The 1930s are a underappreciated period of Michigan football, and the goings on in 1931 alone provide a representative morsel. Click below for a spicy version of This Week in Michigan Football covers a wide range of events on campus in the wacky year eighty four years ago:
For more on the Rum Raid of 1931 click here.
For more on the special charity football game played at the end of the 1931 season click here.
You can listen to all 6 years of This Week In Michigan Football History here. And don’t forget to catch the whole KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff on WTKA 1050AM starting 4 hours before each game, and of course live in the Bud Light Victors Lounge when they lace them up in Ann Arbor.
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This morning we take a trip back to 1931 – a difficult time for the American people including those on campus in Ann Arbor. Not only was the country in the midst of the Great Depression, it was illegal to drown your sorrows as the law of the land was still Prohibition– making alcohol possession a crime.
These social forces were evident in 1931 as the year started out with a major booze raid on the local campus fraternities – all told 75 students were nabbed including the captain of the 1930 football team, a forward on the hoops team, the president of the student council and the sports editor at the Michigan Daily. The students were eventually given a slap on the wrist, but they never got back the estimated 50 quarts whiskey and gin that were confiscated by the cops.
The athletic department had other problems, namely how to get fans through the Michigan Stadium gates. The great Depression rendered a two buck ticket to the Big House a luxury, eventhough head Coach Harry Kipke had assembled a championship-calibre squad.
In a ploy to draw fans into the Big House, it was on this day in 1931 that U of M played a double header – that’s right, 2 games on one afternoon – to start the year. The opponents were Central State Teachers College and Michigan Normal, known today at Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan respectively. Naturally the Kipke’s Wolverines took both lambs to the slaughter, pitching 27-0 and 34-0 shutouts—- but only 13 thousand fans bothered to watch.
To conclude the bizarre year, the Western Conference agreed to schedule a full slate of “extra” games to benefit a fund for unemployed workers. Michigan was originally set to face Northwestern in the Big House, which would have set-up a match of the teams that shared the 1930 conference crown. But just weeks before the game, the conference brass shifted the schedule to have Northwestern play Purdue in Chicago at Soldier Field – and Michigan was left with Wisconsin.
Upon hearing the swich-er-oo folks in Ann Arbor were steaming. Fielding Yost called the whole thing a mess, and predicted a light turnout. The Michigan Daily suggested a boycott. Charity be damned – students were quoted saying they “wouldn’t give a nickel” to see a weak Wisconsin squad.
Ironically the biggest benefactor of the whole event, which raised $154,000, was Meeechigan. Northwestern ended up losing to Purdue 7-0, so those who watched the maize and blue beat the Badgers 16-0 actually saw them earn a share of the league title and perhaps some momentum in the next two glorious years — when Kipke and crew won back-to-back national titles.
For more, check out WTKA.com and MVictors.com. For the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff, this is Greg Dooley.