BURNABY MOUNTAIN — Jim Mullin is the Keith Jackson of the Shrum Bowl.
Behind the mic for 14 of the crosstown classics since 1990, the current president of Football Canada is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to not only reflecting on the most human moments of the province’s very own gridiron treasure, but on what Shrum Bowl truly represents as a stand-alone jewel in the B.C. football community.
Mullin’s career as a broadcaster actually began at Shrum Bowl VI back in 1978. That’s when the then-13-year-old was entrusted with keeping stats for the Vancouver Cable 10 broadcast crew in a what would be a 22-14 UBC win under the lights at old Empire.
Unbeknownst to him, one of the game’s broadcast crew threw the microphone to him that night and got him to read the game’s most pertinent stats.
“You didn’t see me, you just heard my voice,” laughed Mullin Wednesday morning, before turning his attention to the next game he worked in 1978.
“Did you know that Kevin Konar scored all of UBC’s points in a 4-3 win? He kicked a field goal and then a rouge.”
With all of that in mind, we asked Mullin to wax on his favourite Shrum Bowl broadcasts.
He gives up his top three:
1987 — In Praise of Jordan Gagner
This was the start of the third run of Shrum Bowl games and was eagerly anticipated by both campuses and the football community. Simon Fraser athletic director Lorne Davies promised they’d put 10,000 fans into Swangard Stadium with temporary seats, and they came close. It was just under 8,000 seats, and they were all filled on a perfect sunny September day.
This game was about two things.
The outstanding UBC defence was coming off a 1986 Vanier Cup win and would be on their way to another Vanier appearance at the end of the season. And Jordan Gagner, a quarterback who started all five years for the Thunderbirds and would later go on to win the Hec Crighton Award after the season as the top player in Canadian University football. Playing American rules, it was expected that this would all be about the running game. However, Gagner’s heroics through the air throwing for 216 yards, led to the 14-0 UBC win.
The most important thing to come out of this game was the feeling around it. The attendance, energy and effort put into the event meant that the Shrum Bowl was back on the B.C. sports calendar to stay.
We were correct for a while.
1990 — The Trick of Nick the Quick
While there were players in this game who would get on track for CFL careers in their not-too-distant futures, this one was all about an individual who had his pro career limited by injuries in the CFL.
But man, he was lightning in a bottle at the college level.
I’m talking about SFU’s Nick Mazzoli. The recruit out of Ontario put on one of his best games in Simon Fraser red, white and blue at this Shrum Bowl game.
He caught seven passes for 136 yards and tied a school record with three receiving touchdowns. More importantly, he put a dagger through the heart of the Thunderbirds on their home field at the start of the second half with an electrifying 83-yard kickoff return to the house.
After SFU was in control, the attention shifted to the fans on the grassy bank opposite the grandstands at Thunderbird Stadium.
Fueled by a directly-adjacent beer garden, equal numbers of SFU and UBC fans cajoled, sparred, and sometimes fought with each other in waves of humanity to the point where security was overwhelmed. A little too much of that old college spirit.
2005 — Blake the Snake wins it in OT
The remarkable thing about this Shrum was that UBC was down by 13 points twice and found ways to claw back for a 40- 33 overtime victory in what remains the last game in the series to have been played at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.
Down by five, UBC quarterback Blake Smelser started a drive on his own 19 inside three minutes remaining, and finished it off with a dart to Hawaiian recruit Mark Esteban, who broke out of a pack of three defenders and rambled 67 yards for the go-ahead major to lead 33-32.
Simon Fraser marched back down the field and set up a 28-yard field goal attempt as the clock ran down. Luca Congi missed wide right with plenty of leg.
If this game were American rules, it would have been over, but Congi had the distance to score a rouge to tie it and send it into a shootout.
Smelser connected with Allan Pepper from 29 yards out in the first possession, and SFU had no reply. UBC won the only overtime game so far in Shrum Bowl history.
So what does Mullin think about Friday’s big game?
“I just want to see a great game,” he said. “I have no horse in this race. I want to see a 40-39 game decided on a touchdown of a field goal on the last play of the game.”
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