University of Minnesota

Gophers 1968-71
(Authentic Reproduction)





Warmath introduced a new helmet for 1968 and the design was maintained until the '72 season. The sunflower gold helmet with a white one-inch center stripe and three-quarter-inch maroon flanking stripes was a wonderful look and the university received immediate recognition as both sides featured a maroon "M" trimmed with a white border, giving the entire uniform a very updated appearance. Fans further appreciated the identifying two-inch maroon player numerals trimmed in white that were placed in the rear of the helmet. Despite injury, FB Jim Carter played well when on the field and literally bulldozed defenders against Purdue, a game that sparked an end-of-year three game win streak . Ray Stephens, Sandy's younger brother, stepped out of a career back-up role to QB the Gophers well in a 6-4 season that began with losses to top-ranked USC and Nebraska. Ray Parson was a solid receiver and like the Stephens brothers and Bill Munsey, was another Uniontown, PA import. The O-line powerhouses and All Big Ten guards were Dick Enderle who had a very good eight-year pro career with the Falcons and Giants before splitting his final season with the Forty Niners and Packers and Noel Jenke. Jenke doubled as an All Big Ten linebacking choice and he anchored the defense with Second team All American DE Bob Stein. Stein later played well with the Chiefs at LB before moving to the Rams and Vikings. Stein’s name may also be familiar to basketball fans as he served as President of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves. Starting 0-5-1 made for a dismal 1969 but to the Gophers' credit, they won out to complete the slate at 4-5-1. The Packers saw more in Carter's ability to steamroll people than run around them and drafted him as a LB, a position he played for them for nine years. All Conference Parson remained reliable at receiver, playing with the Lions in '70 and '71 and then with New York/Charlotte in the WFL. Soph RB Ernie Cook performed well, having been the first African-American to be offered a football scholarship by Florida State. He chose Minnesota because of Warmath and his fair treatment of minority athletes and for the University’s medical school and he did in fact become a practicing physician in Daytona Beach, FL. Former QB Walter Bowser switched to safety and helped to pull the defense together in the final few games, leading the team with five interceptions.    


1970 concluded with QB Craig Curry's Big Ten leading total yards tally of 1610 but that could not overcome a defense that allowed almost 4000 yards and 237 points and the result was a poor 3-6-1 record. HB Cook and TE Doug Kingsriter who had twenty-six receptions provided Curry's support system. The porous defense was led by two All Conference performers. LB Bill Light's team record ninety-three solo tackles and the DB play of Jeff Wright who picked off three passes against Michigan State provided most of the highlights. Wright would become a cog in the Vikings secondary from ’71 through 1977 and LB Noel Jenke would stay in the NFL for four seasons with three teams. Bowser continued to play well at safety, setting a school INT record. He was later cut by the Vikings but became a highly respected judge. In what would be Warmath's final season, 1971 featured QB Curry as the offensive threat and the Big Ten total offense leader and the school career leader in passing and total yards. All American TE Doug Kingsriter was backed up well by soph Keith Fahnhorst and Ernie Cook blossomed in his senior year at RB. All Conference LB Light again was the defensive leader with sixty-one tackles. The 4-7 finish featured a close 14-12 loss to powerful Ohio State on what the Gophers believed was a poor call by an official. As the season wound down, it was obvious that Minnesota football was at a low point with attendance falling off to alarming numbers over the past three years. The fan base, diluted by the success of the NFL Vikings and North Stars hockey team, needed to be rebuilt. At the conclusion of the season, former Gopher star Paul Giel was named as the new AD and he in turn named Warmath as his Assistant AD. After eighteen seasons, a National Championship, two Rose Bowl appearances, and the development of a number of All Americans and Academic All Americans, Murray Warmath stepped down as head coach and remained as an administrator until 1978 when he became the defensive line coach of the Vikings. Warmath later became a Vikings scout before his retirement as an extremely well-liked and respected figure.

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