Winged Helmet Tradition

Lloyd Carr loves the traditions of Michigan football.  On the day of Coach Carr’s 70th birthday, let’s have a look at Michigan traditions.

This was originally developed in 2013 after a draft was floated out there with a lot input from Craig of The Hoover Street Rag, David of @mgoshoe and others.   Its permanent home is on the ‘Traditions’ page (also accessible on the menu bar above).


  • Individual game or career accomplishments are verboten beyond events that transcend the field.  Heisman Trophies count.  The Desmond Heisman pose counts.  #Braylonfest” does not.   Tom Harmon’s exploits at Cal and Columbus in 1940 do not.
  • A tradition must be something unique to the Michigan football experience or history.  “Tailgating”, for instance. is certainly a Michigan tradition but not unique.
  • I’m responsible for the classification of each tradition.  And yes, I think traditions can move up or down over time.

Yost Class:

  • Michigan Stadium (1927)
  • All-time wins/winning percentage (1879)
  • Winged Helmet (1938)
  • Ohio State Rivalry (Ten Year War, The Game..) (1897)
  • 11 National Championships (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997)
  • The Victors (1898)

Schembechler Class:

  • GO BLUE banner (1962)
  • Michigan Marching Band (1898)
  • 42 Big Ten Titles
  • First Rose Bowl (1902)
  • Heisman Trophy Winners (1940, 1991, 1997)
  • Notre Dame Rivalry / Teaching Notre Dame to play football (1887)
  • “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions” (1969)
  • Point-A-Minute era (1901-1904)
  • President Gerald Ford (1932-1934 player)
  • Bob Ufer

Crisler Class:

  • Little Brown Jug / Minnesota Rivalry (1903/1892)
  • Yost Field House / Arena (1923)
  • Colors: Maize and Blue (1867)
  • The Mad Magicians (1947)
  • Desmond Heisman pose (1991)
  • “1” in official stadium capacity (1955)
  • 100,000+ attendance streak (1975)
  • Let’s Go Blue” tune + chant (created 1972, Michigan stadium debut 1975)
  • “The Team, The Team, The Team..” speech (filmed in 1983, origins likely prior)
  • Drum major backbend / Drum major goalpost mace toss
  • Bo & Helmet award Decals/Stickers (1969-1982,1985-1994)
  • Varsity (1911)
  • Yellow and Blue (1886)
  • Saying, “Meeechegan”
  • U-M retired jersey numbers (98,47,48,11,87,21)
  • #1 Jersey tradition (Anthony Carter, Braylon Edwards – 1979)

Oosterbaan Class:

  • Michigan State Rivalry / Paul Bunyan Trophy
  • Announcing Slippery Rock Score/Game (1959)
  • Equipment Management (Henry Hatch / Jon Falk)
  • Michigan Football Legends Program – Numbers, Patch, Locker (2011=2014 – R.I.P)
  • Founding membership in Western/Big Ten Conference (1896)
  • Aerial objects:  Marshmallows (R.I.P.) / Toilet paper (R.I.P) / M flags on extendable flagpoles (R.I.P.)
  • Hawaiian War Chant/Temptation
  • Whiskey & Brandy / Dogs running with ball on the field (1968) (R.I.P)
  • Chicago/A.A. Stagg Rivalry
  • Slippery Rock score/game PA announcement (1959)
  • Band Takes the Field / Tri-Service Color Guard / National Anthem Presentation
  • “It’s Great to Be..a Michigan Wolverine” chant (circa ? early 1980s)
  • Cowbell with ‘Go Blue’

Bump Class:

  • Fourth Down / “You Suck”
  • MMB “Cake” Formation (1985)
  • Blue Brothers Dance (2008 Yost, 2011 M Stadium?)
  • Cheerleaders backflipping off the wall (R.I.P.)
  • Cheerleaders spelling Michigan in end zone
  • North / South Go Blue chant
  • Michigan Replay & the ‘Across 110th Street’ theme (R.I.P.)


Post feedback in the comments or via MVictors on Twitter (use #Traditions)


Once a year I ask readers directly for support – and year after year you’ve responded.  Together we’ve raised over $13,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF).   On Saturday August 1 I’ll be back in East Lansing to go face-to-face with the Spartans to take part in the Walk for a Cure.

In 2011 those who chipped in got their name on the righteous JDRF Jug, in 2012 on the coveted JDRF banner, in 2013 they righted a horrible wrong last year a coveted JDRF helmet decal.  This year you’ll get a hearty tweet with an epic U-M (or team of your choice) photo from yesteryear in your honor.

Here’s how to get in the action:


  • Why East Lansing?   A: My family help create the EL Walk years ago, so what’s a brother to do?
  • Why are you involved in T1D?    A:  Found out about the disease when my nephew Jack was diagnosed when he was 3 and I’m trying to help.
  • Isn’t “curing” T1D just about diet and exercise?  A:  No!   Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and (at present) nothing you can do to get rid of it.  There is no cure!  (The differences between T1D and adult-onset diabetes here.)





ferbertheadlineBillings (Montana) Daily Gazette, November 7, 1909

[Ed. In honor of Dutch Ferbert’s birthday on July 22 (1873), a repost.  Originally posted  Jan 28, 2012]

Today obviously the head coach of Michigan football team doesn’t have to look beyond campus to hit it big.    This hasn’t always the case of course, especially in the early days of the program.   While Fielding Yost’s contracts compensated him very competitively for the day, it definitely didn’t make him a wealthy man.  Yost spent a good part of the year pursuing his private business interests out of town.

Ferbert1898Do you know the story of Gustave “Dutch” Ferbert?  He suited up for the Wolverines in the mid-1890s but most notably he was head coach of the famous 1898 squad that delivered Michigan its first conference title.  The championship-sealing victory over Chicago that year inspired Louis Elbel to compose ‘The Victors’.

Ferbert coached one more season but then packed his bags and headed north, hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike.   In 1900 he traveled up to Nome and allegedly told folks he would “return rich or not all all.”

Well, there was some question whether he would make it, especially early on.  Thanks to Brian at the Bentley for forwarding this over, apparently from 1902:


Here’s the opening paragraph:

The many friends of “Dutch”” Ferbert, Michigan’s football coach in 1898, and one of the greatest halfbacks who ever carried the ball, have been fearful for some time that something has happened to him, but because it is “Dutch” Ferbert they remember his sturdy characteristics and are hoping that word will be received from him that he is safe

Well, he eventually resurfaced and yes, he kept his promise—he returned a rich man.

Thanks to the folks at the Billings Gazette for tracking down this November 7, 1909 story titled, “His Touchdown in the Arctic”.   The article describes how he made “a $1,000,000 touchdown”..and briefly recapped his quest:

The former gridiron star first located at Nome, and there the real battle to keep the gold-panning gusbest from the door began.  He tried prospecting in several districts, but with slim success.  He found work part of the time in restaurants, stores and other places.  This lasted for several years, but never a thought did he have of going back.  He started out to cross the goal line and a kick or two in the jugular from an adverse fate he considered part of the game.

Then came the strike at Deering City, and Ferbert was one of the first to hit the trail with a pack.  At the start it proved a “Roaring Camp” all right, but luck was a little shy, and then came the turn and riches in abundance.  He located some of the best claims in the region, panned out more gold than he had ever dreamed and became a bonanza king overnight.

While I’m not sure Dutch held onto his dough through the years, it’s still a great piece of U-M coaching lore.

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I saw this pop up on Twitter and now on eBay, what appears to be the official 2015 Michigan Football schedule poster. 

The vintage and modern split shot of Michigan Stadium is a great idea and nicely executed save for one big item:  the two halves are the same side of the stadium just flipped around.    The left is a view of the west side of the stadium looking north; the right once again features the west side of the stadium, but this time looking south. The west giveaways are the press box and flag pole on the old photo, and the flagpole (in the distance) and the empty band section on the current-day photo.  If you look really hard you can see John U. Bacon waaayyy up on the upper right in row 7 of the press box. 

Now…the folks at #1000SSS may have understood this and did it anyway (or did it intentionally) – because in small script in the lower left of the photo they wrote “South End Zone” and on the right they put “North End Zone”—perhaps to let the pesky nerds like me who would call out the west/west thing know that they meant to do this.  Or we can all blame Hyundai.  Either way I like it, but I would have properly split the stadium for something like this.  Minus one for Hackett (finally).

FYI –  For the vintage shot they this photo from the 1927 Ohio State stadium dedication game (via the U-M Bentley Historical Library).



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NIKE and Michigan

Pulled from the Uniform Timeline, a few tidbits from our history with the Oregonian goddess of victory:

1976:  Best we can tell (and by we, I mean me & the illustrious Dr. Sap), Nikes first appear on the feet of a Wolverine, here shown on #41, the great Rob Lytle (and yes that’s Ricky Leach killing it in the Pumas):


1983: Nike becomes the exclusive shoe provider for Bo’s men.


March 1994:  Michigan signs 6-year contract with Nike for, “apparel and shoes, totaling more than 23,000 items over six years for football, basketball, hockey, baseball, softball, swimming, wrestling, golf, tennis, field hockey, cross-country, track and field, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer and cheerleading squads.”

January 1, 1998:  Michigan wins Rose Bowl and the national championship. (OK, that wasn’t Nike’s doing – but clearly wearing the swoosh didn’t hurt).

July 2007:  U-M signs contract with adidas for footwear and apparel for all 25 U-M athletic teams. The new agreement begins with the 2008-09 academic year and extends through the 2016-17 season.

September 8, 2007:  Nike mogul Phil Knight buys rounds of drinks all over Ann Arbor before visiting the Big House to watch his Ducks destroy your beloved Wolverines – one week after The Horror:


January 1, 2008:  Final Nike jersey appears after adidas deal signed.   Jerseys include Capital One Bowl patch on left chest on white jersey.  Lloyd Carr beats this guy and gives him a rub on the belly to make him feel better:


April 13, 2013:  During spring practice quarterbacks wear orange Nike-manufactured Oregon State jerseys with black numbers with Adidas logo sewn on (left):


Today: U-M reaches agreement in principle with NIKE to become the Wolverines’ official athletic footwear, apparel and equipment provider to 2027, with an option to extend the deal to 2031.


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Guest Post by Steve ‘Dr. Sap’ Sapardanis

As I re-read my good friend John Kryk’s story (‘Wolverines on Your Head’) that appeared in the 2010 edition of mgoblog’s Hail To The Victors, I realized that there have been a few updates and corrections in the five years that have passed since it was written.  In my never-ending quest to accurately recap the history of the Michigan Football helmet stickers, I have since determined, and confirmed with Jon Falk, that there were indeed three versions of the Wolverine decals. The image below recaps the nuances of the three versions:

Helmet Sticker Eras

For more information, check out my decal Q&A with Big Jon from a few months ago.

Here is a pictorial recap:

Version 1 (1969-1974)

Decals 1 Barry Pierson (29) in 1969 |  Mike Lantry (36) from 1974

Version 2 (1975-1982)

Decals 2 Calvin O’Neal (96) in 1975 |  Anthony Carter (1) from 1982

Version 3 (1985-1994)

Decals 3  Jim Harbaugh in 1985 |  Tim Biakabutuka in 1994

So what happened in 1983 and 1984?  





If those photos aren’t enough evidence for you, scan the videos of the 1983 and 1984 Ohio State games.

I’ve asked former players and I’ve asked Big Jon, and no one seems to have a concrete explanation as to WHY there were no decals on the helmets in 1983 & 1984. Initially, everyone I talked to was adamant that the decals were on the helmets those two years, but once I produced pictures of several players throughout those two years with blank helmets, they had no explanation.

I DO know that they were being kept track of on a wall in the locker room, but no one has an answer – not even your friendly neighborhood, Dr. Sap.

If anyone can help explain this dilemma, please respond to the Bat-Decal Signal below!

decal bat signal

RelatedUniform Timeline

Harbaugh peels

Ed. To demonstrate that Coach Harbaugh isn’t the first head coach to peel and flash the washboard/guns, a repost from January 2014:

Just in time for the polar vortex of death, here’s what the doctor ordered.  How about a look at a shirtless General Bo out for a run in the summer of 1976, as featured in the Sunday Magazine?Bo is cut! Thanks to the keen eye of Dr. Sap for spotting that on eBay, up for bid right now.   I assume this was a product of the Detroit News.

Bo’s in tip-top shape after having open heart surgery in late spring of ‘76.   Here’s Schembechler sitting down with Bob Ufer (also thanks to Sap) not long after that Magazine cover was released, just prior to the opener against Wisconsin.   Bo talks about his surgery, his level of fitness and a little bit about the 1976 season as his Wolverines were ranked #1 heading into the campaign:

Go Bo!

P.S. I love Bo’s shoes — not unlike my custom MVictors adidas?

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Last night I attended a fundraiser benefitting Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor, held in the stadium at the Jack Roth Stadium Club.   The event included tours of the field and inside the stadium locker room.  A few observations:

More evidence that the The Legends program is going away—the Legends lockers used to look like this:

47 and 48


Last night the engraved Legends patches were gone from the back of the lockers:

Photo Apr 18, 6 59 36 PM

There are also a few new displays up closer to the entrance of the locker room that are pretty nicely done.  I don’t recall seeing these before.   First, a very conspicuous tribute to Tom Brady:

Photo Apr 18, 7 03 30 PM

 Photo Apr 18, 7 04 28 PM Further down the hall several great moments in Michigan football history are immortalized:

Photo Apr 18, 7 06 22 PM Along with the ones you can see (OSU 1997, OSU 1969, #BraylonFest, Desmond Heisman pose), they also have 1979 Indiana (Ufer/Carter), and 1985 Harbaugh to Kolesar, and a couple others (Ron Kramer?).


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Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

When looking back at some classic pictures and photos of Anthony Carter, you will notice that most of the time his jersey looked different from those worn by his Michigan teammates.  Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – AC, at times, did in fact wear a different jersey than his maize & blue brethren:


From 1979 through the 1981 season, Carter wore tear-away jerseys made by Russell Athletic.

Created in 1967 and known for the name they were given, these jerseys would indeed rip and tear apart whenever an opponent tried to grab them.

Before the Michigan jerseys became skin-tight, custom sewn, works of art by a local Ann Arbor seamstress in 1987, football jerseys some 30 to 40 years ago were loose-fitting garments that draped over the players.  The excess material was perfect for a defender to grab onto and take an opponent down, sometimes even from behind. This technique was called a “shirt tackle.”  You’ve probably never heard of that term because when the tear-aways were banned by the NCAA in 1982 (the last year they were used in the NFL was 1979), football jerseys gradually became tighter fitting, making it almost impossible to bring down a ball-carrier via a shirt tackle.

Recently legendary Michigan Football Equipment Manager Jon Falk shared with me the story of how Carter got to wear the tear-away jersey at Michigan.   After sitting down with Bo Schembechler in the spring of 1979 and assigning the heavily recruited Riviera Beach, Florida wideout the #1 jersey Falk had a feeling Carter would be special.  Sure enough the first few practices indeed showed everyone how fast and dynamic AC was.  Never before had a receiver been able to catch every ball thrown to him in practice.  Carter was able to chase down any pass, no matter how far it was thrown.  For three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust-Bo and Michigan, this sight was truly shocking.

Schembechler noticed that the times Carter caught the ball in traffic, the only way the Michigan defenders could bring him down in practice was to grab his jersey.  He was just too quick and elusive to bring down any other way.

Two weeks before the season opener against Northwestern, the Michigan jerseys arrived from manufacturer Spanjian and this got Bo thinking – if Carter wore a tear-away jersey the opponents would never be able to bring him down!   Schembechler told Falk to get some tear-aways for his freshman wideout, but there was one problem – with the college football season only two weeks away, Russell was too busy completing jersey orders for other teams.  When Big Jon asked the manufacturer to make some tear-aways, he was told they couldn’t meet his request at that time.

Undaunted, Falk pulled out a trump card and called a longtime friend–the owner of Russell Athletic.  Sure enough, the owner ordered the Russell plant to stop all other production so that they could make some maize and blue #1 tear-aways for Anthony “The Darter” Carter. The rest is history.  Here’s how they looked (note: no Carter nameplate on the back):

Picture 030 Picture 029

Falk also confirmed my suspicion that Carter was the only player to wear tear-away jerseys at Michigan.  Big Jon told me that he would pack TEN (10) of the #1 tear-away jerseys for each game and that the most Carter went through in one game was four, which happened 3 or 4 times between 1979 and 1981.

Helmet Decal Details with Jon Falk
Keeping AC Warm – How Michigan Landed Anthony Carter

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