In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Blade columnist Ron Musselman talked with Bob Momsen, a Libbey High School graduate who was a first-team All-American nose guard at Ohio State in 1950. Momsen later played in the NFL and coached at three Toledo high schools, as well as at Northland College in Ashland, Wis.
Bob Momsen has been rooting for his beloved Buckeyes for more than half a century after finishing his career at Ohio State in 1950.
This past weekend, he was one of 12 people inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Yesterday, Momsen and the hall's class of 2005 were recognized at halftime of the OSU-San Diego State football game.
Although he played on the Buckeyes' 1949 Big Ten co-championship team and in their Rose Bowl win over California, Momsen had appeared in just two varsity games for a total of 14 minutes entering his senior season.
He eventually worked his way into the starting lineup, and was one of 22 players who received first-team All-American honors from the Football Writers Association of America.
During the famous 1950 "Snow Bowl," a game that featured 45 punts and was played in single-digit temperatures, with winds approaching 30 mph and driving snow, Momsen blocked a Michigan punt in the first quarter, setting up a 32-yard field goal by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Vic Janowicz for OSU's only points.
However, Momsen's late brother, Tony, blocked Janowicz's third-down punt with 47 seconds left in the first half and recovered it in the end zone for the game's only touchdown. It lifted Michigan to a 9-3 victory, and sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.
OSU coach Wes Fesler resigned a couple of weeks later, and the Buckeyes hired Woody Hayes. Meanwhile, Momsen was a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1951. He spent one season with the Lions and was a second-team all-pro pick, but he was traded to San Francisco, and played two years for the 49ers before calling it quits.
He was hired as the football coach, basketball coach and athletic director at Northland College in Wisconsin, where he was introduced by Hall-of-Famer Red Grange.
After two seasons, Momsen returned to Toledo and joined the staff at Libbey, where he eventually became head coach. Momsen also coached at Waite and Macomber, and retired from there in 1980.
The 76-year-old Momsen is a member of the City League and Libbey halls of fame. He was an all-city and all-state performer for the Cowboys from 1944-1946, and also earned all-city honors in basketball.
Momsen, who served a decade as president of the Lucas County Ohio State Alumni Association and is still on the board of directors, lives at Devils Lake, Mich., with his wife, Lois. They have three daughters.
"IT'S FUNNY, I live in Michigan, and I love my wife and family dearly, but Ohio State is a close second. I have an Ohio State flag flying outside my place and I have a sign that says, "Buckeyes parking only." And I have an Ohio State license plate on the front of my car and a Michigan license on the back.
"Les Horvath came to Toledo to recruit my brother, Tony, when I was a junior. Tony was out with his girlfriend, so Les took me and Harry Broadway, we were the two tackles at Libbey at the time, out for ice cream, and that's when I first decided I was going to be a Buckeye.
"Tony ended up going to Michigan, but I wasn't about to go there. I spent four years at Libbey being known as Tony Momsen's little brother. I didn't want that to happen again, so I went to Ohio State."
"I PLAYED JUNIOR varsity football as a sophomore at Ohio State. I didn't become a member of the varsity football team until 1949, and my career really didn't take off until my senior year. Tony lettered as a freshman and sophomore at Michigan, but then he got kicked out of school because his grades weren't good enough. He went back to Michigan after two years and finished up.
"There always was a big rivalry between us. We fought every day of our lives, until after we graduated from college. The kids in the neighborhood used to sell tickets for a penny to watch us fight."
"THE SNOW BOWL was one of the greatest games of all time. They talked about canceling it all week, but then they decided to play it at the last minute. They had trouble getting the tarp off the field. In fact, it was frozen so bad, half of it was still sticking to the field during the game. They never did get it off. It was so cold, we had on long underwear, gloves, stockings and sneakers to try and stay warm.
"Michigan won the game without a first down or a pass completion. And Tony made a great play to win the game. Ironically, the year before, Tony was offside on an extra point and we got a second try at it. The game ended in a 7-7 tie, but that extra point enabled us to go to the Rose Bowl."
"I GOT A $500 bonus and was paid $5,000 a year after getting drafted by the Lions. We finished second in the league and we got $700 for it. I got to play with two more Heisman Trophy winners - we had Doak Walker and Leon Hart - and Bobby Layne was a great quarterback.
"But then I got traded to the 49ers. I got a $750 bonus and made $7,500 a year in San Francisco. But I had a wife and two little girls at the time, and I could make more coaching and teaching than I could playing professional football, so I retired and took the position at Northland College."