Dec. 5, 2013
By CSU Athletic Historian, John Hirn
Ram Alumni Athletes Association
He still ranks as one of the greatest football players in CSU history more than 35 years after his distinguished career ended. Mike Bell and his twin brother Mark E. Bell, came to CSU in the fall of 1975 and became a fierce competitor as one of the best at his craft of sacking the opposing quarterback.
The Bell Brothers came from Wichita, Kansas where Mike was an outstanding all-state honoree at Bishop Carroll High School. The two brothers were heavily recruited in their final year of high school by several Big 8 schools and by the local Wichita State University team. However, few schools wanted to offer both brothers scholarships. Schools wanted Mark to walk-on if they offered Mike a scholarship, but the Bell family wanted both boys to go with no conditions.
After pressure from local schools like Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Kansas, Mike’s father wanted his boys to make their choice on their own with the only stipulation that they go together. At the time of signing day, only Wichita State and Colorado State had offered both Mike and Mark a scholarship to play football.
Their father locked them in their room to make the decision. They decided to leave Kansas and go to Colorado State University. After three attempts to get their boys to stay in Wichita, the Bell’s parents understood that CSU was where their boys wanted to go the most. So off to Fort Collins in the fall of 1975 and into history both Mark and Mike Bell went.
Mike Bell quickly became a premier defensive tackle for the Rams during the rebuilding years of Sark Arslanian football. Defensive coordinator Charley Armey told Bell on his recruiting trip, “Remember, you want to go somewhere not only where you are wanted, but where you are needed. We need you guys to help turn this around.” Mike Bell never forgot that.
Bell did help the Rams in the rebuilding of football and in his 1976 sophomore season, he earned a spot on the Football News Sophomore All-America team when he recorded 86 tackles and 10 sacks.
The 1977 season is when Mike Bell really broke out as one of the greatest Ram football players of all time and had a career season. During that year he recorded 103 tackles, 15 sacks, was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Week twice and was honored by Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press as the National Lineman of the week.
Bell received the National Lineman of the Week award after an incredible performance against Arizona State on November 19th. He remembered that great game well in a 2013 interview. Bell said, “They came to Fort Collins on a snowy day. I remember they could not block me. They tried to double-team me; it didn’t work. They tried three different guards on me; it didn’t work. I just remember being in their backfield all day, one of the most memorable days for me as a Ram.”
That performance brought Bell into the local and national spotlight with cover stories in the Rocky Mountain News, being honored as the 1977 Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Collegiate Athlete of the Year and an AP second-team All-America honor.
In his senior year Bell was tabbed as a pre-season candidate for the Outland Trophy, named to the Playboy pre-season All-America team and although a knee injury cut his 1978 season short, he was named on six first-team All-America teams including Walter Camp, UPI and The Sporting News. The Associated Press also named him to the second-team All-America in 1978.
He ended his career at CSU with the school record for sacks at 25, which stood until 1995 and his four sacks in the ASU game of 1977 remained the school record until Guy Miller broke it in 2010.
When it came time for the 1979 NFL draft, Mike Bell’s name rose to the top faster than any other players at CSU in many years. He was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs as the second overall pick in the 1979 draft, a team that was only 180 miles from his hometown. He spent the next 13 seasons with the Chiefs playing in 135 games, starting 100 of them and sacking the quarterback 40 times.
Today, Mike Bell is very involved with his sons, coaching them at football and attending their games. His middle son, Beau, is in his first season as linebacker for the University of Kansas and his third son, Brett, is still in high school. Mike’s nephew, who is the son of Mark Bell, is the starting quarterback for the University of Oklahoma.
Since his career in sports ended, Mike Bell has been named to numerous honor and hall of fame teams. He was recently inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame, Kansas Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame, CSU Sports Hall of Fame and was a member of the CSU All-Century team in 1992.
Mike Bell is still proud to be a CSU Ram and said, “I just always tell people that my time at CSU were the greatest days of my life. Playing for KC was fantastic, but nothing compares to the time I was in Fort Collins. I love CSU and everything about it; I am a Ram for life.”