Putting together a top 10 list of best moments of Bob Biggs’ 20-year tenure as the UC Davis head football coach would only result in numerous people arguing over the list instead of celebrating the man behind it. So let’s make it 20.
Biggs, who has 35 years total coaching for the Aggies, announced last year that the 2012 season would be his last. As the second-winningest coach in UCD history, Biggs enters the season with a 140-78-1 record. The 20-for-20 is not a superlative list of greatest or best, but instead is a snapshot of highlights from Biggs’ career.
Here are just some of the moments, with more to come before the next home game.
Sometimes the world of college football and fashion are very similar — one day, you’re in and the next day, you’re out. The American West Conference formed in 1993 as a I-AA football-only league with Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and then-Division II UC Davis. The Aggies finished 3-1 and earned a share of the title with Southern Utah, which also finished 3-1. “It was a pretty remarkable year,” Biggs said. “We ended up winning and that said to us that the program was heading in the right direction. ”
While every clash against Sacramento State is memorable, the 2010 classic stands out for being a 17-16 nail-biter played in torrential rain. A lightning storm delayed the second half by 45 minutes as the referees implemented an NCAA weather rule. “Sac State and the craziest weather I’ve ever seen,” is how Biggs recalls the matchup. “When we came out, the tunnel was flooded,” he continued. “There wasn’t a person in the stands when we came down on the field. Sac came down, and then fans started to come out. We win the game on a field goal on a ball that weighed about 10 pounds. It was a game we had to win. It was a great, great win.”
Jason Holleman ran not one but two kickoff returns 90-plus yards to lift UCD to a 38-31 win against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 13, 2001. With the game tied, 31-31, and 2:53 on the clock, Holleman received the ball on own 10-yard line. He sprinted from the right side and found a hole up the middle before busting out to his left. Evading the last Matador between him and the goal line at the 30-yard line, Holleman stumbled, but regained his balance before lumbering in the final 20 yards for the score. “Special teams, they can be underrated until you need them,” Biggs said.
Due to Hurricane Rita, the team found itself without its charter service to North Dakota for its Oct. 22, 2005, matchup. The plane was reassigned to evacuation duties. “We could not purchase enough commercial flights,” Biggs said. “Fortunately, the band had procured seats the year before, and they gave us 50 seats.” The Aggies arrived on time and promptly dispatched then-No. 17 North Dakota 20-14. And the Band-uh was there, too, after driving in a caravan halfway across the country. “Our team knew where the band was, and they were climbing over seats and the fence to get to them,” Biggs said. “One of the great scenes forever in my mind is our team reaching out and high-fiving the band.”
With its 2002 postseason on the line, the Aggies traveled north to top Western Washington in another monsoon to reach the playoffs. UCD’s first-round opponent was undefeated Central Washington, which two weeks before had handed the Aggies a 24-point loss. The Aggies headed to Ellensburg, Wash., for another showdown — this time coming out on the winning end. “The Central Washington win in the playoffs was really special,” Bigg said. He credited quarterback Ryan Flanigan, who was 16 of 19 for 266 yards, and defensive coordinator Lou Bronzan, who put in a three-deep package, with the win. “We hadn’t shown that (formation) during the season, and it befuddled Central Washington,” Biggs said.
In its DII heyday, UCD clashed with Grand Valley State four times. The Aggies won the first two meetings in 1997 and ’98 (both by two points) and then the Lakers took the next two. All four games were decided by 14 points. “We started to go out (of our area) and play great teams in Division II,” Biggs said. “It was a great challenge for us. “We started winning games outside of our region. We had so much history in California and our region, but we hadn’t really started to get out and play others. (Grand Valley) was the beginning of that.”
Gaining nearly 500 yards of total offense, UCD routed then-No. 20 Montana State 45-0 at Bozeman in 2006. Leading the charge were receiver Tony Kays, who had 10 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns, and Jon Grant, who was 23-for-38 with 324 yards and five touchdowns. ”That was one of the great games,” Biggs said. “Sometimes momentum is unstoppable. Everything that got called seemed to work,” he added. “Defense played terrific.”
A back-and-forth contest against Abilene Christian was halted in the third quarter for an hour and 15 minutes due to — you guessed it — lightning. The Aggies came out with a renewed determination and left Texas with a 41-28 victory in 2001. ”It was a calm evening and you could see a Ferris wheel off in the distance,” Biggs recalled. “During the warmup, I noticed lightning. In the first half, the lightning got close to the stadium. ”The thing I remember the most about the game is that our band was sitting in aluminum bleachers with their tubas and running to the top of the stands to see better, not knowing they were putting themselves in a life-threatning situation,” he added. “In the bus after, I remember seeing lightning striking all over the place.”