More notably, both programs decided to honor their 1997 teams. Both of these teams — yes, both — won the 1997 national championship, because the poll voters split it between the two that year.
Yep, the two are co-national champions, and it was all thanks to some disagreement by the two polls that decided the national title winners in the pre-BCS/Playoff era. Nebraska won the Coaches’ Poll, but Michigan was listed as No. 1 in the writers’ Associated Press rankings. The Wolverines claimed the national title after a win over Washington State in the Rose Bowl that season, while Nebraska beat Tennessee in the Orange Bowl the next day — both teams ended the season undefeated.
Nebraska announced the 1997 honor, along with some slick throwback uniforms that the Huskers are wearing, back in July. Michigan announced its honoring in late June, so it appears the Wolverines got the first jump here.
Some people still aren’t too happy about Michigan being given a co-championship.
“I got a phone call the day after Nebraska played Tennessee (in the Orange Bowl), and I had stayed in Los Angeles (after the Rose Bowl) for recruiting, and I got that phone call that said ‘coach you just won the national championship from The Associated Press,” former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said via MLive.com in 2014. “And I knew, based on what we had done (that we would win the AP national title), and I fully expected to win the coaches’ vote.”
“(But) it was explained to me that we had lost and the way the balloting ended up, one coach voted us fourth or two coaches voted us third,” Carr continued. “I didn’t tell the team that, I didn’t want them to dwell on negatives. But I was extremely bothered by it and I still am.”
It’s a little funny how the two schools chose to honor their co-champions on the same exact night. It’s also funny that they both lost in the process.