Last Saturday WTKA played the Ufer broadcast of the 1964 Ohio State game (the 10-0 win that sent Bump Elliott’s crew to the Rose Bowl).   Dang those broadcasts are gems and this was no exception (remind me to try to get a copy of Ufer’s halftime interview with Fritz Crisler and post it here).  

If you read this site you know how I feel about that squad and their legacy—they have to be the one of the most underappreciated teams in U-M history.  I think this year a few folks have done a lot to help right that wrong, leading with historian Bruce Geelhoed. 

For starters Geelhoed has an outstanding story in the current edition of Michigan History magazine on the 1964 Ohio State game titled, ‘The Game that Turned Around the Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry’.  You can pick it up at local Meijer and Barnes and Noble stores or online here.

photo Captain Conley’s righteous pigskin – the Ohio State game ball

But foremost — Geelhoed recently published this, a 248 page book on the 1964 season itself:

Geelhoed Book If you are the type of fan who has books like John Kryk’s Natural Enemies and John Bacon’s Blue Ice on your shelf, this is no brainer— go out and get a copy.   It includes an endorsement from yours truly on the back cover.

That incredible season had so much drama—and it’s all captured here, finally, for the record.   A big hat tip to Geelhoed for pulling this book together – I know it’s been years in the making.

 

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Over the years people have asked me why I’m so interested in the history of The Little Brown Jug.  While there are a few reasons, a biggie for me is that the jug itself is the ultimate piece of college football memorabilia.   And college football fans love memorabilia.  How many of you reading this have a shrine of some form another at home or work dedicated to your beloved Wolverines?

Of course ticket stubs have been a popular piece of of memorabilia for a long time (I have a shoebox somewhere with a bunch of gems).   111 years ago I don’t think people felt as compelled to hang onto stuff like ticket stubs but either way, one thing that always surprised me was that I’d never seen a stub to the 1903 Michigan-Minnesota 6-6 tie—the game that spawned the jug tradition.   It was such a huge game especially for the folks in Minneapolis so it’s bugged me for a while that to my knowledge a stub had never surfaced (and I’ve mentioned it on these pages before):

Righteous Stub
So we know approximately 20,000 witnessed the famous clash and we do know that the gross receipts for the game were precisely $30,933.50 (with the Wolverines netting a $13K cut).  Assuming the ducats, based on others from that year, were probably about two bucks, it’s fair to assume Doc Cooke’s athletic department produced somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 tickets. 

This leads to one missing piece of Jug Lore—I’ve never seen a ticket stub to the 1903 Minnesota-Michigan game.

I polled a couple of the most famous U-M memorabilia collectors.  Jack Briegel, who owns a ticket to every game played in Michigan Stadium and many more emailed me confirming that he’s doesn’t have one and in fact, he’s “never seen a ticket from that game.”

Ken Magee, who runs Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia and owns an extensive vintage U-M collection, hasn’t seen one either.

I reached out to the U-M Bentley Library (they do have a collection of tickets) but I don’t think they have one.  Paul Rovnak of University of Minnesota media relations wrote to me and said they don’t have a ticket from the game either.

My guess?  Someone out there has a ticket stub to this game.   Reveal yourself(!)..and become a piece of Little Brown Jug lore.

FOUND!
Fast forward to last week when I got a text with the news and a pic.  Yes indeed, Ken Magee of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia, located someone selling an old scrapbook that included newspaper clippings from the 1903 game and inside the scrapbook was this:

1903 Minnesota Ticket Stub

While I don’t have a reference point to compare, it looks legit.  Based on a peek at other tickets from 1903, it looks like the font and general style is the same (I assume schools often used the same printing companies).  Check out stubs from U-M games against Wisconsin (played in Ann Arbor, via Jack Briegel) and against Chicago (played in Chicago – via the Bentley Library):

wisc chicago

I say case closed.  Nice find!

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Today marks the 110th anniversary of Willie Heston’s final game at Michigan.  Heston was Michigan’s first superstar, a two-time All-American, who scored (somewhere around) 72 touchdowns.  From 1901 to 1904, Heston’s teams went 43-0-1 and are credited with four national titles.

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I’ll have more on Heston later this year.

Hearing Willie
Back in 2012 I posted a short audio clip of Fielding Yost from the 1940 nationwide radio tribute the man titled, ‘A Toast to Yost from Coast to Coast’.   Check it out if you missed it.   In that post I promised to share a few more clips, and thanks to the Bentley Historical Library for passing these along.

The man who introduced Yost to the crowd in attendance and the radio audience was none other than the great Heston.   Here are two clips of the great Willie and in the first we have a surprise.   Before offering up his tribute to his old coach, Heston acknowledges that current student athlete and national icon Tom Harmon in the audience.  Old 98 shares the mic & even has a little back and forth with Heston that is all in all pretty priceless.

The second clip has Heston delivering his testimonial to Yost.  Enjoy:

As an aside, while I’m sure you’ll be hard pressed to find another audio clip of the Harmon and Heston together but they did appear elsewhere…namely on this campaign pin for Heston [original 2008 post].   This is probably a decent representation of what each man looked like back in 1940:

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Seeing Willie
Don’t ask me to point out who’s who (maybe Brian can whip out a UFR), but here’s footage from Willie’s final game played at Regents Field in Ann Arbor, a 22-12 victory over rival (and Yost’s nemesis) Amos Alonzo Stagg and Chicago.  The footage was taken by Thomas Edison’s firm (note the “gridiron” – the lines painted on the field like a grid):

 

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Bless you Sap for serving up decals after that rough game.  Here you go:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

DE’VEON SMITH – Now you know why coaches like Bo and Bill Parcells loved to have a strong running game. When you can close out a game, or at least milk the clock, it puts pressure on the opposing team to either use all their timeouts late in the game or drive the length of the field to win. Smith has given the Michigan offense the strength and stability it desperately needs – especially when U-M’s QB is basically playing on one leg.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

FRANK CLARK – Finally a solid, break-out, statement game from Clark. Dude was the classic guy who came to play right from the opening snap to the final play of the game. I haven’t seen such a strong and steady big play performance from a Michigan defender since some guy wore #2 in 1997.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

KICK TEAM – I don’t want to sound like an old coach, but don’t EVER take another extra point for granted. If Matt Wile doesn’t convert his PAT, the score would have been 9-9 instead of 10-9, and all Northwestern would have needed was a PAT of their own to win.

 

I know, I know, Wile had one kick blocked, but aside from that, the entire Kick Team played lights out against the Wildcats. From Will Hagerup’s Aussie Drop style punts being downed at the Northwestern one-yard line, to Jehu Chesson recovering a Wildcat muff, the execution of the Michigan Kick Team flipped field position in this contest the entire night. And when playing against an offense that was as scintillating as Northwestern’s was (NOT!), it tilts the field even more in your favor.

UNIFORM CHAMPION

YELLOW SHOES – If I can accept the blue stockings (instead of the traditional maize shoes white socks), y’all can give me the yellow cleats that Blake Countess strutted out on Ryan Field on Saturday night. Talk about sick!?!? I LOVED that look with the white jersey, maize pants and white socks!!

 

If Michigan ever goes back to the Canary Yellow unis, you gotta complete the ensemble with those wicked yellow Countess cleats!

EDITOR’S CHOICE

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JAKE RYAN -  The position move to middle linebacker was a tough transition for Jake but man, he’s looked solid the past few games and he was an badass out there Saturday.  On the NW sideline Fitz must have seen shades of his old playing days watching #47 out there.  He had one series (that ended with his interception) that is a mini-highlight package all in of itself.  FWIW he didn’t wear his Legends Bennie Oosterbaan patch on the #47 jersey for some reason—I half wondered if he removed it and sewed it on Fitz’s ass during pregame.

 
   

This week we rolled back 17 years (wow, 17 years!) to November 8, 1997 for one of the most anticipated and hyped-up Saturday’s in recent history.  ESPN dubbed it Judgment Day, and the big winner of the whole exercise was your beloved Wolverines who crushed JoePa and the Nittany Lions 34-8:

While I didn’t get to it in the clip, that game featured one of the hardest hits that I’ve ever seen when U-M’s Daydrion Taylor smoked Penn State’s Bob Stephenson.  The collision ended the careers of each man.

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here

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[Ed. Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is featured here each postgame with Dr. Sap’s Decals.  You might know that his detailed knowledge of uniform tweaks since the Bo era helped spearhead the Uniform Timeline.    Bottom line – the Sap mind blended with the Sap archives is a Wangler-to-Carter-esque combination.    Here’s another great Bo-era story from the mind of Sap.]

 

Guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

 

Nowadays it’s commonplace for quarterbacks to wear red (or sometimes orange, /wink) colored jerseys in practice. This of course is a reminder to all players and coaches that they are not to be hit or tackled in drills. Last year, former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach told me that he never wore a redshirt at practice during his four years as Michigan’s man under center. I was shocked to hear that, especially when you consider two things: 1. Bo liked to hit in practice as much as possible and; 2. Leach ran Bo’s option offense and got hit quite a bit carrying and pitching the ball.

 

So all this got me thinking – who was the first QB to wear a redshirt at practice for Bo?  I know it wasn’t Tom Slade shown here at practice in 1972:

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And like Leach said, no redshirts here in 1976 when President Ford dropped by to see the Wolverines at practice:
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Or in 1977 when the Prez popped in again:
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Here’s Michael Taylor and Elvis Grbac in 1989, but I knew it didn’t start with them:
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I knew Taylor & Grbac weren’t the first because I saw this on Michigan Replay:

Michigan red jersey

That’s Jim Harbaugh and Chris Zurbrugg under center wearing red tunics during Spring Practice in 1985. 

 

Legendary U-M equipment manager Jon Falk told me that the QBs wore the red tunics only during scrimmages in the mid 80s.   I asked Big Jon if Steve Smith wore a redshirt in 1983 after he separated his shoulder in the 1983 Rose Bowl.   He did not recall Smitty wearing a redshirt, but remembered him wearing a harness underneath his shoulder pads to keep his shoulder in place.   That was a serious injury – especially for a QB.  So I thought, if it wasn’t Smith, it must have been…..John Wangler.

 

“[Wangler] just came off a very bad knee injury and we wanted to make sure he could take hits,” Falk recalled. 

 

That injury was thanks to Lawrence Taylor, who pounded Wangler’s knee In the 2nd quarter of the 1979 Gator Bowl.  I remembered Wangs being held out of spring practice in 1980, but did he wear a redshirt when he finally rehabbed his knee and returned to practice in the fall?  

 

“Well, actually, I didn’t wear a redshirt during the season,” Wangler told me.  “I wore one during two-a-days in the fall of 1980. But even though I had the redshirt on, it didn’t stop my good friend Mel Owens from tackling me one time at practice!” [laughs]

 

Former Michigan assistant and longtime West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen told me that because Bo had his guys going all out in practice, the only way he could get them to stop, when he wanted them to stop, was to use a short whistle.  Wangler confirmed this.  “He would use that short whistle to make sure you didn’t get hit hard.  I mean there would be some contact, and guys could wrap up, but he would limit the hard hitting with his whistle.”

 

So in lieu of having his quarterbacks look like prima donnas by wearing different colored jerseys, that’s what the General had used for all those years to protect his quarterback – a short whistle.

 

After finding all that out, I had one last question for old #5– Did ALL the QB’s wear a redshirt during two-a-days in 1980, or was it just him because of the knee injury?

Wangler’s response? 

 

“Just me. The other guys were a lot tougher!”

———————————————

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Last week I talked about finding the “bottom”, that is, the end of the spiral of crappy things happening to this football team.  I don’t know if we’re there, but out there before the game Saturday you felt a weight was lifted and the mood was actually a bit festive.

 

Re: Big Dave – Ultimately what did Brandon in weren’t the changes he made to the athletic program.  Even the biggest haters would admit there were some things he did that worked.  For me, I’ll fondly remember his role in smoothing out the practice-gate mess (even before he was AD), bringing in the night games and adding the Legends Program.   What sunk Brandon was that he treated people like crap. 

 

As I’ve seen (and heard behind the scenes), being an outsider, President Schlissel took a look under the covers during these past few weeks he found a very conspicuous lack of people standing up to defend Big Dave.  Take Hoke.  You are probably tired of hearing how he is a such good dude.  While very few (if any) people think Brady will be coaching next year, when he’s evaluated I’m certain he’ll have many folks to throw support his way in some form or another, because he’s down to earth, lacks a noticeable ego and relates to people.  You can be a strong leader and make major changes without being a complete cock. 

 

Historic Shift Afoot – I’ll probably hit more on this later, as you might guess were are living through one of the biggest regime swaps in athletics/football department history.  Off the top in no particular order:

* Late 1960s – Don Canham “wins” AD position, Bump moves out of coaching into athletic department, Bo Schembechler hired.

* Late 1930s – Harry Kipke fired, Yost’s authority suppressed when Ralph Aigler brings in Fritz Crisler.

* 2000s – Dave Brandon takes over, fires RichRod and hires in Brady Hoke.

* Today – New President Schlissel fires Brandon fired and (football coaching situation TBD).

 

After the jump – Arena, Mood, and more

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Sap is refreshed, recharged and kindly offers you his post-Hoosier decals.  I tossed in the Editor’s edition for good measure:

 

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

AMARA DARBOH – This was the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for from Darboh for the past 2 years. Much like the Detroit Lions needed another wide receiver to complement Megatron, the Michigan passing game needed another option downfield other than Devin Funchess. Especially now, when Devin Gardner’s foot injury is forcing him to do his best Dan Fouts-stay-in-the-pocket-no-matter-what impression, Darboh gives the offense another place to go with the ball other than wherever Funchess is.

 

Hopefully Darboh can use this game to jump start his career and the U-M passing game.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

RYAN GLASGOW – It was obvious that the Michigan defense came to play this game and made sure there was going to be no repeat of last year’s basketball-like score against IU. That all starts up front, and while there were several guys who played lights out by keeping the Hoosiers under 200 yards of total offense, I singled out Glasgow because of his strip and fumble recovery – all in the same play. These guys in the trenches don’t often get the glory, but you had to like what Glasgow did.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

MATT WILE – A missed field goal can be momentum-killing and team deflating – just ask Indiana how they felt when their kicker doinked one off the upright early in the game. You gotta make your kicks when you get the chance and not give your opponent the energy and momentum to get back in the game. That’s why Matt Wile’s field goals, why they may seem mundane and unspectacular, were important against IU.

 

Coaches (and Blue-hairs) will tell you that you have to execute in all three phases of the game. Wile did his part against Indiana on Saturday.

UNIFORM CHAMPION

YELLOW LACES – I appreciate the little things that make the Michigan uniform iconic. We’ve all seen the blue socks before and the Pink colored accessories that appear each November. Me? I was geeked when I saw a few of the guys wearing yellow laces on their cleats:

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If you are going to deviate from the traditional black shoes with white laces by adding blue and yellow highlights to the Michigan footwear, you might as well coordinate to the max and make sure the laces don’t clash!

 

EDITOR’S CHOICE

JOHN U. BACON – It was great to see Bacs back upstairs in the press box this week and I’ll leave it at that.

 

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