Jim Harbaugh at Utah 2015

Darn.  It turns out there is no magical khaki lint for #4 to sprinkle around the locker room but you, the most rational and reasonable Michigan fan, was still hoping there was.  Guilty as well.

So look.  It’s going to be tough to win anywhere with a quarterback making that many mistakes.  And by Harbaugh not inserting Morris after the pick six suggests that the competition was never that close.  We’ve got a problem here.  Feel free to jump down to bright sides at this point.

I think Harbaugh called a good game.  Conservative but the opportunities were there – Rudock just didn’t cash in.  We didn’t try anything tricky beyond maybe tossing into the 2nd level over the middle, but in the middle we’ve apparently got a guy in Butt that could be catching pills from Tom Brady on the off chance Gronk hurts himself by doing something weird.

On the ground, De’Veon Smith’s toughness is so impressive but he just never had the space.  I watched from field level and haven’t seen any replay yet—my questions: is he not hitting the holes, and/or is he not quick enough to get through the holes or were there just not enough holes?  That’s got to get better as well. 

Bright sides. But ahh, there are a few sunny bullets as I type this on my way out of beautiful Salt Lake City:

  • I’m glad we played this game – that was a good team and traveling that far is a tough way to start a season.  But they will be better for it in November.
  • The team seemed tougher than I’ve seen in a while.  Not as much dancing around, jawing and yapping.  (I still miss Norfleet).  Just actually being tougher.  What a concept.
  • Conditioning – I was worried (really worried) that a few guys looked winded early on the game.  But they hung tough and seem to be in excellent shape.
  • The defense did a nice job overall, didn’t they?  
  • The pass protection seemed solid – by and large Rudock’s mistakes weren’t the fault of a line.
  • While the biggest issue is clearly at quarterback, Harbaugh’s got an ultimate set of QB tools – he can fix it.
  • Butt

Jake Butt scores 

Sights and Sounds:

Utah fans – For Rice-Eccles being the size of a thimble (it was as an all-time record crowd of 47,825) the place definitely could get loud.  And just because there are deep Mormon roots and perhaps influences in the area, don’t think they couldn’t be nasty.  F-bombs were hurled at your beloved maize and blue I can assure you.  And I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in Ann Arbor, I’m just sayin’. 

Utah CheerleaderActually I give Ute fans a ‘B+’

Ball gone – And speaking of Utah fans, something I don’t think I’ve seen before.  One M player booted a practice kick over their net and the ball never came back.  The Ute fans just kept it.  The U-M ball boys were noticeably pissed. 

Michigan Football Ball Boys

One asked another, “What about security?”, and the reply was, “What security?”.    Good point.  To my next point.

Security – FWIW there really wasn’t any tangible security at all at the place – that is, beyond the cops around the coaches and the guys keeping people off the field.  I wasn’t the only guy with a credential who walked right in to the underbelly of the building without being checked for anything – credential, bag, what have you.  Perhaps that’s part of being in Salt Lake City. 

Julius Peppers | Michigan

UniformsMore detail here.  I thought the all-whites looked okay, and I like the darker shade of maize.  I’m iffy on the darker shade of blue (it almost looks black to me- perhaps it is a salute to Hoke’s gameday pants).  The Uniform Timeline is updated with the details.  So look for next week – see if you notice how dark the jerseys will be.

Historical Notes – Really not too many.  This was the first major conference road game since 1991 against Boston College (and Desmond Howard erupted, launching the Heisman-winning season).  Speaking of trophies, methinks Jake Butt is the latest Wolverine in the running for the coveted September Heisman?

A few more shots from pregame:

Jim Harbaugh Ann Arbor tie Nice tie!  I wonder where he got it?  See @johnubacon’s Endzone for more on that.  (Speaking of Bacs – he was spotted at the game looking sharp and even signing the occasional autograph for Meechigan fans. Go Bacs, go).

Mrs Number 4 Mrs. #4 (left) –with her buddy who didn’t get the memo on the acceptable shades of nail polish this and any other every week.  We need focus – top to bottom, people.


coach Wheat Coach Wheatley expecting the Salt Lake to flood.

We need a Jake Butt version of this in the student section next weekend.  The arms move around, they move around!  Ok maybe it’s just me.

IMG_7642 line spreading out 
Need Bo’s yardstick to check the spacing

IMG_7661 it is a woman
Shopping list?  OK that was wrong. 
Srsly I think it’s very cool to have women refs out there.

A couple shots from the game:

IMG_7698 82 streaks 82 thought bubble: “Hold up assistant coaches, I’m confused.  You want me to GO?  DOWN THE FIELD?  This way?? With this pigskin in my hand and those flying red guys trying to kill me?”


Jehn Chesson stiff arm 

IMG_7744 pass blocking again, I thought these guys did a nice job in pass protect

IMG_7923 d smith

See you next Saturday.  By then we should be several percentage points better.


More pregame stuff:

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04. September 2015 · 3 comments · Categories: 2015


Given the volume of updates to the Uniform Timeline I’m posting them here to update your personal records:

Photo Sep 04, 1 14 53 PM

9/3/2015  Salt Lake City, UT (vs. Utah)
JERSEY/PANTS:  All-white jersey and pants (4) combination return for first time since 1976 Orange Bowl and include with maize and blue stripes on end of sleeves (3) and down the side of the pants (5).  Design mimics road uniform design worn for the 1973-1975 seasons.  Maize (1) and blue (2) tones are darker [this is confirmed with U-M equipment staff].  

Items removed:
* Block M from back neckline
* Block M on pants (first time since 1993)

PANTS: Some players also wear thigh pads with embossed block M:
Photo Sep 03, 6 21 44 PM
HELMET:  Darker tone of maize on helmet:

As always, all of these changes are found on the Uniform Timeline – if I missed anything significant let me know.


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Brady out of the Tunnel Brady trots out of the tunnel for the first time (& leaves headset in locker room by mistake)

To kickoff the sixth season of This Week in Michigan Football History we dip back to 2011, to the official start of the last glorious period of redemption for Michigan football.   Yes, our friends from Kalamazoo visited the Big House for a bizarre and historic day, when an otherwise obscure figure in Wolverine history made history as did Mother Nature.  Dig it:

Don’t forget to catch the whole KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff on WTKA starting 4 hours before each game, and of course live in the Bud Light Victors Lounge when they lace them up in Ann Arbor.

For those so inclined, here’s a little more from my 2011 post on the history of games ending early:

It’s certainly not the first Michigan football game to end before the planned allotted time.   Most notably two of the most famous games in college football history ended early:

The 1902 Rose Bowl (the first bowl game ever played) ended with plenty of time on the clock because Yost, Heston and crew were putting a colossal smack down on Stanford.  From the Bentley:

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Stanford captain Ralph Fisher approached the Wolverine bench and offered to concede; Michigan consented.

While this game yielded the Little Brown Jug, the great 1903 Minnesota-Michigan battle between the Western powerhouses also ended early.  The common story is that after the Gophers scored a late TD to tie the game, the Minnesota fans stormed the field and the coaches agreed to call the game. (I’ve heard other claims that approaching weather was a factor in the decision, but haven’t seen much evidence to back that up).  The Sunday November 1, 1903 Minneapolis Tribune says the game ended with “but a few seconds left to play.”  The Detroit Free Press from that Sunday said two minutes remained, headline:

Freep Nov 1 1903Detroit Free Press  November 1, 1903

As you can imagine they were a little more liberal with the clock in those days, and there were many times when the teams agreed to end the game, mostly due to the Yost beat down that was going on.

The great John Kryk of Natural Enemies emailed me with some brilliant stuff, explaining this further:

It not only happened often during Point-A-Minute years (and before) as a result of Yost maulings, but in those days the full 70 minutes (two 35-minute halves) were ONLY played when the opponent was of sufficient strength or reputation.

For instance in 1901 Michigan played 10 regular-season games. Only two (Chicago and Iowa) had halves of 35-35. This was by mutual agreement.  Games not only could, but usually were, shortened by mutual agreement.  Sometimes it was even put into the contract a year before.   For instance, the halves were only 20 minutes long in Yost’s first game vs Albion.   Against Pop Warner’s Carlisle team they were 27.5 and 27.5 — obviously a compromise between 25 and 30.

This practice continued at least until the end of the decade. By the early 1910s, with the change to four downs, 100-yard fields and 60-minute, four-quarter games, the practice of pre-determined or ad-hoc shortening was eliminated.

I’m sure there have been other anomalies over the years.  Only one I know of, because of my research focus, is the 1943 Michigan Notre Dame game. The M stadium scoreboard clock malfunctioned, and players and coaches couldn’t believe how long the 3rd quarter was going.   It became evident that it had stopped for a long time. Crisler, Leahy and the officials agreed that they’d probably played (I think it was something like) a 23-minute third quarter, so by mutual agreement they played only a seven-minute fourth quarter.

So in that way, yesterday’s was the shortest 3rd quarter in modern times, and that ‘43 ND game was the longest.

That is raw historical horsepower, people.  [Get yourself some Natural Enemies if you don’t have it.]


To open the 6th year of This Week in Michigan Football history, we first salute today’s debut of Coach Jim Harbaugh as the leader of your beloved Wolverines and certainly, positively, without a doubt- the dawn of a new Glorious era for the maize and blue.

Many fans had a similar, perhaps less justified, feeling on this day in 2011, as September 3 of that year marked a different head coaching debut as former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke took over the western sideline for the first time.

His fiery introductory press conference speech back in January won fans over and united much of the fractured fan base. After 3 choppy years with Rich Rodriquez at the helm it the Meechigan faithful were wounded. But now it was time to see what Hoke could do on the field.

The opponent on this day five years ago was Western Michigan, and the day proved historic for a couple of reasons – one on the field and one off the field.

Michigan got off to a slow start and trailed 7-0 in the first quarter but rallied with 3 TDs in the second thanks to 2 Fitz Toussaint runs and a fantastic 94-yard interception return by Brandon Herron.

Later, after a jarring hit from Jordan Kovacs relieved a Broncos of the ball, Herron grabbed the pigskin and took it 34 yards for a another score. In doing so he became the first Wolverine since 1940 Heisman winner, Old 98 Tom Harmon, to take a pair of returns to the house.

The other story on the day was Mother Nature. Storms in the area forced the game to be suspended early in the second half. The game restarted 30 then stopped again after a lightning strike with a minute and a half left in the third. After a long suspension the teams agreed to call it a day, and declared Michigan the 34-10 victor.

This was the first Michigan game in recent history to end early – but despite several news reports saying otherwise, it was certainly not the first time all-time. The first Rose Bowl in 1902 ended with eight minutes to go, after Fielding Yost’s undefeated squad was up 49-0 on Stanford when the Cardinal Captain begged Hurry Up to call off the dogs.

Just a couple of years later on Halloween in 1903, the Minnesota-Michigan game in Minneapolis ended early when Gopher fans stormed the field after a late game tying score. Yost, Willie Heston and the rest of the Wolverines left town with a couple minutes left on the clock, leaving behind certain a 5 gallon stoneware crock we affectionately know today as the Little Brown Jug.


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[Ed. What the heck on the even of the opener and #4’s debut a repost.  Dr. Sap gives you a primer on Jim Harbaugh’s greatest moments as a Wolverine!]

A guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

#5: 1984 Miami (FL) – Jim Harbaugh’s first start as a Michigan Wolverine would come against the #1-ranked, defending National Champion Miami Hurricanes and he didn’t disappoint. Wolverine fans, myself included, had long felt that the maize and blue lacked one thing on offense for a few years – a tall, pocket-passing QB, ideally from California. That finally happened with the Palo Alto, CA 6-3, 202 pound Harbaugh.


Having heard that he had attended a high school passing camp with John Elway as his instructor, sealed the deal for me – Harbs was going to be the next starting QB in my opinion and his first start was highly anticipated by many. His first two passes against Miami – an out pattern to Vince Bean for 11 yards and another to Steve Johnson for 16 yards – showed off his strong arm, much to the delight of the Michigan Stadium crowd, as Michigan went on to win, 22-14. It was an impressive victory for the Wolverines and a great start for the new QB from California.

#4: 1985 Notre Dame – Remembering how Michigan finished the 1984 season at 6-6, not many gave U-M a chance in the season opener against Notre Dame in 1985. It was a statement game for both Michigan and its quarterback. Would the Wolverines bounce back with another 10-win season?



Would their quarterback return to form after breaking his arm a year earlier? A strong defense and solid ground game would power the maize and blue to the victory, and while Harbaugh didn’t light up the scoreboard with his passing, he was effective enough through the air to get the win, 20-12. His 3rd quarter touchdown on a quarterback draw and his ensuing endzone celebration put an exclamation point on the victory – Michigan and Harbaugh were back.



#3 1985 Ohio State – With Iowa having all but wrapped up the Rose Bowl bid a few weeks earlier with a one point win over Michigan, the Wolverines and Buckeyes were playing for Fiesta & Cotton Bowl bids respectively.


Not quite the same, but the chips were still high and Harbaugh was clutch throughout the game – particularly on 3rd down. Michigan’s QB would finish the game 16 of 19 for 230 yards and 3 TD’s with 8 of 9 passing on 3rd down for 8 first downs. He topped his clutch performance with a 77-yard touchdown bomb to John Kolesar that put a dagger in the Buckeye hearts once and for all as Michigan won, 27-17.

#2 1986 Notre Dame – Going into the game against the Irish in 1986, Michigan was ranked #1 in some polls but Notre Dame was strutting out their new coach and no one knew what to expect from Lou Holtz and ND.


Two moments stood out for me in this game: (1) After Harbaugh floated a perfect 27-yard touch pass to Jamie Morris for a touchdown, the Michigan quarterback flashed the #1 finger as he raced to the endzone to celebrate the score with his teammates. When did Michigan’s QB ever proclaim so visibly that they truly were #1? Never. (2) Late in the 4th quarter with the contest still in doubt and facing a critical 3rd & 6 at their own 22 yard-line, Harbaugh lofted a perfect 38-yard pass to Kolesar down the Michigan sideline that got the Wolverines out of trouble. When did Bo EVER throw deep on a critical 3rd & short with the game on the line? Never. Not until #4 arrived. A last-second John Carney field goal miss preserved the 24-23 Michigan victory.

#1 1986 Ohio State – After beating Notre Dame (twice), after beating Ohio State at home, and after winning the Fiesta Bowl, there was still something missing on the Harbaugh resume: a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl berth. Both were on the line in 1986. If that wasn’t enough pressure, Harbaugh put the bull’s-eye squarely on himself after he predicted victory over the Bucks on the Monday before the tilt with OSU.


This game was what he dreamed about as a kid emulating his boyhood idol, Rick Leach – beating the Bucks & going to Pasadena – and nothing was going to prevent him from reaching his ultimate goal. Much like he said before his first start in 1984, he was going to do whatever it took to win. In this game it meant overcoming a 11 point deficit in the second half and the raucous crowd in Columbus he so incited with his guarantee. It meant cupping his hands around his facemask to make it appear that his teammates could not hear his audibles that he really wasn’t screaming to them. It meant not throwing a touchdown pass the entire game. It meant executing the game plan to perfection. When it was all said and done, Harbaugh & the Wolverines would emerge victorious In Columbus, 26-24. They were Big Ten Champs and would head west to play in the Rose Bowl, just like he dreamed about as a kid.

Other Notables on Harbaugh:

  • Harbaugh would be the first UM QB to throw for 300 yards in one game (1986 Wisconsin, 1986 Indiana).
  • #4 was the nation’s most efficient passer in 1985 & finished second in 1986.
  • He would also become the QB to successfully break the Bo threshold of attempting more than 25 passes per game AND WIN – another indication that Michigan had finally devised an effective passing game that could win games.
  • Harbaugh started his career being late for his first team meeting and held a clipboard that entire 1982 season. He ended his career by hoisting the Big Ten Championship Trophy and singing The Victors in Columbus.


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[Ed. Originally posted December 2014]


Ann Arbor-based uber Michigan memorabilia collector Ken Magee has been busy on a couple fronts.  First, as follow-up to their successful book The Little Brown Jug that covered the history of the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry, Kenny has partnered with Jon Stevens again to produce The Game: The Michigan-Ohio State Football Rivalry (Images of Sports).  Like the LBJ book The Game run downs season by season in the rivalry using classic photos, clippings and memorabilia as a backdrop.  Stevens put a nice little FAQ together here.


It’s worth a spot on the bookshelf next to the personal Wolverine shrine in your den, office, bedroom or basement (yes, I know you have one).   While I didn’t contribute nearly as much as I did in the Jug book in The Game, Ken and Jon did use a photo of mine from Harbaugh’s opening press conference…but sadly not this one:

In other news Ken’s Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia shop is closing its doors.   After several years as a mainstay on Liberty, Magee’s decided to close the current location at the end of September.  He may still have a presence somewhere, but we’ll call that TBD for now.   The good news for you is he’s dropped prices on a lot of the incredible stuff in his shop.  If you like M memorabilia it’s practically a museum in and of itself.   Mention MVictors and Ken will give you a bear hug and a discount.   Ask really nice and he’ll drop a magic trick on you.


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Helmet decals.  Honor badges.  Or how about “performance stickers”?   Call it a gut feeling but I think we’ll see them on the winged helmet following the Utah game but we’ll see.  A primer on helmet sticker history can be found here.

Naturally Dr. Sap has been pondering their return and he has mocked up a few potential designs for your review, poll at the bottom:

New Decal Adidas 1. adidas logo
New Decal Blank Old School 2. 1969 old school maize
New Decal Blank 3. 1969 high maize
New Decal BO 4. Bo

New Decal M

5. Block M (Inside Oval)
New Decal NIKE 6. Swoosh
New Decal Sap 7. Pebble grain retro
New Decal THE TEAM 8. The Team x 3
New Decal Victors 9. HTTV
helmetdecals19751982 10. Mid-1970s
Photo Aug 26, 6 53 54 AM Added: 11. Blockhams Bo  (submitted by Scott from The Blockhams)
Block M Added 12. Plain Block M (requested on Twitter and mgoblog)
jumpman Added 13. Via comments, Jumpman (2016?)


Which one do you like, or do you have your own design?  Send it over or hit me on Twitter.

Pick a Performance Sticker:

View Results

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Old School decal

UGP Michigan Apparel

So by now you’ve seen The Wolverine’s Chris Balas tweet out what his sources say will be the 2015 road uniform:

image So a couple notes:

  • This indeed appears to be a modern version of the epic all-whites worn exclusively on the road in 1973 through 1975 (concluding with the 1976 Orange Bowl).  Here’s a look at the 1973 MSU game up in East Lansing:

1973 - Michigan vs. Michigan State (East Lansing) 1973 Michigan Jerseys/Uniforms

  • While we know photos can deceive, there seems to be no doubt the both the maize and blue tones are darker, and this backs up a bit of solid insight I got from a great source.  Good timing after this recent post on the origins of maize and blue back in 1867.

My guess is that Balas is correct and we’ll see these September 3rd.   I like the stripes, I could probably do without the white pants for an entire season but I’ll reserve judgment until we see them for a few games.

Now…after the Utah game will be seeing helmet stickers?   Call it a gut feeling but I’d say we’ll see them.

More from the Uniform Timeline here.   I can’t officially update the timeline until we have an official release or we see them on the gridiron September 3.


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UGP Michigan Apparel

As part of its celebration of the 150th anniversary of the athletic program, mgoblue.com is running a few nice pieces including a video bit from Greg Kinney of the U-M Bentley Historical Library and a breakdown of the first athletic team at Michigan – the baseball squad that played during the 1885-86 school year.  A couple notes:

  • Kinney explains how they arrived that this is indeed the 150th anniversary.  It is, in short, because it is during this academic year that the first recorded athletic scored is found in the university “dope books” –the log of record for sports results for decades.  The 1909 dope books were used to confirm my pesky +1 point challenge to the Syracuse-Michigan score that season.  (I’m still waiting for my varsity letter).
  • In the story of the first team, they profile each player including a figure notable for other reasons in U-M history, Albert Pattengill:

Outfield: Albert Pattengill
The only man on this list to stay at U-M, Pattengill was a professor for 37 years, mainly teaching Greek. He also had a reputation for being quite the power hitter. From his obituary:

“At that time, he was a big, square, shouldered youth. To this day, the students relate a tradition as to how he batted a home run once from a point 100 feet south of North University Avenue, so that the sphere landed on the skylight on top of the old medical building. Professional baseball players have looked at the distance and have disputed it, but the tradition stands, nevertheless.”

The same obituary points to Pattengill as a main reason why Fielding H. Yost, the legendary football coach, stayed at Michigan:

“At one time, Yost wanted to break away and go where he had a better offer, but Prof. Pattengill argued with him an hour and at the end of that time, “Hurry-up” announced “I’ll stick.”

Not bad but they left out some stuff.  Pattengill also represented U-M during the founding of the Big Ten in 1895/1896 (and is frequently mentioned for his involvement in the football program during early Yost years – read Stagg vs. Yost!).

Beyond that, did you know Pattengill was on the committee that officially made maize and blue U-M’s official colors?    ‘The Michigan Book’, published in 1898, says this went down specifically on February 12, 1867 (History Calendar updated) & the tome added a few notes on the shades our of beloved colors, emphasis mine:

“Our college colors were chosen at a meeting of the literary department held in the chapel on Saturday, February 12, 1867, when Milton Jackson, ’67, Albert H. Pattengill, ’68, and J. Eugene Jackson, ’69, the committee appointed for the purpose, reported a resolution in favor of “azure-blue and maize”, which was adopted. In about ten years the colors came to be styled, as they are now styled, yellow and blue. The original blue was neither light nor very dark, and the yellow was decidedly golden. Never has there been any warrant for the sickly yellow and the faded blue furnished by some of the tradesmen of Detroit and Ann Arbor.”

How about that?  

From the look of the pants (which appear to be the 2015 version) from media day, it looks like Coach Harbaugh is down with being decidedly golden:


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Fantastic!…that’s Yost’s perfectly perfect 1901 squad – colorized and brilliant.

Friends, fans or mere passers-by of this site.  Read this excerpt.  Buy Stagg vs. Yost.   Visit John Kryk’s blog on the book release.  This is a masterpiece that will be read and taught through the ages, and Kryk has offered up an exclusive morsel to you – the readers of MVictors.   A huge thanks to John and his publisher and the U-M Bentley Historical Library for this exclusive including several of the photos – I know you will love it:

– – – –

Yost’s 1901 Wolverines: perfection and roses

            Fielding H. Yost’s first Michigan team in 1901 smacked Amos Alonzo Stagg’s Chicago Maroons by the largest score so far in the 10-year series, 22-0 — the Wolverines’ eighth win in eight tries, all by shutout.


            Afterward, Stagg acted as he usually did after a team clobbered him on the field: he counter-punched as hard as he could off it.

            Days after the Nov. 16 game, Stagg filed a protest to UM authorities, charging that starting Wolverine left end Curtis Redden was a professional, for evidently pocketing an $11 prize as a youth after having won sprint races at a town sports meet. UM authorities mulled the matter while Redden on the following Saturday played in Michigan’s 15-touchdown, 89-0 destruction of Beloit in 30-minute halves — a near repeat of the 128-0 University of Buffalo slaughter.

            Upon launching a full investigation the following week, UM decided to hold Redden out of the regular-season finale against Iowa. Why hadn’t Stagg protested Redden before Chicago’s game in Ann Arbor? Perhaps he hadn’t been tipped about Redden in time. More likely, he surmised that his team had no hope of winning in Ann Arbor anyway, and protesting beforehand only would have sent the message to everyone, including his own players, that he was desperate.


            Not that Michigan’s success against the Hawkeyes hinged on Redden’s presence. The Wolverines improved to 10-0 by crushing the Hawkeyes 50-0 on Thanksgiving Day at West Side baseball park in Chicago, in 35-minute halves. Wolverine fans had hoped their team would put up 49 on the Hawkeyes, to allow Michigan to become the first team in the West to crash through the 500-point barrier in a season. Yost and the boys obliged, surpassing the threshold by one. It was sweet revenge too — both for veteran UM players, who’d taken a thorough 28-5 thumping from Dr. Alden Knipe’s Hawkeyes the year before, and for Yost, whose Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1898 had been upset 6-5 by Knipe’s Iowa charges.


            As for Redden, when the UM Board in Control of Athletics interviewed him he claimed he had never known about the $11 prize money. If it was offered, he presumed he was guilty nonetheless because his father would have pocketed the money. But Redden’s father, apparently a lawyer in good standing, later appeared before the UM board and swore that he’d declined the prize money. Signed affidavits from officials of the games supported his claim. UM thus happily rejected Stagg’s protest and reinstated Redden, albeit after the regular season.

            Stagg also attempted to hurt Michigan — and Iowa — in the ledger. He still despised it when other schools scheduled games “in his backyard,” calling it “the height of impertinence and discourtesy” and “vulgar.” Michigan and Iowa authorities had long since set an 11 o’clock Thanksgiving Day kickoff for their game, so that a Chicagoan so inclined might attend both big games staged that day in the Windy City — UM-Iowa followed by the mid-afternoon Chicago-Wisconsin tilt. A few days before Thanksgiving, though, Stagg moved the Maroons-Badgers kickoff to noon, killing the doubleheader possibility. UM and UI authorities were livid, but 9,000 to 10,000 still attended their game, and each school cleared $2,500. About 1,000 fewer fans showed up at UC’s Marshall Field on the south side to watch Phil King’s undefeated Badgers destroy what was left of Stagg’s Maroons, 35-0.

            Football fans and writers across the West, even Stagg, lobbied for a post-season Michigan-Wisconsin game to settle the Championship of the West. There was no chance the game would take place, however. The Badgers might have welcomed it, even if they publicly stated otherwise. But UM authorities and alumni remained mighty bitter toward Wisconsin.

            Michigan’s beef with Wisconsin athletic leaders wasn’t so much because UW had suddenly backed out of the Michigan/Wisconsin/Illinois boycott of Stagg and his UC sports teams in 1899 (over his unreasonable stance on scheduling home-and-homes only if his Maroons pocketed the majority of the gate every two years), as because UM felt backstabbed in the process. Stagg had split up the triumvirate by convincing UW president Charles R. Van Hise and athletic director John L. Fisher to schedule a post-season game in ’99 between their teams to decide Western honors. As further enticement, Stagg dangled two future Thanksgiving Day games at his Marshall Field, in place of Michigan, in 1901 and 1902. The Badgers jumped at it, with the two sides keeping the 1902 arrangement secret from Michigan and the press for more than a year.

            Michigan athletic authorities could hardly have thought less of their Wisconsin counterparts as late as January 1902. That’s when UM athletic director Charles Baird privately remarked to UM’s leading alumnus on football matters, future UM law dean Henry M. Bates, that it seemed “Wisconsin and Chicago have an understanding [and] are determined to put us in a hole,” and when Baird’s boss — UM Board in Control faculty chairman Albert H. Pattengill — confided to Bates that while it might be “good politics and good money” to play Wisconsin in football, “they are so nasty, selfish & treacherous that I am in no hurry to make up with them. Let them wait a while.”

            Stagg could not even bait the Wolverines into a December 1901 showdown against the Badgers when he said, “I am absolutely certain that if a post-season game should be played, Wisconsin would beat Michigan.”

            Instead, the Wolverines looked forward to the team’s first West Coast trip over the Holidays. Stagg had been the first coach to take a college team west during the Christmas break — after the 1894 season, to play Stanford both in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Michigan’s venture west had been in the works all year, although details constantly changed. At one point Michigan considered a full West Coast swing against three teams: the University of Washington in Seattle, Cal in San Francisco and Stanford in Pasadena. Ultimately only the latter was arranged, as a sporting spectacle on New Year’s Day to follow the annual Tournament of Roses parade: later remembered as the first Rose Bowl game. Michigan’s opponent would be Stanford — Yost’s team the year before — which had defeated Cal again, 12-0, to win the Pacific Coast championship.

            The Wolverines’ train departed Ann Arbor on December 17 in sub-freezing cold with six inches of snow on the ground. Eight days later, the Michigan party of 19 — 15 players, Yost, Baird, trainer Fitzpatrick and student manager Harry Crafts — arrived in Los Angeles. One local paper listed reasons Stanford should win, including the fact that if UM’s star first-year halfback, Willie Heston from San Jose Normal, could win a starting spot then the Wolverines couldn’t be that good.

            Four days before the game Yost asked Stanford captain Ralph Fisher if the teams could play 25-minute halves, instead of 35, because of the heat. No way, Fisher replied. Those who’d bought tickets were entitled to get their money’s worth.

            On New Year’s Day morning the Wolverines took part in the Tournament of Roses parade, riding in a large carriage. Then they prepared for the afternoon game. The temperature reached the mid 80s — unseasonably hot. Stands had been built to accommodate 2,500 but reported estimates placed the overflow throng anywhere between 6,000 and 8,000.

            Stanford could do little on offense, but on defense kept Michigan in check for a while. The game was scoreless through 15 minutes of play. Thereafter, the Wolverines dominated and won going away, 49-0. The heat ultimately did not slow down the Wolverines a bit.

            At one point in the second half, Stanford captain Fisher approached Yost on the Michigan sideline to throw in the towel. No siree, Yost replied — the spectators were entitled to get their full money’s worth. But then, with eight minutes remaining, Fisher approached his counterpart, tackle Hugh White, and pleaded: “If you are willing, sir, we are ready to quit.” White agreed. Ball game.

            Motivated by digs in the local press, Heston had continually ripped off big gains, finishing with 170 yards on 18 carries as the Wolverines piled up 527 yards of offense. In his final collegiate game, fullback Neil Snow scored five of Michigan’s eight touchdowns — a Rose Bowl record that might never be broken.

            Michigan thus finished its first season under Yost with an 11-0-0 record, tied with 9-0-0 Wisconsin for the Big Nine title and mythical Championship of the West. The Wolverines on the season outscored their foes 555 points to zero, the Badgers 317 to 5.

            Official, uniform national record-keeping for college football statistics did not begin until 1937 (thanks to Yost, actually), so there is no way to verify an official Big Ten history’s claim that the 1901 Wolverines “steamrollered for 8,000 yards” in 11 games. As a historical comparison, only two teams in top-level NCAA history entering the 2014 season had ever passed the 8,000-yard barrier in a season: the 2011 Houston Cougars (with 8,387 in 14 games, for an average of 599) and the 2013 Baylor Bears (with 8,044 in 13 games, for a 619 average). The NCAA record for most total yards per game in a season was set by the Houston Cougars in 1989, with 625. The only other team to eclipse the 600-yards-per-game mark is the 2013 Baylor Bears. If true that the 1901 Wolverines gained as many as 8,000 yards, then even 8,000-flat in 11 games would equate to 727 per game.

            As impressive as Yost’s hurry-up offense had been, the defense might have been as impregnable as any in the history of the game — and not just because of the uninterrupted string of shutouts. The longest gain Michigan allowed all season was 15 yards, and not once on a scrimmage play did a runner squeeze through the first 10 Wolverines so that deep-safety Ev Sweeney had to make a saving tackle; Sweeney’s lone touchdown-saving stop came on Case’s return of a blocked Michigan field goal attempt.

            Only decades after the fact did the Helms Foundation, in 1941, rate the 1901 Wolverines No. 1 in all of college football. Over the decades, other college football research foundations that awarded national championships retroactively followed suit. Not until the 1910s, though, would any prominent sports writer in the East have so much as considered awarding the mythical national championship to any team outside the East. In 1901 Harvard was everybody’s choice. No polls of coaches or writers existed until the late 1930s. The opinions of a few select but hardly unbiased experts — such as Walter Camp and Caspar Whitney — held sway. So infused were Camp, Whitney and others in their Eastern bias, Michigan could have scored 800 points in 1901 and not been given any more consideration for No. 1. Only four years earlier, Camp had yet even to deem a football player from the West worthy of a spot on his annual All-America first team, and no Western man until Stagg in 1904 was allowed on the rules committee run by Camp.

            Whitney ranked Michigan third nationally in 1901, behind Harvard and Yale. “In style of game, in running with the ball, and in punting,” Whitney wrote of Michigan and Wisconsin, “these two teams stand up well up towards the very head of American football; in handling of kicks and in highly developed team play, however, they are quite a bit inferior to the eastern leaders.”  That was an odd comment, seeing as Yost claimed Michigan fumbled but one punt all season.

            Ann Arborites felt Michigan was indeed the top team in the land, of course. It was quite a change from 12 months earlier, when the Wolverine football program was in abject disarray, with relations between warring factions so bad that a cross-roads meeting of key faculty, alumni, students and others had to be called. Yost had consolidated everybody with what the Chicago Inter Ocean described as his “perfectly organized machine”:

            “There was not a loose screw — not a bearing that needed oil. It worked smoothly, regularly, brilliantly.”

            The “point-a-minute” nickname for Yost’s teams would not come until 1902. The “machine” analogy was far more popular at the time, and soon would be used so often by sports writers and headline writers, it would become passé and cliché.

            But would the machine’s designer and chief manufacturer return to Michigan in 1902? Yost had never spent more than one season at any coaching stop, and UM athletic director Baird had signed Yost to only a one-year deal. By Thanksgiving there already had been rumors that Penn out east was anxious to replace the outgoing George Woodruff with Yost.

            Baird didn’t wait. By the first week of December he locked up Yost contractually for three more seasons — and raised Yost’s salary by $450, to $2,750 per year plus expenses, for three to four months’ annual work. The average American salary in 1900 was $438.

            With Yost and eight starting Wolverines due to return in 1902 — including the great Harrison “Boss” Weeks at quarterback, Heston and all the halfbacks, and Sweeley the remarkable punter — the chances Michigan would be all-powerful again appeared strong. As strong as Stagg’s newfound resolve to upgrade his talent so that, some day, he could wipe that wide smile right off the face of the gloating, vagabond coach from the hicks.*   *   *

            A study of the Point-a-Minute years at UM reveals that the majority of top prospects recruited, or raided from smaller universities, by Yost and Baird wound up earning their degrees. It is virtually impossible to compile a definitive list of all players Yost and Baird might have targeted to bring to Ann Arbor because, as everywhere then, new recruits were never officially announced or identified, so on the “scrubs” there might be any number of recruits who’d failed to pan out, mixed with players who’d risen from the class-team ranks of the general student population.

            Of the 23 new men Yost and Baird added from 1901 to 1905 who earned their ‘M’ letters on the varsity, 14 graduated and nine did not. Of the nine, one did not have a chance to graduate: Cecil Gooding, the starting right guard in 1903, who died in 1904.

            Most impressively, each of the 13 varsity members on Yost’s 1901 Wolverine team wound up earning a degree: 12 at UM (eight in law, three in liberal arts, one in engineering) and one at the Michigan College of Mines, whereto Arthur Redner transferred in 1902 and wherefrom he graduated in 1905.

            So the UM team with the perfect record (11-0-0) and perfect defense (0 points allowed all season) also had a perfect graduation rate.

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Ed. Thank you John et al – Buy  Stagg vs. Yost !    Questions for Kryk?  Hit me up on this site or visit John Kryk’s blog on the book release or hit me on Twitter. 


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