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Murray Warmath’s First Year Compared To Bernie Bierman and PJ Fleck

Fleck is the first coach since Murray Warmath to start his first season 2-0. So how did 1954 turn out for the Gophers anyway?


Previously I have pulled up records of all Minnesota coaches in their first year and compared Bernie Bierman’s first game in 1932 to Fleck’s. Now that PJ is 2-0 he is the first Gopher coach since Murray Warmath started 4-0 in 1954. Other than the hot start, how did 1954 turn out?

1954 schedule

A record of 7-2 was good enough for 4th place in 1954. Not too shabby, but I’m sure there were, the 1954 equivalent of internet, commentors pissed that the two losses came against Michigan and Wisconsin.

Warmath, Murray, with Jerry Helgesen (L) and Bob McNamara (R) in 1954
U of M

How did the yearbook committee feel about 1954 season? Like I don’t have the answer...

Minnesota had a new coach, a new offense and a new brand of football this year. It all added up to the best season the Gophers have had since 1949, for they finished with a seven and two record and an unexpected fourth place in the Big Ten. When Murray Warmath arrived last year, an almost unknown in this sector of the country, he began in his soft-spoken, quiet way to mold a real team. Spring practice was spent almost entirely in installing Warmath's split-T offense, which was new to the players. A sound fundamentalist, Warmath worked hard to drill his players in the basics of split-T football. Speed was the keynote of his offense—the new formation seemed made to order for the small, fast backs. When the season opened Minnesota had one of the lightest backfields in the school's history — it averaged only 182 pounds.

The best season in 5 years sounds good, although it would be tough for PJ to beat last years record. The good news is, I think the 2017 backfield averages more than 182 pounds. Although one of the halfbacks from the 1954 team was Bob McNamara who was named to several All Big Ten and All-American teams.