Dumler was the starting center on the 1970 and '71 National Championship
teams as well as the 1972 team that defeated Notre Dame in the Orange
interview was done on June 3, 2004, by David
Where are you from originally?
DD I was born in Kansas
but I grew up in the Chicago area. That's where I went to high school
and played high school football.
DM Who recruited you to
nobody initially. I was all ready to go to a small college in northern
Illinois or perhaps in Wisconsin but my dad taught at a small college
in Illinois and one of his colleagues there had gone to the University
of Nebraska. He went to the Monday morning quarterback clubs and he
went up to one of the coaches and said "Hey, there's this kid
in the Chicago area that your ought to take a look at." These
coaches probably hear that all the time and he said "Send us
some film and we'll take a look at him." We put together some
film of my senior year and sent it off I got a scholarship offer in
the mail. After that George Kelly and Bob Devaney came to the house
so George Kelly was probably the recruiter. I didn't need to be recruited.
They gave me the scholarship offer and I said "Hey, I'm on my
DM So you got the offer
before the personal visit.
DD Yes, I did. They must
have liked what they saw on the film. My dad must have doctored it
DM Were you a center in
high school as well?
DD No, I played defensive
end. That was before I hurt my knee which slowed me down a little
bit obviously. I then became an offensive lineman at Nebraska.
DM Were there other schools
that were recruiting you?
DD I got some letters from
other places like West Point and Dartmouth. I sent a letter to Alabama
because Alabama beat Nebraska twice in a row in bowl games in the
60's so I thought they were the cat's meow. They sent the form letter
back saying I was welcome to walk on, etc.
DM How were the practices
DD In spring I hated them.
They were 2 to 2 1/2 hours long and even though it wasn't very hot
is was tough psychologically because winter is over and it's spring.
All of the co-eds are walking around in shorts and I'm playing football.
In terms of difficulty physically, yeah, they were demanding but it
wasn't something that you didn't think you were going to make it through.
They worked it on what is the pro style of practice with stations
and a certain amount of time at each station. The whistle would blow
and your group would go to the next station and practice a different
aspect of your game. You kept moving all of the time. It's not like
you were bored and sitting around watching other people doing repetitions.
DM Is there a particular
regular season game that sticks out in your memory?
certainly my very first one. I was a sophomore and it was against
Wake Forest. It was my first baptism under fire in major college football.
It was a cloudy day and fairly cool for a September day in Nebraska
and we won handily. I think the score was 36-12. That was my first
memory of strapping my helmet on in the real deal. The next game was
a night game against Southern Cal in the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
We tied that game. That was just a terrific experience being on the
road in California and playing against them and it was an eye opener
for me as a young kid.
DM What was Jerry Tagge
like as a quarterback?
DD He was always in charge.
He set the tone for our offense. If you watch films of our era when
we scored a touchdown there was no jumping all over each other and
high fiving and everything. We just got up and went back to the huddle
for the extra point and I think Jerry Tagge set the tone for us because
in the huddle he knew what he was doing. He was in control of everything.
If it was third and one and we were going to do a quarterback sneak
not only would he make the quarterback sneak call but he would tell
me right there to make sure I got a good snap of the ball before I
started making my block. He was always reminding me and everybody
else of those kind of details. I can remember many times he would
be working on a sequence of plays and then Coach Devaney would send
in a player with another play. It would upset Jerry and he would have
a few choice words to say because he had a sequence planned and when
this new play would come in from the bench it would upset his plan
and he would get a little upset about that. That shows just how in
charge he was. He knew exactly what he was doing.
DM What about Van Brownson?
DD Well, you know, Van
didn't play a whole lot during those three years that I played. He
played somewhat but Jerry was the prime quarterback. When I did play
with Van he was also very much in charge. He was probably a little
better athlete than Jerry was. Jerry was just a big kid. He didn't
have great foot speed but he knew what he was doing and got the most
out of what he could do. Van was quicker and they both had a good
DM Did you play with Dave
DD My senior year Dave
was our quarterback. He was a sophomore then but even as a sophomore
he was in control. He would make some mistakes and say "Aw,
jeez, that's not going to work." But even as a sophomore you
could see that he was a student of the game. He knew what he wanted
to do and he had that good rifle arm with that left hand and he was
fun to play with.
DM Do you have a favorite
Bob Devaney story?
DD Well, I can remember
a joke that he told us but I don't think I can repeat it. He said
it in the context of a motivational thing. Midway through my sophomore
year which was the 1970 season we had tied Southern Cal but otherwise
we were undefeated and ranked up there in the polls. The moral of
the story was don't believe the "stuff", and he used a different
word, that you read in the papers. He was trying to make sure that
we kept our feet on the ground and leave the press clippings and things
like that. He told a great joke but I can't repeat it. He had the
whole team rolling at the end of practice.
Another thing I can remember
is my first trip to Nebraska as a recruit. I go in and I remember
reading in Bill Janssen's interview that he had the same kind of an
experience. You go in an sit in front of this throne where his desk
is and he proceeded to say "Doug, I think you can start as a
sophomore as a tight end." I thought "Great!" What
he didn't tell me was that Jim McFarland was the tight end who was
bigger and stronger and much faster than I was. There was no way that
was going to happen but I had stars in my eyes and would do anything
for the guy.
DM When did they convert
you to center?
DD They had moved me to
tackle because it was obvious that I wasn't fast enough to play tight
end and I was playing behind Bob Newton who was a Junior College transfer
at that time. It was my first experience at interior line but I was
just happy to be playing. I was behind Bob Newton who was going to
be an All-American but I was just happy to see some action. The previous
year's starting center graduated and they didn't have anybody groomed
so they moved me to center and I opened some eyes in the Spring Game,
not because I played so well but because I snapped a punt over Jeff
Hughes head. I recall Clete Fischer said that is was the high point
of the Spring Game. That was my redshirt year and then I played my
three varsity years at center.
DM Do you have a particular
Tom Osborne story?
DD He was our offensive
coordinator and like Bill Janssen said in his interview Tom was a
man of total integrity. You knew that what you saw from Coach Osborne
was what you were going to get. He was his own man. He did exactly
what he felt was right even though it may not have been the thing
that you thought was right and sometimes you wondered about that but
you knew that he was making the decision based on his moral beliefs
what he thought was best for you and for the team. You always could
count on that steady, steady hand that he had. We was also a brilliant
offensive tactician. He developed the offense that we ran in the 70's.
Before we ran nothing but the option we had a very balanced passing
and running attack. If you look up the statistics we would have 228
yards passing and 218 yards rushing. It was a very balanced attack
and, of course, we had Guy Ingles and Johnny Rodgers as receivers
along with Jerry List at tight end who still holds the tight end receiving
record. We had great running backs and the total package that Tom
Osborne molded into a balanced but wide open offense. There's no specific
story that I can tell you about Tom except that he was a very well
respected coach. Nobody ever said something bad behind Tom Osborne's
DM What were your best
Bowl Game memories?
DD It's a tossup. The first
one was against LSU for the first National Championship and it was
a great thrill. The next two were even better thrills. Alabama in
the Orange Bowl my junior year when we were the undefeated team of
the century against Bear Bryant, the legend. We beat them badly. They
said that Alabama was going to do the same thing to Nebraska that
they did in the 60's. Bear Bryant thought he was two steps ahead of
Bob Devaney in coaching decisions and we just spanked them in every
aspect of the game and that was a big thrill.
Growing up in Chicago I
had my fill of Notre Dame so my senior year it was a great thrill
to beat Notre Dame even though it was not their best team. To have
the Chicago paper reporters come to the Orange Bowl and interview
us and I remember them thinking these Nebraska kids were nothing and
we showed them how much Nebraska had developed and we beat them worse
than we beat Alabama. I think we set an Orange Bowl record for total
yardage that I think may still stand. Both of those Orange Bowls were
terrific memories. I still very proud of saying that we won three
Orange Bowls and beat Alabama and Notre Dame.
DM Do you still stay in
touch with teammates that you played with?
DD Oh sure. Jerry List
was one of my best friends and he and his wife died tragically in
that plane crash eight or nine years ago. Bill Janssen I still talk
to and see frequently. Alan Austin from time to time. Jim Carstens
was my roommate for three years and I got to see him in Chicago last
fall and I saw many of them last year back at the Husker reunion at
the opening game against Oklahoma State. What a treat that was!
DM I think they had 800
former players attend that game.
DD I think they said that
there are 1200 living lettermen and 800 of them showed up. What other
school or what other organization in this country could get that kind
of a turnout at that type of an event? That is just phenomenal! It
was just a joy to see some of these guys. Dick Davis was a senior
when I was a freshman. He probably doesn't remember me from Adam but
I remember when I was a freshman here was a guy who would go out of
his way just to say hi and smile and nod to you as he passed you in
the hall at class or something like that. That meant so much to this
freshman at a big university and I was just glad to go up and introduce
myself to him and tell that his friendly face meant a lot to me at
that point. There were so many others like that plus, of course, my
teammates that I played with and it was great to renew some old acquaintances.
You could see how some of us had aged and how some of us had aged
DM How was the transition
from Nebraska to the pros?
DD I was drafted by the
Patriots. Chuck Fairbanks left Oklahoma that same year and it was
his first year and he brought all that college rah rah to the pros
and it didn't quite fit. The Patriots were not a very good team at
that time I can remember distinctly a number of those veterans looking
at Fairbanks and rolling their eyes and thinking "What is this
guy doing?" Practices were brutal and I can say honestly when
I walked off the practice field when training camp ended my rookie
year with the Patriots I said something to a teammate to the effect
of "This is the last time I will ever go to a training camp."
I hated it that much. It was a different atmosphere altogether than
Nebraska. It's a business now. You get paid and it's your job and
your livelihood. It was cutthroat. It was a totally different scenario.
I was not a happy camper but I stuck it out and it got better. You
learn the ropes and you understand where everybody is coming from.
When they traded me to Minnesota it was like dying and going to heaven.
Minnesota was a veteran team and Bud Grant had been there for many
years. The practices were so much easier because there were so many
veterans that you didn't have to beat them up. They knew what to do
and knew how to do it. It was just a great joy to play with guys like
Alan Page and Mick Tinglehoff and Fran Tarkenton.
DM How many years did you
play in the pros?
DD Five all together. Three
with the Patriots and two with the Vikings.
DM Is there anything that
you would like to add that hasn't been asked?
DD Let me say this. I've
got a Super Bowl ring and I wear it from time to time and get comments
on it because it's obviously a head turner. People say "Oh, you
played with the Vikings!" I tell them that my biggest thrill
was when I played at Nebraska. I played in the pros and I got to play
in the Super Bowl and I played all over the country but the thing
that I am most proud of is that I'm a Husker through and through and
always will be. When they say there is no place like Nebraska it is
absolutely true. I am just real proud that I am able to call myself
a Husker and that I had that experience.
If I could go
back to that locker room before opening day and address that team
there is one thing that I would say it would be "Guys, you haven't
figured it out yet but you're going to get an idea what this team
means to the people of Nebraska and what the people of Nebraska think
of you guys. When you go out on that field there's going to be 76,000
people in that stadium and more than that glued to televisions and
radios hanging on every play, every step that you guys take. You are
that important to the state of Nebraska." I don't think I figured
that out until I was a senior. If I could impart one thing it is that
it is a great privilege to be in their shoes playing for the University
DM What are you doing now?
been practicing law since 1979 and my practice is in Ft.
Collins, CO. I do a lot of estate planning and I also do a lot
of worker's compensation for former professional athletes. I do a
lot of work for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Crush, the Avalanche,
and the professional soccer and lacrosse teams in Colorado. It's a
way to keep in touch with the athletic side and it's fun. I've been
married for 31 years and my wife Cathy is from Beatrice. She is the
third generation of her family that went to the University of Nebraska.
My sisters followed me to the University and our oldest daughter went
to Nebraska Wesleyan. I check out HuskerPedia every day at lunch time
and eat up all the articles that are on there. I'm going back to Lincoln
the end of June for the Bobby Hohn Memorial Golf Tournament. Bobby
Hohn was from Beatrice and my wife's family knew him and Cathy knew
him and I have a great picture of Cathy and Bobby at the Husker reunion
last year just a couple of months before he passed away. He was being
wheeled around by Dennis Claridge and I didn't know who he was and
I went over to introduce myself and he told me who he was. I brought
Cathy over and said "Do you know this guy?" She said "Oh,
Bobby!!" It was a good moment.
DM Doug, thanks for sharing
your memories with us.
This series of
interviews is being done in conjunction with the Bob
Terrio Classic on July 15th. Doug and Bob were teammates on the
the 1970 and '71 National Championship teams.