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October 2018
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Minnesota Golden Gophers, today’s Ohio State opponent, 7 national championships, 18 Big Ten titles

WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

 

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football program represents the University of Minnesota in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. Founded in 1882, the program is one of the oldest in college football. Minnesota has been a member of the Big Ten Conference since its inception in 1896 as the Western Conference. The Golden Gophers claim seven national championships: 1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, and 1960. Since 2009, the Gophers have played all their home games at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.In January 2017, the Gophers fired head coach Tracy Claeys and hired former Western Michigan head coach P. J. Fleck as the new head coach.

History

The Minnesota Golden Gophers college football team played its first game on September 29, 1882, a 4–0 victory over Hamline University. Eight years later in 1890, the Gophers played host to Wisconsin in a 63–0 victory. With the exception of 1906, the Gophers and Badgers have played each other every year since then. The 127 games played against each other is the most played rivalry in Division I-A college football.

Early years

The sport’s beginnings were humble. Students began gathering to play the game recreationally and its popularity grew.

Once the sport had taken off, it was only a matter of time before a team was formed to play against other schools. Early teams were very loosely organized, not requiring all of the players to be students and not having designated coaches. The players on the team started to recruit faculty members who had played football at schools in the East to help organize the team. Some years, they played without a coach. Other years, they played with multiple coaches. In total, from 1882 through 1899, the team played 16 seasons of football and had 15 different coaches. As the years went by, the leadership structure started to become more formal. In 1900, the hiring of Dr. Henry L. Williams, the school’s first full-time salaried coach, signaled the end of the early, chaotic days.

Glory years

The Gophers enjoyed quite a bit of success in the early 20th century, posting winning records from 1900 to 1919. Head coach Henry L. Williams developed the “Minnesota shift“, a predecessor to later quick line shifts, which was adopted widely. Also Henry L. Williams led Minnesota to one of the NCAA’s longest unbeaten streaks of 35 games, from 1903 to 1905 with 34 wins and 1 tie. In 1932, Bernie Bierman became the Gopher head coach and led the Gophers to their first dynasty. From 1934 to 1936 the Gophers went on a run of winning three straight National Championships, the last Division I team to accomplish this feat. During the run, Minnesota went unbeaten in 28 straight games, 21 of which were consecutive victories. The school record for consecutive victories is 24, which spanned 3 seasons from 1903 to 1905. The Gophers also won two more national championships in 1940 and 1941. Those two seasons comprised most of an 18-game winning streak that stretched from 1939 to 1942.

After some mediocre seasons throughout the remainder of the 1940s and 1950s, the Gophers rose back to prominence in 1960 with their seventh national championship (because polling ended after the regular season, the Gophers were crowned AP and UPI national champions despite losing the Rose Bowl to Washington). That national championship followed a 1–8 record in 1958 and 2–7 record in 1959. Minnesota played in bowl games the two following years as well, in 1961 and 1962. The Gophers earned their first berth in the Rose Bowl by winning the 1960 Big Ten title. The following year, Minnesota returned to Pasadena despite a second-place finish in the conference. The Ohio State Buckeyes, the Big Ten champions in 1961, declined an invitation to the Rose Bowl because of tension between academics and athletics at the school. Minnesota beat UCLA 21–3 to claim its first and only Rose Bowl victory. Minnesota’s last Big Ten title was in 1967, tying the Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers atop the standings.

Recent history

After their 8–2 record in 1967, the Gophers would not win 8 games in a season again until they went 8–4 in 1999.Their 10–3 record in 2003 gave the Gophers their first 10 win season since 1905.

The 2006 team had the dubious distinction of blowing a 38–7 third-quarter lead in the Insight Bowl against Texas Tech, losing 44–41 in overtime. The collapse, which was the biggest in the history of Division I-A postseason football, directly led to the firing of head coach Glen Mason. On January 17, 2007, Tim Brewster was officially announced as the next head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

In 1981, the Gophers played their last game in Memorial Stadium and played their home games in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome until 2008. The Gophers moved back to campus with a 20–13 win against Air Force on September 12, 2009, when their new home, TCF Bank Stadium, opened.

In 2010, after a 1–6 record to start the season, the Gophers football head coach Tim Brewster was fired. Jeff Horton served as the interim head coach going 2–3. On December 6, 2010, Jerry Kill, former Northern Illinois University head coach, was hired to take over the University of Minnesota football program.

In 2014, The Gophers reached an 8–4 record while going 5–3 in Big Ten games, falling just short of making the Big Ten Championship Game by losing to The Wisconsin Badgers in the season finale. After being revitalized in the Big Ten contention, The Gophers were awarded an appearance in the Citrus Bowl on January 1 against Missouri.

Championships

National championships

The NCAA itself does not award a championship for Division I-A/FBS football. A number of different organizations and publications designate a national champion. The following are the seven national championships that Minnesota recognizes.

Season Coach Selectors Record Bowl
1904 Henry L. Williams Billingsley 13–0
1934 Bernie Bierman Billingsley, Boand, Dickinson, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation 8–0
1935 Bernie Bierman Billingsley, Boand, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, Poling 8–0
1936 Bernie Bierman AP, Billingsley, Dickinson, Dunkel, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, Poling 7–1
1940 Bernie Bierman AP, Berryman, Billingsley, Boand, DeVold, Dickinson, Football Research, Houlgate, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation 8–0
1941 Bernie Bierman AP, Billingsley, Boand, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, Poling 8–0
1960 Murray Warmath AP, FB News, NFF, UPI 8–2 L Rose Bowl

Conference championships

Minnesota has won 18 conference championships, 11 shared and seven outright.

Season Coach Conference Overall Record Conference Record
1892 No coach Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest 5–0 3–0
1893 Wallie Winter Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest 6–0 3–0
1900 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 10–0–2 3–0–1
1903 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 14–0–1 3–0–1
1904 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 13–0 3–0
1906 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 4–1 2–0
1909 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 6–1 3–0
1910 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 6–1 2–0
1911 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 6–0–1 3–0–1
1915 Henry L. Williams Western Conference 6–0–1 3–0–1
1927 Clarence Spears Big Ten Conference 6–0–2 3–0–1
1933 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 4–0–4 2–0–4
1934 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 8–0 5–0
1935 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 8–0 5–0
1937 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 6–2 5–0
1938 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 6–2 4–1
1940 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 8–0 6–0
1941 Bernie Bierman Big Ten Conference 8–0 5–0
1960 Murray Warmath Big Ten Conference 8–2 6–1
1967 Murray Warmath Big Ten Conference 8–2 6–1

† denotes co-champions

Facilities

TCF Bank Stadium

TCF Bank Stadium is the football stadium for the Minnesota Golden Gophers college football team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 52,525-seat on-campus “horseshoe” style stadium is designed to support future expansion to seat up to 80,000 people, and cost $303.3 million to build. The stadium was the temporary home of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League for the 2014 and 2015 seasons while U.S. Bank Stadium was being built.

TCF Bank Stadium 2009 photo By A Syn, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

Former venues

Head coaches

Tenure Coach Years Record Pct.
1882 No coach 1 1–1 .500
1883 Thomas Peebles 1 1–2 .333
1884–1885 No games played 2
1886–1888 Frederick S. Jones 3 3–3 .500
1889 Al McCordD. W. McCordFrank HeffelfingerBilly Morse 1 3–1 .750
1890 Tom Eck 1 5–1–1 .786
1891 Edward Moulton 1 3–1–1 .700
1892 No coach 1 5–0 1.000
1893 “Wallie” Winter 1 6–0 1.000
1894 Tom Cochrane Jr. 1 3–1 .750
1895 William Heffelfinger 1 7–3 .700
1896–1897 Alexander Jerrems 2 12–6 .667
1898 Jack Minds 1 4–5 .444
1899 John HarrisonWilliam C. Leary 1 6–3–2 .636
1900–1921 Henry L. Williams 22 136–33–11 .786
1922–1924 William H. Spaulding 3 11–7–4 .591
1925–1929 Clarence Spears 5 28–9–3 .738
1930–1931 Fritz Crisler 2 10–7–1 .583
1932–1941, 1945–1950 Bernie Bierman 16 93–35–6 .716
1942–1944 George Hauser 3 15–11–1 .574
1951–1953 Wes Fesler 3 10–13–4 .444
1954–1971 Murray Warmath 18 87–78–7 .526
1972–1978 Cal Stoll 7 39–39 .500
1979–1983 Joe Salem 5 19–35–1 .355
1984–1985 Lou Holtz 2 10–12 .455
1986–1991 John Gutekunst 6 29–36–2 .448
1992–1996 Jim Wacker 5 16–39 .291
1997–2006 Glen Mason 10 64–57 .529
2007–2010 Tim Brewster 4 15–30 .333
2010 Jeff Horton 1 2–3 .400
2011–2015 Jerry Kill 5 29–29 .500
2015–2016 Tracy Claeys 2 11–8 .579
2017–Present P. J. Fleck 1 5–7 .417

 

Bowl games

Minnesota has played in 19 bowl games, garnering a record of 7–12.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1960 Murray Warmath Rose Bowl Washington L 7–17
1961 Murray Warmath Rose Bowl UCLA W 21–3
1977 Cal Stoll Hall of Fame Classic Maryland L 6–21
1985 John Gutekunst Independence Bowl Clemson W 20–13
1986 John Gutekunst Liberty Bowl Tennessee L 14–21
1999 Glen Mason Sun Bowl Oregon L 20–24
2000 Glen Mason MicronPC.com Bowl NC State L 30–38
2002 Glen Mason Music City Bowl Arkansas W 29–14
2003 Glen Mason Sun Bowl Oregon W 31–30
2004 Glen Mason Music City Bowl Alabama W 20–16
2005 Glen Mason Music City Bowl Virginia L 31–34
2006 Glen Mason Insight Bowl Texas Tech L 41–44
2008 Tim Brewster Insight Bowl Kansas L 21–42
2009 Tim Brewster Insight Bowl Iowa State L 13–14
2012 Jerry Kill Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Texas Tech L 31–34
2013 Jerry Kill Texas Bowl Syracuse L 17–21
2014 Jerry Kill Citrus Bowl Missouri L 17–33
2015 Tracy Claeys Quick Lane Bowl Central Michigan W 21–14
2016 Tracy Claeys Holiday Bowl Washington State W 17–12

Rivalries / trophy games

Individual award winners

Retired numbers

Minnesota has retired five jersey numbers.

No. Player Position Career Date of Retirement
10 Paul Giel Tailback 1951–53 September 24, 1991
15 Sandy Stephens QB 1959–61 November 18, 2000
54 Bruce Smith RB 1940–41 June 27, 1977
72 Bronko Nagurski FB/T 1927–29 October 27, 1979
78 Bobby Bell LB/DE 1960–62 September 18, 2010

National

Big Ten Conference

College Football Hall of Famers

Inductees as of 2017.

Name Position(s) Inducted Years
Bert Baston End 1954 1914–1916
Bobby Bell T 1991 1960–1962
Bernie Bierman Head Coach 1955 1932–1941
1945–1950
Tom Brown G 2003 1958–1960
Fritz Crisler Head Coach 1954 1930–1931
Carl Eller DT 2006 1959–1962
George Franck RB 2002 1938–1940
Paul Giel RB 1975 1951–1953
Lou Holtz Head Coach 2008 1984–1985
Herb Joesting FB 1954 1925–1927
Pug Lund RB 1958 1932–1934
Bobby Marshall End 1971 1904–1906
John McGovern QB 1966 1908–1910
Bronko Nagurski TFB 1951 1927–1929
Leo Nomellini TG 1977 1946–1949
Eddie Rogers End 1968 1900–1903
Bruce Smith RB 1972 1939–1941
Sandy Stephens QB 2011 1959–1961
Clayton Tonnemaker C 1980 1946–1949
Ed Widseth T 1954 1934–1936
Dick Wildung T 1957 1940–1942
Henry L. Williams Head Coach 1951 1900–1921

 

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Inductees as of 2017.[37](p172)

Name Position(s) Class Team(s), Years
Bobby Bell DELB 1983 Kansas City Chiefs, 1963–1974
Tony Dungy Head Coach 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1996–2001
Indianapolis Colts, 2002–2008
Carl Eller DE 2004 Minnesota Vikings, 1964–1978
Seattle Seahawks, 1979
Bud Grant Head Coach 1994 Minnesota Vikings, 1967–1983, 1985
Bronko Nagurski FB 1963 Chicago Bears 1930–1937, 1943
Leo Nomellini DT 1969 San Francisco 49ers 1950–1963
Charlie Sanders TE 2007 Detroit Lions 1968–1977

Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Inductees as of 2017.

Name Position(s) Class Team(s), Years
Tom Brown DL 1984 BC Lions, 1961–1967
Bud Grant TE
Head Coach
1983 Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 1953–1966

 

Current professional players

NFL

Golden Gophers in the NFL
NFL Draft selections
Total selected: 333
1st Round: 18
NFL achievements
Total Players: 215
Hall of Famers: 6
Player Position(s) Draft Class Current Team
Briean Boddy-Calhoun CB Undrafted in 2016 Cleveland Browns
De’Vondre Campbell LB 2016 Atlanta Falcons
MarQueis Gray TE/FB Undrafted in 2013 Miami Dolphins
Eric Murray S 2016 Kansas City Chiefs
Jalen Myrick CB 2017 Minnesota Vikings
Marcus Sherels CB/KR Undrafted in 2010 Minnesota Vikings
Maxx Williams TE 2015 Baltimore Ravens
Damien Wilson LB 2015 Dallas Cowboys
Nate Wozniak T Undrafted in 2018 New Orleans Saints

 

CFL

 

Player Position(s) Current Team
Simoni Lawrence LB Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Troy Stoudermire DB/KR Calgary Stampeders
Drew Wolitarsky WR Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Other notable coaches and players

Non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of June 1, 2018

 

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027
vs South Dakota State vs New Mexico State vs Miami (OH) vs New Mexico State vs Eastern Michigan vs North Carolina vs Bowling Green vs Mississippi State at Mississippi State
at Fresno State vs Tennessee Tech at Colorado vs Colorado at North Carolina at BYU
vs Georgia Southern vs BYU vs Bowling Green