As if winning national championships was hard enough as it is, Michigan, along with all other cold weather teams, have an even more difficult row to hoe. This aspect of winning championships has been somewhat addressed on this blog before. (See: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/michigans-geographical-disadvantage) While recruiting might weigh heavily into this equation, it is not the main thrust of this article. This is just a
comparison between Warm Weather Teams and Cold Weather Teams. The results seem to be quite significant.
First of all, my comparison for the most part involves teams from 1940 forward. Prior to 1940, Warm Weather Teams won only 8 out of a possible 64 titles (12.5%). I don’t know if this date is the Official Demarcation point. Its just the one I chose.
I also made a somewhat arbitrary choice when it comes to categorizing the teams.
The following are the teams I designated as Warm Weather Teams:
Maybe Texas should be in that bunch, but I figured it gets cold enough in Texas for enough of the season to qualify as a Cold Weather Team. Ditto, Oklahoma.
The following is a list of the Cold Weather Teams:
In ten year increments since 1940, this is how it pans out:
30 Since 1940 Warm Weather Teams
39 Since 1940 Cold Weather Teams
40.6% Since 1940 Percentage of National Championships
30 Since 1950 Warm Weather Teams
29 Since 1950 Cold Weather Teams
47.5% Since 1950 Percentage of National Championships
26 Since 1960 Warm Weather Teams
23 Since 1960 Cold Weather Teams
53.1% Since 1960 Percentage of National Championships
21 Since 1970 Warm Weather Teams
18 Since 1970 Cold Weather Teams
53.8% Since 1970 Percentage of National Championships
18 Since 1980 Warm Weather Teams
11 Since 1980 Cold Weather Teams
62.1% Since 1980 Percentage of National Championships
13 Since 1990 Warm Weather Teams
6 Since 1990 Cold Weather Teams
68.4% Since 1990 Percentage of National Championships
7 Since 2000 Warm Weather Teams
3 Since 2000 Cold Weather Teams
70.0% Since 2000 Percentage of National Championships
Shared titles, as represented below, is a wash.
2003 USC (AP)*
1997 Nebraska (ESPN)
1991 Washington (CNN)
1990 Georgia Tech (UPI)*
1978 USC (UPI)*
1974 USC (UPI)*
1973 Alabama (UPI)*
1970 Texas (UPI)
1965 Michigan State (UPI)
1957 Ohio State (UPI)
1954 UCLA (UPI)*
1947 Notre Dame (Because, fock ND)
*Designated Warm Weather Teams.
So, we are left with the following:
Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%
(had trouble getting the above to line up)
The above would not appear to be the result of coincidence. So, assuming this trend is true, it does not bode well for any and all Cold Weather Teams, including Michigan. Will this trend continue? Who knows, but it could.
Like most of the people who might be reading this diary entry, you probably thought the term, "Michigan Man", was coined by the late, great Bo Schembechler. Most of us believe Bo invented this term when he found out Bill Frieder had accepted an offer from another university (Arizona State University) during Michigan's run for a national championship back in 1989. Ostensibly, Bo was so annoyed with Coach Frieder over taking the job at ASU that he fired him on the spot stating, "A Michigan Man will coach this team!”, or something along those lines. Steve Fisher was promoted to interim Head Coach, Rumeal Robinson made those free throws against Seton Hall, and we were cutting down the nets. Everyone was happy. Well, except for Seton Hall, that is.
Thus was born the term, Michigan Man. Or so we thought.
When I Googlestalked the term, Michigan Man, this was the first result: DNA Tests Prove Michigan Man, Searching for Origins, Was Not Kidnapped Toddler. Although the gentleman in question was a man, and did reside in Michigan, I do not believe he is the quintessential Michigan Man I am seeking at this point.
Hmmm. Googlestalking was not proving to be entirely helpful. The Googlestalk images showed a wide array of rather interesting images including a gay Michigan Man. MVictors followed with the fifth listing, but they just announced that former U of M Quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, is not a Michigan Man. The listings go on, yada yada yada.
Imagine my surprise while reading Jeffry D. Wert's biography on George Armstrong Custer (Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer) when I found perhaps the true originator of the term, "Michigan Man", Republican Senator Jacob M. Howard. I know--Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.
When the Civil War broke out George Custer was a student at West Point and had not quite finished his studies there. (He was a terrible student with a plethora of disciplinary and academic problems—he even flunked his Calvary class.) But, war being war, the army needed men and Custer was a man, so off he went. Eventually Old George fell under the command of this Alfred Pleasonton guy who saw to it that his charge got elevated to the rank of General. (long story) However, this was kind of a interim or temporary assignment, kind of like what Steve Fisher got. In 1864, when it came time for the Senate to confirm Custer’s Generalship, a problem arose. Now, George Armstrong Custer was actually born in Ohio, and he was a Democrat just like his loud mouth father. Apparently, this did not sit well with the Republican Senator Howard. To quote Wert’s book, (page 132, second paragraph): “About January 5 or 6, Alfred Pleasonton confided to Custer that he had heard a rumor that Republican Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan, a member of the Military Affairs Committee, opposed the nomination because of Custer’s “youth” and of the fact that he was not “a Michigan Man.”
Custer subsequently wrote some letters to some influential people and sucked up enough to get his Generalship confirmed and he and Libby Bacon (his new wife) lived happily ever after. Well, until those Indian guys butchered him up, at least.
So, the true origination of the term, Michigan Man, did not come from Bo. He unwittingly (I am sure) stole it from Republican Senator Howard.
And, just in case you are wondering, Custer did lead the Michigan Wolverines. It says so right there in that book. The more you know!
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Recently I posted a diary entry considering the 2008 Capital One Bowl game entitled, Worst Victory Ever—stupid idea, I know. But, I thought it might be a good idea therefore, to submit another diary entry, Best Loss Ever. I got many suggestions for this game. The 2005 Rose Bowl loss to Vince Young and Longhorns was a popular suggestion. The 1980 losses to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Carolina (George Rogers) and Notre Dame were also considered. That BYU bowl game where they cheated and held on every play, is another. While these games definitely have their merits and are very good losses, they just did not scream Best Loss Ever. For me, at least, there can be only one:
The 1968 50-14 loss to Ohio State was my choice for Numero Uno.
That is all the video I could find….
Let’s consider that 1968 Michigan team for a moment. It was coached by former Michigan All American, Bump Elliot, who in 1964 won the Rose Bowl and was just generally a pretty good football coach—not to mention a Michigan Man—whatever that is. Bump was 8-1 (In 1967 they won only 4 games.) coming into the OSU game that year. His defense had given up only 105 points so far that season and had two shutouts on the books. He had guys like Jim Mandich, Phil Seymour, Stanley Broadnax, Dan Dierdorf, Dennis Brown, John Gabler, Garvie Craw, Jim Brandstatter, Dana Coin, Thom Darden, Glenn Doughty, Don Moorehead, Barry Pierson, Cecil Pryor, Marty Huff, Ron Johnson and Tom Curtis. They were ranked #4 in the country. Is that good enough?
On the other side were the State of Ohio University Buckeyes. While no one will ever know exactly what a Buckeye is, we know they had a good football team in 1968. Woody had become existential due to pressure from the boosters and fans and was willing to run a play besides the Robust 27 or 28. (See: 1968; The Year that Saved Ohio State Football, by David Hyde. ." It's essentially a re-creation of that season starting with the 1966 season, when Woody Hayes had a losing record, was burned in effigy, fans started chanting, "Good-Bye Woody" in Ohio Stadium.) Woody had brought in some crazy high school coach who believed OSU might be a bit predictable (i.e. George Chaump) and thought maybe the I formation might help. Woody also brought in Lou Holtz. I believe Earle Bruce was there, too. Bill Mallory was there, but you guys are probably too young to remember Old Bill.
This was also the team of the Super Sophs—for real. You are young and probably don’t remember Rex Kern (who had major back surgery in June that year), Jack Tatum (who ended up on defense due to a toss of the coin) Jim Stillwagon, Bruce Jankowiki, and Jim Otis. I just can’t bring myself to name any others. Anyway, Woody tried something very radical that year. Instead of just taking all the good players and putting them on the offense, he tossed a coin with his coaches and let them choose players, you know, like in pick-up football. I guess that junk worked because that team kicked butt for three years.
The Buckeyes were solid in 1968. They rolled up 440 yards and 32 points per game. Their stingy defense only allowed 15 points and 292 yards per game.
The largest crowd in Horeshoe history would be attending this game; 85, 371. Almost forgot, they were undefeated and hadn’t lost a game. No sugarcoat.
But what the heck. Bump had a good team, as well. Woody was starting 11 sophomores for Heaven’s sake! I am sure Bump was feeling all confident and stuff on his way into that game. Up until halftime it was a fairly even contest. Then, along came this Jim Otis guy and suddenly Michigan looks like a high school team. We all know the story about Woody going for 2. We also know the story of Woody socking that Clemson player in the grill. Let’s leave it at that.
I wonder if Bump went home that day and said to his wife, “They are going to fire me over that one! We gave up 420 yards on the ground! ON THE GROUND!” Well, they didn’t. Bump was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director, a very important job with huge responsibilities I am certain, like posing for photos with the new coach.
So, here is my argument for this being the Best Loss Ever: It brought us Bo. If Michigan had actually won that game, or even kept the score close we might have had to muddle through ten more years of Bump—and maybe that would not have been all bad. No, on second thought, that would have been a disaster and would not have given us the Ten Year War and all that other junk we Michigan fans so adore. In fact, I might argue that loss did more for Michigan Football than anything that happened ever. I’d be wrong, of course, but you get my point.
OT: Think about it. When has total humiliation impacted your life in such a positive way? Discuss. SpartanDan—you go first since we are all sure you have much experience with this sort of thing.
You see often the laments of fans over Michigan loses that shoulda, woulda, coulda been a victory. If only this, or if only that. (Cordell Stewart) (Crable!) (Charles White!) (Sheridan!) (Troy!) (Vince!) (Dixon!) (Edwards!) (Rocket!) Whatever. While such games exact a pain that never seems to dull, those do not hold a candle to the 2008 Capital One Bowl Game. That game, at least to me, is the most wrenching.
Allow me to explain.
Michigan was not supposed to win that game. The Michigan defense had yet to prove it could slow down yet alone stop a spread offense, and the Urban Meyer brand Florida Spread scored over 40 points 9 times that season and 49 points 6 times. Tim Tebow won the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brian and the AP Player of the year. They had Percy Harvin, who when healthy, was supposedly unstoppable. And, this is basically the same team that came back in won the NC the following season, though who they played slips my mind at this time. AND the game was being played in Florida. Many Florida fans live in that state. Indeed, the Gators would go on to have a very good game. 399 yards of offense, 3 td passes, Harvin had over 200 yards of total offense himself, NO TURNOVERS, and aside from their secondary they had a great game.
The Blogosphere was crackling with loss scenarios. Most of them gruesome. Even the Michigan Otherwise Fanatics are casting doubts and sighing the sigh of death. That loss at the end of the season to that team with the really good players is still stinging. Lloyd is leaving. Rich Rod and twenty miles of bad controversy have arrived. (Even though the proverbial dam had yet to burst.) The curse of a billion kittens and swimming fowl hung in the air like the exhaust from a city bus on a hot summer day.
Then finally the teams stepped onto the field. The Gators are talking trash. The Wolverines bark right back. Wow. I truly wasn’t expecting trash talk in the Cap One Bowl, but yeah, its on.
And ON it was. 524 yards of offense, 10 of 15 3rd down conversion, 28 first downs, 373 passing yards, 151 rushing yards, 32:18 time of possession. And…
Adrian Arrington 9 153 2 37
Mario Manningham 5 78 1 24
Carson Butler 1 65 0 65
Greg Mathews 7 62 0 18
Well, that is SPREADING in around.
41 points. Hart’s two fumbles excluded, its more like 55 points. Remove those two interceptions and who knows.
Thanks to the fine work by U of M Historian (with an assist from Wiki) it is possible to travel back in time and see a good portion of the Capital One Bowl. It is a good idea, as well. Stats don’t show one-handed grabs, around the back grabs and in traffic grabs--and a bunch of most excellent other plays.
Worst win ever? Yeah, because I can’t stop wondering the what if’s on this team. Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin and made numerous big plays and big hits! Heck, the D gave up some yards but they were hitting like monsters and making everybody pay. The O gave up four turnovers and never quit--in basically, Florida‘s backyard. Everybody was catching the ball and blocking downfield. Carson Butler went 65 yards! Henne was 25 of 39. Hart was pounding like a sledge hammer on sandstone. The line were blocking like they were defending Mt. Olympus. It was pizza power gone mad! All these things, all this great talent blooming in the last game of the year, and the last game ever for U of M by many of these guys. And not one Big Ten title between them. Oh well, stuff like that happens I guess.
Besides, 4.25 million is a chunk of change to bring home.
When Jimmy Hoffa took over the Teamsters he made a list of those who he would keep, and those who he was going to dump. He told his confidants that it is better to make this decision right away rather than do it piece meal over time. It was Jimmy’s belief that doing it this way would inspire loyalty and confidence from those he kept while leaving him less vulnerable to damage from those who he did not have faith in.
“When you take over a new operation, some people will tell you that you ought to lie low, and look around before you do anything. But that’s not me--because I just don’t think that works.”
The above is of course a quote from Bo, taken from John Bacon’s book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons. If you read chapter 4, you will get an idea of how Bo went about taking over a new operation. He did not pull any punches. He put it all on the line right away and let the chips fall where they may. Bo even risked losing very important players including Thom Darden, Reggie McKenzie, Glenn Doughty, Billy Taylor and Mike Taylor. (Yeah, any of you remember those guys?) Bo wasn’t going to play favorites. He was going to treat them all like dogs.
You have to remember at that time that Bo was basically a nobody. There were numerous influential people who didn’t like or want Bo. He as really sticking his neck out.
Of course, this was a different era. Political correctness hadn’t yet reared its ugly head. Yet, it was still a big chance Bo was taking. Alienating star plays and boosters would not seem to be an exceptionally bright move on his part. It was a risk. In the end, it worked out rather well.
So, that got me to thinking. Rich Rod’s entry and Bo’s entry were under quite similar circumstances. Both came in when the team was down. Both were outsiders. And, from what we hear from former players, both are disciplinarians and believe in hard work. And, both favored a run based offense.
What if Rich Rod had come in the same way as Bo? What if he had worked to eliminate the malcontents and slackers in his first few weeks? What if he had just slammed his darn fist down and said this is how it is going to be--take it or leave it? Could Rich Rod have gotten away with this? And, would it have been better for him over time? Did Rich Rod compromise himself just to get along in Ann Arbor?
I happen to like the hire. I think RR and Michigan are going to be just fine over time. It is a different world now in college football. There is much more competition and a whole lot more money involved. There are more politics than you can shake a stick at. Personally, I would have supported RR had he come in with guns blazing. Perhaps I am in the minority. Maybe I am totally wrong. But, as Shakespeare said, a coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man only one.
Bo was very hard on that 1969 team. Very hard indeed. I am pretty sure he had many people wondering if he wasn’t just some maniac coach who was going to destroy the program. However, things did work out okay. Very okay.
I leave you with this quote, again from Bacon’s book:
“The funny thing is, the guys on the 1969 team probably stay in touch better than any team I coached. As much as they hated the workouts then, they all brag about it now.
They stayed. They were champions. And I kept my promise.
And we have kept that promise ever since.”
I can’t help but think how much differently Rich Rod may have comported himself had Bo been there to mentor and support him. Maybe he would have just pulled that trigger on day one, and maybe he’d been much better off. Maybe.
At work the other day I started wondering which U of M player might be the next inductee to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Tom Brady is a lock, of course, but who else could possibly climb that mountain?
I went to the Pro Football HOF site
to do a little research. Here is Michigan’s current member list:
George Allen: Class of 2002
(Alma College, Marquette, Michigan, Eastern Michigan)
1966-1970 Los Angeles Rams, 1971-1977 Washington Redskins
Dan Dierdorf: Class of 1996
Tackle >>> 6-3, 275
1971-1983 St. Louis Cardinals
Len Ford: Class of 1976
Defensive End >>> 6-4, 245
(Morgan State, Michigan)
1948-1949 Los Angeles Dons (AAFC), 1950-1957 Cleveland Browns, 1958 Green Bay Packers
Bennie Friedman: Class of 2005
Quarterback >>> 5-10, 183
1927 Cleveland Bulldogs, 1928 Detroit Wolverines, 1929-1931 New York Giants, 1932-1934 Brooklyn Dodgers
Bill Hewitt: Class of 1971
End >>> 5-9, 190
1932-1936 Chicago Bears, 1937-1939 Philadelphia Eagles, 1943 Phil-Pitt
Elroy Crazylegs Hirsch: Class of 1968
Halfback, End >>> 6-2, 190
1946-1948 Chicago Rockets (AAFC), 1949-1957 Los Angeles Rams
Tom Mack: Thomas Lee Mack Class of 1999
Guard >>> 6-3, 250
1966-1978 Los Angeles Rams ***They have Dierdorf’s photo on Mack’s page or these guys are twins!
Ralph Wilson, Jr.: Class of 2009
In case you are wondering, this is how the Top Ten HOF Contributing schools work out:
Southern California (11)
Notre Dame (10)
Ohio State (6)
Penn State (5)
Southern Methodist (5)
The following is a list of random schools for the heck of it:
Washington of St. Louis (1)
Syracuse (5) Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Al Davis* , John Mackey, Art Monk, Jim Ringo
Scottsbluff (1) Dick “Night Train” Lane
Northwestern (2) Otto Graham
Morgan State (3) Leroy Kelly
Minnesota (5) Bobby Bell, Carl Eller, Bud Grant, Bronko Nagurski, Leo Nomellini, Charlie Sanders
Miami NTO (2)
Miami (4) Jim Kelly, Jim Otto, Michael Irvin, Ted Hendricks
Fort Valley State (1) Rayfield Wright
Grambling (4) Willie Brown, Junious (Buck) Buchanan, Willie Davis, Charlie Joiner
Duke (3) Sonny Jurgenson
California Polytechnic (1) John Madden
Arizona State (4) Mike Haynes, John Henry Johnson* , Randall McDaniel, Charley Taylor
Illinois (4) Dick Butkus, Harold (Red) Grange, George Halas, Bobby Mitchell, Ray Nitschke, Hugh (Shorty) Ray
Iowa (3) Paul Krause, Andre Tippett* , Emlen Tunnell*
Louisville (1) Johnny Unitas
So, just for some off season discussion, let’s nominate possible candidates for future HOF induction (and any other junk you want to throw out). Off course, the list must start with….