Bernie Bierman – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Football Coach, 1927-31
Bernie Bierman, who was inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971 as part of its inaugural class, was born of pioneer parents on a farm near Springfield, Minn., on March 11, 1894. A 1919 graduate of Minnesota he had captained the 1915 Gophers who won the Big Ten championship.
Bierman began his coaching career in prep ball at Billings, Montana, and then, following his first tour of duty with the Marines in World War 1, he took over as head coach at the University of Montana in 1919.
After two years (1922-23) selling bonds in Minneapolis, he returned to his first love – football, serving as an assistant coach to Clark Shaughnessy, also a Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Famer, at Tulane in 1923. He spent two years (1925-26) as head coach at Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State) where he compiled an 8-8-1 record with a chronic loser, and then it was back to Tulane as successor to the departed Shaughnessy.
From 1927-31, Bierman’s Greenies posted a 36-10-2 record. His 1929 squad went a perfect 9-0 and earned an invitation to the Rose Bowl, but turned it down due to costs and academic considerations. Tulane posted an 8-1 mark in 1930 and then in Bierman’s final campaign, the Greenies finished 11-0 in the regular season with eight shutouts. That squad also received a bid to the Rose Bowl, this time the school opted to accept it and the Wave fell 21-12 to Southern California.
Bierman’s squads included three All-Americans in end Jerry Dalrymple and backs Don Zimmerman and Willis Banker – all three of whom are also members of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. After his tremendous success at Tulane, Bierman returned to Minnesota, his alma mater. From 1932-41 the Golden Gophers posted a 93-35-6 record and won five national championships (1934-35-36-40-41) and six Big Ten titles.