October 26, 2012
A look back: Shoeless Otis
Every game has a back story. Or two.
The last time Purdue beat Minnesota in Minneapolis in a game played outside was a long time ago
as in 40 years ago. It didn't qualify as a momentous victory. There were no last-second comebacks, or any real drama.
Purdue dominated on Oct. 14, 1972 like the Boilermakers hope to on Oct. 27, 2012. The Boilermakers rolled to a 28-3 win over the Golden Gophers, in front of 37,287 fans in old Memorial Stadium. Despite future college football Hall of Famer Otis Armstrong's individual performance, the game was on the mundane side
Simply stated, Purdue dominated on Oct. 14, 1972 like the Boilermakers hope to on Oct. 27, 2012.
But when you ask three of Boilermakers who were part of the game, they have distinct memories, even four decades later. And each had one constant in their recollections.
"I just remember the awful gold jerseys they had," said Rich Ostriker, a starting offensive guard for Coach Bob DeMoss' third and final team at Purdue.
"There were about as ugly as they can get.
Armstrong remembered the same.
"Their new coach (Cal Stoll who was in his first year at his alma mater after a stint at Wake Forest) wanted to bring the golden back to the Golden Gophers, but he missed the mark with those uniforms."
Even DeMoss, who has a great memory for play calls and specifics in the game, but rarely for topics like uniforms or the ancillary aspects of college football, recalled the jerseys vividly.
"They were awful," said DeMoss.
One thing that wasn't awful was the play of Armstrong. Purdue's most recent consensus All-American running back earned that achievement in 1972 thanks to games like he had that day against the Gophers. He rushed for 152 yards on 25 carries and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. And he did it wearing DeMoss' shoes.
Armstrong had forgotten his football shoes back in West Lafayette. DeMoss remembered seeing his star player on the field in his stocking feet.
"What else was I going to do? I gave him my coaches shoes," DeMoss said yesterday with a laugh. "I went back in the locker room and got some dress shoes to wear. It was cold up there and I had to put something on my feet.
"I remember telling Otis during the game, 'you keep running like that, and you will stay warm."
"I remember feeling funny wearing those shoes, but they had a groove on the sole that game me enough traction on them to work on the artificial surface," Armstrong, who finished at Purdue as the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,315 yards, said.
But the Boilermakers' passed for 11 yards. Yes 11. Quarterback Gary Danielson, who had led the league in passing the year before and tossed for 300 yards against the Gophers before he was injured, completed one pass in seven tries. Purdue was transitioning from the wishbone offense installed early in the year to a two-back set. An early-season injury to Armstrong's fellow Chicagoan Darryl Stingley had slowed the Boilermakers progress.
"We missed Darryl early on," said of his late close friend.
Stingley, who later became an NFL standout with the New England Patriots before being paralyzed following a hit by Jack Tatum in a exhibition game in 1978, played in the game of the season gaining 27 yards in five carries. The '72 Boilermakers were arguably talented as Armstrong, Stingley and Dave Butz were all drafted in the first round, the only time the Boilermakers have had three first-rounders in a draft.
The defense was stout and was the story of much of the season. It never gave up more than 22 points in a conference game, and it showcased more talent than just Butz. It also had future NFL standout linebacker Gregg Bingham, and journeymen defensive ends Steve Baumgartner and Gary Hrivnak (though Hrivnak started the '72 season at tight end) as key players. Even defensive backs Billy Knox and Carl Capria played for several years in the NFL. The Boilermakers had shutout Iowa in Iowa City in the conference opener the week before limited the Hawkeyes to just 84 yards in total offense. It would shutout Northwestern the week after the Minnesota game and hold Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana to single digits in the final three games of the year.
And it was also from the defensive that came one of Ostriker's most vivid memories from the game. Boilermaker defensive end Steve Baumgartner, just happened to be the nephew of Stoll. Baumgartner and Ostriker were recruited by Stoll when Stoll was at directing the Wake Forest program.
"I just remember Steve making a play in front of their sideline, and Stoll cursing him out," Ostriker said. "Steve yelled back at him something like 'hey Uncle Cal, why are you swearing at me?'
"We still laugh about it 40 years later."
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