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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 69 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 70 maining its only trip to the Rose Bowl. Purdue missed on its opportunity to win the Big Ten title outright for just the second time in school history, as it had to share the '67 crown with the Hoosiers and Minnesota. "I remember at the time assuming that if we lost, I figured we lost the Big Ten championship," said Web- ster, who had a career as a teacher and coach in the Chicagoland area. "I didn't realize we were co-champs until we got the ring. "Being a Big Ten champ is a bigger thrill today than it was at the time. Every once in a while, I'll pull that ring out and think back about it. It reminds me we had a great team and also reminds me of all the great guys I met at Purdue. It changed my life." Yet, Kiepert recalled that there was good that came of the tough loss to Indiana. "Perry was the Big Ten's best fullback and Leroy's numbers are directly related to having Perry in front of him," Kiepert said. "After the game was over, we still hugged each other, we still loved each other. That was what was great about this team and remains so to this day." So it is not surprising that mem- bers of the '67 team spoken with for this story are an optimistic bunch and believe there are better days ahead for their beloved football program. Yet, they are also aware about how much times have changed in college football, and the ability to get to the heights that the Boilermakers did 50 years ago may not be possible. "I think they can break through, but it's certainly more difficult than prob- ably it's ever been," Cirbes said. "You have to get over that mindset of people not thinking about Purdue when they think about great football programs." And not surprisingly, Meyer says the key is in getting the best players possi- ble into the program. "It all comes down to recruiting and thinking outside the box," said the coach who recruited the likes of iconic college and pro players Otis Armstrong, Dave Butz, Darryl Stingley, Craig James and Eric Dick- erson in his day. "You have to get guys here that not only can play on Saturday but can play on Sunday. It is that simple." To Phipps, it comes down to coaching and leadership. "We had the best in Coach Mollenkopf, the best lead- er, the best motivator," Phipps said. "It takes great lead- ership and vision as Jack had and others like Jim Young and Joe Tiller have had since. "Purdue can rise again under Coach (Jeff) Brohm. Purdue has risen before, and hopefully if things fall into place it will rise again." j

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