The purpose of today’s blog is to wish a very happy birthday to a Michigan Man named Kurt Becker. The tough and talented Kurt Frank Becker was born on this date in Aurora, Illinois. Kurt Becker was an outstanding athlete at Aurora East High School. He was good enough to get a scholarship offer from Bo Schembechler and he was smart enough to take it!
Becker enrolled at Michigan in the fall of 1977 and spent his first year getting strong enough and smart enough to play against the really big boys in the Big Ten. Kurt came to Michigan with a big frame (6 feet, 6 inches), but he was a little too light to play offensive line at 235 pounds. Mike Gittleson put Kurt to work in the weight room for two years. Finally, the 1979 Michigan Football Roster listed Kurt’s weight at 243 pounds. He was bigger, stronger and faster! Coach Schembechler figured that Kurt Becker was ready for some BIG TIME football. As usual, Bo was right!
As a Junior, all of Kurt Becker’s hard work and dedication in 1977 and 1978 started to pay big dividends. Kurt started all twelve games at right guard for the 1979 season. The Wolverines posted a final record of 8 wins and 4 losses. They finished third in the Big Ten that season. Kurt and his teammates wanted more and they went to work to ensure that the 1980 season would be better!
Michigan won their 1980 season opener against Northwestern (17-10) and then lost two straight games to Notre Dame and South Carolina. Bo made some big changes in the offense and Kurt and his teammates embraced them all! Amazingly, the Wolverines won nine straight games to finish the season as Big Ten and Rose Bowl Champions! Yes, Kurt Becker and his teammates gave Bo his first bowl victory after seven straight losses. Once again, Kurt Becker started all twelve games in 1980. His excellent play earned him All-Conference honors. According to the 1981 Michigan Football Media Guide, Kurt also earned honorable mention All-American honors in 1980. Simply put, he was “an impressive combination of size, speed and leverage.”
Kurt probably could have been drafted to play in the National Football League in 1981, but he opted to stay at Michigan. It turned out to be a good decision for Kurt Becker and Michigan.
Kurt Becker’s hard work and excellent play helped him earn the respect of the coaches and his teammates. He was voted as a Co-Captain (along with Robert Thompson) of the 1981 Michigan football team. Michigan was rated number one in the pre-season polls and Kurt entered the year as a pre-season All-American candidate.
Everything changed for the Wolverines when they lost the season opener at Wisconsin (14-21) – ugh! Kurt and Robert Thompson did their best to keep the team focused on the goal – win the Big Ten Championship. Michigan won four straight and rose back up to number six in the country. Unranked Iowa came to Ann Arbor and left with an upset victory (7-9) – more ouch! The Wolverines won the next four games and climbed back to number seven, before losing to Ohio State.
So, the bad news was that Michigan finished the regular season with a record of 8 wins and 3 losses. However, the good news was that they beat UCLA in the Bluebonnet Bowl (33-14) to give Bo his second straight bowl win. Kurt and his teammates finished a disappointing season on a high note! The 1981 team was the first team to win two bowl games in the same calendar year (Rose Bowl on January 1, 1981 and the Blue Bonnet Bowl on December 31, 1981).
Today is a good day to remember the Michigan career of Kurt Becker. He was a four-year letterman who started thirty-six consecutive games at right guard. He was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and he was a consensus All-American in 1981. Kurt was a member of two Big Ten Championship teams (1978 and 1980). Of course, he was a Michigan co-captain which speaks to the talent and the character of Kurt Becker.
Thanks to Kurt Becker for his outstanding contributions to Michigan football. I hope he has a very Maize and Blue Happy Birthday today! Go Blue!
To read more about Kurt’s professional career and other life accomplishments go to the links below: