraska in 22 years,” Hagan told CBS4. “I’m like ’22 years?! Not even a tie?’ So we were just really motivated to beat Nebraska.”
Hagan’s pitch to J.J. Flanagan on Nov. 4, 1989, at Folsom Field is a play you’ll never forget if you were a Buffs fan at that time. The wild play in the first quarter keyed CU’s 27-21 win over the Cornhuskers.
Hagan and Flanagan reunited with other former teammates this month in Boulder and relived the play on campus in front of CBS4’s cameras.
“Basically I had told him, ‘When I turn the corner, there’s supposed to be a pitch guy taking me.’ And I said ‘Hagan, this guy’s not running with me, so whenever you turn the corner, I’m going to turn the corner with you. And just look, because I’m going to be there,’ ” Flanagan said. “I didn’t know he was going to take it 40 before he pitched it!”
“I didn’t either,” Hagan laughed.
The two alums told CBS4 “The Pitch” is something the fans never seem to forget about.
“When they see me, first thing they say is ‘Man, best play ever in Colorado football history ever was the pitch.’ I hear it all the time,” Hagan said.
The Huskers loss wound up being CU’s gain. Flanagan led the Buffs in rushing that year while Hagan was named an All-American and became only the sixth quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season.
The following year the Buffs beat the Huskers again. It was their first win in Lincoln in 23 years.