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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 65 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 66 Purdue 24, Texas A&M 20 Sept. 23, 1967 Cotton Bowl, Dallas Purdue holds off eventual Cotton Bowl champs for road win. No. 10 Purdue 28, No. 1 Notre Dame 21 Sept. 30, 1967 Ross-Ade Stadium Boilers make statement with second win in three seasons over No. 1 Notre Dame. No. 4 Purdue 25, Northwestern 16 Oct. 7, 1967 Ross-Ade Stadium A Championship Season Week- By-Week time, the conference allowed more than one team to play in the postseason. But the 1967 team was able to blend a group of veter- ans from the Rose Bowl team the year before with eight newcomer sophomores, including Phipps, who replaced All-American Bob Griese. And it did it with incredible success. Since the Associated Press began its polling in 1936, the '67 squad is the only Purdue team to spend the final nine weeks of the season ranked in the top 10. Yet, times were different then. There was no wall-to- wall media coverage in sports. In fact, Purdue played only one game on television that season, a 42-9 blowout win at Illinois. In the late 1960s, Purdue football was riding a wave it hasn't ridden since. The Boilermakers were an up- per-echelon program, not only in the Big Ten, but in the country. Purdue posted a 31-8-1 record from 1965-69 and had four consecutive podium finishes (first, second or third place) for the Heisman Trophy from 1966-69, the only school in college football history to do that. "We had it going on," said Leroy Keyes, who success- fully converted from defense to offense during his soph- omore year in '67, though he made cameo appearances in the defensive backfield when needed. "I was just one piece of the puzzle, but we had a team with balance and with lots of skill." Skill like no other team Purdue has seen. And Keyes was much of that, making the first of con- secutive All-America teams as a junior in '67, leading the nation in scoring with 122 points. In all, Purdue had eight first-team All-Big Ten players in '67 and four second-teamers. That hasn't happened before or since. For perspective, it's been 14 years (since 2003) since Purdue has produced the number of players who were selected all-conference in 1967 alone. But those who were there have memories that go beyond names and games. There were lifetime friend- ships forged, some from places one might not expect. Phipps, who won the quarterback job in fall camp be- fore the '67 season, still has a lifelong friendship with his understudy, Don Kiepert. While Phipps went on to a long NFL career, Kiepert earned his pharmacy degree and used it to become a medical entrepreneur, enjoying a highly successful professional career. "One of the big differences between Mike and I, de- spite four inches and 20 pounds, was that he loved to block," Kiepert said in June. "We had Leroy, and we ran that toss-sweep play. Mike would come around the cor- ner and the linebackers would think, 'Oh here comes this quarterback.' He would lay them out, and he loved it. I really think he liked that more than throwing a touchdown pass." Even Ron Meyer, the 26-year-old receivers coach who later held multiple head coaching positions in college and the NFL, questioned the coaches' judgment of hav- ing Phipps out front. "We were so dumb as coaches that we didn't real- ize we put him in harm's way as a blocker," Meyer said from his home in Texas. "I just remember in his first game at Texas A&M, he was leading the way on the toss sweep. It kind of just happened." And it happened a lot. Keyes made the most of being turned loosed on

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