This 1986 Rose Bowl was covered by NBC Sports with their legendary broadcast team of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen at the mikes….as the UCLA Bruins soundly defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes by a score of 45 – 28…but the aftermath of this 1986 Rose Bowl is worth being noted.
Iowa missed an outside shot at the final # 1 ranking….for with # 2 Miami losing to Tennessee 35–7 in the Sugar Bowl…and # 3 Oklahoma defeating # 1 Penn State 25–10 in the Orange Bowl….Oklahoma had leapfrogged Iowa on December 10 in the poll. Michigan finished at #2 after their Fiesta Bowl win, the highest final poll ranking ever achieved by Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.
This game had a 22.7 television ratings share….and through 2007…. only the 1987 Fiesta Bowl game has a higher U.S. television rating at 24.9. Only the 1988 Orange Bowl at a 20.8 and the 2006 Rose Bowl at a 21.7 have over a 20 share since the 1986 Rose Bowl.
Though Iowa lost in Chuck Long’s final game in the 1986 Rose Bowl a 45–28 loss to UCLA….the loophole with the red-shirting rule which allowed Long to play in his fifth bowl game…..which makes him the only collegiate player to participate in five bowl games. Long’s Iowa teams compiled a 35-13-1 record….as he graduated with 10,461 passing yards and 74 touchdowns on 782 completions….thus holding every passing record at the University of Iowa except one (passes attempted in a game) when he graduated. Long holds the best completion percentage of any college quarterback all-time who has attempted more than 1,000 career passes. He was also the first Big Ten player and just the second player in college football history to throw for more than 10,000 yards in a career. Chuck Long was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
It has been implied that Harmon was actually throwing the game with the fumbles and dropped pass. Coach Hayden Fry commented on the issue in his book High Porch Picnic….“Harmon took a lot of heat because he lost four fumbles, all in the first half. That was uncharacteristic of him; I think he fumbled once during the regular season. The game film reveals that every fumble he lost was caused by a UCLA defender making a hard hit. They just knocked the ball loose. They [UCLA] did a great job of tackling. UCLA made bad things happen to Iowa; Iowa didn’t self-destruct. Ronnie Harmon had a tremendous football career with the Hawkeyes, and I hated to see it end that way.” Harmon had 14 carries for a total of 55 yards.
This was Donahue’s third and final win in the Rose Bowl Game….and it was the fourth New Year’s Day win in a row for Donahue and the Bruins….which would culminate in an NCAA record seven straight bowl game wins for Donahue and the Bruins following the 1989 Cotton Bowl. Donahue coached in 13 bowl games, second only in the Pac-10 to Don James’ 14 bowl games….and as of the 2017 season….the Bruins have not won again in the Rose Bowl game.
There were 11 future NFL players who played in this game including James Washington, Mike Sherrard, Mark Walen, Ken Norton, Jr., Jim Wahler, Carnell Lake, Darryl Henley, Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon, Larry Station, Devon Mitchell, and Mike Haight….plus there were three future NFL coaches who coached in this game including Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder, and Barry Alvarez….who were assistant coaches for Hayden Fry.