The Minnesota football program has touted itself as six-time national champions since 1960. As it turns out, it’s been short-changing itself for five-plus decades. Minnesota owns seven national titles. The confusion arises because the Gophers were deemed 1904 national champions retroactively, but the school hadn’t been recognizing it. That team went 13-0 and outscored its opponents, 725-12.
How did this happen? Let’s take a look at Tyler Mason’s FoxSportsNorth.com story:
It happened last winter when Jeff Keiser, the creative director for the University of Minnesota athletics department, was helping renovate some trophy cases and displays at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. As Keiser searched for information regarding the Gophers’ 18 Big Ten titles, he stumbled upon something in the NCAA record books: Minnesota had actually won seven national titles, not six as previously thought.
“It listed 1904, and I was kind of curious. I’m like, ‘It seems like that’s a mistake,’” Keiser said. “I knew 1903 and 1904 were undefeated seasons and they were really good and we were dominating games. But I didn’t know we won the national championship.”
Nobody at the school did until a few months ago, as it turns out. Previously, the first national championship recognized by the university was won by the 8-0 1934 team. But according to Richard Billingsley, a college football rankings guru from Oklahoma who has been ranking teams since 1970, Minnesota was a champion 30 years before that — in 1904.
How crazy is this? Enjoy it, Minnesota fans!