50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #19 - MIKE PAWLAWSKI#19 - MIKE PAWLAWSKI - QUARTERBACK (1988-1991)
Nobody ever wanted Mike Pawlawski. Poor mechanics, limited arm strength, no reputation coming out of high school - not your Pac-10 prototype. No one knew what we were getting when he took over the reins of the Cal offense from Troy Taylor in 1990. What we got was a winner who molded the team in his image - talking tough and hitting through the whistle, willing to sacrifice style points for the all-important win. Pawlawski turned out to be the Anglo Joe Kapp; running, throwing and hitting opponents whenever he got the chance.
He was also a pretty fair quarterback. In that junior season of 1990 Pawlawski completed 194 of 325 passes for 2,241 yards and 18 TDs. More importantly, he led Cal to its first Bowl victory in 52 years, a 17-15 win over Wyoming in the Copper Bowl. In his senior season, Pawlawski almost took Cal all the way to the top. He was voted co-offensive POY in the Pac-10 in 1991 after completing 60.4 % of his passes for 2,517 yards and 21 touchdowns for the 10-2 Golden Bears. In that year's 37-13 Citrus Bowl victory over Clemson, he hit on 21 of 32 passes for 230 yards.
But the numbers didn't measure Pawlawski. His true contribution to Golden Bear football was leadership - the one-star quarterback who willed his more decorated teammates to higher and higher levels of performance. Occasionally those Bears teams would talk too much trash, and earn too many penalties. But just like their leader, they never backed down from a fight and they won - 17 times in 24 tries during Pawlawski's career as a starter.
Pawlawski later played one NFL season with Tampa Bay before starring for the Albany Firebirds in the Arena Football League for several years. He was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.