Football tied to Gopher Rose Bowls given to TOMF

Luke Stadther Sports Writer

A discovery of a football long forgotten  led to a time of reminiscing  this past week at The Broaster in  Bird Island. It all started a few years  back when Bird Island resident Patty  Sanger’s family was cleaning out old  closets. That’s when they discovered  a football from the early 1960s  signed by many University of  Minnesota Golden Gopher players  from the 1961 and 1962 Rose Bowl  teams. Sanger took the ball along  with two signed programs from the  events and donated them to the Tim  Orth Memorial Foundation.  “A few years ago Patty came to  me and asked if I wanted a signed  football. I was like ‘from where?’ She  said it was from back when the  Gophers went to those Rose Bowls,”  remarked TOMF director Billy  Neubauer.  Patty Sanger came into possession  of that football nearly 60 years ago  when she was a member of the  Lillian Vail Dance Revue. She was a  part of the dance group while  attending Robbinsdale High School.  During her freshman and sophomore  years she had the distinct  pleasure to perform at two events  hosted by The New Rainbow Cafe.  Those events were in honor of those  two Rose Bowl qualifying Minnesota  Gopher football teams. 

Ever since the ball came into the  possession of TOMF they have tried  to work with the University to make  a deal and return the ball to the  Minnesota Golden Gopher Hall of  Fame.  “We think this is the only one of  its kind, something that deserves to  be in the hall of fame. The ever  changing head coach position at the  University has led to negotiations  falling through over the years. After  being denied a request this season to  have head coach P.J. Fleck attend  TOMF, we have decided its time to  put this ball and the two programs in  the annual silent auction,” commented  Neubauer.  This past Monday though,  Neubauer took time along with  Sanger and former Golden Gopher  player Paul Benson to reflect on past  experiences. Benson was a member  of both University of Minnesota  Rose Bowl teams. He attended the  university from 1960 to ‘63, playing  football for the team in the fall of  ‘60, ‘61 and ‘62. His sophomore and  junior seasons were when the  Gophers earned trips to back-toback  Rose Bowls.  In 1960, for the 1961 Rose Bowl  held on Jan. 2, the top-ranked  Gophers lost to the number six  ranked Washington Huskies.

That  Rose Bowl became well known for  the Great Rose Bowl Hoax, a prank  played out during halftime. With  their team ahead 17-0, the cheerleaders  from Washington took the  field to lead spectators in a card  stunt. A number of students from the  California Institute of Technology  managed to switch the cards, making  Washington fans spell out CALTECH.  The following year, Minnesota  returned to the Rose Bowl where  they met the University of California  - Los Angeles (UCLA). The Gophers  bested the Bruins 21-3.  Many of the players and coaches  from those two teams went on to be  inducted into the College Football  and NFL Halls of Fame, including  former Minnesota Viking great Carl  Eller. Bobby Bell, another player  from those Gopher teams, was also  inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Benson said of Bobby Bell,  “Many people thought Bobby could  have played any position he wanted  on those Gopher teams. He went on  to play for the Kansas City Chiefs  where he won a Super Bowl. They  also said he could have probably  played any position there too.”  Paul Benson was a linebacker on  those Rose Bowl teams. He went on  to coach high school football, nine of  those years were spent here in Olivia  where he coached the Wildcats. He  led the Wildcats for nine seasons  before moving on. Later in his  career Benson coached Granite Falls  for four seasons where he now  resides. 


Renville County Register
816 East Lincoln Ave.
Olivia, MN 56277

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