1961 - 70 Tigers
(Authentic Reproduction)




Going into the 1961 season that featured a 6-0 victory over 1960 National Champion Minnesota with Bobby Bell and Carl Eller in the second game of the year, there was a slight change to the helmet design. The black shell sported the same stripe arrangement but Devine had altered the size of the gap and white flanking stripes, reducing them from one-inch to three-quarters-inch. The one-inch old gold center stripe and white three-inch player numerals on each side of the helmet remained the same and this style was maintained through the ’70 season except for the commemorative decals used in 1969 for the one hundredth anniversary of college football. Dubbed “The Hitless Wonders and Wonderful Hitters”, the speed-oriented sweeps of 1960 were replaced by plunging power backs and an offense that was low-voltage and scored but 124 points over the entire 1961 season. However the defense was another Top Ten production under Onofrio, giving up but fifty-seven points, and carried the team to a 7-2-1 record, the loss to Colorado by one point. Leading rusher Andy Russell doubled as a terrific LB and did the blocking for HB Bill Tobin and option-passer Mike Hunter. The two-way line play of All American guard Ed Blaine typified the team, with Blaine voluntarily leaving a productive NFL career with the Packers and Eagles after five seasons to secure his PhD in cardiovascular physiology. All Big Eight end Conrad Hitchler teamed with brainy guard Paul Henley who had made the Academic All American team in ’60, T Jerry Wallach, and Bill McCartney, another guard who gained fame as the head coach at Colorado and the founder of a Christian ministry. The team paid back their 1960 win-by-forfeit defeat by Kansas and knocked them from a bowl bid in the season’s finale, and then turned down a Bluebonnet Bowl bid to begin their focus on the ’62 season.


In spite of a late season fade that had the Tigers falling 13-0 to a resurgent Oklahoma and then finishing the season with a 3-3 standoff with Kansas, the 1962 record was still enviable at 8-1-2. All American end and former Marine Hitchler was the big gun up front but he had a lot of help from guard Tom Hertz, an Academic All American. Hitchler later played in the CFL with Calgary for three years and had the distinction of annually returning to campus to play and usually star in the spring Varsity-Alumni game, into the mid-1970’s.  His son, Conrad Goode was a Tiger All American in the early 1980’s. The glitz was in the backfield with HB Bill Tobin completing a very productive career. Successful as the Oilers’ 1963 Rookie Of The Year, Tobin later headed to Edmonton of the CFL for a few years before going into the NFL as a coach and personnel man who made his mark first on Devine’s Packer teams, then for almost two decades with the Bears, eventually serving as their GM and doing the same with the Colts. Tobin also was the Bluebonnet Bowl MVP as Mizzou downed Georgia Tech. Corpus Christi, Texas HB Johnny Roland, All Big Eight and the conference rushing leader, gave notice that he was a two-way terror, teaming with Andy Russell who continued to star at both FB and LB. Notre Dame contacted Devine who had no interest in leaving Missouri.   




Heavily recruited out of St. Louis suburban Ladue High school, Andy Russell was an immediate star for the Tigers. Considered the best player in the State of Missouri, most felt he would attend an Ivy League college because his father, a highly successful business executive, was a Harvard graduate. Signing him was a coup for Devine. Russell, the captain of the 1962 squad, was the leader of teams that went 25-3-3 during his collegiate career. He was an excellent defensive back, highlighting Missouri’s upset win over Navy in the January 1, 1961 Orange Bowl with two interceptions and had a total of six in his senior year. He led the team in rushing from his fullback spot as a junior but it was his fine blocking that best served his squad. Playing both ways most of the time, Russell was an ironman, never missing a game and he continued to earn that distinction in the pros.  Playing in 1963 and then, after military service, from 1965 through 1976 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he never missed a game! The NFL Rookie Of The Year immediately demonstrated his leadership skills and he was the Steelers’ team captain from 1967 until his retirement after the 1976 season. A nine time All Pro and a Pro Bowl participant on seven occasions, Russell played as part of the NFL’s all time great linebacking units with Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and remains one of the Tigers’ best.   


Devine set the tone for ‘63’s tough, scrappy team in the second game of the season, a 7-6 upset win at Arkansas. Believing that the Razorback chain gang was favoring the home team Hogs and not doing its job properly, Devine grabbed the chains himself at one point, and marched off the appropriate yardage. The stadium exploded as six Arkansas State Troopers escorted Devine back to his proper bench area, but the team was impressed and motivated. End George Seals became so inflamed that he was assessed a fifteen-yard penalty for running into the referee, and he continued his spirited play as a nine-year pro with the Bears and Chiefs. QB Gary Lane, All Big Eight and the conference total offense leader, and FB Gus Otto, who doubled as a fierce LB, spurred the attack in the absence of Roland who was suspended for a tire-swapping incident. Guard Bob Brown was the standout on the O-line and steady end Harry “Bud” Abell became a back-up LB with the 1966 Super Bowl Chiefs.  The young team went 7-3, finishing the year with a 103-yard fumble recovery by DB Vince Turner to win the Kansas game 9-7.  Johnny Roland returned for ‘64 and provided an All Conference season but not in his familiar RB spot but instead as a DB in the Mizzou three-deep secondary. With QB Lane again All Big Eight and the conference leader in total offense, FB/LB Otto an Honorable Mention All American, and hard-blocking linemen Brown and Tom Wyrostek as All Big Eight, there was enough talent to finish at 6-3-1 and they were peaking as the season closed. DB Ken Boston and DT Butch Allison both played at an All Big Eight level throughout the season while the other DT Bruce Van Dyke and short, quick HB Charlie Brown were among the better youngsters. Vince Tobin completed his time on campus and moved on to a long pro coaching career that included a hitch as the Missouri defensive coordinator from 1971-’76 and a term as the Arizona Cardinals head coach. Linebacker Woody Widenhofer was another Tiger who became a very successful coach. An assistant at a number of schools, he was first the LB coach, and then defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl Steelers, staying with them from 1977 through ’83. He became the head coach for the USFL Oklahoma Outlaws for their 1984 season before taking the reins at Missouri from 1985-’88. He was also the head coach at Vanderbilt before returning to the pro game as an assistant and completed his lengthy career in 2007 as the defensive coordinator at New Mexico State. Devine recruited Mizzou’s first junior college transfer to the football program, rangy lineman Francis Peay who had left Arizona for Cameron College in Oklahoma and then came to Missouri because of Devine’s reputation for treating African-American players fairly. The squad rejected a bowl bid and Otto, like Andy Russell before him, entered the pros as a LB, starting for the Raiders from 1965 through ’72. Gary Lane and Johnny Roland would close out tremendous careers in 1965 with both noted as three-time All Big Eight choices and Roland an All American DB who went on to a solid eight-year pro career with the Cardinals and Giants and then as an NFL assistant coach. Lane played a few seasons with the Browns, Giants, and CFL after taking this squad to a record of 8-2-1 that included a huge 20-18 upset of Steve Spurrier’s Florida team in the Sugar Bowl. Lane became a highly respected on-the-field official, serving as an NFL referee for eighteen seasons prior to his death in 2003. HB’s Earl Denny and Brown, who led the Big Eight in rushing had the two-way help of Roland in the ground game. Linemen Francis Peay and Mike Eader, who was All Conference, paved the way. Peay, an All American pick, struck it rich as the Giants first-round choice and played for three teams in a nine-year NFL stay. He was later the head coach at Northwestern. Van Dyke was again a two-way standout and often played fifty-five or more minutes each game. Defensive coordinator Onofrio said of Van Dyke, “He was the most underrated great player we ever had. Underrated by the pros, I mean, not by the staff or his teammates.” A twelfth-round draft pick by the Eagles, he was taken much later and paid much less than a number of his more media-known teammates yet lasted longer and played better in an eleven-year pro career, most of it spent as an offensive guard with the Super Bowl teams of the Pittsburgh Steelers.




One of the best players to come out of the Texas high school ranks, Johnny Roland led his Corpus Christi Roy Miller High School team to a 13-1 record and the 4A State Championship. Recruited hard by all of the area colleges, especially Oklahoma, he signed a letter of intent with the Sooners. As these were non-binding in the mid-Sixties, Roland changed his mind, and instead chose Missouri, believing that St. Louis or Kansas City offered better employment opportunities to African-Americans. He was also impressed by the reputation Devine had fostered in the Black community, with the Missouri football program viewed as a positive environment to play in. Roland rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns in his first varsity game, setting the tone for the entire 1962 season when he finished with seventy-eight points scored and 830 rushing yards, ranking him seventh in the nation. Found to have a pair of stolen tires on his car, Roland refused to admit that a teammate’s prank had brought the switch of his better tires for the stolen pair and suffered the consequences. He was removed from the team and school for the 1963 season and worked in Kansas City. Devine was satisfied that Roland was innocent of wrong-doing and impressed with his character, welcoming him back in 1964 where he asked his player to eschew a chance at All American recognition at running back to instead help the team as a defensive player. Roland immediately and unselfishly agreed and he led the team to an 8-2-1 record and still received All American notice. Spending his senior season as a two-way back and a feared return man, Roland was a consensus All American and finished his Tiger career as a three-time All Big Eight choice. He was also the first African-American to serve as the captain for any University Of Missouri athletic team and Devine called him perhaps the most intelligent player he had coached, one who literally was a coach on the field who knew the offensive and defensive assignments of every teammate on every play. He was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals and the NFL Rookie Of The Year, rushing for 695 yards while adding another 213 catching the football. A terrific all around back, Roland completed an eight-year NFL career, seven with the Cards, his last with the Giants, totaling 3750 rushing yards, 1430 receiving yards, and scoring twenty-eight TD’s. A knee injury finished him and upon retirement, he purchased a radio station in St. Louis and then entered the coaching ranks. A highly successful assistant under Devine, Roland completed tenures at Green Bay, Notre Dame, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Arizona, and with the Rams, developing many star players including Walter Payton. Roland has been recognized as the best all-around player in Missouri history, had his jersey retired, and is a member of The College Football Hall Of Fame.  Despite the graduation losses of Roland and other keys to the previous few seasons, Devine and Onofrio put a 6-3-1 team on the field in 1966 and did it with the least productive offense in the Big Eight. Even with an anemic attack, the team was overmatched only twice, in two consecutive games against Nebraska and Colorado. With speedy Honorable Mention All American Charlie Brown, Earl Denny, and oft-injured FB Barry Lischner heading the running game, there was enough offense to get by. Denny spent two seasons with the Vikings and Brown played primarily as a return man for the Saints and with the BC Lions and Ottawa of the CFL. Brown, also an NCAA track champion, became a respected educator and served as an Executive Director for the St. Louis Public School System. The defense was a strong point, with DB’s Roger Wehrli and All Big Eight Jim Whitaker, who later became a surgeon, leading the way. In a move to motivate the obviously talented Wehrli, Devine assigned him Roland’s venerated number twenty-three. DE’s Dan Schuppan, another All Conference pick and giant 6’6” Russ Washington held the line. Devine took on the additional duties as full-time athletic director for 1967 and produced a solid team. All Big Eight Defensive Player Of The Year and All American tackle and end Russ Washington spearheaded the play of this 7-3 squad. A high school fullback and basketball star, he played both tackle positions and DE at Mizzou and was relentless. This versatility impressed the pros and he was the Chargers first-round pick, the number-four overall choice and played with them for fifteen seasons. He made five Pro Bowls and was followed by brothers Wayne and David who both were O-linemen for the Tigers. Washington was also tried at FB in the spring and looked to start there but Lischner overcame his injury bug to perform at an All Conference level, augmented by the speedy rushes and pass-catching of soph HB Jon Staggers. The defense featured spirited play by tackle Jay “Rocky” Wallace, and All Big Eight talent John Douglas at LB and DB Wehrli. Douglas played with the Giants for a few seasons in the early 1970’s and finished his pro career in ’74 with the WFL Hawaiians. Wehrli, who had been motivated by wearing Roland’s former number, was the team leader. The Tigers were beaten by Oklahoma, now coached by Chuck Fairbanks, one of Devine’s former players at Michigan State and the 17-6 loss to rival Kansas was the first time the Jayhawks had found a way to win against Devine in nine tries. That KU head coach Pepper Rodgers was less than modest about the victory rankled Devine and his players. Ending the year on a down note, the players voted to reject an invitation to the Liberty Bowl to instead focus on academics.  Devine switched to the I-Formation in ‘68 to augment his usual Wing-T offense. JC transfer Terry McMillan took over the QB spot, and made the most of a talented stable of running backs. Rushing behind the powerful play of all Big Eight guard Jim Anderson, versatile Jon Staggers, converted LB Joe Moore, and Texan James Harrison at 6’4” and 240 pounds supplied the pounding while Fort Scott (KS) JC transfer Mel Gray provided the burning speed from his flanker position. The offense put up 515 total yards against Kansas State and was potent all year. The defense did their share with All American DB Roger Wehrli and secondary sidekick Butch Davis playing spectacularly behind All Big Eight performers DT “Rocky” Wallace, DE Bill Schmitt, and LB Carl Garber. The tough 28-14 loss to the Sooners cost Mizzou the Sugar Bowl bid and they went into the finale in what became the conference playoff game against hated rival Kansas who was 8-1 to the Tigers’ 7-2 mark. Once again the Jayhawks bested MU, this time 21-19 and KU coach Pepper Rodgers, always the showman, was observed flashing the victory sign towards Devine. Missouri went into the Gator Bowl riled by their 7-3 record, knowing it could have been better and defeated Alabama by 35-10 in what was considered a significant upset.




Although Roger Wehrli was an excellent football and basketball player at tiny King City, Missouri high school, a town with a population of 1000, he wasn’t highly recruited for either sport. Though he dominated his small-time field of play in both sports he was not sought out by any major university. With his father a former three-sport star at Tarkio College and his mother a former high school basketball player, the athletic talent he did have was noticed by a Missouri assistant who watched him play on the hardwood and convinced Coach Devine to grant Wehrli the last available football scholarship for 1965. An immediate standout due to his speed and bottomless pit of toughness, Wehrli joined the Tiger varsity in 1966 and was given the graduated Johnny Roland’s number 23 with the expectation that the skinny return man and DB would live up to Roland’s recently established legacy of greatness. Wehrli did this and more as a two-time All Big Eight defensive back and 1968 All American and All Big Eight Defensive Player Of The Year. As a senior he pulled in seven of his ten collegiate interceptions and finished his Missouri career with a punt return average in excess of twelve yards. He used his 4.5/40 speed to set and maintain most of Mizzou’s return records that stood for almost forty years. Wehrli concluded his college career with a performance that led to his appointment to the Fifty Year Anniversary Senior Bowl team and eventual nomination to The College Football Hall Of Fame. As the St. Louis Cardinals’ number-one draft choice he achieved even greater success as a pro, making the NFL All Rookie Team in ’69 and rolling through a career that saw him compete in seven Pro Bowls and be named both All Pro and All NFC. A member of the NFL All Decade Team of the 1970’s, Wehrli retired with forty interceptions and nineteen fumble recoveries from his cornerback position and became a successful businessman in the St. Louis area. He achieved yet another honor as a member of the Class of 2007 to The Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

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