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Where are they now?: Murray Warmath

02/10/2004, 12:00am CST
By Rob Litt

Where Are They Now?

In his 18-year tenure as the head coach for the Minnesota Golden Gopher football team, legendary coach Murray Warmath won the 1960 season National Championship, coached in two Rose Bowls (including the 1962 Rose Bowl win over UCLA), and was named National Coach of the Year in 1961. Through the years in Minnesota, Warmath pioneered a national recruiting base and coached such legends as Bobby Bell, Sandy Stephens, and the most recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee, Carl Eller.

Warmath, who compiled an 87-78-7 record at Minnesota, grew up in Humboldt, Tennessee, before playing for legendary Tennessee Voluneer coach RR Neyland. Warmath spent time as an assistant at Tennessee, West Point, and Mississippi State, and had a stint as head coach at Mississippi State before his time in Dinkytown. Recently, the 91-year old former coach spent some time reminiscing about his tenure leading the Gophers and some thoughts on the current state of the game. Where has your post Gopher career taken you?

Murray Warmath: After my coaching career ended with the Gophers, my wife and I retired and made Minnesota our permanent home where we raised our family. Minnesota was very good to us and we couldn't have had a better community to call our own. Thinking back to your days as a Gopher coach, which game/games stick out the most and why?

Warmath: Obviously the two Rose Bowl games are the most acclaimed games I coached in, with the UCLA game more so than Washington, because we won. Those were two coaching highlights. But I was more nervous and actually remember my first game as a Gopher coach when we beat Nebraska more than I do the Rose Bowl games. I also have fond memories of our wins over Michigan and Iowa while I was a coach. What former players/coaches do you most often keep in contact with?

Warmath: The one coach that I kept in touch with until he died was RR Neyland, the coach I played under at Tennessee. I learned a lot about football and life from him. I have also been quite lucky to still keep in contact with many of my former players. Recently, the McNamara Brothers (Bob and Pinky) and Bobby Stein stopped by to say hello. It really means a lot when I hear from these guys. What does it mean to you to be a Golden Gopher?

Warmath: My time as a coach at Minnesota was very special to me. I loved my coaching staff, players, players' families, and the fans. They were all very good to me. Sometimes I could do without some of the media members during my coaching days, but I won't let that spoil my relationship with the players and fans. If there is one lesson you learned from a coach or player that stands out more than any other, what would it be?

Warmath: Coach Neyland taught me to never let the critics get me down and to believe in myself and my team. He also taught me many life lessons about the importance of relationships. Who was the best Gopher you ever coached and why?

Warmath: I hate to pick out certain players as that is not fair to others as I know I would leave many worthy players out. Sometimes the best player was not the one that most fans would remember, but rather a kid who had little athleticism but much heart. Obviously being able to coach guys like Bobby Stein, Carl Eller, Bobby Bell and Sandy Stephens leaves a lasting impression, but there were so many great Gophers that made me look good! Who was the toughest team you ever coached against and why?

Warmath: It was always tough whenever we played Iowa and Michigan. No matter where the games were or how good either team was. If you could come back and coach against one team, who would it be and why?

Warmath: Iowa and Michigan. Those trophy games were very fun to play for and brought out the best in our team. If you could change a thing or two about your time as a Gopher, what would it be?

Warmath: I had a great time as a coach and have some incredible memories. I would not change a thing. If you could give any advice to the current Gopher team, what would it be?

Warmath: I don't get to many games any more because of my health, but I think Glen Mason is doing a great job. He is consistently winning and bringing pride back to Minnesota fans. I don't really have any specific advice for the current team or coaches but to remember to have fun and enjoy the process. For the players, four or five years fly by, and I hope they have no regrets. What are the biggest changes you see in today's game since your time as a coach?

Warmath: The biggest change I see in today's game is with recruiting. The recent garbage the team has to go through in the papers is really nuts. I also think that the emphasis put on recruiting makes it hard on the staff.

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Tag(s): Where Are They Now?