Minneapolis native Earl Martineau has been called the finest halfback in Minnesota's football history.
After graduating from Minneapolis West High School in 1917, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines during World War I. After recovering from wounds, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota and played for the Gophers from 1921-23.
As a tailback he called the plays, did virtually all of the effective running — as well as the kicking and passing. His gliding stride and depth perception enabled him to make long gains almost without help. Considered one of the top running backs of his era, he was equally brilliant as a defensive back.
According to the Minneapolis Tribune in 1972, a play by Martineau against Wisconsin in 1923 is part of Gophers football lore. In the game in Madison, "Badgers running back Rollie Williams broke into the clear with three blockers in front and only Martineau to beat. They moved to crush Marty but he, calling on his skill as hurdler on the track team, leaped overall three blockers and collided with Williams in mid-air. He thus stopped a 75-yard touchdown run and saved a 0-0 tie for a distinct underdog."
Martineau was named an All-America in 1922 and 1923. Martineau was also a standout in track and field for the Gophers.
Later he served as the head coach at Western Michigan for four years before serving as an assistant coach at Princeton and Michigan under Fritz Crisler. He was an assistant at Michigan when the Wolverines defeated Southern California, 49-0, in the 1948 Rose Bowl.