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Florence Hotel fire no joke to Minnesota Gophers by Joel A. Rippel

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In September, 1936, the future National Champion Minnesota Gophers were nearly killed in Missoula. Coached by former University of Montanan, Bernie Bierman, the team felt lucky to escape with their lives.

Bierman had coached at the University of Montana from 1919 - 1921 before moving on to Mississippi State University, Tulane and then the University of Minnesota where he was very successful. His teams won 5 national championships and 7 Big Ten titles. Bierman's biography from the National Football Foundation appears below.




Bernie "The Silver Fox of the Northland" Bierman



  • Position: Coach
  • School: Montana, Mississippi State, Tulane, Minnesota
  • Years: 1919-1950
  • Inducted: 1955
  • Place of Birth: Springfield, MN
  • Date of Birth: Mar 11, 1894
  • Place of Death: Laguna Hills, CA
  • Date of Death: Mar 07, 1977

Member Biography

It has been said Bernie Bierman,"...never lost his temper, never raised his voice, never shed a tear, never appealed to sentiment and never played tricks on his teams." Bierman, himself, admitted, "I never made an emotional speech in my life." His teams were as low key and fundamental as his own personality, because Bierman believed in simple, common- sense football. And it won games! Starting in 1919, his University of Montana, Mississippi State, Tulane and Minnesota squads compiled a 146-62-12 record. The "Silver Fox of the Northland" gave Minnesota a 93-35-6 slate over a 16-season span which included six Big Ten Championships, five National Championships and five undefeated campaigns. He produced 14 Gopher All-Americans, including Hall of Famers Pug Lund, Ed Widseth, Dick Wildung, Clayton Tonnemaker, Bruce Smith, and Leo Nomellini. There was nothing razzle-dazzle about Bernie Bierman's tactics. It was straight single-wing football, and he was often chastised for running a "dull" offense. In response to his critics, Bierman replied, "If I found that four or five plays were doing the job, we stuck with them. Still, we probably had more plays than our opponents. I always figured that ball control with good execution is the best thing you can have.�


Last Updated on Saturday, 31 May 2014 16:37