Image by jpellgen
Today is the first game for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in the new TCF Bank Stadium. My uncle and father will be going to the game, and they are super excited about it. My father’s excitement stems from an experience he had at the old Memorial Stadium when he was eight years old.
The football you see on the right is a team signed ball from the 1949 Gopher team (here is a video of that team playing Iowa). My grandfather used to take several of the players hunting, and as a sign of gratitude, this football was signed in the locker room after an upset loss to Purdue and personally presented to my father. This year marks the 60th anniversary of that team, a team widely regarded as the best Gopher team not to win the national championship. They finished a disappointing 7-2 that season, and 8th in the final AP rankings. The football, however, is a priceless piece of memorabilia that has special significance to our family. I hope to see this one of a kind piece on display someday.
Players on that team included former Vikings head coach Bud Grant, who was an All-Big Ten TE that season. Cal Stoll was the other TE–he coached at Wake Forest and Minnesota. Philadelphia Eagles’ Pro-Bowl LB, Wayne Robinson. Billy Bye, an outstanding RB who will be honored at today’s game. All-American and 14 season veteran of the 49ers, Leo Nomellini. All-American Clayton Tonnemaker who played four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Bernie Bierman won seven Big Ten titles and five national championships during his run as Gopher’s head coach.