1939 Notre Dame Game
Iowa defeated Notre Dame in 1939, 7 - 6, in a game that many consider to be Kinnick's signature performance. Iowa's only touchdown was scored when Nile Kinnick switched to right halfback for the first time all season from his usual left halfback spot, and the Notre Dame defense was caught unprepared by the switch. Bill Reichardt, a terrific Iowa fullback who would later be named the Big Ten MVP in 1951, claimed that Al Couppee, Iowa's quarterback, was not in the game on that touchdown play.
Reichardt describes the touchdown this way. "They originally called right halfback Buzz Dean's play in the huddle. But Dean said, 'I can't take it. I've got a separated shoulder.' Then they turned to Kinnick and said, 'Can you take it, Nile?' Kinnick responded, 'I think I've got a couple of broken ribs on my right side, so let's run the play to the left side.'" This story regarding Kinnick's statement about broken ribs and with Kinnick, not Couppee, coming up with the idea for the switch to right halfback is particularly enduring.
It is unlikely that Reichardt’s story is true. His story is refuted by almost everyone on the 1939 Iowa team. Couppee states in his autobiography that he was indeed in the game for Kinnick's touchdown. Couppee called a rare huddle, in which Couppee called the play shifting Kinnick to the right halfback position. Teammates Erwin Prasse and George "Red" Frye substantiate Couppee’s version, but neither of them refute that Kinnick was injured on a previous play.
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