mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
In an annual tradition, the Thursday night before the Ohio State game, a group of Michigan faithful walk through the Ann Arbor cemetery, visiting the graves of Fielding Yost, Bo Schembechler, and Bob Ufer.
We meet at the Burton Clock Tower on Central Campus at 8pm. Some people bring flowers or candles, or nothing at all. Most people come decked out in Maize and Blue.
This is truly a moving experience, and one that I recommend for all who have a chance to attend. It's a solemn reminder of the reason we all love Michigan, and it really gets you in the mindset for the weekend.
The Ann Arbor Observer article from a few weeks ago (print edition) about Belford Lawson, the only African-American on the varsity football team under Fielding Yost, is finally available on the web.
I started a thread about the original print article a few weeks ago, but that is buried by now so I have started this new one.
For your listening enjoyment, Mr. Bob Ufer.
A Michigan football historical parallel I found interesting:
Fielding H. Yost died in 1946. The 1947 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 1947, Fritz Crisler handed the reigns to 42-year-old Benny Oosterbaan, who Crisler described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Oosterbaan proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by retiring Ron Kramer's #87 while he was still on the team. While Crisler had never had a season worse than 7-3 or finished worse than tied for 4th in the Big Ten, Oosterbaan had two losing seasons in his 11 years at the helm, as well as 6th and 8th place finishes to cap his tenure before handing off to Bump Elliott.
Glenn E. Schembechler died in 2006. The 2007 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 2007, Lloyd Carr handed the reigns to 44-year-old Rich Rodriguez, who many described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Rodriguez proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by ending the tradition of having season-long captains. While Carr had never had a season worse than 7-5 or finished worse than tied for 5th in the Big Ten, Rodriguez set the Michigan record for losses in his first season and then ...
Obviously the comparison is ridiculous (Oosterbaan did win a national title and 3 Big Ten titles; Crisler was the outside hire and Oosterbaan was a Michigan guy, whereas Lloyd was inside and RichRod was not), but here's hoping we're not heading for the 1950s and 1960s of Michigan Football (which included a span of 17 years with one Big Ten title from 1952-1968). I guess the bright side is that even if we are, history would indicate that this won't last forever, and that the next Bo is coming around...in 2028 or so?
First "Game" vs. Buckeyes:
Fielding H. Yost, 1901: W, 21-0
George Little, 1924: W, 16-6
Tad Wieman, 1927: W, 21-0
Harry Kipke, 1929: L, 0-7
Fritz Crisler, 1938: W, 18-0
Bennie Oosterbaan, 1948: W, 13-3
Bump Elliott, 1959: W, 23-14
Bo Schembechler, 1969: W, 24-12
Gary Moeller, 1990: W, 16-13
Lloyd Carr, 1995: W, 31-23
Rich Rodriguez, 2008: ________
Go Blue, Beat OSU!
So yesterday I used a power failure to finish up reading <i>The Big House: Fielding Yost and the Building of Michigan Stadium</i>. I thought I would share a couple of thoughts about the book.
Let me begin by saying that I do think that if you have any interest in the history of the Michigan football program, this book is a definite must read. The prose lacks a certain lyrical flow, but it is more than made up for in the exceptional level of research done. Drawing from Yost's letters as coach, AD, and his personal correspondence, along with extensive excerpts from <i>The Michigan Daily</i>, Dr. Soderstrom gives the reader an exceptional view of what it was like to be a Michigan football fan in the 1920s.
Which leads me to one of my favorite things I drew from the book: In 85 years, Michigan football fans (and college football in general) has changed immensely and at the same time, very little. There were academic wailings about the quality of student that was brought in to be a part of the football team, concerns about a stadium "arms race" among colleges, the concerns over professionalism and its impact upon the sport, concerns about student rowdiness at games and on road trips, the concerns about students using football games as an excuse to get drunk, and my personal favorite, the Daily repeatedly calling out the Ferry Field crowd for its lack of vocal and enthusiastic support for what were some great Michigan teams. So much of college football handwringing today is really nothing more than variations on a theme.
I also enjoyed the insight into Fielding Yost. We need never question where the popularity of the phrase "Michigan man" came from. It's clearly a Yostism. In dozens of letters and speeches, his focus was on the "Michigan man" (and woman, Yost's willingness to embrace a co-educational university and equality in physical education for women is a recurrent theme in the book.) I was also impressed with Yost's tirelessness, particularly in his advocacy for building Michigan Stadium, and the obstacles he was compelled to overcome to build it. Indeed, even the reminder that before it was Yost Ice Arena, it was Yost Field House is worth the time devoted to it, the first Field House in the country.
All in all, I enjoyed the book because I have an interest in the subject area, and the level of research more than made up for any other failings of the book.
Have a good weekend.
The Hoover Street Rag