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#TBT to Minnesota Football star Francis “Pug” Lund

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With an awesome name, and a great story Pug Lund might be my favorite Gopher. In 1934 he won the Chicago Tribune MVP award a precursor to the Heisman Trophy.

Boss Pug man

From Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Francis came to the U of M as it was ascending to be a national power. In an era before recruiting Lund came to the team without anyone knowing anything about him. A journalist asked him his name and he responded. `Francis. God, Francis is a helluva name for a football player. Don't you have a nickname?' Bernie Swanson a reporter for the Minneapolis Journal replied. One of Francis’ teammates Al Papas replied “Call him Pug” and the nickname stuck.

Described by later sportswriters as, "modest to the point of bashfulness" Pug stood out from the beginning of his time in Dinkytown. Bernie Bierman on Pug, "there was one sophomore who caught my eye as soon as i had my first look at the squad. Who was this? None other than Francis "Pug" Lund. I hadn't heard much about him when discussing some of the leading candidates before the initial practice, but i saw possibilities in him as soon as he worked out for the first time.

Pug becoming the 1934 team captain

What i liked most about Pug was his determination and his will-to-win spirit that we see and hear so much about in college football. Pug put everything he had in his physique where it was on the practice field of in actual competition. Most everyone knows now what fine deeds he accomplished on the gridiron for Minnesota."

Pug was tough as nails. In 1933 against Pitt he hurt his pinky finger. The injury didn’t heal correctly and just before the beginning of the 1934 season Lund had the finger amputated, because he was a crazy person. In an early season game vs Nebraska Pug fumbled 7 times as he tried to get to get used to holding a ball with 4 fingers on his left hand. Losing the finger worked out though as he was the hero of the 1934 rematch against Pitt.

Pug was the star in a unstoppable 1934 team

Both the Gophers and Panthers were undefeated. The game was tied into the 4th quarter, the winner would likely have the best claim to a national championship. Minnesota lateraled the ball not once but twice to Pug who threw the game winning touchdown pass.

He could do it all, punting, passing, rushing, and blocking. In the Bernie Bierman era his 2098 rushing yards is twice as many as the next most prolific rusher. Add to that some pretty good passing stats for the era 85 attempts, 29 completions, and 10 interceptions (a lot of picks but back then there was no pass interference so passing attempts resembled going after a rebound in basketball).

Forced to leave school after 1934, he always intended to return to finish his degree. Pug had to go back to Rice Lake, Wisconsin to help the family out as his father was dying. Life got in the way first WWII, then a family, but Lund made it back to Dinkytown to graduate in 1993.