Bob Griese's departure following the 1966 season left a huge void for Purdue, and it was up to Mike Phipps to step into the spotlight and fill Griese's large footprints. Phipps did just that, leading the Boilermakers to three consecutive 8-2 seasons and establishing himself as Purdue's winningest quarterback.
Phipps was a solid contributor during his sophomore and junior seasons, guiding the Boilermakers to a Big Ten tri-championship in 1967 and back-to-back top 10 Associated Press national rankings, but his talents were on full display as a senior in 1969.
In the opening game of the 1969 season at TCU on Sept. 20, the fleet-footed Phipps became the first player in school history to rush for over 100 yards (104) and pass for over 200 yards (286). His five total touchdowns led to a 42-35 win. That performance was a preview of several outstanding games, including a 429-yard, five-touchdown passing day vs. 17th-ranked Stanford on Oct. 4 and a four-touchdown performance at archrival Indiana on Nov. 22.
Phipps finished the season with 2,527 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, both school records at the time. He also rushed for 218 yards and eight touchdowns. When the 1969 season came to a close, Phipps was named unanimous first team All-America and finished runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting, narrowly losing to Oklahoma's Steve Owens in one of the closest Heisman races ever.
Despite all of the advancements in the modern passing game, Phipps' name still appears in the Purdue record book. He ranks seventh in career passing yards (5,423) and sixth in career touchdown passes (37).
Selected by the Cleveland Browns with the third-overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, Phipps enjoyed a 12-year professional career with the Browns (1970-76) and Chicago Bears (1977-81). He amassed 10,506 passing yards and 55 touchdown passes.
Phipps' Purdue Statistics