December 7, 2016: Happy Birthday Mel Owens!

Michigan Football Team 1980 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Mel Owens (#53) with the 1980 Michigan Football team. Owens is the seventh player from the left in the first row. The 1980 football team finished with a record of 10 wins and 2 losses. They won the Big Ten championship with a perfect record of 8-0-0 and gave Coach Bo Schembechler his first bowl win. This team was special! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library/

Today’s post celebrates the birthday of a Michigan Man named Mel Owens. Mel Tyrae Owens was born on this day in Detroit, Michigan in 1958. The Owens family moved to Illinois, but Mel’s heart remained close to Michigan. Young Mel Owens grew up to be an outstanding athlete in Dekalb, Illinois. He earned All-State football honors in his senior year. Owens also played basketball and baseball at Dekalb High School.

When it came time to decide where to play college football, Mel Owens chose Michigan. Bo Schembechler was always looking for good linebackers and he figured that young Owens could be a good one. Once again, Bo would be right!

Mel Owens enrolled at Michigan in 1976. He spent his first year learning Bo’s system and getting up to speed on his academics. Owens did not letter that first year, but he got the attention of his coaches. Mel started one game as a sophomore and played enough to earn a letter. He started the first two games of the 1978 season before pinching a nerve in the Notre Dame game. Unfortunately, that injury sidelined Mel Owens for the rest of the season.

Mel worked hard to overcome his injury and came back strong in 1979. He started all twelve games and recorded 43 solo tackles and assisted on 30 more. Owens also had two tackles for loss that totaled thirteen yards. He earned second team All-Big Ten honors for the 1979 season which just happened to be the one-hundredth season of Michigan football. The 1979 Michigan football team finished with a record of 8 wins, 4 losses and 0 ties. They went 6-3-0 in the conference and finished in third place.

Mel Owens | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Mel Owens (#53 on the left) comes close to blocking a punt in the Ohio State game in 1979. Teammates Cedric Coles (#92) and Andy Cannavino (#41) also brought some heat! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The 1980 season would be a much better year for Michigan and for Mel Owens. Team number 101 would finish with a record of 10 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines posted a perfect conference record (8-0-0) and won their third title in four years. Mel Owens had an excellent season in 1980. He recorded 52 solo tackles and assisted on 37 more. Owens also had an interception. More importantly, Mel Owens and his teammates gave Bo something very special −his first bowl win. After starting the season with only one win in the first three games, the Wolverines caught fire! Michigan won nine straight games (including the Rose Bowl−23-6 over Washington) and became the first Michigan team to win a bowl game since 1965!

So, the young Michigander who grew up in Illinois came home to play for Michigan. Mel Owens had an excellent career in Ann Arbor. Michigan football was on a roll in the late seventies and into the eighties and Mel Owens was right in the middle of it all. He earned three varsity letters and some well-deserved recognition for his solid play. Mel Owens went on to an excellent career in the National Football League.

Thank you Mel Owens for your contributions to the great history that is Michigan football. You and your teammates added thirty-eight wins to Michigan’s all-time victory total along with three Big Ten Championships. Congratulations on your memorable Michigan career. Happy Birthday and Go Blue!

For more information about the life and times of Mel Owens, click the links below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Owens

http://melowens.com/about/

Of course, Mel Owens was born on a very important date in America’s history. Please take a moment to remember all the men and women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. May they rest in eternal peace!

 

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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