Patrick Reusse: Ousted coach dodges brutal Buckeyes blowout

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 31, 2010 - 12:53 AM

These 2010 Gophers were overpowered, but a break in scheduling means a few years to rebuild before a rematch.

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Ohio State and Michigan played for the Big Ten championship on Nov. 25, 1950, in Columbus. The game was played in a blizzard and is known in the history of that great rivalry as the "Snow Bowl.''

There were 45 punts in the game, and Michigan won 9-3. Soon thereafter, Wes Fesler quit as the Buckeyes coach, and then wound up at Minnesota.

This was a stunning career move, since Fesler's Buckeyes had come into Memorial Stadium and clobbered the Gophers 48-0 in October 1950. It was the defeat that created the downhill momentum for a 1-8 season and led to Bernie Bierman being run off as Minnesota's coach.

This put Fesler in the historical position of replacing Bierman, a winner of five national titles, at Minnesota, and being replaced by a legend-to-be, Woody Hayes, at Ohio State.

The schools controlled schedules -- conference and other games -- back then. I'm not sure if Fesler was influential in this, but starting in 1951, the Gophers and the Buckeyes did not play for 14 seasons.

Fesler lasted only three years in Minnesota. Murray Warmath came in from Mississippi State in 1954.

Warmath, 97, was in attendance for the Gophers and Buckeyes on Saturday night. He did not have a precise reason that the Gophers and the Buckeyes went so long without a game.

Dick Larson, a player and then an assistant coach for Warmath, said through an intermediary: "I know that Murray and Woody were very good friends. If we played a team right after Ohio State had played it, Woody would send Murray the film and a playbook with the plays circled that had worked. And Murray would do the same for Woody."

Except: "One year, we were having a good season and Woody circled the plays that didn't work."

The schools lost control of conference scheduling in the early '60s. Minnesota vs. Ohio State has been part of the schedule rotation since 1965. Murray split with his pal Woody in 1965-66, and that was the end of any form of equity in this competition.

The Gophers and the Buckeyes played 24 seasons in a row from 1969 to 1992. There was one Gophers victory: 35-31 at Memorial Stadium in 1981, the shiny moment of Smokey Joe Salem's five-year tenure as coach.

There was a two-year respite in 1993-94, and on Saturday night the teams played for the 14th time in the past 16 years. There has been one more Minnesota victory: the 29-17 upset for Glen Mason's club in 2000 in Ohio Stadium.

It's frightening, though. Since Warmath's 17-7 victory over Hayes in 1966, the Gophers are 2-36 vs. Ohio State. They went 0-for-the Metrodome (0-11) and the change of home turf only made things worse in front of Saturday's ABC regional audience.

The final was 52-10 for the Buckeyes, with 507 yards in offense, with a touchdown off a blocked punt, and on a 30-yard return of a fumble.

You watched this debacle -- you watched the remarkably overmatched talent assembled by the fired Tim Brewster -- and all you could get in return were e-mails and comments wondering why Adam Weber played the entire game at quarterback.

Get a hint, people.

This disaster left behind by the blowhard coach is so immense that trying to break in a quarterback behind this mess would have a better chance of ruining him than providing any assist to the development of MarQueis Gray or Moses Alipate.

If there was a Mount Rushmore for Gophers ineptitude, Brewster's mug would get the George Washington treatment. He took all of the advantages of a sparkling new stadium and, within 13 home games, it was a slaughterhouse for the survivors of his four-year reign.

This was the worst home loss to Ohio State since the 48-0 in 1950 -- the one that helped get Bierman fired.

In a way, it's unfortunate that Brewster was axed two weeks ago, because if any coach ever deserved to stand humiliated on the sideline in front of network cameras as his product was destroyed, it was Coach Brew.

The new guy will have a much greater reconstruction project than Brewster inherited from Mason, but there is one advantage for the next coach:

Ohio State will be in the other division of new Big Ten starting next fall, meaning the Gophers will see the Buckeyes only half the time -- and for sure, not in 2011 or 2012.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • preusse@startribune.com

  • no. 10 ohio state xx, gophers xx Up next: TBA Saturday at Michigan State • TV: TBA (830-AM)
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