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"I figured I had to do it quick," he grinned. "I knew I wouldn't be in there long enough to do it the slow way."
But Bobby, who is constitutionally unfit for bench-sitting, couldn't grin very long, and within a week there were reports that he was thinking of quitting, of trying still another school.
"I didn't really blame the coach," says Bobby now. "He has always treated me real good. And Dick is a really fine football player and he had been around longer and knew the system better than I did. It was just that I wanted to play."
Against Illinois, in the fourth game of the season, Cox got his chance, and caught on fire. He scored two touchdowns, and his passing set up the winning field goal in the late seconds of a game which Minnesota won 16-13. And the next week, in the Little Brown Jug game against Michigan, Bobby ran for two more touchdowns and put on the most spectacular one-man show of the 1956 Big Ten season as the Gophers bowled over their traditional foe 20-7.
Minnesota finally lost one game, to Iowa by 7-0 (they were tied by Northwestern and Wisconsin), and with it both the Big Ten title, which has eluded the Gophers since 1941, and a trip to the Rose Bowl. But it was still a wonderful year for Bobby Cox. He led Minnesota in scoring and was one of the conference standouts in total offense with 793 yards. Perhaps even better, his teammates and coaches discovered that this very confident, sometimes even brash young man was actually not so unbearable after all.
"As a football player," says Dick Larson, who rooms with Bobby when the team plays away from home, "he is great. As a friend, he is even better. A lot of people said he was cocky when he first came here, and maybe to them he still is. But we know him now and we understand him."
As a football player, Cox has several great assets and also a couple of weaknesses, at least one of which is no fault of his own. He is a particularly outstanding runner for a quarterback, and the split-T offense which Warmath, an old Tennessee single-wing man, has installed at Minnesota fits Cox's ball-carrying ability like a glove. He has good speed and balance, follows blockers very well and picks his way nicely through a broken field. And when the going gets tough, Bobby doesn't mind ducking his head and driving.
"He's got guts," says Bill Murphy, who coaches the Gopher backfleld. "He may not be as quick as Larson but he is bigger [190 pounds to 175] and stronger."
Cox is also a fine passer, poised and accurate up to 30 yards and undoubtedly one of the best long passers in the country. The only trouble is that Minnesota, which has slow ends, does not pass deep very often.
"I like the split-T," says Bobby, "but you have to admit it isn't the best passing formation anyone ever invented. You almost never get to go back and set and look around and throw. You're always moving."