1969 Michigan Vanderbilt Program

This week we head back exactly 45 years to the opener of the 1969 season and a new era in Michigan Football History.  It was of course the debut of Bo…and Canham’s beloved new carpet:

Speaking of Canham’s carpet, I love this old shot of Dierdorf and Bo:

Bo and Dierdorf inspect new artificial turf

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or inside the Bud Light Victors Lounge starting at 11:30am.


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Today we head back to 1969, a fateful season in Michigan Football lore. This was the first season on the sideline for new coach Glenn Edward Schembechler, Jr. a man today known from coast to coast simply as “Bo”.

But back then Bo was a relatively unproven coach with a funny name and on top of that, a coach Buckeye roots who athletic director Don Canham snatched from Miami. He was the first true outsider to coach the team since Fritz Crisler arrived from Princeton over three decades earlier.

It was on this day in Michigan football history exactly 45 years ago Bo got his first chance to roam the western sideline and lead the maize and blue – or at least those on the roster endured Bo’s brutal style and intense practices and stayed….

Vanderbilt was the opponent on September 20, 1969 and the Commodores got the experience of not only facing a new Michigan head coach, but Don Canham’s new “carpet” – that is, artificial turf.

Canham was so proud of the new surface that the program for this game didn’t show Bo, or his players or even a picturesque scene on the athletic campus – it simply featured a photo of the new field and some sort of vacuum-like machine at the 50 yard line. Hmm..

But fortunately for Michigan the real story on this day was Schembechler’s Debut, and he gave the 70,000 fans who bothered to show up a taste of what Michigan football would look like for the next 2 decades.

All told he ran the ball 54 times and piled up over 360 yards on the day in the 42-14 pounding of the Commodores.

The following week was more of the same, although the Big House was less than half full – literally – as under 50,000 entered the gates. This time Bo ran the ball 63 times for over 370 yards as the #20th ranked Wolverines pummeled Washington 45-7.

So that’s how the Schembechler era started in Ann Arbor – with a resounding brand of smash mouth football. But how did the 1969 end? That’s a story for future edition of This Week in Michigan Football history…

For more, Checkout @MVictors on Twitter and WTKA.com – for the KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff, this is Greg Dooley.


While I’m not sure it deserves anywhere in the orbit of the $4,000 price tag, nonetheless, there’s an interesting item up on eBay right now.   In sum, it’s a 1905 petition asking the athletic department to address a few questions about the idea of withdrawing from the Western Conference–a debate that was burning hot on campus obviously:

We Should Leave

The questions translated, as I see it:

1. Is there any meaningful/tangible penalty (if we leave)? 
2. Can we still play conference rivals like Minnesota and Chicago? 
3. Whoa – does this mean we can play teams like Penn, Harvard and Yale? 
4. Will people think we are a-holes if we leave? 

Good questions.  Answers in hindsight (knowing how this played out once we did indeed leave the Western Conference) IMHO:

1. Not really.
2. Not really. (We did play the occasional conference opponent – see Minnesota in 1909 and 1910).
3. Kind of.  Michigan did start to schedule some cool eastern schools (we consistently played Penn, Cornell and Syracuse) but overall filling the schedule with quality opponents was a struggle, as was consistently beating the eastern schools.
4. Kind of.

Note the letter above also makes reference to a student petition specifically asking for Michigan to leave the conference (that would be cool to see as well).

In this old post I broke down what happened, and here’s a summary of the provisions/demands put down by the conference a few months later, and a bit on how that affected Michigan:

..Finally, spearheaded by the request of Michigan’s president James B. Angell, officials from the schools representing the Western Conference (U-M, Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana) met in Chicago in January 1906 to discuss these issues and more.  Keep in mind this was far from a gathering of athletic directors—these men were faculty and administrators from each school.

The day after the meeting the headline of the New York Times roared, “FOOTBALL HIT HARD BY WESTERN COLLEGES”.  The changes outlined by the committee were indeed drastic and aimed primarily at the gridiron.   Here’s a breakdown of the recommendations:

  1. Accept or Abolish: The committee started by making one thing clear…one way or another serious changes were going to happen.   While the individual schools of the conference would be able to accept or reject the committee’s recommendations, included was a poisonous provision dictating that if the changes were NOT agreed to by a majority of the schools, football would be suspended in the conference for two years.   They effectively were daring the schools to not ratify the recommendations.  Obviously Michigan, nor most of the other schools, would go along with this so they were really left with a simple choice: either accept the recommendations or leave the conference.
  2. Reduced number of games: The committee dictated that the football season be limited to just five games.   Practice could start only when the college term began in the fall, and the last game of the schedule would be played two weeks before Thanksgiving.   This would be a big change to the direction Michigan was heading as Yost’s squad played 13 games in 1905.
  3. Training Tables: The committee also proposed having “training tables”, that is, structured and planned team-only meals, abolished.  This is an accepted practice today—I remember the team enjoying specialized meals at South Quad when I was on campus.   Back at the turn of the century, this was probably viewed as a very special benefit, even a form of compensation, and Michigan held training tables and even had a team trainer on staff.   Given the results on the field, Yost understandably had no plans in changing their practice regimen.  Michigan argued that this recommendation should be eliminated from the proposal.
  4. Three-year Rule: The conference sought to abolish the practice of having athletes participate for more than three years. Freshman would be required to have residence at the school for one year before participating.   The practice of having players transfer in and out (including those who already had degrees from other schools) would be barred.  Football was to be played by enrolled undergraduates only.    One of Michigan’s finest players was their center Germany Schultz.  Schultz arrived on campus as a 21-year-old, and allegedly played football before he arrived in Ann Arbor.  Whether he was a ringer or just someone who started a bit late was inconsequential as under the proposed changes he would be ineligible.  Michigan countered that this rule not be retroactive, thus allowing players like Schultz to participate until they moved on.
  5. The Money: Another recommendation proposed that all gate revenue from games be controlled by the faculty (not by alumni or by the athletic department) and that ticket prices should be fixed at fifty cents.  Prices ranged quite a bit in those days, but generally the best seats went for about three bucks.   Of U-M’s thirteen games in 1905, a whopping eleven of those were played on the Wolverines home turf of Ferry Field.   This collection of professors and administrators naturally wanted to decide what to do with it.
  6. Professional Coaches: Teams would be managed by members of the faculty, who would receive a small stipend for their efforts as coaches.  This is essence extended the concept of the student-athlete to apply to coaches.  This worked well for the other two ‘Western’ powers in the conference as Stagg and Minnesota’s coach Henry “Doc” Williams were already members of their respective faculties.  Yost was not.   Furthermore, it was deemed that future coaches would be selected by the faculty, not the athletic departments within each school.   There’s little doubt that this sweeping change in the place of the coach within the university was a direct shot at Michigan and Yost.  The New York Times speculated that if it were instituted it would effectively end Yost’s career.


Michigan did eventually decide to leave the conference (probably not the best idea as it turned out) and returned in 1917.

P.S. I’m sensitive to anything up on eBay that could have been obtained via dubious means (i.e., swiped from campus archives at the Bentley or wherever), but this appears to be legit, as there are a few items on eBay recently that seems to be owned by Mr. Stevenson (2nd signature down on the right).


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14. September 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: 2014


Overwhelming a hapless MAC school in the second half of a game is sorta fun, but few left Michigan Stadium Saturday with a new opinion on the direction of this team.  Many of the empty seats will be occupied next Saturday when Utah visits you can bet.   To the Sights and Sounds:

Big Jon – Always great to see Jon Falk in the house – even if it is upstairs on not on the sideline:Falk

Pomp:  Several items out there Saturday:

  • SSB? – The band celebrated the 200th year of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  Nerd nit:  And 200 years later the scoreboard doesn’t show the proper punctuation when they display the lyrics to the song.  At half the band either spelled out LIBERTY or LETHARGY, it wasn’t clear from on high.  Nevertheless, here’s Big house the beautiful pregame:


  • Not from THERE.  Miami band displayed a “NOT COLUMBUS” banner on the opening number before playing THE VICTORS.  Pandering?  Guilty.  Do I Love it?  Guilty.
  • Capacity – Two minutes before kickoff, sparse in the student section and the unsold whatever-we-call-it section just north of the students:Sparse
  • Booing – There were some loud BOOs in the 2nd quarter and the crowd was obviously frustrated.  I’m not a big BOO-bird when given the opportunity, and no, I’d never boo college players.  That said, to those holier-than-thou fans are chiming in criticizing the boo-birds, I’ll say this: the BOOing wasn’t directed at the players—it was directed at the coaching staff. 

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Dr. Sap's Decals Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is back this season with his weekly postgame helmet stickers.  Sap would do a backflip if coach Hoke decided to reinstate this tradition that Bo brought to the team in 1969 (from Miami, OH, mind you). 

Until that day comes, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.   I’ll typically toss in the Fan Award and the Editor’s Choice:



OFFENSIVE LINE – Kind of stepping out on a limb here but, Derrick Green does not run for 137 yards and 2 TDs without some holes being created by the O-Line.  Derrick Green does not look like High School Derrick Green without the Big Uglies getting it done up front.

I realize the opponent was a MAC school that hadn’t won a game in almost 2 years, but I saw signs of progress by the Hosses in the trenches.  I had a feeling this line would show some addition by subtraction, and now that the 2 senior tackles have left, this unit is starting to gel.  Again, I’m not talking B1G Championship here – just saying that when you gain over 450 yards of offense, the guys up front are something right. Doing it in September is one thing.  Getting it done in November is another.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION JAKE RYAN – The Manster seemed to be all over the field on Saturday. He was back to his old self – flying around, making stops and in on tackles all over the place. He is that unit’s leader and identity and needs to continue to be the sparkplug on D.
SPECIAL TEAMS DENNIS NORFLEET – His kickoff returns gave Michigan great field position in the first quarter. Those setup the offense for a couple of short fields and early scores and conversely gave Miami poor field position when Michigan’s offense was forced to punt. Sure he was in on the muffed short kick by the Redhawks, but that was offset, in my opinion, by making a tackle on one of the Wolverine kickoffs later in the game.

M NOSEBUMPER – It’s starting to grow on me now, after having seen it for a few games. I like the look of the “M” and to be quite honest with you, the “MICHIGAN” was kind of small and tough to make out.


Have you noticed that the NFL is doing the same thing by putting the team logos on the helmet nosebumpers?  It’s all about the Brand, right? 

Well, if you don’t like the “M” what about putting a snarling wolverine head inside of a yellow football up front?? ;)


BOB UFER COTTON PICKIN’ FAN AWARD PAPA BUTT & HEADBUTT – References to our beloved tight end named Butt never get old.  Well done Butt family:
Papa Butt


EDITOR’S CHOICE YOUNG BUTT – Everything I hear about this guy behind this scenes points to one thing – this dude is pure gold.  Made a really nice athletic play on this touchdown catch over the shoulder.  Won’t be long before JBooty_88 becomes JBooty87..


mgoblue photo


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1980 Michigan Nortwestern

I’m not going to lie, I think a little bit of Paul from Toledo rubbed off on me for this week’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History:

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or inside the Bud Light Victors Lounge starting at 11:30am.


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Up on mgoblue.com right now, a nice piece on the Michigan coaching ties to Miami, OH and its famed Cradle of Coaches.  It include a few great quotes from longtime assistant coach Jerry Hanlon, Tirrel Burton, Jon Falk and others.  Hanlon:

“I’m a double ‘M Man,’ ” Hanlon said. “You can’t get Miami out of my blood because it gave me my start. It’s going to be tough this Saturday, but I think I’ve worn the maize and blue a little too long.” 

More importantly, I got a kick out of this.  The lead pic features Bo’s staff in 1975 during team photo day…but look who’s chilling in the background!

Les Miles Here’s Les, a senior offensive guard in ‘75, in the front row of the team photo if you need him:

Les Miles 1975 


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Keep Ira and Sam in your thoughts.  They’ve graciously kept the WTKA phone lines open since Monday morning.  I’m pretty sure if they continue this for the entire week they qualify for sainthood.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s shutout, Ira even took the onslaught from callers on the postgame show.  Just after midnight Paul from Toledo dialed in:

Forget Engineering! (Sorry Cook.)

Update: This has pretty much gone viral.  Thanks to Lost Letterman for taking a run at the transcription:

“Yeah, this is Paul. [Inaudible] I’m headed back home. I just gotta tell you right now: That is absolutely a joke. I heard one of your sponsors: Come Get Some Burritos. Brady Hoke can grab some burritos and get the heck out of town. You got to be kidding me.

I mean here’s the deal: Devin Gardner’s got a defensive lineman number (#98), get him on the defensive line! Let’s get a quarterback in there that knows how to throw and throw to our team!

Let’s get John Beilein coaching both teams, Crisler Arena and the Big House are right next to each other. Let’s get John Beilein, Jon Horford – let’s get all those guys – Mitch McGary; I don’t care how many trees he smokes, he can score touchdowns, then get him on the field!

The Maize and Blue need to [inaudible] in a big way. You know what I’m talking about, Ira! This is a joke! I’m in Toledo, Ohio, enemy territory, we need some Ws!

What is Michigan about? Engineering? Forget engineering! Let’s win football!!!!”

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[Ed. I don’t know if this helps or hurts your Saturday hangover, but reader Daniel shared this via email today and I had to post itGreat Stuff]

** Guest post by Daniel Florip **

As depressed as we are about the 31-0 butt kicking Saturday night, let’s also continue to be depressed about the end of this very hotly contested and entertaining rivalry. I decided to look at the numbers, and it’s amazing how even the modern rivalry was. Take a look at the 31 modern games in the series, from 1978 to 2014:

The wins and losses were right down the middle: M 15, ND 15, 1 tie

The points scored were pretty even too, over 31 games: M 716, ND 660.

The per-game average score of M 23, ND 21 suggests a whole lot of very close contests and a very even series.

Each school defended its home turf at pretty much the same clip:
* M Record in Ann Arbor: 10-5
* ND Record in South Bend: 10-5-1

And this was not a streaky series by any means:
* Longest ND Winning Streak: 4 (1987-1990)
* Longest M Winning Streak: 3 (2009-2011)
* (No other streaks longer than 2 games.)

The records were pretty close no matter the margin of victory.  More »


Synopsis: They might be chicken but we’re the jive turkeys.  

No, the season is not lost but what happened last night was worse as anything that has happened in recent years – seriously – including last year’s beat down in East Lansing.   Oh yes, it got ugly (ironically, mostly Chicken Little sky is falling) on WTKA on Sunday morning.  A reminder to callers, please recite your fandom credentials BEFORE your rant, please.  Oh and the Twitterverse was less than kind to the current #1000SSS regime.  

Hope is not a strategy but..that’s my strategy.  And bourbon.

Peacock Trolls:  Nice to know NBC Sports is trolling this site…did you see that photo and brief mention of Yost’s dog?    I wonder where they got that?

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