Reusse: Bob McNamara a staple in Gophers-Iowa football lore

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 1:29 AM
hide

Halfback Bob McNamara (44) and coach Murray Warmath exulted during a victory ride after an exciting Gophers home victory over Iowa in November 1954. McNamara, who rushed for 113 yards and had a thrilling kickoff return for a touchdown, remains one of the program’s most passionate supporters.

Photo: Star Tribune file photo,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

There was a Twin Cities radio show in the 1980s that went by “Monday Night Sports Talk” that included a degree of irreverence. A popular item was the Sid Rules, which promoted the idea that if listeners followed a list of 15 rules they could write a reasonable version of a Sid Hartman column.

The most vital rule was this: The columns written in advance of an important event (mostly football games) should both “set up the loss and provide a ray of hope.’’

Mr. Hartman was young at his trade in 1954, but as I looked at the Minneapolis Tribune’s coverage in advance of the Nov. 13 showdown between the Gophers and Iowa, there were vivid examples of this rule.

One November morn, Sid told readers “Hawks Better Than ’53,” a melancholy statement in view of Iowa’s 27-0 thrashing of the Gophers and superstar Paul Giel in 1953 in Iowa City.

On the next, Sid informed that the returning Gophers had made this pledge after the drubbing in Iowa City: “Beat Iowa in ’54.”

Bob McNamara, who had succeeded the graduated Giel as the No. 1 back, told Sid: “We may get beat, but we’ll be ready.’’

Earlier this week, McNamara recalled that buildup to the long-ago Iowa game and said: “The people around here were really into it. We put over 65,000 into that old stadium.’’

I couldn’t resist telling McNamara: “It was my first Gophers game … a 9-year-old kid in the front row of the overflow standing in an end zone. I’ll never forget the kick return.’’

McNamara smirked a bit and said, “Me neither.’’

Game 6 vs. Atlanta in ’91 was the Kirby Puckett Game. If you’re a card-carrying Minnesota golden ager, Iowa in 1954 was the Bob McNamara game.

The Gophers’ first possession concluded with a 36-yard touchdown burst by McNamara. Iowa came back with a touchdown drive to make it 7-7.

The kickoff traveled to McNamara at the 11. He received some blocking to get near midfield. Then, he disappeared into a cluster of Hawkeyes, and somehow came out the other side, and went the distance — 89 yards.

Murray Warmath, Minnesota’s first-year coach, said it was the “greatest example of one man against 11’’ that he had seen in his football life.

“My brother Pink didn’t see it that way,’’ McNamara said this week. “He threw two blocks on the play. And through the years, Pink had himself throwing four blocks on that play.’’

The Gophers won that day 22-20, and McNamara played 60 minutes. He rushed for 113 yards from fullback or right halfback in Warmath’s split T formation. He was credited by the Tribune’s Dick Cullum for stout play at linebacker against Iowa’s swift backfield of Jerry Reichow, Earl Smith and Eddie Vincent.

Reichow headed the Vikings scouting department for years. McNamara ran the bar across the river in northeast Minneapolis that was a gathering place for sports people of his generation.

“Reichow and I are friends,’’ McNamara said. “He had one rule of friendship: ‘I don’t want to talk about that [darned] game.’ ”

Almost six decades after that game, darned to Hawkeyes, unforgettable to Gophers, there remains no one more devoted to the maroon and gold than Bob McNamara.

  • related content

  • Winning Floyd back from Iowa is a heavy Gophers' burden

    Saturday September 28, 2013

    Gophers coach, players realize what the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy is all about.

  • The Call: Gophers vs. Iowa

    Saturday September 28, 2013

    2:30 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Ch. 5 • Radio: 100.3-FMLine: Iowa by 1½ • Series: Gophers lead 61-43-2The...

  • Left to right: Rodrick Williams Bob McNamara, and Donnell Kirkwood. Minneapolis MN. September 24, 2013. ] JOELKOYAMA‚Ä¢joel koyama@startribune

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Detroit 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Texas 0
Boston 1 Bottom 6th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 2 Top 7th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 1st Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 0 Bottom 1st Inning
San Diego 0
Los Angeles 0 Top 1st Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 86 4th Qtr 5:52
Memphis 84
Detroit 109 4th Qtr 3:07
Oklahoma City 104
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 93 4th Qtr 4:43
Miami 82
Utah 107 4th Qtr 0:11
Minnesota 107
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 90 4th Qtr 1:54
New York 90
Golden State 9:30 PM
Denver
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Portland
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Montreal 4 1st OT 9:00
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd 18:07
Anaheim 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers men's hockey season

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close