The year was 1967. Gasoline cost 33 cents a gallon. Elvis married Priscilla. And the Vietnam War raged on.
And in Minnesota sports, 1967 also marked this historic accomplishment: The Gophers were Big Ten football champions, something that hasn’t happened since. Minnesota went 8-2, 6-1 in the Big Ten, and shared the title with Indiana and Purdue.
On Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, the Gophers will honor that team during the Big Ten opener against Maryland. The ’67 team will be recognized at the first-quarter break of the 11 a.m. game. Beginning at 9 a.m. at the Gopher Garden, the team will sign autographs.
For coach P.J. Fleck, linking Gophers teams past and present is needed. “I think it’s incredibly important,” he said. “We talked to them today about embracing your past to create your future. We want to bring the championships back to Minnesota.
“… We want to make sure, when the 1967 team watches our game, they’re inspired. It brings them back to their day.”
That ’67 team, which did not play in the Rose Bowl because of conference tiebreaker rules (Indiana did), featured All-America defensive end Bob Stein, along with first-team All-Big Ten tackles John Williams and McKinley Boston and defensive back Tom Sakal. Tight end Charlie Sanders, who went on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was a second-team selection, as was guard Ed Duren.
Gophers quarterback Conor Rhoda admitted he didn’t know much about the ’67 team, but he appreciates its accomplishment.
“They’re the last team to reach that goal every team since then has tried to accomplish. We’re incredibly grateful to have them come here,” the senior said. “We want to be able to show them everything that we’ve done for the last eight months. ... Hopefully, we’re able to do that Saturday and show them that his program has taken the steps to get back to how it was back in the ’60s when they won championships.”