What more could one man want out of life?
George Bork revolutionized college football, stormed the NCAA record books, had Sports Illustrated and Time magazine begging for interviews, won a national championship and in 1999 was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame.
As a senior in 1963, Bork’s throwing arm became synonymous with Huskie football. He became the first college quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards (3,077) while tossing 32 touchdowns and leading NIU football to its only national championship.
And after 35 years of teaching at Prospect High School, Bork is taking to the air again.
"My life has just been very blessed," Bork said. "We retired in June, and my wife and I are doing a lot of traveling."
A ‘glorified high-school field’
Despite Bork’s accomplishments, you won’t see the Mount Prospect native’s name on the All-Time Huskie Stadium team.
Yes, Bork is the same quarterback who turned down a basketball scholarship offer from Michigan so he could play football and basketball at NIU.
"It was a lot more common for guys to play two sports back then," Bork said. "The weekend before I went to NIU, Michigan gave me the red-carpet treatment. They flew me there and I played golf at the country club. The next weekend I had to drive to NIU and they drove me around in a Jeep all day. Then we went to the coach’s house for a barbecue. Coach [Howard Fletcher] was a great man, and that’s when I knew I wanted to play for him."
So, again, why isn’t Bork part of the All-Time team at Huskie Stadium - the same stadium that is also known as "The House that Bork Built?"
Because Bork played at NIU from 1960-63, when Huskie Stadium was just a vision. Glidden Field was the place to be on game day.
Located where the Art and Music buildings currently reside, Glidden Field seated 400 people when it first opened.
"You could say it was like a glorified high-school field," Bork said. "The kids could watch from their dorm windows since there were dorms there at the time, and there were always sellouts. There would be long lines at Chick Evans Field House to get tickets."
An offense ahead of its time
Bork and the Huskies ran the blitz-T formation offense, known as the spread offense by today’s standards.
Operating out of the shotgun, Bork would be accompanied by one or sometimes no running backs in the backfield.
"It really caught teams off guard because running the ball was so prominent then," Bork said. "We were the pioneers of the spread offense. We’d just throw it all over the place."
Bork said opposing teams struggled to find a defense that could slow down the Huskies’ mysterious aerial attack.
"Some teams would sit back and try to cover our receivers, and others would try to blitz and put pressure on me," Bork said. "I really liked when they tried to stay back and cover us because I had all day to throw."
However, Bork said winning isn’t just a matter of running or throwing the ball; players have to buy into the coach’s system.
"[NIU coach] Joe Novak has done an incredible job of getting his players to buy into what he’s doing," Bork said. "[This year’s team] runs the ball well, but also throws it well. Novak just tells his players that’s the way we’re gonna win."
Looking for redemption
Bork’s coach had his own plan for winning, and extra incentive heading into the 1963 season after the Huskies lost to Central Michigan for the conference title and lost in the Mineral Water Bowl.
Bork said the team knew it was going to be good in 1963, but also knew it couldn’t do any better than a Mineral Water Bowl birth.
NIU was a member of the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at the time, and the conference would not allow a team to go to a bowl game that took place after Thanksgiving Day.
But the thought did not stop NIU from going 10-0 in 1963, and beating CMU 27-22 in the last game of the regular season to take the IIAC title.
Bork and the Huskies capped off the season by beating Southwest Missouri State 21-14 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Bork to fullback Dave Broderick in the fourth quarter.
With the win, NIU took home the Mineral Water Bowl title and the program’s first and only national championship. The Huskies were voted the nation’s top College Division team by The Associated Press and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Bork finished his career at NIU with 6,782 passing yards and 60 touchdowns, giving him over 16 NCAA records at the time.
Not just a football star
The two-sport athlete also finished with 1,114 career points for NIU’s basketball program. Bork still ranks No. 9 in career scoring average with 17.7 points from 1960-63.
"It was a bit awkward because the spotlight seemed to always be on me," Bork said. "We had a lot of guys that could really go and it was really a team thing, but a humbling experience."
After four years with Montreal of the Canadian Football League, Bork moved to the Continental Football League before his arm went bad.
After moving into a teaching position at Mount Prospect High School, Bork had one more NCAA accolade to collect.
In 1999 Bork was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. Players like Bo Jackson and Jim McMahon joined Bork in the class of 1999.
"It was the most incredible athletic experience I’ve ever had," Bork said. "When you have your wife say that if she had to choose between our wedding day or me going into the Hall of Fame, and she chooses the Hall of Fame, you know how important it is."