mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
This question arose from the recent trend by the local MSM to predict a renaissance in MSU football under Mark Dantonio. The more bold of the MSU faithful have even dared to predict a reversal in the balance of power of college football similar to what was seen in the 1950s and the 1960s when MSU was a national power and Michigan was a middle of the pack Big 10 program.
Now it's been well-documented that MSUs rise to prominence in this era was fueled by the recruitment of African-American talent from the Jim Crow south. Segregation of southern universities and football programs provided for a vast talent pool of black players that coaches like Duffy Daugherty tapped. Once these southern schools embraced integration, this exodus of southern black talent was reduced and the MSU football program returned to being a mid-tier Big 10 program.
The conclusion we can draw from this is that MSU today is unlikely to surpass Michigan since the special social forces that assisted MSU to prominence before, no longer exist. The inherent assumption in this statement is that Michigan will more often than not, outrecruit MSU for talent based on it's higher national profile.
The contradiction to this assumption though is why wasn't this the case in the 1950s and 60s? Michigan was still Michigan in those days, yet MSU was able to draw talent from the south and Michigan appears to have not followed suit. Researching teams from that era, Michigan did not seem to be segregated as there were black players on both Bennie Oosterbaan and Bump Elliott's squads which would seem to rule out any kind of institutional racism.
I'm wondering is there are any MGoHistorians out there who can answer this question. Did Michigan fall behind MSU because we didn't embrace diversity? Our academic standards were higher for incoming athletes? Lack of institutional support for athletics? Or was it just plain bad coaching/recruiting? Does some sort of silver bullet exist to explain this dark period in Michigan football history?
Click and learn how all the athletic material got/gets into the Bentley Library. Feel the love for old paper and pics.
Home Blog contains my scoring system and the schedule of events, as well as the top classes I have done so far.
Purdue's rosters got here Monday. Good thing. Means that I can start working on them and actually get some information. I have back to WWII, minus a few years, so that's good.
I'm going to stop summarizing with my first paragraph at the bottom. You can all figure out what the numbers mean.
This is my second of two Michigan classes in a row, and then I'm going to try to find enough information to do the next one down on my list... we will see how that goes, really. Playing it by ear on schools not named Michigan (or Purdue now).
Set the Stage:
Head Coach: Bo Schembechler (1989), Gary Moeller (1990-1993)
1988 Performance: 9-2-1, AP 4th, Big Ten 1st
New Blood: 19
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 1989 was recruited off of what had been a standard 9-win Big Ten Title season. The class was strongly balanced, with a good mix of every position. I do not know if Bo thought this was his last season by the time this season started, but it is clear that he was intending on leaving a strong foundation for his successor.
How They Did:
Overall Record: 46-11-3
Varsity Letters: 46
Graduated on Team: 16
Started a Game: 10
Full Eligibility: 12
5th Year Seniors: 10
- Derrick Alexander, WR, All-American 1992, All-Conference 1992 1993
- Tony McGee, TE, All-Conference 1992
- Buster Stanley, DT, All-Conference 1993
- Derrick Alexander, 1994, 1st Round, 29 Overall
- Tony McGee, 1993, 2nd Round, 37 Overall
So, besides being the year I was born, 1989 is famously known as the year after Desmond Howard was recruited, or Bo's last year coaching. That's about it. The class produced two draftees, but they went in rounds 1 and 2, so that is redeeming. One All-American honor was awarded, to Derrick Alexander, who also was All-Big Ten twice and a first-round draft pick. Alexander was solely responsible for .0700 points of this class, giving the class a strong boost. This class only started 15.9% of possible starts, implying that the surrounding classes will be much stronger.
This class also had a very weird senior season Senior season (9-0-3), and a weak 5th Year (8-4-0). When I get more data points, I'm going to try to link 4th year record to recruiting score, so I'd consider their senior year to be 10.5 wins.
So at this point I am having many issues with finding enough information for schools not named Michigan before 2004. I've had to skip one Penn State class and am sure I'll have to do it with other schools. Fortunately, Purdue and Minnesota are mailing me their information. I've got requests out at many schools trying to get information. So at this point, I've got two Michigan classes in a row, and then back to the grind of finding information. Enjoy.
Edit: It's randomly bolded, and I can't get the editor here to unbold parts of it. I give up again. When I write my posts in dreamweaver they are supposed to come out perfectly!
Set the Stage:
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
2001 Performance: 8-4-0, 2nd Big Ten, 20th Overall
New Blood: 23
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 2002 class was recruited off of a mediocre 8-4 campaign in 2001, which succumbed to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. Lloyd aimed for a very balanced class here, though a light on the line on both sides of the ball. The emphasis on skill positions was expected to pay off in spades. This class contained 13 in-state players, showing Lloyd's preference for Michigan Men to come from Michigan.
How They Did:
Overall Record: 47-16
Varsity Letters: 61
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 17
Full Eligibility: 15
5th Year Seniors: 12
- Jason Avant, WR, All-Conference 2005
- Dave Harris, ILB, All-Conference 2006
- Gabriel Watson, DT, All-Conference 2005 2006
- Jason Avant, 2006, 4th Round, 109 Overall
- Steve Breaston, 2007, 5th Round, 142 Overall
- Dave Harris, 2007, 2nd Round, 47 Overall
- Gabriel Watson, 2006, 4th Round, 107 Overall
Of the 23 students drafted, 18 graduated, 17 started a game, 15 used their full eligibility, and 12 played as redshirt seniors.
I think this class justifies the use of the man-game starting ratio. This team had an extremely weak starting percentage, barely over 15%, but a high winning percentage, ~75%. The senior season, at 7-5, reflects the starting percentage well. All other classes for Michigan within this time period should have a higher starting percentage, and better senior seasons. This was nowhere near Carr's best performing class.
The lean of this class was towards its skill players in recruiting, and a couple of strong players came from it. Steve Breaston and Jason Avant were both strong receivers and anchors for their senior campaigns. However, the linemen, even though they had less presence, had 43% of the starts for the class. Gabe Watson, DT, won two All-Conference First Team honors, and was drafted just before Jason Avant in the '06 draft. Of the skill players, only two wide receivers an an inside linebacker (Dave Harris) stood out, while Gabe Watson, Reuben Riley, Mark Bihl, and Rondell Biggs all became strong presences on the line during their respective senior campaigns.
Welcome to my new way of doing things.
I have begun a new blog, covering the recruiting history of all of the schools in the Big Ten. The rules for how I am doing things can be found there, as well as the schedule of events. Every Michigan post will be cross-posted here, for your viewing pleasure. If there is an especially impressive class at another school, I will also post it here, with plenty of added references and M comparisons and what-not.
Set the Stage:Coach: Bo Schembechler
1980 Performance: 10-2, Rose Bowl Victory, Final Ranking: 4th National, 1st Big Ten
1981 New Blood Count: 24
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 1981 class was recruited coming off of the wings of a great 1980 season, which culminated in a Rose Bowl win. The class included 12 offensive and 12 defensive players, a very balanced 24-man class. The lack of a quarterback is explained by the presence of Steve Smith, who was the starting QB for most of the games for the first 3 seasons of this class. There was obvious weakness in both the linebacker and offensive line cores, which Bo hoped to fill with this class.
How They Did:Overall Record: 42-17-1
Varsity Letters: 56
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 15
Full Eligibility: 11
5th Year Seniors: 8
- Kevin Brooks, All Conference 1983 1984
- Brad Cochran, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Hammerstein, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Eric Kattus, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Mallory, All-Conference 1984 1985
- Clay Miller, All-Conference 1985
- Alan Sincich, All-Conference 1983
- Kevin Brooks, 1985, 1st Round, 17th Overall
- Brad Cochran, 1986, 3rd Round, 80th Overall
- Mike Hammerstein, 1986, 3rd Round, 65th Overall
- Eric Kattus, 1986, 4th Round, 91st Overall
- Clay Miller, 1986, 12th Round, 306th Overall
Of the 24 players recruited, 18 made it to graduation as members of the team. 15 made starts, and 11 played for their full four years.
The worst year for this class was in its senior year, 1984, when 12 players from the class made 114 starts and the team went 6-6. 1985 was an excellent year, in which 5 of the 8 remaining redshirt senior players made All-Conference and two made All-American honors (both of whom could have gone on to be cops). The 1985 team made it to the Fiesta Bowl, which they won, bringing their final record to 10-1-1. The caliber of the players in this class was sub-par compared to years surrounding it, shown by the general mediocrity of the team’s record.
Unfortunately for Bo, only 3 of the 7 OL recruits made any starts, one of which made one, one of which was a starting senior, and one of which converted to a DT and became an All-American. 5 of the 7 LB recruits made impacts on the team.
The shining point of this class was the defense. Of the 322 starts the class made, 201 were on defense. The two All-Americans were Brad Cochran, DB, who made 36 straight starts in his last 3 years, and Mike Hammerstein (Magnum, P.I.?), DT, who was MVP of the 1985 defense, which allowed a whopping 8.1 ppg. The three defensive players who were drafted went in the 1st, 3rd, and 3rd rounds.
Overall, the 1981 class built a strong defensive core, which allowed Bo to focus on the offense in the next year's class.
Asked by a judge for whom I intern to assemble a collection of newspaper clippings from the early 1940s pertaining to Detroit councilmen who were bribed and ultimately imprisoned [Edit - this project was solely for the judge's amusement, the idea was NOT to inform any current proceedings. This was NOT legal research.], I happened to notice the name "Harmon" on a 1941 Detroit Free Press paper:
The main article reads:
"Harmon Saves Press Agents; Meets Actress at Deadline
The Detroit Free Press - Friday, September 19, 1941
A motion picture actress arrived at City Airport Friday and --
surprise! Tom Harmon was there to greet her.
Harmon, an obliging fellow who seldom tells a press agent where to
head in, has in recent months been photographed meeting (1) Anita
Louise, who accompanied him to the U. of M. senior ball; (2) Elyse
Knox, a move starlet in whom he declared he really had a romantic
interest; (3) Miss Everlyn Keyes, Thursday's arrival.
Miss Keyes, a brown-eyed blond who will join Harmon Friday in a
personal appearance in connection with their current films, almost
arrived without benefit of the All-American halfback.
Ten minutes before plane time, a cordon of press agents was combing
the airport station for Harmon.
"I told him to be here," one of them said distractedly between the
search of the airport restaurant and the men's lounge. "Besides, he
got a wire from the coast.
Harmon arrived as the orchid-bedecked Miss Keyes alighted from the plain.
"Is it romance this time?" a newly arrived reported asked hopefully.
Both principals shook their heads.
"She probably has 5,000 fellows on the coast," Harmon said.
"There's no romantic content in our relationship at all," Miss Keyes said.
The press agents began a hunt for the limousine, complete with driver,
which had been ordered for the occasion. It was missing, so Miss
Keyes went to the Hotel Book-Cadillac in Harmon's roadster."
Good for him, eh? Oddly placed in the midst of this article, however, is another about Harmon:
"Draft Deferment Denied
GARY, Ind., Sept. 18 -- (UP) -- Tom Harmon, Michigan's football hero,
tonight was denied a request for a 3-A draft deferment and was subject
to immediate call to service provided he pass his physical
examination, local Draft Board officials announced."
Beyond Harmon himself, there's an interesting link between the two articles that I stumbled upon by chance when I Googled the three young ladies mentioned in the main article.
As far as I can tell, a 3-A draft deferment is contingent upon "hardship to dependents." Who might those dependents have been?
Well, when Harmon entered the military, it was at the expense of his engagement to Elyse Knox, the second woman mentioned in the main article; they called off their engagement upon his draft. Might Harmon have sought the deferment in order to maintain this engagement?
In any case, there's a happy ending: During Harmon's stint in the military, Elyse married and divorced. Upon Harmon's return, the two rekindled their engagement, and were wed. Her wedding dress was made out of the silk from the parachute Harmon used as he famously bailed out of his crippled plane. The pair stayed together until his death in 1990.
Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool.
I also liked when Harmon called Miss Keyes a slut.