somehow we're only 124th
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.]
The rich history of Michigan stealing traditions may go even deeper than previously known. Michigan, of course, stole Cornell's hockey cheers and Princeton's winged helmets and West Virginia's coaches and, on three separate occasions, Notre Dame's dignity. And this is the first page of the 12th chapter of a 1960 book by Bear Bryant:
Insert Dave Letterman going "eeeeeh" and pulling on his collar here.
Not even I believe this. Ex-sign-gobblin' linebacker and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald pulls out the Playbook of Ultimate Boredom when quizzed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg re: Rodriguez:
I see you have a magazine on your desk with Rich Rodriguez on the cover. How will his arrival at Michigan impact the league?
PF: It will be a huge change for Michigan football. I've gotten to be around Rich a couple times and I'm very impressed with him as a person. I'm very impressed with his demeanor and his humility. A coach that who's been a head coach since a young age, has been very successful in his time as a head coach. The success that he had at West Virginia is incredible. To bring that mind-set and what they do to Michigan, it's going to be a great challenge for all of us. I'm not looking forward to competing against him. He's had great success. It's just going to take him a little bit of time, like it takes everybody when you go to a new university, to get all his pieces into place. But I'm sure he's got an acceleration plan to get that ready this fall.
Emphasis mine. Product Rodriguez's humility does not appear in my list of TOP 500 RICH RODRIGUEZ ASSETS. (All assets omitted are "Mike Barwis.")
1. Approx. 15 years experience as collegiate head coach
2. Modern, ass-kicking offensive system
3. "Coal spoon" mentality
4. Tendency to hire people based on qualifications, not friendship
5. Mike Barwis
11. Brandon Graham
23. Donovan Warren
56. "Lion King" joke he tells during press conferences.
110. Access to lifetime supply of hairspray.
124. Tight buns, according to my grandmother.*
234. $2 million dollar West Virginia home he will never ever sell
298. General lack of proximity to Mike Debord
343. Still-beating heart of West Virginia cheerleader
412. Pact with devil
499. Crack team of a lawyers who say things like "OMG he's a slave"
500. Agent Mike Brown.
*(Sadly, not really.)
Wisconsin 1999. Via the prolific Wolverine Historian:
"Rivalry" of a sort. Fanblogs compiled the top 15 most lopsided series (minimum: 50 games) and Michigan is on the good side of four:
15) Michigan-Purdue, 53 games, .770
14) Michigan-Iowa, 54 games, .778
11) Michigan-Wisconsin, 61 games, .795
4) Michigan-Indiana, 59 games, .847
#1 is Oklahoma-Iowa State, which Oklahoma is winning at a 92% clip; the only other Big Ten matchup in the list is #9 Ohio State-Northwestern.
Another 3:30 start. I hate 3:30 starts. You can't see the end of the noon games or (obviously) any of the 3:30 games or the start of the later games and in general I feel like I've missed a whole day of football whenever that goes down. So, like, bleah to Stadium & Main's clever breakdown of the possibilities for the Michigan-Michigan State game that leads inevitably to this:
Maybe there's an super-small chance that if both Michigan and MSU absolutely stink, the game will be given a Noon start on BTN, ESPN, or ESPN2, but that would mean no Big Ten 3:30 game on ABC - and I don't think that's ever happened, or is even allowed to happen since it probably violates the Big Ten's contract with ABC/ESPN.
And thus the conclusion that M-MSU will be 3:30 on ABC.
I think we can swing a few grand for edumahcation. If anyone ever tells you your plan to funnel more money to kids playing college football by extending their scholarships by a year or two is "too expensive" or something like that, please do me a favor and laugh in their face:
In just the last three years, assistant coaching salaries in the Big 12 have risen by almost 37 percent.
At OSU, that figure is a Big 12-high 65 percent, and would've been even higher had former Cowboy offensive coordinator Larry Fedora - who was making $393,000 - not left to be head coach at Southern Mississippi.
Once a bottom dweller in assistant coaches' pay, OSU, at $2.13 million, is now second in the Big 12, trailing only Texas' $2.38 million payroll.
The money goes somewhere, and increasingly it goes into palatial facilities and rich coaches.
That's what she said. A guy on MGoBoard points out that walk-on defensive back Jermaine Jackson is from Alaska, and he's not someone you want to mess with in the Eskimo stick pull:
University of Michigan defensive back Jermaine Jackson, a Bartlett High School graduate, won the Eskimo stick pull in an intense battle of leverage and strength against Matthew Evans.
In the event, two athletes sit facing each other with their feet together and knees bent and try to pull a short stick away from each other. Evans had a longer reach and a weight advantage, but he needed to defeat Jackson twice in best-of-three rounds. He took the first round, but Jackson won the second.
"What I was thinking was grip, all grip," Jackson said. "I was losing my grip in the first round."
Good news for Jackson: "Hold the rope" is one of Rodriguez's mysterious catchphrases ("spot the ball" is the other).
Odd demographics. This is probably not the exact right place to mention this, but if you live around MIS there's a charity raffle going on with this sweet hog as a prize:
Hello! I swear this idea was in the hopper long before the Wolverine Liberation Army came along and made MGoCommunism chic, but there's a new shirt available for preorder at MGoStore. It looks like this:
Now you can headbutt all your Che-lovin' hippie friends with the power of Bo.
The deal on shirts going forward is this: we'll put them up for preorder when they're designed. Preorders will be $3 off the regular price; when there are sufficient preorders to indicate demand the shirts will get printed up in an appropriate number and shipped out. Get to it, if you would.
Last November Lloyd Carr stood in a steel-gray Michigan Stadium to eulogize his mentor and friend Bo Schembechler. This is who Carr is when not beset by irritants on all sides; it stands as a tribute to both men.
Michigan is not going to replace this.
In many ways, Carr was an accidental coach. But not in all ways.