[Given Block M-gate, a repost.  And P.S., Lay off Hunter Lochmann!  The guy is great and readers of this site, I hope, understand the point he was trying to make.  And yes, feel free to bang on me for addressing this issue in this blurb– but I’m busy, darn it!]

At glance, the design on this pendant that I bought on eBay back in 2013 doesn’t seem too out of ordinary.  On its face you’ve got a thick maize Block M, flanked by blue enamel sitting above the U-M seal:1837 Modern Block MBut upon closer inspection the date on the deal is 1837, not 1817, and therefore the pendant pre-dates 1929.   The surprise here, to me, is that is a fairly modern looking maize block ‘M’ style for such a vintage piece.  Back then, while there were certainly a great deal of variation, the block Ms in circulation were much thinner than today’s style:

Old Ms

Now to be fair, you probably can tell that’s not the modern block M—the cleft in the middle drops to the bottom unlike the official design which cuts off half way, but…it’s pretty close.  You’d also be hard pressed to find Michigan merch today set on stainless steel outside of the occasional collectible spoon.

Either way whomever created this beauty had a vision for a wider and badder block M and went with it.  The only sensible conclusion is that this was created by the Michigan time travelling hipster:

Time Travelling Hipster

The pendant sold for 12 bucks.

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UGPtop[1]

[Ed. A modified repost from January 2011 & the last time Michigan Man was tossed around..during the last coaching search]

The term Michigan Man hasn’t been this hot since Bo dropped his epic blast at outgoing coach Bill Frieder.  This of course happened during the last coaching search and it prompted Hoover Street Rag, UMGoBlog and a pre-SI/pre-practicegate Rosey to serve up excellent discussions centered around the Michigan Man concept.

We know the use of the term goes way back, certainly before Bo used it so famously.   Heck, we know that Bo dropped this on Mark Messner during a last ditch recruiting trip in the mid-1980s:

Bo walks over, just hands me a tape and says [Messner in perfect Bo voice]: “You’re a Michigan man and you belong at Michigan.”  And got back in the car.

I don’t know if there will ever be a true “source” of Michigan Man because as I understand it, it’s piggybacking on the concept of the ‘Harvard Man’, which I believe was simply extracted from England and the ‘Oxford Man’ or ‘Cambridge Man’, for instance.   The Great Gatsby, chapter 7:

“And you found he was an Oxford man,” said Jordan helpfully.
“An Oxford man!” He was incredulous. “Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit.”
“Nevertheless he’s an Oxford man.”
“Oxford, New Mexico,” snorted Tom contemptuously, “or something like that.”

Anyway, I did a quick search to find the phrase and nabbed a century-plus old source of it being used in the context of a U-M grad in a coaching position.  Vanderbilt was coached by a former M player, assistant and Yost’s brother-in-law Dan McGugin.   Frank “Shorty” Longman coached Notre Dame but went to Michigan and played for Yost from 1903-1905.

When Michigan scheduled Notre Dame in 1909, check out this passage from September 12, 1909 edition of the Free Press:

1909 Michigan Man

 

Flash forward to 2014, when recently reader Brian Snider found this cool article eBay in the Michigan Daily dating to 1905 concerning the construction of the Michigan Union, where the subheadline mentioned Michigan Men:

image

Of course the Union was originally for men (women were only allowed to enter through the North entrance and when accompanied by a male escort), reiterated on this match book:

union matchbook

And we know the label ‘Michigan Man’ goes back further than this.  Author John Kryk (Natural Enemies) told me he found its use “predates Yost” and he’s come across references from the 1890s.

 

Related:
* Jim Harbaugh a Michigan man?  “Like hell he is!,” says Mike Hart in 2007.
* Shorty Longman’s Ruse

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Check out the latest edition of Michigan Today for James Tobin’s piece on the Yost’s fight to build Michigan Stadium.  It narrows in on a few folks that represented the opposition to not only the new stadium, but the culture of football itself during the period.   We’re talking the mid-1920s during the first major football arms race (when giant stadiums were popping up all over the place), and some struggled with the new found popularity (and off-field revelry) that followed the growth of the sport.

The piece also includes this clip of Yost at practice in 1928 –FWIW this was after the stadium was built and Yost’s coaching days were through:

A few choice quotes – starting with Robert C. Angell, one of the leaders of the opposition:

As for the players themselves, Angell said, only a few did more in class than maintain their eligibility. Nearly all their time and energy went to the sport. “Their diplomas cover a multitude of intellectual sins.”

But the athletes were only “a few drops in the bucket of university life.” What harm could football possibly do to the thousands of other students who simply showed up to cheer?

Well, said Angell, every autumn, football became a kind of addiction for students, “many but mildly, some seriously.” The sport seized “a monopoly of undergraduate conversation… A scientific theory or a piece of fine poetry has not a chance to squeeze in edgewise.

“Around the dinner table, in one another’s rooms, walking to and from classes, the chief topic for discussion is the team’s make-up, its powers, its chances for the next game…”

And all this talk hauled students’ attention away from the real purpose of college. Their focus was not the mind but the muscles, not clashing ideas but clashing bodies on a field of battle.

“The worship of the man who can throw a forward pass thirty yards…is not likely to turn…impressionable youngsters towards the fascinating problems of science, history and literature.”

And beyond the campuses, Angell said, big-time football was exerting “a subtle degrading influence” on the public’s opinion of education.

Because of press attention to football, he said, now “the ‘college man’ is proverbially an individual with little to do but drink, make love, and cheer for the team.” That influence, in turn, was attracting “pleasure seekers with no intellectual interest”—and “how can we hope to stimulate a love of knowledge in students like this?

Yost naturally didn’t take kindly to Angell’s comments, and offered this rebuttal:

“This same Robert C. Angell is a former member of the Varsity Tennis Team,” Yost fumed in a letter to the press. “He played with racquets and tennis balls purchased by the Athletic Association. He played on tennis courts built and maintained by the Athletic Association. He went on out-of-town trips and had all his expenses paid by the Athletic Association. He wears the ‘M’ Hat and ‘M’ Sweater awards he received from the Athletic Association. The money for all these items was taken from the earnings made by these horrible football men.”

The Michigan Daily sided with Yost and offered this in an editorial:

“What are the objections?” the paper’s lead editorial asked. Angell was attacking intercollegiate football as a whole, they said, not the proposal for a bigger stadium. And that was plain nuts, since “football is here to stay.”

In that case, they said, “one finds it hard to understand how a stadium of 75,000 seats will have a more detrimental effect on the student body than one of 45,000.”

If there were any good reasons not to build a bigger stadium, the Daily taunted, the critics should state them, “but the mere fact that freshmen idolize the Varsity man is hardly a valid objection.”

Check out the entire piece here.

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MWC_CL_Footer1 copy

Readers of this site know that one of the things I’m trying to do here (and elsewhere) is bring Michigan history forward so it’s something tangible and consumable by fans today, hopefully presented in a unique way.  Partnering a couple years ago with Shashi Mara and MaraWatch was such a natural fit for me because that’s really what Shashi has been doing with his line of M luxury watches err, timepieces [when they are that nice you call them timepieces].

Over at Zingerman’s Coffee House earlier this year Mara tipped me off that he was extending out his catalog to add new products.  Please welcome Biff and Bennie, new epic cufflinks as part of his collection:

MWC_CL_SILVUP_2 links

Fine tuned M historians know that Biff and Bennie were the names of the living mascots that Yost brought to Ann Arbor in the 1920s, and the nasty duo were an attraction during the 1927 Michigan Stadium dedication against Ohio State.  

Check out more here, including the design process that pushes 3D printing technology to maize and blue glory.

Want?  Details from Shashi himself:
* Go to www.marawatch.com/collection to see the sets
* Pricing ranges from $300 to $700
* Available for delivery before Dec 23rd
* Note: these were designed in collaboration with the M Den’s Victors Collection (their site is not live for ordering yet, but you can reserve them here.)

Writing Instruments (not mere pens!)
Another addition to the collection are these premium devices – available for delivery immediately, order directly via phone (734) 436-8138.   According to Shashi there are fewer than a dozen available in each style (silver/gold), with the classic Point-A-Minute era gridiron design:

MWC_pens1 MWC_Pens3

Well done Shashi, keep it coming.

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Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis bids adieu to a painful 2014 with a final offering of decals to a handful of seniors.  

But before that, did you catch ESPN’s GameDay on Saturday?  It included a nice piece on the rivalry and the Michigan banner, including a short clip of the Buckeyes tearing down the coveted slice of canvas in ‘73 synchronized with Bob Ufer’s epic audio description of that dastardly deed.   Guess who put that together and shipped it off to ESPN?  That’s right..Dr. Sap himself!   Here’s a low res version of the full clip Sap provided to our friends in Bristol:

Those painful dekes:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

DEVIN GARDNER? – We watched a gutty and gutting end to New 98’s career on Saturday. In between the first pass/interception of the game and the fumble that gave OSU the clinching score, Gardner played his heart out and did all he could to help UM win. Problem is, he also helped OSU win. Take away those free 14 points and we have an even ballgame.

I don’t want to remember Gardner for his interception and fumble. I want to remember him for his courage for keeping UM in the game. I want to remember him for his compassion when he went over and consoled J.T. Barrett when he broke his ankle. Instead, I am reminded of a Demetrius Brown-like talent that was so good he made you cheer, and at other times he was so confounding he made you sneer. So…Devin Gardner?

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

JAKE RYAN? – Much like Gardner, I want to remember Ryan for leaving it all on the field Saturday. The image of him flying around, throwing his body all over the place to make the tackle was offset by two other images: whiffing on Barrett as Ryan’s surgically repaired knee couldn’t make that extra move to tackle the OSU QB as he ran for a first half score, and failing to wrap up Ezekiel Elliott on the clinching 4th and 1 touchdown late in the game. So…Jake Ryan?

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

WILL HAGERUP? – I don’t know. Dude was suspended three times and came back for this?   He put one inside the 20-yard line and averaged over 40 yards on 4 punts. I can’t really give it to Norfleet for starting the game off like he did, so…Will Hagerup?

UNIFORM CHAMPION

HELMET COLOR – After dealing with all the crap this season, I finally had enough of seeing the wrong shade of yellow on the M helmets!  It was painfully obvious to me that it was not right the correct color and it’s time we got it right! 

Maybe it was the culmination of everything that we had to deal with this year, including the all blue unis, but for some reason the color of the yellow on the Michigan helmets was painfully out of synch with the rest of the uniform.   The shade of yellow/maize didn’t match the pants. It didn’t match the yellow trim on the jersey.  Heck, it didn’t even match the yellow shoes worn by some of the Wolverines. Time for Riddell to get it right! If they can’t get it right, then they need someone to help get it right. Consider myself volunteered!

 

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Thanksgiving Day Football

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Did you know that Michigan football used play on Thanksgiving day?  Indeed—your beloved Wolverines met Amos Alonzo Stagg’s Chicago met on this holiday on several instances back in the 1890s including a couple historically significant battles:

1896— The undefeated Michigan squad met up with Stagg’s Maroons in the Windy City in a unique venue (see ticket stub above, via Jack Briegel’s collection).  As far as I can tell it was the first  football game played indoors, yes, inside the Chicago Coliseum.   Chicago squeaked by 7-6 in the first year of B1G conference play.  Get this–they even invoked “electric lights” when it became dark inside the facility late in the game.  Want more?  Check out my This Week in Michigan Football History piece from last year.

1898—What else can you say?   Once again undefeated heading into the finale, Michigan’s 12-11 victory in 1898 was played on Thanksgiving 114 years ago this Saturday.  U-M student Louis Elbel was so inspired by the Wolverines’ win, which capped a perfect season, he composed ‘The Victors’ in the aftermath.

Postscript:  Michigan was undoubtedly the Champions of the West in 1898, but looking back does Michigan have a right to claim the title of national champion?  It’s seems silly discussing this 114 years later but there is recent precedent for such action.   In 2004 Southern Cal looked back at its history and claimed the 1939 national championship.   And in August this year, our Little Brown Jug rival Minnesota announced that it claimed a share of the 1904 national championship.   While Harvard and Princeton each take credit for the 1898 crown based on different measurements – Does Michigan, who went undefeated and outscored opponents 205 to 26, have an argument to join them?  Ok, it’s silly.  But fun to talk about.

Beat Ohio!

[Originally posted November 2012]

The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew.  The 1950 squad featured team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl and won the conference title with a 6-3-1 overall record, dropping games to Michigan State, #1 ranked Army [played at Yankee Stadium), and to Illinois.  Despite a tough start the team rallied to win their final three games and added the great victory in Pasadena.

You probably can’t say this for any Michigan Rose Bowl champion, but the win over Cal in Pasadena was not the definitive victory for this team. That distinction will always be reserved for the game over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus—a game that will forever be known as The Snow Bowl.

The week leading up to the game was somewhat normal for a November in the Midwest. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), Columbus experienced 38 degree temperatures and rain. By 8am Friday morning the thermometer sunk to 5 degrees and it snowed off and on for most of the day. The forecast for Saturday was a chilly 15 degrees and possible snow, but Friday evening to early Saturday morning things took a wicked turn:


A shirtless, unruly hairy beast with bad teeth seen outside Ohio stadium?  shocker

During the night, a storm moving up the Carolina coast pumped Atlantic moisture like a fire hose westward to meet the southward blast of frigid air. The clash of these two air masses reached full fury over Ohio and western Pennsylvania, paralyzing the region with heavy snow, gale-force winds and near-zero temperatures. Pittsburgh lay under a 16-inch snowfall with another foot forecast, forcing cancellation of the Pitt-Penn State game. Southeastern Ohio measured 14 plus inches. Transportation across the state ground to a halt.

As game time drew near the field was buried and around 50,000 brave fans huddled beneath the Ohio Stadium stands and waited to take their seats. A meeting was held between the schools to decide whether to play the game that included Ohio coach Wes Felser, Ohio athletic director Dick Larkin, Michigan AD Fritz Crisler and Oosterbaan. There had yet to be a Big Ten conference game canceled for any reason and this game held greater significance. If the game wasn’t played, Ohio State would earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. But Larkin knew (and certainly Oosterbaan and especially Crisler reminded him) that Michigan could potentially earn a trip to the Rose Bowl with a win. Ultimately Larkin gave the green light and remarked, “We’ll just have to do the best we can.”

When the game started, the teams did the only thing they could. Run a play or two and then punt rather than risk a turnover.

Michigan entered the game third in the conference standings behind the Buckeyes and Illinois. During the game word made it to the Michigan sideline that Northwestern upset the Illini meaning a Wolverine victory would send Oosterbaan and company to Pasadena.

The decisive moment came with time running out in the first half as Fesler made a tactical move that probably cost him his job, as described by Sports Illustrated:

On third and 6 at the Ohio State 13, Buckeyes coach Wes Fesler instructed [Heisman Trophy winner Vic] Janowicz to punt with Ohio State holding a 3-2 lead. Only 47 seconds remained in the half and it is likely that Ohio State could have run out the clock. But Michigan’s Tony Momsen — whose older brother Bob played for the Buckeyes — blocked the kick and then fell on it in the end zone, closing the scoring in a 9-3 Michigan win.

Thanks to WolverineHistorian, a few clips from the game:

 

The statistics from the game are remarkable:

  • Ohio State had 41 yards of total offense, Michigan 27.
  • The Buckeyes actually attempted 18 passes, completing just three for 25 yards.
  • Michigan had no first downs; Ohio State three.
  • The teams punted a combined 45 times for a total of 1,408 yards.
  • The team fumbled 10 times but lost only one each.

There’s probably hundreds of other stories about the game from those who witnessed it. HBO’s The Rivalry spent a good portion of the documentary on the game providing some phenomenal footage. The BBC website pulled together an impressive recap and added this anecdote which will definitely get a chuckle out of any Michigan Marching Band fan:

..the Ohio State Marching Band, which considered itself the best in the country (and still does), was offended by an article in Life magazine which claimed Michigan had the best. Ohio State was determined to prove itself and arranged an elaborate performance for half time. However, the brass instruments were chilled and the mouthpieces frozen. It seemed it would be unable to play.

The band planned to silently perform its maneuvers, which included standing together in a shape resembling a Buckeye leaf, while previously recorded music played over the loudspeakers. However, the determined band members got hold of some antifreeze for their mouthpieces and did the performance.

I’ll bookend end this eBay Watch with another item from the period. It’s a 1951 Michiganensian yearbook, featuring a few photos from both games, here’s a few pics from the Snow Bowl as displayed in the yearbook:

[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

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Sources:
* From the Ohio State library 1950 OSU vs. Michigan, The Snow Bowl
* An excellent recap from The BBC Website
* Game footage from ohiohistory.com
* Weather Events: Blizzard Bowl
* SI.com on the 10 greatest games in the U-M/OSU Rivalry

Ugh.  For the record:

This day in history – I mentioned to the fellas on air in the Victors Lounge that I’m actually getting crap on Twitter for citing history and historical events.  Umm…that’s what I do and almost all I do.   It this site’s raison d’être.   Needless to say I march on.

So while sadly Saturday was a low point of sorts, November 22 will remain an epic anniversary for Michigan football for decades to come, if for no other reason these two games:

celebration  takethat

Two Hundred.  Holy fandom endurance awards – props to uber fan Mike Khomutin for attending this 200th straight U-M game (yes, that’s home AND away).  I believe that dates back to 1998.  See Sap’s Decals for your decal.

Jake No Patch – Some of you noticed that Jake Ryan didn’t wear his Bennie Oosterbaan Legends patch during the Northwestern game.  I’m efforting some details from media relations on why.  To my knowledge this hasn’t been addressed by anyone…and if you think this little detail is silly, I’d offer that it’s no sillier than anything else people are writing about this team at this moment.

Willie Heston – Yo!  My piece short bio piece on Willie Heston appeared in the game program on Saturday (page 4).  I’ll repost it here soon and note that historian/pal John Kryk helped me out with a few nuggets.  A clip:

Heston 

According to Kryk, Yost considered Heston an exceptional tackler, but because he played behind U-M’s dominant line he rarely got the chance to make a play.  Strangely enough his first touchdown at Michigan actually came on defense. In the 1901 season opener against Albion, he broke through the line, snatched the ball from the quarterback and dashed the rest of the way for his inaugural visit to the end zone.

Senior day – The seniors were honored on the field before the game as usual, but this year the players received framed jerseys instead of righteous commemorative pigskins that they’ve been given in recent years:

Brady Hoke hugs Denard Robinson - MVictors.com

Seven Decade Usher! – Another great tradition on the last home game is honoring the longest tenured stadium ushers.  I read this off of the closed captioning on the scoreboard, but I believe they acknowledged one Robert Prieskorn (sp?) for 75 years of service!  Holy moly.  That means Robert was on duty when Tom Harmon won the Heisman Trophy in 1940.

Wile and Hagerup – My co-Most Improved Players.

Mood UpdateComing up later.  Hint:

MMB – Their halftime routine summoned up a comet to blow up the Buckeye Marching Band’s dinosaur:

That’s all here.

Elsewhere:

Maize and Blue Nation:

We’ve been waiting almost 3 whole years for Dennis Norfleet to return a kick/punt for a touchdown after almost breaking loose numerous times. So it stands to reason the one and only time he takes one to the house…which probably would’ve put game away and slammed the door on any Maryland comeback…was called back for a highly questionable block in the back call.

mgoblog – Ace instant react

As far as I know, Brady Hoke hasn’t been informed he’s fired, but he knows. We all do. With bowl eligibility on the line—unless you’re holding out hope for a miracle in Columbus—Hoke’s squad couldn’t get out of its own way.

 

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