University of Minnesota

Gophers 1972-75
(Authentic Reproduction)





Wake Forest coach Cal Stoll, a former Gopher player who had backed up Bud Grant in the late 1940’s was the choice of new AD Paul Giel to take over for Warmath. Stoll had been a high school coach after graduating from Minnesota but had quickly ascended through the assistant ranks in college, with stints at Utah State, the University Of Denver, Georgia, and at Michigan State under Duffy Daugherty with his very successful teams. Becoming Wake Forest’s head man in 1968, Stoll provided them with back-to-back winning seasons and their first ACC title. Anxious to take on the challenge of rebuilding his alma mater to glory, Stoll was viewed as an excellent hire. With Giel’s tireless help he also solicited a great deal of support from local business and alumni which resulted in new scoreboards, stadium improvements, and new uniforms. Hal Greenwood, the President of Midwest Federal and a lifetime Gopher athletics fan, purchased new gold uniforms for the ’72 squad, reminiscent of the mustard gold uniforms worn by the great Minnesota teams of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. The headgear was a very good-looking gold helmet with the maroon Minnesota "M" on each side that was trimmed in white, making it stand out nicely. Stoll’s team began with a difficult five-game losing streak but finished strongly with three consecutive wins. They finished at 4-7 with some excellent individual performances. John King emerged as the Big Ten rushing leader with 1164 yards and 6'6" Keith Fahnhorst became a dangerous TE, especially with Doug Kingsriter vacating the position and going to the Vikings for the '73 through '75 seasons. In '73 Indian Hill (Iowa) CC transfer HB Rick Upchurch adapted to the Big Ten with 841 yards rushing and nine TD's  but was really something special when returning punts and kick-offs. Highly recruited frosh Tony Dungy took some time to learn the ropes with only eight pass completions as a part-time starter. Fahnhorst's blocking earned him All Big Ten notice and the number-two draft spot for the Forty-Niners where he played OT from 1974 through '87. To boost the defense, Safety Doug Beudoin was moved from TB and responded with four INT's, leading a stout line-up that helped the Gophers win six of their last seven and finish strongly at 7-4 for the year. Steve Neils was a solid All Conference choice at LB, playing later with the Cardinals from ’74 through 1980. Stoll liked his young players and was optimistic, especially about lightning-quick frosh RB Larry Powell, the jewel of the 1973 recruiting class. Powell was more heavily recruited as a high school player than Pennsylvania’s Tony Dorsett, and finished as the squad’s third-leading rusher with potential for more.


After the promising play of '73, the drop to 4-7 wasn't expected in 1974. The entire team was affected by the loss of Powell who contracted a rare form of French Polio which left him paralyzed for many months. Although he eventually recovered, his athletic career was finished. The defense was poor much of the time, giving up plus-forty twice and a fifty-four point disaster against Nebraska. The total yield was 332 points and a horrible 4536 yards. Keith Simons played well at NT and DT and was the sole All Big Ten honoree on the Gopher squad, but injuries to starters limited defensive play. S Doug Beaudoin missed valuable time and on offense QB Dungy ran for 417 and passed for 612 yards on a bad knee. HB Upchurch showed brilliant return ability, bringing one to the house on a 100-yard kickoff return against Wisconsin and improved his pass catching ability. He was drafted as a WR by the Broncos, becoming a mainstay for them from 1975 to '85 and a dangerous punt return man. Stoll would have to re-tool after losing three of the final four games.


1975 brought improvement to 6-5 as Dungy set almost every Gopher passing mark, including fifteen TD passes, and added enough rushing yardage to have a career total of over 3000 at the end of his junior season. All Big Ten receiver Ron Kullas was a frequent target. On defense, Keith Simons finished his career as a four-year starter before playing four years of DT for the Chiefs and Cards and S Beaudoin rebounded from his '74 injuries to excel and move to an NFL career that spanned six seasons and three teams. Though he did not lead the nation, George Washington did lead the conference in tackles with 154 from his LB spot.

If interested in any of these Minnesota helmets please click on the photos below.