The last time UCLA ventured to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium during the regular season, the outcome produced widespread angst among the Bruins and one of the more colorful quotes in the program’s history.
UCLA was one of the first teams to play in the stadium located in Memphis, Tenn., during its inaugural season in 1965 when the Bruins faced Tennessee in November. UCLA coach Tommy Prothro, a Memphis native, contended after the Volunteers’ 37-34 victory that the home team had benefited from three questionable stoppages of play on its winning touchdown drive.
UCLA quarterback Gary Beban said this week that Tennessee was also awarded an extra timeout and referees placed the ball in the middle of the field for the Volunteers on offensive plays in the fourth quarter, providing an advantage for Tennessee quarterback Dewey Warren. The normally composed Prothro became quite agitated after the game.
“I’m a born and bred Southerner, and I’ve always been proud of it,” Prothro said, “but I’m sorry to say it today.”
UCLA also played in the 1976 Liberty Bowl game, losing to Alabama 36-6.
Beban, who would win the Heisman Trophy in 1967, had one fond memory of the team’s 1965 trip to Memphis: ducks who emerged from an elevator at the team hotel before waddling toward a fountain. Coaches had delayed a team meeting to ensure that players would get to see the twice-daily ritual performed at the Peabody hotel that endures to this day.
“They come out of the elevator, they go into a pond and swim around a while, back up the elevator and they’re gone; they’re back upstairs on the roof,” Beban said of the ducks. “All you can do is laugh.”
UCLA checked into a…
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