| Wins against Kentucky - 2 | Losses against Kentucky - 1 |
Alma Mater: Minnesota
Date Born: March 11, 1894
Date Died: March 7, 1977
Overall Record: 89-51 [7 Seasons]
|3/1/1929||Kentucky vs. Tulane||W||29 - 15||Southern Conference Tournament (at Atlanta, GA)|
|2/4/1929||Kentucky at Tulane||L||22 - 34||-|
|3/1/1926||Kentucky vs. Mississippi A & M||L||26 - 31||Southern Conference Tournament (at Atlanta, GA)|
Obituary - St. Cloud (MN) Times (March 9, 1977)
Bernie Bierman was Genuine Minnesota Legend
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - When bull-necked, square-jawed Bernie Bierman arrived as head football coach of the university of Minnesota in 1932, he packed along with him the single-wing and the unbalanced line.
For the next 10 years, Bierman, nicknamed the Silver Fox and Grey Eagle for his prematurely grey hair, coach the Gophers to six Big Ten Conferences titles, three Associated Press national championships (plus two before the AP Poll was established in 1936), and ran up the win-loss-tied record at Minnesota to 93-35-6.
The man who brought the "Golden Era" of football to the University of Minnesota, died Monday night at Saddleback Community Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif. after a lengthy illness. He was 82.
Bierman wasn't new to UM in 1932. He'd been halfback and captain of the Gopher's undefeated 1915 team. His penchant for successful seasons wasn't new either. His overall record - including 26 seasons of coaching at Montana, Mississippi A&M, Tulane, and UM, soared to 156-58-11.
In 1934, after an undefeated season in 1933 (and four ties), Bierman had the team he wanted. In that year, the Gophers, sparked by talents such as Pug Lund, Ed Wadseth, Butch Larson, Bill Bevan, and Dick Smith, churned their way to the nation's top football sport without a loss.
Bierman called the 1934 team, "my best team, my favorite team, and it could do anything you'd want a football team to do."
Of special satisfaction to the Gophers that year was a resounding 34-0 triumph over arch-rival Michigan.
It was the same story of no defeats in 1935, only with an even better ending. This time the Gophers trounced Michigan 40-0.
The next year saw only one low point; a disappointing 6-0 loss to Northwestern in the mud and mire of Dyche Stadium at Evanston.
But the ending was still happy. After winning every other game by overwhelming margins, the Gophers were voted the national champions in the 1936 Associated Press Poll.
The 1937 team won all five conference games to take the Big Ten Championship and finish with a season's record of 6-2. The conference title again went to the Maroon and Gold in 1938, again a record of 6-2.
The record slipped in 1939, when the team won 3, lost 4 and tied one. But in 1940 and 1941, they roared on to undefeated seasons, again taking the conference and national titles.
World War II had arrived and Bernie left Minnesota to serve three years with the Marines. He came back to Minnesota for six more seasons, but the game of football had changed, and Bierman knew it.
"The big changes came after the war," he said. "It was then that the battle of scholarships began and although it's wonderful that so many have gotten college educations out of it, is has multiplied the pressures of coaching and everything about it."
There was another big change called the forward pass.
"It's almost like a brand-new game," Bierman said. "They still block and tackle and run and hit. That hasn't changed, thank goodness."
By 1949, the taste of success was turning bitter.
That year the Gophers were upset by Michigan and Purdue, each by one touchdown. The Gophers finished 7-2.
But in 1950, after a 1-7-1 record Bierman was hanged in effigy. Signs read, "Bye, Bye Bernie."
"I was saddened, yes," Bierman recalled. "I had o be after all of those years ... and it took me awhile to come back. But I know how fickle a fan can be."
Bierman hung it up after that year. He and his wife, Clara moved to Southern California and in 1969, they moved to a retirement community in south of Los Angeles. They had two sons, James, of Los Angeles and William, of St. Paul, Minn.
But to this day, a lot of football coaches would still adhere to the Bierman football philosophy: "There's nothing secret about the results to be obtained with blocking, tackling and hard-charging. That's fundamental," Bierman said.
"Given a reasonable share of material that has speed, brains and some brawn, a churning desire to give and take, then school it as thoroughly as possible in these fundamentals, with a few good breaks, you're bound to win your share."
To this day, three Minnesota regions - Bernie's birthplace in Springfield, his boyhood homes in Litchfield, and Detroit Lakes, claim his as their own, and his former players like to be known as "Bernie's boys."
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