Former MSU Coach Warmath Dies at 98

Former Mississippi State football coach Murray Warmath has died, the Associated Press has reported.

Warmath, 98, coached the Bulldogs for the 1952 and ’53 seasons, compiling a 10-6-3 record. He then went on to coach at Minnesota from 1954-71, winning a national championship in 1960 and leading the Gophers to two Rose Bowls.

I did a story on Warmath in January. And here’s a story today from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Warmath was a hard-nosed, often gruff coach who commanded the respect of his players and assistant coaches.

“There’s no doubt that he was in charge, and he’s one of those that he didn’t mind that the buck stopped with him,” former MSU player Bobby Collins said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Warmath, who died Wednesday night in Bloomington, Minn., was a beloved figure in the University of Minnesota community. The Gophers’ locker room is named after him.

The Humboldt, Tenn., native was a game-changer of sorts in another way: He was the first Minnesota coach to start a black quarterback, Sandy Stephens, and was one of the first coaches in the country to heavily recruit black athletes.

“If Minnesota let Sandy Stephens play quarterback, then we knew we could trust Murray,” former tackle Ezell Jones told the AP. “We knew that was a man who had a great deal of courage and character.”

Warmath, who played at Tennessee under Robert Neyland, was also an assistant coach at MSU from 1939-42.

Look for more on Warmath in Friday’s Daily Journal.

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