Who would be in a Michigan Football Ring of Honor?

Submitted by m1jjb00 on July 17th, 2011 at 8:49 PM

[Ed-M: Bump'ed like Elliott]

Brian got me thinking about who deserves to be in a Michigan ring of honor, so I did the only thing I know:  Dump a bunch of data into a spreadsheet and rank them arbitrarily. I gave a point for being the College Hall of Fame, Michigan's Hall of Honor, Michigan retiring their number, points equal to the number of years being an All American, being in the top four in the Heisman (another 2 for winning it), and up to a point for winning other post-season awards.  One could include other considerations, such as championships, captaincy, or being President of the United States.

The table below presents the data, sorted first by points and then year.

Some comments:

I would think anyone Chappuis and above deserves to be in.

I included only some 2-point guys of interest in the table below, most of whom aren't in Michigan's Hall of Honor or the Hall of Fame.

Coaches aren't included, except Kipke who is there because of his playing, though I don't know how much of his playing versus coaching got him in the Hall of Fame.

Why is Benbrook not in Michigan's Hall of Honor?

Obviously newer guys benefit from the various awards now available. The Heisman was first awarded in 1935. I would think Heston could have won it.

In 1939 Harmon finished 2nd in the Heisman voting to Nile Kinnick before winning it in 1940.

The All of American data are a bit surprising.  Gerald Ford isn't listed.  I had thought Carter was a three-year All American.  There may be other surprises.  I used a list from the NCAA (data source below), which made it easy, but the list may be flawed.

Player Yrs HoF MHoH # All Am Heisman Awards
Tom Harmon 37-40 y y y 2 2nd, 1st Maxwell
Desmond Howard 89-92 y y   1 1st Maxwell, Camp, Nagurski, Bednarik
Bennie Oosterbaan 24-27 y y y 3    
Alvin Wistert 47-49 y y y 2    
Ron Kramer 53-56 y y y 2    
Anthony Carter 79-82 y y   2 4th  
Charles Woodson 95-97       1 1st Camp, Thorpe
Willie Heston 01-04 y y   2    
Benny Friedman 23-26 y y   2    
Francis Wistert 30-33 y y y 1    
Albert Wistert 38-42 y y y 1    
Bob Chappuis 42, 46-47 y y   1 2nd  
Neil Snow 1898-02 y y   1    
Adolph Schulz 04-05, 07-08 y y   1    
Albert Benbrook 08-10 y     2    
Harry Kipke 20-23 y y   1    
Harry Newman 29-32 y y   1    
Robert Westfall 38-41 y y   1    
Jim Mandich 66-69 y y   1    
Tom Curtis 67-69 y y   1    
Dan Dierdorf 67-70 y y   1    
Reggie McKenzie 68-71 y y   1    
Dave Brown 72-74 y     2    
Chris Perry 00-03       1 4th Walker
Rob Lytle 73-76       1 3rd  
Mark Donahue 74-77       2    
Rick Leach 75-78   y     3rd  
Tripp Welbourne 87-90       2    
Braylon Edwards 01-04       1   Biletnikoff
David Baas 01-04       1   Rimington
LaMarr Woodley 03-06       1   Lombardi, Hendricks
Jake Long 04-07       2    

Data Sources: All-American, Heisman and other award data, Michigan Hall of Honor, and College Football Hall of Fame


skunk bear

July 17th, 2011 at 8:55 PM ^

Part of it has to be how they were perceived in their own time.

I know this would be very difficult for the old-timers.

But think, say, of Ron Johnson who isn't anyhere to be found in this data set, but was considered to be a great back at the time.


July 18th, 2011 at 2:42 AM ^

 Could we add never beat Ohio State and never really improved as a player from freshman to senior year? I know a lot of people have man crushes on the jake long , mike hart and Chad henne era , but I don't.

 I'm with De smond Howard what did they do? honestly nothing but help me decide it was time for Coach Carr's staff to go. Every year I exspected a little more out of them and every year I was dissappointed.


July 18th, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

I have a huge man crush on that era but frankly the only one that may deserve to be on the ROH this soon would be Jake Long....1 penalty, 1st overall etc etc. 

As Brian said I would much rather prefer to see a ROH than numbers being retired and I would also prefer to only see people get on the ROH a significant time after their college playing days were over with unless you had an absolute man beast who won the Heisman 4 years in a row which shit that guy can do whatever the hell he wants.   


July 18th, 2011 at 11:43 PM ^

 Big players, make big plays in big games period.

 When the team is struggling he can throw the team on his back and take a game over.

Neither Chad Henne or Mike Hart where that kind of player , thus why Michigan never won any big games during the time they played. Besides the Florida Capital one bowl win and possibly the 2006 season but since both ohio state and Michigan got their asses handed to them in their bowl games you could make a pretty good arguement that both teams where highly over rated.

 Where they good players yes , where they great absolutely not. Jake Long never won an outland trophy , yea he is doing great in the NFL ,but; a Michigan ROH should be about what they accomplished in college ( unless of course you become president of the united states or something).

You can down vote the post all you want but it does'nt make my point any less valid.

Granted as big as Michigan stadium is you could manage a huge ring of honor , do you really want every player who made a couple good plays on it?


July 21st, 2011 at 5:45 PM ^

Ok. Its Were. Not Where.

Secondly, of all the oustanding runningbacks to play at Michigan, no one has ever rushed for more yards than Mike. No one. 

And yes, he didnt improve much from his freshman to his senior year, but being the best player in the B10 and possibly the country your first year doesn't leave a lot for upward mobility. 
As for 2006, Ohio State lost its biggest impact offensive player on the first play of the game, after he returned the opening kick for a touchdown. Same guy had 105 yards and  TD against us. We dropped the ball against USC, but that was a solid team (and we didnt get our asses handed to us, we forgot to play the 2nd half).

Finally, Mike Hart set the record for carries without a fumble. That in itself, in the smash mouth B10, speaks volumes to his ability.

He didnt make a few plays here and there, he essentially carried the 2004 team on his back, and 2007 was again him gutting it out on a banged up ankle no less.


July 17th, 2011 at 9:46 PM ^

Yes he's the last coach to win back to back titles, and had a stellar career as a student athlete. But he also oversaw the worst season and four year stretch in our program's history, held Willis Ward out of a game to appease Georgia Tech, and was responsible for violations that actually seem to fit the bill of "major" - except that the NCAA didn't really enforce such a thing at that time. Unlike the Freep's report over stretching during practice, these violations did lead to Kipkle's ouster.



Greg from MVictors says it best: "As I’ve said, there’s a reason why Bo, Yost, Crisler and even Oosterbaan have buildings named after them and Kipke has a service drive through the stadium parking lot."

I doubt we'll see him honored within the stadium alongside Schembechler, Howard, Woodson, Harmon, Ford, Yost, Crisler, etc.

Mr Mackey

July 17th, 2011 at 10:06 PM ^

It depends on how "elite" you want it. I think it'd be great to have a Ring of Honor for the greats, aka the guys on your list plus other worthy candidates (and coaches).

But there has to be a more elite pedestal, which is where statues would be great IMO. Harmon, Woodson, Howard, Bo, Yost, and Crisler. So it'd be kind of two tiers, one of "Michigan Greats" and one of "College Football Legends"

South Bend Wolverine

July 17th, 2011 at 10:40 PM ^

One of the things to think about also is that you want to have room for it to grow.  You don't want to end up like the Habs, having 15 retired numbers, etc.  This is part of why it's important to keep these honors only for the absolute greatest.  In the year 2100, when we've got another 10 national titles and a handful more Heisman trophy winners, we'll want to have room to fit the heroes in.

Mr Mackey

July 17th, 2011 at 10:13 PM ^

And also, I'm almost positive Carter was All American in 1980, 1981, and 1982. I've checked a couple sources that confirm it, so I'm not sure where the discrepancy is.


July 17th, 2011 at 10:34 PM ^

I would hate to be on the commitee making this decision.  Who gets left out would be terribly difficult given the huge number of players who will be deserving but not included.


July 17th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

I think Harry Newman definitely deserves to make the cut -- he's basically another Heisman winner.

Michigan only lost one game (and tied 2) when Newman was on the team (1930-'32). He won the Fairbanks Trophy, which is basically the Heisman before there was a Heisman. Newman almost never came off the field, and was to those offenses what Denard was to 2010, but if 2010 Denard was also the Big Ten's best placekicker, and Michigan's defensive MVP.

Newman wasn't just any College Football Hall of Famer, but was one of 21 guys from all of college football history before 1975 elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in its first year. 



July 18th, 2011 at 3:05 AM ^

i've never felt perfectly comfortable with the Heisman trophy for the same reason - I feel that football is the ultimate team game, and that the accomplishments of the individual are indistinguishable from the team. Yes, there's an offense and defense divide - but in hockey, baseball, and basketball it's easy to tell who your best offensive players are - and those are the guys most often rewarded. In football, every play takes eleven guys to work - just like defense takes eleven guys, or five in basketball - distinguishing between the team and the individual isn't impossible, but it's tricky, and rather than a ring of honor, I'd rather just have tributes to (with apologies to Bo)  "The Teams, The Teams, The Teams."



July 18th, 2011 at 4:28 AM ^

season awards.  I see both Chris Perry and Rob Lytle - loved them both - but does our all-time leading rusher not have a place here?

I also know that at one time Mark Messner was one of only three Big Ten players to be AA three straight years. That's a hell of an accomplishment and he should be recognized among the best to play his position.

Individual honors on the national level can be so elusive merely because you could be playing at the same time some of the greatest ever have played that position. For example, Bailey wasn't a huge drop off from C. Woodson, but no one mentioned his name during Woodson's Heisman year. 

I think the accomplishments within the  scope of "the team" are actually more important, and that's why it'd be difficult for me to leave anyone off that has proven to be the best statistically to ever play the position here, such as Hart, Messner, etc. 

I do realize that the majority of those that stood as UM's all-time leader at a particular position held the distinction, in some cases, for just a brief period of time due to records always being bettered. However, you're also talking about a school that's been playing forever so those type of things should be considered when compiling a list.

However, this whole thing, with Desmond being the first I know of to publicly voice the idea actually goes against UM's long standing tradition of placing the entire squad above individual accomplisments, so I'm still undecided as to whether this would really be in keeping with the storied history of the program.





July 18th, 2011 at 7:24 AM ^

Let's do something a bit different. Either etch every single varsity letter winners name onto some sort Of wall or something (would be huge, but amaZing) or just build a Michigan sports hall of fame where every sport has a section and can recognize more players than just the "gods." could have changing exhibits honoring various players or seasons of a team. People would pay to get in - can you hear me Dave "points of sale" brandon?


July 18th, 2011 at 8:02 AM ^

I know Brian doesn't like the idea of statues so much, but I can just picture walking up to the Big House and seeing a statue of Charles making the interception against state or with the rose in between his teeth, and Desmond striking the pose.  Throw in some Ufer near the press box, and I think they'd look awesome.

My only question is: how do you convey "Meeeeeechigan" in a statue?  Any ideas?


July 18th, 2011 at 8:13 AM ^

What about Tom Brady? I know that his in-college accolades were limited in comparison to the majority of the names tossed around right now (2 full seasons starting that resulted in bowl wins over SEC opponents and All-Big Ten Honorable mentions), but I'm curious what the MGoConsensus is on how much a spectacular NFL career can help lift and otherwise average-in-the-course-of-history Michigan player up to our hypothetical Ring of Honor.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other former Michigan players who fit into this category of good-not-great college careers and then turning into a franchise player in the league, but I think that Brady is our most marquee name for younger fans, and a reminder of that in the ring certainly wouldn't hurt. But would his presence undermine the kind of collegiate success all the other names had to demonstrate to make their way onto the Ring of Honor?


July 18th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

When you were looking at the All-Americans, perhaps the reason why you didn't find everything is because you didn't use other lists (2nd Team, Freshman Team). Perhaps this is why you thought people had more AA noms than your list indicated...


July 18th, 2011 at 2:22 PM ^

I just think the school has been playing far too long for a Ring of Honor or Hall of fame. Even if you were to make a list of "Gods of the Game" it would still be several names long. I definitely don't agree with retiring numbers either. I love watching guys wearing the numbers of former greats. Retiring numbers would mean playing without the #1 jersey. I'm totally, 100%, against that. Instead why not just have a wall that lists every single National Championship claimed by the Maize and Blue. It would be simple, straightforward, classy, team oriented, and yet powerful, while at the same time keeping within the tradition of UM football. If you absolutely have to have a statue, then build one of Yost; without him none of the rest would have been possible. He is the Godfather.