By Randy York
Doug Dumler played a critical role in Nebraska’s 1971 Game of the Century. Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne recalls how Oklahoma played a middle linebacker during Nebraska’s last offensive series that produced Jeff Kinney’s fourth touchdown in a 35-31 win over Oklahoma. Osborne, Bob Devaney’s offensive coordinator in ’71, coached the fullback to go one way, and the I-back would carry the ball the opposite way to neutralize the middle linebacker. “Because of the split backfield, the middle linebacker didn’t know which way to flow, so our center (Dumler) could get off and go block him,” Osborne said. “A lot of Jeff Kinney’s yards on that last drive were on that counter dive.”
Now an attorney who lives in Ft. Collins, Colo., Dumler went on to become a co-captain of the ’72 team and play five years in the NFL – three with New England and two with Minnesota. Funny what players remember 40 years later. “It was the most amazing thing,” Dumler recalled. “Right before that last drive started, they called a TV timeout. I was standing on the field and happened to look over behind the Oklahoma bench and out of 65,000 people in the stadium, I see my brother and his wife. I had no idea where they would be sitting. We couldn’t believe we connected with each other. I gave him the old No. 1 sign, and he gave it right back.”
Through all these years, Dumler has maintained a close friendship with Mike “Red” Beran, a walk-on from Ord, Neb. Beran was an inspirational teammate that played a lot as a second-team guard in ’71 before becoming a starter next to Dumler when both became seniors in ‘72, Bob Devaney’s last season as head coach. Beran chronicles that historic ‘71 team and takes it upon himself to shoot most of the reunion photos, so we thought it would be nice to feature him in one.
“The memory that still sticks with me is just how many great players there were on that ‘71 team,” Beran said. “The most difficult part of the season was competing against those guys on a daily basis, especially in scrimmages. If you did well against them, you were ready to face any opponent with total composure. That made playing against other teams a relatively easy task and manifested itself in so many lopsided wins that season.” What was true in ’71 is still true now: Weekday battles produce weekend warriors.
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Voices from Husker Nation
It’s so cool to read these stories on blasts from the past and how they played and what they remember. You can tell they bonded well, cared for each other and played for each other. What a staff Bob Devaney had, and that goes well beyond Tom Osborne and Monte Kiffin. Susan Phillips, Denver, Colorado
A walk-on from Ord started on Bob Devaney’s last team. Wow, especially when those were the days of almost unlimited scholarships! Mike Green, Des Moines, Iowa
Reading this article took me back to 1971. I graduated from Wyoming and got a job at an accounting firm in Albuquerque. The secretary for the partner in charge was Emily Dumler, Doug’s sister-in-law. Each Monday after Saturday’s games, we would discuss the outcome, and she would pass along comments that Doug had made to them. It was great having a Cornhusker so close to the program and in the same firm. She was a neat lady. The day before the Game of the Century, I was auditing in Roswell, N.M. and after work I drove from southeast New Mexico to Brush, Colo., arriving in the middle of the night to meet at a family gathering. We watched the game and celebrated the championship with bumper stickers that proclaimed we were No. 1. Thanks for the article. Randy G. Schmidt, CPA, Scottsbluff, Neb.