The Wall Street Journal has an article today claiming that F. Scott Fitzgerald often called Fritz Crisler to give him advice on football strategy.
The calls came “between 12 midnight and six a.m. of the night before our games—not just sometimes, but practically every eve of every home game,”
“Sometimes he had a play or a new strategy he wanted me to use,” said Crisler. “Some of the ideas Scott used to suggest to me over the phone were reasonable—and some were fantastic.”
This all happened while Crisler was coaching Princeton, but the information came from a 1956 interview with Crisler in the Michigan Daily.
The author of the WSJ article suggests that Fitzgerald may have originally given Crisler the idea to play platoon football. Elsewhere, though, the article seems to say that Fitzgerald didn't really have it figured out. His big idea may have been a sort of bizarre reverse goal-line offense, where you would bring in an extra small lineup to try to punch the ball in.
Sorry if this is a repeat, but I didn't see the article linked elsewhere on the site. The article as a whole is well worth reading, and perhaps a timely reminder that an innovative offense is not alien to Michigan tradition.
When Brady Hoke was hired in 2011 his 0-1 record against Michigan, by way of a 2006 loss while head coach at Ball State, made him the first Michigan head coach since Gary Moeller in 1979 to have coached a game against Michigan.
Fritz Crisler coached the 1930 and 1931 Minnesota teams to losses against Harry Kipke coached Michigan.
Harry Kipke like his successor Crisler coached the 1928 MSU team to a 3-0 loss against Michigan. He became the head coach at Michigan the next season.
Frank Crawford became the first coach to coach against Michigan after previously being head coach in 1891 by leading the 1892 Wisconsin teams to a loss against his former team.
George Little joined Crawford by losing to Michigan as head coach of Wisconsin in 1925 and 1926 after previously being the Michigan coach in 1924.
Any other interesting Michigan HC Trivia?
EDIT 2: Forgot about Moeller at Illinois.
Michigan Today has nice story on the 75th anniversary of Michigan's iconic winged helmet. It includes the stuff we know (e.g., Crisler brought the wing concept with him from Princeton) along with a lot of stuff many of us didn't.
Introduced to MIchigan in 1938, this marks the 75th year of the winged helmet. The article has some curious assertions such as:
(b)ack then the headgear looked like the leather biking helmets favored by today's Tour de France riders
telling us the author (none other than FOB John U. Bacon) does not spend a lot of time watching professional cycling, but overall it gives a nice history of one of Michigan's defining symbols.
In a case of function defining form, the author relays that at the time helmets
typically consisted of a leather bowl with an extra pad to protect the forehead, from which three strips of padding ran to the back—all of it painted black. To help his Princeton quarterback identify his receivers downfield and give his team a little style in the process, Crisler simply painted the extra padding Princeton orange and—voila!—the winged helmet was born.
Princeton dumped the design in 1937 (before Crisler left), so I'm guessing Crisler did not feel bad about taking the innovation with him.
So rather than subjecting ourselves to more "Akron ... grumble, grumble" (I'm sure the UFRs can get us right back in that mood), enjoy a bit of Michigan football history.
Rather than engaging in the bouts of Hokemania running wild all over this site, or joining the numerous posters who seem to have forsaken Michigan for a love of RichRod forever-more (similar to my childhood fandom of "whoever Warren Moon plays for" after playing Tecmo Super Bowl as the Oilers), I decided to examine the rich and voluminous history of Michigan football to find some historical perspective.
While I bought in at the beginning of each of the last three years and convinced myself we were "just around the corner," I was disillusioned each year as the losses mounted and the victories failed to do so. I don't think the wins/losses did RichRod in, though - my sense from talking to other alums (and trying to track my emotional path through all of this) was that the sense of "time for a change" came less from the losses, and more from the MAGNITUDE of the losses. With that in mind, I first sought out a list of all seasons in which Michigan has been outscored by its opponents. There were twelve, which was actually more than I expected to find. The seasons (with coaches in parenthesis) were:
This list tells me a few things. First, having a season in which you were outscored by your opponent does not create a supportable assumption that you are a bad coach; if you remove the coaches on this list, Michigan's national championships decrease from 11 to 2. Second, having such a season does make it likely that you will be removed from your duties of coaching football at Michigan at some point; while Yost largely retired on his own terms, there was a movement to get the old man to move on by the time he stepped down. Wieman was gone after his bad season; while Kipke got a bit more rope because of his two national championships, his fourth led to his ouster as well. Oosterbaan's one season being outscored coincided with his last, and then Bump got a bit more rope...because he was cleaning up Bennie's mess? Either way, two for RichRod in three years didn't indicate a future of much success if you look at the historical numbers.
Next, I sought a way to quantify HOW MANY bad losses there had been; the three at the end of this year definitely wore on me, and so I looked at (a) how many games each head coach had lost by 10+ points each year, and (b) how many they did so on average. The numbers are as follows:
|Coach||10-pt losses||10-pt losses per season|
This chart was pretty striking to me; RichRod had more double-digit losses in three seasons than Lloyd had in his 13 seasons!! Also, while the likelihood of these events increased in the Mo/Lloyd years vis-a-vis Bo, they were still well below the Bump/Bennie/Kipke mark, and not far from Crisler and Yost's marks. Five per year more than doubled Bump Elliott, Michigan's 2nd worst coach (with regard to big losses).
Finally, I noticed that RichRod had 5, 4 and 6 double-digit losses in years 1, 2 and 3, respectively. I sought to put those in historical context; of the 110 seasons examined, there were only seven seasons of at least four double-digit losses in a season:
When viewed through this prism, it's much tougher to make the argument that the team was "competitive" and "just around the corner" the last few years - 2010 featured the 2nd-worst set of losses we've ever seen, eclipsed only by 1962. While improving from 3 to 5 to 7 wins seemed on its face to be "progress," the margins of victory and loss indicated otherwise - Michigan was soundly defeated in more games this year than in 2008. Three of the worst seven seasons (by this measure) don't point in the direction of a guy that should have been kept.
While we don't know what direction the team'll take under HOKEMANIA, we do know, at least, that our new coach has a love and appreciation for the history that is Michigan Football. Here's hoping we get fewer of these seasons and more that finish in Pasadena!
It's nine months until we get to see the football team play real games again, the basketball team isn't what we hoped for, and the hockey team is in serious need of defense. It's time to dream a little and speculate. Imagine the possibility of a return of the "Mad Magicians." In 1947 Fritz Crisler coached an undefeated team that outscored opponents 394 - 53. They employed a razzle-dazzle offense that often had the ball change hands three or four times on a single play. Here are some clips of the "Mad Magicians" in the Rose Bowl: http://mvictors.com/?p=519 Implementing an offense as amazing as this is unlikely to happen in one season, but imagine the possibilities for 2011. The following players have all played QB in high school, they all have speed, and I'm sure that old Fritz would find a way to involve them all. Tate Forcier Denard Robinson Jeremy Gallon Terrence Robinson Devin Gardner Dillon Baxter I realize that this speculation is merely fodder for my dreams of National Championships, but it would be fun, wouldn't it? Someone send Coach Rodriguez Fritz Crisler's old playbook, maybe he can work some of it in once practice starts. :) Disclaimer: I suspect some readers will somehow take this post as a criticism of the team or staff. This topic was provided for fun. I am all in, and don't believe a 1948 offense could actually work against modern defenses. I do however look forward to some of the gadget plays that will be implemented with the weapons we have. Go Blue!!