He won titles and opened doors
My late father spent the first 40-plus years of his life in Minnesota, and he loved to reminisce about coach
great Gopher football teams.
Those stories always included the fact that Warmath did the unthinkable when he started a black quarterback, Sandy Stephens, in 1959 -- when many Northern schools still refused to even recruit black players.
Warmath, who died Wednesday at the age of 98, won two Big Ten titles and a national championship. But his signature achievement was opening doors for black student-athletes.
"I respected the man, and he respected me as a person,'' Gophers star Bobby Bell told the Star Tribune. "He didn't see color, he saw a man who had talent to play football and he utilized that.''
We too often glorify coaches based on win-loss records. Warmath will be remembered for so much more.
Scott Gillespie is the Star Tribune's Editorial Page Editor.