"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
An mgoguest post by Greg Dooley of MVictors.com.
For those who haven't read an eBay Watch post, it started in late 2006 when I wrote about the auction of a 1901 season pass. The idea is to take a piece of memorabilia and then delve into the season or player to which it's tied. For this special mgo-edition, I'll look at a recent auction featuring two items from an event held thirty years ago celebrating Michigan football's first century.
On September 8, 1979 folks gathered inside Crisler Arena to hear speeches from Michigan legends and see the unveiling of special display cases, designed by local artists, featuring memorabilia spanning the 100 year history of the football program. The eBay auction included a ticket and the program from this ceremony.
The cornerstone of the centennial celebration was the memorabilia exhibit and to ensure it was done right, a Schembechler was asked to run the show. Bo was plenty busy with his team so his wife, Millie, took the reins as chairman of the Display Committee.
I stopped by the Bentley Library to view the archives preserved from the event. Bo's better half scoured the university and wrote to fans, alumni and former players to collect unique Michigan football artifacts from over the years. Over 500 players who lettered prior to 1950 were contacted for help, and Millie visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame for guidance. In the end, the exhibition included 18 display cases and 160 slides covering the first century. According to the Michigan Daily, the collection was open to the public before and after each home game of the 1979 season.
The Ann Arbor club’s debut
Another objective of the event organizers was to clarify what happened a century prior when a Michigan football team took the field for the first time. Thanks again to the Bentley Library we have some records on the 1879 team, including a team photo that reveals some righteous mustaches which almost draw attention away from the hats:
It was clear that the first game was played against Racine College, but there was some question as to when it was actually held. There was talk of having the teams meet in 1878 but ultimately the game was rescheduled for the following spring.
Data on the May 30, 1879 match, held at White Stockings Park in Chicago, is limited. A review of the Bentley records revealed an article (reproduced from microfilm) originally published in the Racine Advocate on June 7, 1879 that described the 1-0 Michigan victory. From the recap titled "RUGBY FOOT BALL - RACINE COLLEGE VS MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY":
Our Club [Racine] won the first "kick-off" and Mr. Parker sent the leather covered oval high in air and far over the field. There was a burst of applause from the grand stand which stilled as Campbell of the Michigan caught the ball, and at high speed rushed with it toward Racine's goal. From this time on our boys had the worst of it...
Through the first portion of play Racine had one gent with a "nose bleed" and another with a sprained ankle. Despite Michigan's dominance the game was scoreless. After a 15 minute break they resumed until the Victors prevailed:
In the second struggle the goals were reversed, and the same tactics were employed as before, the Ann Arbor Club on the offensive and our boys simply endeavored to defend their goal. Mr. Chase made an excellent catch from a Racine kick, placed the ball directly in front of the Purple's goal and Mr. D Tarr kicked the oval ball high and clean over our goal just as time was called. This ended the game in favor of Michigan...
No Offense, Fritz
Fast forward 130 years to last week's eBay auction. One of the items up for sale was a ticket to the centennial event which featured a couple major blunders, including one that must have caused a few attendees to grimace:
Yes, this happened. I don't know who chaired the Ticket Committee but calling the venue Chrysler Arena at the event celebrating the history of the football program is a major foul. It'd be one thing if this were a ducat for the annual Dance for Mother Earth Pow Wow, but come on. The topper? Fritz Crisler himself was an honored guest.
On top of the Chrysler misstep, you might have noticed that the ticket calls this the bicentennial banquet. The 200th celebration will be held seventy years from now at Rodriguez Pavilion and I'll see you there.
Sadly the program wasn't error-free either. Legendary player and coach Bennie Oosterbaan was referred to as Benny. The surname of Jackie Harbaugh, the mother of Ravens coach John and future U-M quarterback Jim, is spelled 'Harbough'.
Besides Bo, Oosterbaan, and Crisler, the attendees were treated to a few words from legendary radio voice Bob Ufer. Just seven weeks later he would deliver the most famous radio call in Wolverine football history. Here's a 60 second taste [more at ufer.org]; note Ufe's recognition of the centennial at the end:
Also scheduled to be on the dais was Kip Taylor, the man who scored the first touchdown in Michigan Stadium in 1927. Taylor was actually injured in the game and never played again, perhaps choosing to rest up for a life of free drinks, back slaps and banquet speeches.
The night featured men representing several eras of Wolverine football who, according to the Daily, "tried to capture the gridiron highs and lows of their own certain ten-year period." From the program:
Here's a little bit on each man on the list:
- Wally Webber: His surname is actually spelled with just one 'b' (if this were an episode of 'The Office' I'd be staring at the camera right now). I read a little bit about Weber and he's a real beauty, like the Yogi Berra of Michigan football. The bios and articles about the man are riddled with hilarious often self-deprecating quotes. Describing his role while playing with Benny Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan in the 1920s, Weber offered, "my sole function in the drama was to inflate the ball." He served U-M for several years as a coach, alumni relations director, color commentator alongside Ufer on WPAG, and of course, as a legendary raconteur.
- Willis Ward: The African-American end and U-M track star was Gerald Ford's roommate for road games and a member of the '32 and '33 national championship squads. This man's story deserves a full documentary or movie, not a blurb on a blog post, and it's safe to assume he gave some interesting remarks to the banquet crowd. During the miserable 1934 season, controversy erupted prior to the scheduled game against Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jacket officials made it clear they would not take the field against a black player. Protests ensued on campus and within the team (it's rumored that Ford threatened to quit). I've read that future famous playwright Arthur Miller, who was on the Daily staff at the time, tried to intervene. Eventually the game was played without Ward and resulted in a 9-2 Michigan win. [For more, here's a Daily article from 1999, and Ward's Wikipedia page.]
- Wally Teringa: The last name of the halfback for Crisler's 1947 and Oosterbaan's 1948 national championship teams is actually spelled Teninga. Ugh. Can we get a proofreader for the sesquicentennial? According to the Daily, Teninga spoke of the 14 All-Americans produced that decade and remarked how Crisler's teams "built both athletic and academic character." At the time, Teninga played for the last U-M team to claim a national championship.
- Roger Zatkoff: The linebacker for the Wolverines in the 1950s was later dubbed 'Zany Zatkoff' and is considered one of pro football's all-time hardest hitters. According to the book Football's Most Wanted, Zatkoff was once asked to wear a cowbell during practice so guys could hear him coming. It's also written that he kept a list of the players he crushed, so Zatkoff literally kicked ass and took names. Another beauty.
- Bob Timberlake: Quarterback for the great 1964 squad (ignored by HBO's 'The Rivalry') which downed Oregon State in Rose Bowl. A devout Christian, Timberlake is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a member of the faculty at Marquette.
- Dennis Franklin: The former Michigan quarterback is probably best known for his role in the great 1973 Michigan-Ohio State game which ended in a 10-10 tie. Franklin broke his collarbone shortly after scoring the game-tying touchdown. After the game a vote by conference athletic directors sent the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl with some ballots allegedly influenced by Franklin's injury. Bo later called this the biggest disappointment in his career.
- The auction of the ticket and the program fetched $12 when time expired on Thursday.
[Thanks for the help from Greg Kinney at the Bentley Library, Alex Prosperi at the Daily for the research, and Phillip Schneider who sent me the higher res images of the auction items.]
It was a pretty uninspiring start, and a fairly lackluster first period. The Wolverines trailed 1-0 late in the first and the LSSU Lakers were on the power play. It would have been natural for Michigan fans to wonder if this was going to be a "let-down" game after a couple of controversy-filled weekends.
But then Matt Rust broke up a pass, took it the length of the ice, cut to the net, and roofed one up over Pat Inglis with just six seconds remaining in the first period. The Wolverines carried that momentum over to the second. David Wohlberg and Luke Glendening scored in the first two minutes of the second period and it was all Wolverines from there.
Michigan outshot the Lakers 17-5 in the period and outscored them 3-0. It was the mid-third before LSSU could get back on the board, but the game was over by that point. Michigan wins 6-2 in a pretty dominating performance, first period aside.
The Lakers got on the board first with a great pass to Will Acton from Matt Cowie. Hogan couldn't get side-to-side fast enough to keep it out of the net. That goal came just seconds after Chad Langlais had rung one off the bar at the other end.
The lone bright spot of the first 19 minutes of the game was that Travis Turnbull and David Wohlberg were jumping. Wohlberg kept feeding him, and Turnbull kept having beautiful scoring chances that he couldn't quite finish. That line could've easily combined for three goals in the first ten minutes of the hockey game.
But despite a lackluster first period (and, at least from the sound on the internet broadcast, a pretty subdued Yost crowd) the Wolverines were able to get out of the first period tied, thanks to Rust's short-handed effort. That was the 7th shortie the Lakers have allowed this season. They're vulnerable back there and Rust made them pay.
Michigan gave the Yost crowd a lot to cheer about throughout the second period. Just over a minute into the second frame, Travis Turnbull fed a wide-open David Wohlberg in front of the net. Wohlberg buried the shot and Michigan led 2-1. And before the crowd could tell Inglis that he's a sieve and it's all his fault, it was 3-1. Ben Winnett won an offensive zone faceoff and Luke Glendening was able to pop it in. My video was buffering at the time, so I don't have much of a comment about that goal. (This would be an ongoing trend. I missed three of our six goals thanks to buffering issues.)
Our top two lines kept buzzing. Hagelin had a pair of chances, then Palushaj just missed. The other line came out and Wohlberg darn near put in another gorgeous feed from Turnbull.
Michigan received a power play (hopefully everyone took a picture) and promptly turned it over in their own end. Hogan made a huge save, and it's a good thing he did, because we came down to the other end and Caporusso scored his nation-best 21st goal of the season. Langlais found him with a cross-ice pass. At that point, shots were something like 13-1 in the second period and Michigan had themselves a 4-1 lead.
Hogan made a couple saves at the end of the period to keep LSSU from gaining any momentum and David Wohlberg had another strong effort on the penalty kill.
The Lakers took an ill-advised penalty just a couple seconds into a power play of their own, and Rusty made them pay again. This time on a 4-on-4. Hagelin fed him. I had buffering issues on this one too. That's five goals for Rust in his last seven contests, after just two in the first 18 games (and those were in the same game). He's on fire right now. This is the Matt Rust we needed to give us a legitimate second line. He's responding and the team is reaping the benefits. Our top two lines have really good chemistry going.
LSSU finally capitalized on one of their numerous power plays. Schofield put a wrister up over Hogan's arm just inside the far post to make it 5-2. That ended a very long PK streak by the Wolverines. We had killed off something like 29 in a row. Even with the goal, the penalty killing was stellar tonight. Hagelin and Rust are so fun to watch when they tag-team opponents on the forecheck. Wohlberg, Miller, Fardig, and of course the defense. Those guys all do a really great job. It's like night and day from the start of the season when we were at the bottom of the national PK rankings.
Hogan made a couple more big stops and then Winnett hit on a breakaway pass to Caporusso, who had just exited the penalty box. Caporusso popped one off the water bottle and the Wolverines pretty much had it in the bag. Caporusso and Rust both had shots at hat tricks, but Inglis made a couple of stops.
All in all, another really solid effort for the good guys. They were off in the first period, but Rust's goal gave them momentum and they kept it going by capitalizing twice early in the second. There was never a moment that I felt like LSSU was threatening to get back in the game after that. Michigan completely dominated the second period.
-Burlon and Summers were both +3 on the night. How sick is Michigan's defense corps when Mark Mitera comes back? They could put him with Steve Kampfer to have a dominating top two pairings. You know your team is good when Chad Langlais is your #5 defenseman. That's not even fair.
-David Wohlberg is awesome. He was everywhere tonight, had a goal and an assist, and turned in his usual top-notch performance defensively. Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, and Winnett were all really strong tonight.
-Speaking of Winnett, I've been really hard on him—and Red evidently agreed that he wasn't doing much, since he just benched him for four games—but one thing he does really well is make a breakout pass. He sprung Caporusso on his breakaway goal in the third period, and he also made the initial pass on Brandon Burlon's game-changing goal against FYS at Munn. I didn't see Glendening's goal, but it sounded as if Winnett deserved an assist on that one as well. It's nice to see him getting involved on the offensive end, because he came in with the reputation as a pretty darn good offensive talent.
-Caporusso's 22 goals lead the nation. I posed this question during the chat and no one really had an answer—I didn't either: Who is the Hobey favorite right now? There's no clear-cut choice. Maybe Jordan Pearce? I think you have to have Caporusso in the mix if he keeps this up. He's probably been a little too inconsistent to win the thing, but if he leads the nation in goals, he has to at least be in the Top 10.
-Hogan only faced 21 shots, but he made some top-notch saves tonight. He probably should've had the second goal (though it was a very nice shot), but he made some really big, timely stops.
-Notre Dame knocked off OSU in overtime, which was huge for us (especially since it didn't get to a shootout, so OSU didn't get a cheap point). Brian Aaron basically cost us any chance of catching ND, so it's nice that the Irish won tonight. We go 2 points up on OSU and have moved into a third-place tie with Alaska, who has played 3 more games than us.
Tomorrow night's game is at 7:35 Eastern and can be seen on Comcast 900 in Metro Detroit and the NHL Network in Canada. The game will air on the US NHL Network on Sunday at noon.
The author of this post normally writes at The Blog That Yost Built.
The hosts of this liveblog normally write at The Hoover Street Rag.
There's a Delaware State?
DSU is a historically black college located in Dover (the capital of The Small Wonder). The school has just over 3,000 students, making it slightly larger than Ann Arbor Pioneer. It was founded as an agricultural school for blacks by the Morrill Act when the doctrine of Separate but Equal kept them out of schools for white students.
Who are the Delaware State Hornets?
DSU's athletic teams are the Hornets, and their colors are Cherry Red and Columbia Blue. They compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) of Division 1-AA. Their football stadium, creatively named "Alumni Stadium" holds 7,193 spectators, by far the smallest of any team Michigan has played in the modern era.
Delaware State is not the 1-AA superpower that Appalachian State was in 2007. The Hornets are an average-ish team in the MEAC, and though they went undefeated in conference in 2007 (their only losses on the year were to 1-A foe Kent State and in the playoffs to 1-AA National runner-up Delaware (the first ever meeting between the two schools, something of a controversial topic)). This past year, however, the team went 5-6, missing out on the 1-AA playoffs.
What Should We Expect?
Head coach Al Lavan has brought a new era of respectability to the Hornets' football program, as the 2007 playoff appearance was the school's first ever. He is 35-22 in his four years in Dover, with the only losing season coming last year.
The Hornets finished 94th out of 118 1-AA teams in total offense, but their defense was stellar, finishing 13th in the country. That wasn't just a product of playing awful offenses from the MEAC, either, as many of them finished middle-of-the-pack or better in 1-AA for total offense.
As you'll see in a moment, last year wasn't exactly a rebuilding one for Del State: They will come into this year minus a ton of talent from last year's senior class.
The Hornets' pass offense loses 4-year starter Vashon Winton, and will be breaking in a new signal-caller. In addition, they lose 2 of their top 3 receivers.
Speaking of those receivers, one of them was departing tailback Chris Strother, who leaves, along with the next two top rushers, one of whom was Winton. Though I can't find any definitive info, the rushing yardage for a QB would certainly imply that Delaware State employs some type of spread offense.
Leading tackler Kevin Conner has graduated (along with fellow linebacker Jackie Watkins), and defensive back Avery Grant is the returning leader in that department. He is also the team's returning leader in tackles for a loss (that's right, as a DB), with a whopping 8.5. The defensive line loses a pair of stalwarts as well, with Ronn Spinner Jr. And Akiel Russell mobing on. The remaining starter at linebacker, Joe Mendes, led the team in sacks last year.
The distribution of statistic would lead me to believe that the hornets imply some form of spread defense, likely a 3-3-5 with Grant, the team's star, at Rover/Bandit.
This has been a first glance at the Delaware State Hornets, and I'm sure both Brian and I will give them a more thorough treatment over the off-season and leading up to the game.
The author is the publisher of Varsity Blue.
Michigan has announced its 12th opponent for the 2009 season. The Detroit News is reporting that Delaware St. will fill the remaining open spot on the schedule.
Luckily, it's not Delaware. Way too confusing with helmets. Delaware St. is a FCS school known mainly for the controversy of Delaware not scheduling them for a regular season game.
While a part of me wants to express outrage over scheduling a middling FCS team, a less indignant part of me would prefer a win by any means necessary. Western Michigan could be a tough game to open the season, and Notre Dame, in spite of horrible coaching, has solid talent. If Rodriguez can't up his win total a significant amount there will certainly be a bunch of business at Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork. I'm coming down on the side of this being a necessary evil and another easy $4 million for the Athletic department.
What do you guys think? Is Michigan at a point where it should try to be above the fray or should the schedule reflect the fact that this is still a rebuilding process?
There will be an informative update in a bit. There's actually a blog that covers Delaware St.'s conference. Awesome.