- Adam Rittenberg, College Football
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Minnesota's Rushmore truly tested my research skills, as almost all the viable candidates played or coached at the school long before I was born. It's both a testament to the Gophers' success as a national powerhouse in the 1930s and 1940s, and a reminder of the program's extended run of mediocrity ever since.
There are several slam-dunk selections here, but also I'm bracing for your e-mails. I'll post some Rushmore reaction from the first six teams on Friday's blog.
Bronko Nagurski -- One of the greatest players in Big Ten history, Nagurski won All-America honors at both tackle and fullback and starred for the Gophers in the late 1920s. A Hall of Famer at both the college and pro levels, Nagurski played on Minnesota teams that went 18-4-2. College football's national defensive player of the year award bears his name, and Minnesota football is headquartered at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.
Bruce Smith -- A dynamic halfback who did his best work in the clutch, Smith easily won the 1941 Heisman Trophy and led Minnesota to back-to-back national championships. Minnesota's only Heisman winner didn't lose a game in his final two seasons as the Gophers went 16-0.
Paul Giel -- Giel didn't play during Minnesota's glory years, but he won two Big Ten MVP awards as a standout halfback. The runner-up for the 1953 Heisman Trophy, Giel racked up 2,188 rushing yards and 1,922 passing yards after starting his career as a quarterback. He's a College Football Hall of Famer and one of only four Minnesota players who have their numbers retired.
Bernie Bierman -- The architect of Minnesota's dominant run compiled a 93-35-6 record during 16 seasons as coach. Bierman's teams owned six Big Ten championships, five national championships and five undefeated seasons. The mild-mannered Bierman coached 14 All-Americans and six College Football Hall of Famers.
Others considered for the Gophers' Rushmore included: Sandy Stephens, Bobby Bell, Tom Brown, Francis Lund and Tyrone Carter.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg Minnesota's Rushmore truly tested my research skills, as almost all the viable candidates played or coached at the school long before I was born.