Bob DeMoss: 1927-2017
July 23, 2017


Cradle of Quarterbacks


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bob DeMoss, a member of the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame and the patriarch of the Cradle of Quarterbacks, passed away Sunday afternoon. The affable "DeMo" was 90.

DeMoss initially gained fame as a freshman at Purdue in 1945. He helped the Boilermakers win their first four games and move into the national rankings at No. 9. Their next opponent was fourth-ranked Ohio State on Oct. 20 in Columbus. Purdue raced to a 28-0 lead and went on to an improbable 35-13 victory before 73,585 fans, the most ever to watch the Boilermakers at that time.

DeMoss went on to be Purdue's primary quarterback through 1948, passing for 2,759 yards and 23 touchdowns during his career, and then played professionally with the New York Bulldogs in 1949.

DeMoss subsequently embarked on a 42-year tenure at Purdue as an assistant coach (1950-69), head coach (1970-72) and assistant athletics director (1973-92). Along the way, he recruited and developed many members of the Cradle - Dale Samuels, Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps and Gary Danielson - earning fame as a "quarterback architect."

Twice as an assistant, DeMoss served as acting head coach for Jack Mollenkopf.

Prior to Purdue's game at Michigan on Oct. 21, 1961, Mollenkopf was sidelined with an intestinal ailment. DeMoss filled in for two games, including a 9-0 victory over fifth-ranked Iowa on Oct. 28 at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Hawkeyes were held scoreless for the first time in 79 games, dating to 1952, and DeMoss was honored as Coach of the Week by United Press International.

Mollenkopf missed the final four games of the 1968 season with acute infectious hepatitis. DeMoss again assumed control of the team, and the Boilermakers won three games to finish 8-2 overall and tied for third in the Big Ten Conference at 5-2.

Two days after Mollenkopf announced his retirement Jan. 7, 1970, DeMoss was named his successor, becoming the third and most-recent Purdue alum to serve as head coach.

In DeMoss' three seasons as head coach, the Boilermakers posted a 13-18 record, including an 11-12 Big Ten mark. On Oct. 3, 1970, Purdue upset third-ranked Stanford 26-14 on the road, earning DeMoss Coach of the Week laurels by UPI.

In 1972, DeMoss decided to instill the wishbone offense, which was growing in popularity around the country. But after the Boilermakers lost their first three games, he opted to bring back their conventional Power-I formation. Purdue rebounded to finish 6-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, good for third place behind co-champions Michigan and Ohio State (7-1).

The Boilermakers had a chance to at least share the title before losing to the third-ranked Wolverines 9-6 on Nov. 18 in Ann Arbor. On a third-down play in the first quarter, halfback Otis Armstrong appeared headed for a first down or perhaps a touchdown before slipping on the slick Michigan Stadium turf at the 8-yard line. Purdue was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Frank Conner, and the Wolverines won the game on a 30-yard field goal by Mike Lantry with one minute remaining.

DeMoss resigned as coach on Dec. 3, 1972. He was the last quarterback to coach the Boilermakers until current head coach Jeff Brohm.

Wrote Bob Collins in his book "Boilermakers: A History of Purdue Football": "The gangly, timid youngster from Dayton, Kentucky, had completed the cycle ... Purdue's first great quarterback ... the developer of All-Americans and right-hand man of Mollenkopf ... and, finally, the head coach. Few men have contributed as much, in so many ways, to a school's football program."

On three occasions, DeMoss was an assistant coach in postseason all-star games: 1960 Blue-Gray Game, 1967 Hula Bowl and 1968 All-American Bowl. He previously played in the inaugural North-South Shrine Game in 1948 and the 1949 Hula Bowl.

As assistant athletics director, DeMoss oversaw the baseball, men's cross country, men's golf, men's swimming & diving, men's tennis, men's track & field, and wrestling programs. Following his retirement in 1992, DeMoss maintained his residence in West Lafayette and was a fixture at Boilermaker games and other events. He was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.

DeMoss, who earned a bachelor's degree in forestry, is survived by his wife, Janet; children, Gary (wife, Laurelyn) of St. Charles, Illinois, David (wife, Jill) of Westfield, Indiana, and Jane (husband, Dave Baugh) of Evanston, Illinois; 11 grandchildren (Brandon, Matthew, Jonathan, Leah Peters, Lauren, Tyler, Ben, Pat, Katie Crabtree, Chris Baugh and Blake Baugh); and three great grandchildren (Wesley, Owen and Max).

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. ET, Thursday at Soller-Baker West Lafayette Chapel, 1184 Sagamore Parkway West. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., on Friday at The Federated Church, 2400 Sycamore Lane, West Lafayette. Interment will be at Tippecanoe Memory Gardens in West Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Bob DeMoss Endowment c/o the John Purdue Club, Mackey Arena Room 2200, 900 John R. Wooden Dr., West Lafayette, IN 47907.
 

 

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