Purdue University

1971 - 76 Boilermakers
(Authentic Reproduction)




1971 brought the replacement of the black side numerals with an elongated black P and the placement of three-inch player numbers to the rear of the helmet. With the helmet change came another dismal performance, a 3-7 slate that featured losses in the final five games. QB Gary Danielson went down with a shoulder injury in the third game against Iowa leaving the position and team performance inconsistent all season. HB Otis Armstrong continued to excel, running up his total rush yardage to a two-year mark of 1954 yards, as did exciting receiver and halfback Darryl Stingley. Huge Dave Butz anchored the D-line and LB Gregg Bingham was consistently good. Joining the "Wishbone revolution", the Boilermakers went into '72 using the new running offense with QB Bo Bobrowski running it. Opening with three losses sent them scurrying back to the Pro-I Formation which better suited Armstrong who closed as an All American, set a single-game rush record of 233 yards against Northwestern, and then broke it with 276 against Indiana. He also set a new career mark of 2613, a school and Big Ten standard. Armstrong went on to a very solid eight-year career with the Broncos despite numerous injuries and Stingley, the Patriots first-round draft choice, was emerging as an All Pro receiver after five excellent seasons, until paralyzed in a game against the Raiders. Oft-injured and under appreciated QB Danielson developed his skills further in the World Football League and then remained in the NFL for twelve years with the Lions and Browns. Bingham, one of the best LB's in the conference, graduated to a twelve-year career with the Oilers while Butz moved on to the Cards for two years and then made his mark with the George Allen defenses of the Redskins for another fourteen seasons. At the end of the year, DeMoss, Purdue's first great quarterback and a valued assistant to Mollenkopf, took the job of Assistant Athletic Director and again, the head coaching position was open.
1973 found Alex Agase, another Purdue great, at the helm. He had been the only player to make All American and the All-Time team at two universities, having excelled at Illinois and then during his wartime assignment, doing the same at Purdue. He was also the guard on the Big Ten All-Time team and well respected as a coach and "maker of men." Most believed that his mediocre record at Northwestern following Ara Parseghian did not reflect the enthusiastic and all-out manner in which his Wildcats played. He was named College Football Coach Of The Year for the Wildcats' second-place Big Ten finish in 1970 and was popular due to his brief Purdue playing status which helped make him a member of the College Football Hall Of Fame. Ironically, John Pont of Purdue's fiercest rival Indiana, moved into Agase's vacated spot at Northwestern. Huge 6'7" soph Ken Novak impressed at DT with seventy-five tackles and the running game was better than expected in this 5-6 season. Frosh backs Scott Dierking and Mike Northington, both former High School All Americans enhanced FB Mike Pruitt's performance with Bobrowski becoming the Black And Gold's all time QB rushing leader and team MVP. Olympic sprinter Larry Burton proved to be a fine receiver and return man. Agase went into '74 with optimism but the record dipped to 4-6-1. Burton's Olympian speed made him extremely dangerous and allowed him to be a first-round pick by the Saints where he stayed for five years. Dierking picked up 779 rush yards and Mike Pruitt another 613. The defense again was led by Novak. Entering 1975 with an established QB in Mark Vitali, losing the first five games and the final 4-7 record were definite disappointments. FB Pruitt, an All American, was the workhorse behind guard Ken Long with Pruitt the number one choice of the Browns where he had an outstanding career while Long played for the Lions. Dierking was the leading rusher, adding 914 yards to his growing resume. Novak resisted a publicity campaign to hype him for All American in '74, wanting to earn it on the field and he did in 1975. He was a first round pick of the Colts but played only two seasons. Despite his status as a genuine Purdue athletic icon, Agase felt pressure going into 1976. Vitali was a three-year starter and Dierking was named All Big Ten, finishing as the school's number-two all-time rusher by the end of the season so the hum-drum 5-6 season, highlighted only by a huge 16-14 upset of number-one ranked Michigan, made for unrest in the ranks. FB John Skibinski put up 871 yards on the ground. The best defensive players were LB Kevin Motts (121 tackles), All Big Ten safety Paul Beery and Mike Northington who was switched from offense to DB the year before and it was his pressure on the kicker trying a late field goal that saved the Michigan contest. At the end of the season, Dierking moved on to a fine career with the Jets and Agase became the Athletic Director at Eastern Michigan University.

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