[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew. The 1950 squad featuring team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl took the conference title and finished with a 6-3-1 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 in conference 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 held a little over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus--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:


Shirtless, 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 manoeuvres, 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:

Follow MVictors on Twitter 

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

Regular readers of this site know one of my favorite decades of Michigan football is the 1930s, having covered different seasons and events in eBay Watch and in the Little Brown Jug Lore series from those years.

If I had to pick one year as my favorite during the stretch it’s definitely 1934 which is ironic, as it’s arguably the worst season in Michigan football history.   I argued this point here and here, but in a nutshell consider that Harry Kipke’s team, coming off back-to-back national championships, finished 1-7, was shut out in five of the eight games, and scored a mere 21 points.  Fugly.

Despite the futility on the gridiron, the season is packed of historical treasures of major significance both on and off the field.  The next edition of eBay Watch features the auction of a program from the Ohio State-Michigan held on November 17, 1934, exactly 75 years ago today in Columbus:

cover 

The program features several photos of players, including a collage of the Michigan team including team MVP Gerald Ford:

wardford

The top of the photo features Willis Ward, the African American end who was at the center of a fierce controversy that played out before the Georgia Tech game a few weeks earlier that season.  For those not familiar, The Jackets made it known well before the game that they wouldn’t take the field in Ann Arbor if Ward played, spawning intense protests on campus in Ann Arbor. 

Eventually Michigan caved, sitting Ward after a deal was struck with Tech that required the Jackets to sit a player as well.  (It’s not lost on me that the 1934 OSU program features two white dudes shaking hands.)  The 9-2 game was the Wolverines’ lone win of the miserable season but came with a historical price.   These incidents resonated with would-be President Ford, a friend of Ward’s, who wrote a 1999 New York Times Op-Ed piece defending Michigan’s affirmative action policies:

“Do we really want to risk turning back the clock to an ear when the Willis Wards were isolated and penalized for the color of their skin, their economic standing or national ancestry?”

President George W. Bush also mentioned the Ward incident in Ford’s eulogy

The 1934 Program also features a photo of one of the most famous athletes in the world, a burgeoning freshman track star at Ohio State named Jesse Owens:owens

Owens of course knows a little something about race and discrimination.  He’ll forever be remembered for kicking Hitler squarely in the bucknuts at the Berlin Olympics a couple years later.  While certainly on a smaller stage, Owens did some serious damage in Ann Arbor on Ferry Field in 1935 and the Bentley Library details his exploits:

Ferry Field has been the site of many great individual performances in Big Ten track championships, none more remarkable than Jesse Owens’ efforts in 1935. Within a period of two hours, the Ohio State sophomore set world records in the 220 yard dash – :20.2, the broad jump – 26 ft. 8 1/4 in., the 220 yard low hurdles – :22.6 and tied the world record in the 100 yard dash – :09.4 seconds. A plaque at the southeast corner of Ferry Field commemorates Owens’ incomparable performance.

That’s rubbing it in, man.

The year 1934 also marked the start of a Buckeye tradition that lingers today like a foul odor: the issuing of gold pants charms to players.   Their timing was impeccable.  The Sweatervest’s website explains the deal:

Schmidt founded the "Pants Club", which still exists today as reward for a win over the Wolverines. Since 1934, each player and coach receives a miniature pair of gold pants for each victory over Michigan. The charms contain the recipient’s initials as well as the year and score of "The Game".

Not only can you pick up a copy of this historic program, you can even own your own pair of Buckeye gold pants, which some OSU alum decided to hock on eBay right now:

osu gold pants

This prize commemorate OSU’s 2007 and the seller even gives the initials of the original owner (D.H.) which are placed on each pair.   That’d narrow things down to ‘07 senior De’Angelo Haslam, freshman Dan Herron or yikes, assistant coach Darrell Hazell.   Didn’t mean that much, obviously.

The auction of the 1934 OSU-Michigan program ends November 19 and the auction of the gold pants closes November 20th.

Related:
* Follow eBayWatch on Twitter  A new tool.  I’ll blast about quick links to notable auctions.
* Harry Kipke and the Fall of 1934
* The Willis Ward Protests

Next up on eBay Watch, someone’s listing what they claim is the winged helmet and facemask belonging to former Michigan hockey goalie Billy Sauer:

Michigan hockey helmet

The seller says this mask was worn in the 2007 NCAA playoffs and Frozen Four, per the description:

Game worn Billy Sauer University of Michigan helmet worn during the 2007 season including the NCAA Playoffs and Frozen Four.  Itech mask with gorgeous Michigan paint job by Gilders(see all attached pictures).  Helmet shows good usage with puck/stick marks on the top of the helmet and as well as on the chin area.

Tough to argue on the authenticity here, and the seller points out a chip on the chin that appears to be on a photo of Sauer:

billy sauer's facemask

According to a quick Googlestalk, Sauer is currently playing with the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers.  Looks like he’s struggled a bit early on but he did get his first professional win last week on Wednesday.  Great to hear.

The seller didn’t explain how he came to own the mask or why it was put on the block.  It doesn’t appear to be tied to a University charity or fundraiser.

The auction closed tonight, and no one bit on the $1,599.00 asking price, which seems way steep.

Other cool stuff:

illinois homecoming pin 1927

ohio state gold pants

A pin from the 1927 Illinois game at Champaign.  Starting at $29.

Another pair of the gold pants Ohio State players get for beating Michigan.  This one from 1981- no player initials.

image

image

In a brief edition of eBay Watch, after featuring a few Michigan championship rings that were auctioned on eBay, it’s nice to show one of these beauties being hocked: a 2002-03 Ohio State national championship ring.

The seller is asking a cool $3,750 for this little gem.  The ring includes the score of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami on one side and of course, the score of the 2002 Ohio State-Michigan game on the other. 

Sadly, the name of the player or coach who is parting with this memento is concealed:

image 
But after some analysis down in my mom’s basement the Bat Cave, I got some claretty:

image

The auction ends April 25th.

Related:

Update 3/10: A little more hockey helmet history on WTKA tonight.  John U. Bacon brought this up on the Red Berenson show and the old coach brought up more details on those days, twenty years ago, when the hockey team donned the winged helmets.

I didn’t know that the helmet designs are actually taped (Red explains why).

Red also said the players liked the new helmets at least “for the most part, there’s always a couple”.  Yes, we know at least one student athlete who thought the design was 100% pure cornball (see below).

Original post from 2/21/09:

This week we’ll start with an unlikely candidate for an eBay Watch post: a hockey program from the February 11, 1989 game against Notre Dame.   Bidding starts at $4.95 and here’s a look:

Shortly after this game, in late February of 1989, Red Berenson gave the green light for the team to apply the famed winged pattern to the hockey helmets.  This month marks the 20th anniversary of the hockey version of the football design (which coincidentally had its 70th anniversary this season).

The exact day in that February?  I’m not exactly sure.   John U. Bacon devoted a chapter to the switch in Blue Ice, and the Bentley Library republished it for you here.  Here’s captain Alex Roberts recollection of that “late February” day:

“Right before the league playoffs, we’re coming up the stairs to the locker room” he recounts, “and we start smelling fresh paint. The smell’s everywhere. “We get up to the top of the stairs and see the training room tables in the hallway, with a bunch of helmets on ‘em painted dark blue with the yellow wings, just like the football team’s—and we literally thought it was a joke. The helmets were to out of the normal protocol. We’re like, ‘Where are our real helmets, the white ones? What the hell are these? We were laughing our asses off. Then Red comes in and says, ‘You guys are wearing these.’

According to Bacon, the idea to apply the famous winged look to the white hockey helmets came from local Ann Arbor attorney Paul Gallagher, who passed along his epiphany to Red Berenson.   Continuing:

But the design got the attention it was supposed to get. When the Wolverines came out for warm ups against Bowling Green to open their best of three playoff series, the Falcons actually stopped what they were doing to gawk at the Michigan team’s new look. “We just said, ‘Hey man, this is us,”‘ Roberts recalls, chuckling. “We’ve gotta do what we’re told. ‘All I can say is, we felt pretty corny.”

The write-up includes this photo, taken March 3, 1989, perhaps the debut of the new look?

Bowling Green – March 1989 [U-M Bentley Library]

You’ll notice the empty seats in the background.  Yost attendance averaged 2,000 seats under capacity so it looks like the only thing cornier than those helmets was actually attending the games.   But Red was still building the program during the 1988-89 campaign and finished fourth in the CCHA with a 22-15-4 record.   It’d be a couple years before the Wolverines really got things cooking.  In 1991 they started their current run of 18 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament including titles in ’96 and ’98.   And the helmets are here to stay.

The auction of the 1989 Notre Dame program ends February 22nd.

Another vintage Michigan football item showed up this week on eBay, this time a post card celebrating Fielding Yost and his fine 1905 squad. The team is assembled in a line with Yost in the middle, standing on a large sign in the shape of a football that reads ‘Western Championship’. Atop the photo is a block letter title, ‘A HARD COMBINATION TO BEAT’.

The copyright of the postcard is 1905, so I’m guessing this was produced before the season as a souvenir to students and fans. The mention of the Western Championship refers to the undefeated 1904 campaign when the great Willie Heston and the Wolverines ran the table 10-0 and outscored opponents 567-22.

More evidence that this was produced prior to the season, someone wrote on the card “We defeated Wisconsin 12 to 0, as ever.”    The Wolverines indeed defeated the Badgers by that margin on homecoming that season, on November 18, 1905 specifically.   The “as ever” zinger was a 1905 version of smack talk if you’re keeping track; probably about as harsh as it got it those days.

The 1905 crew was a well photographed group. Yost and his teams hadn’t been defeated since he stepped on campus four years prior so it makes sense that folks were eager to get a good look at the machine that was tearing up the football world. Thankfully the Bentley Library has republished a few bonus photos of this team online and they include the shot that was used for the postcard in the eBay auction.  Closer inspection reveals that the “Western Championship” oval on the postcard was likely dubbed-in later (1905 version of photoshopping) as Yost is standing on a small stool:


Bentley Library

Other photos of the 1905 squad that can be found (and can be blown up into incredible detail) on the Bentley Library site:

In a very cool huddle around Yost – Bentley Library

Line up for good measure – Bentley Library

At the Whitmore Lake Hotel – 1905 – Bentley Library*

*[Ed 10/1/09: Thanks to reader Michael F., who correctly identified the correct whereabouts of the photo above.   It is from Walter Graham's photo album at the Bentley Library, a 1905 shot on the front porch of The Whitmore Lake Hotel.  The team used to train at Whitmore Lake before the season.  Very cool.  Here's a link to the photo.]

The author of that smack talk was justified in dropping some postcard pomposity, as to that point the 1905 crew were rolling.   Through the shot-out of Wisconsin and onto the next week when they added a 75-0 defeat of Oberlin, Yost’s men were undefeated with 12 wins, outscoring opponents 495-0. The smack would end there unfortunately, as a few days later Michigan traveled to the Windy City and experience something that hadn’t happened in Yost’s five seasons: they lost.  Barely.  Their old rivals Chicago sent The Victors back on the train to Ann Arbor with a 2-0 defeat, the streak broken.

A Bonus eBay Watch:
A member of the 1967 Ohio State football squad is selling the sacred gold pants they receive if they defeat Michigan. It’s not the first time one of these beauties has come up for auction; it won’t be the last.

Coaches and players receive the award which has its roots during Michigan’s brutal season of 1934 when new OSU coach Francis Schmidt sized up Gerald Ford & the two-time defending national champions and observed, “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.”

I’ve seen these fetch around $1,000 in the past, we’ll see how this auction goes, here’s a pic:

Related:

19. January 2009 · Comments Off · Categories: Archive 2009, eBay Watch, History, Ohio State

The next edition of eBay Watch takes a foray onto uncharted waters–Michigan wrestling. A pair of meet scorecards were offered up on the online auction site this past week, one from the February 14, 1931 battle against Ohio State, the next from a January 9, 1932 meet against the University of Toronto. Both were held at Yost Field House.

I couldn’t find out what happened in the Ohio State meet but I’m guess the Victors prevailed as the Buckeyes don’t have much of a wrestling program:

Carl Dougovito wrestles for Michigan against Ohio State

Based on what I can make out on the scorecard, Michigan shut-out the grapplin’ Canucks 34-0:

Michigan vs. Toronto in Wrestling meet

Slotted to wrestle in the 165 class against the Buckeyes was a gent named Carl Dougovito. A year later Dougovito would cement his place in Michigan wrestling lore by slimming down a bit and claiming the NCAA championship in the 158-pound class [click here to see the full bracket]. By taking NCAAs he earned a photo up on the Bentley website and it’s a real beauty, take a good look:

Carl Dougovito Bentley Library – Carl Dougovito is a man’s man

The Bentley library actually makes a mistake there, as does a 2008 release from mgoblue.com. They each list Dougovito as 1932 NCAA champion in the 175 pound class, but it’s pretty clear from the NCAA records that he indeed won in the 158 pound division. If you don’t believe the bracket itself, believe Bruce Madej’s book The Champions of the West, where it confirms that Dougovito shed a few pounds to compete and win at 158.

Dougovito took his talents to the U.S. Olympic trials and got completely screwed, having to settle on an alternate position on the 1932 US Olympic team. Again, from the Bentley Library:

At the U.S. trials, Dugovito had apparently earned first place at this weight with convincing wins in the semi-finals and finals. A check of the standings, however, revealed that under the scoring system in use, one of the semi-finals losers was still eligible for a wrestle back match. So thirty minutes after what he thought was the championship, Dugovito was forced to wrestle another match. An exhausted Dugovito fought Jack van Bebber to a draw, but lost his title on a referee’s decision. Van Bebber easily won the gold medal in Los Angeles.

The auction closed Monday evening, the scorecards sold for a mere $2.99.

Related:
eBay Watch: The Fall of 1934
eBay Watch: 1933 and the Dickinson Formula
eBay Watch: 1933 MSC Ticket Application
Gerald Ford, Michigan Man
eBay Watch: Michigan Baseball Visits Japan (1932!)

A quick edition of eBay Watch features an auction of a mildly stained ticket from the Michigan-Ohio State game held in Ann Arbor on October 22, 1927. It has a little more significance than just an old piece of memorabilia from college football’s greatest rivalry. This game marked the official dedication of Michigan Stadium. Here’s the stub:


1927 Michigan Ohio State

Bennie Oosterbann captained the crew that roared to a 21-0 victory to officially break in the giant stadium, which of course is currently going through some major changes. We’re fortunate to have few excellent sources of information on this game.

First, the Bentley Library has an outstanding summary of the dedication. Just a taste:

General admission tickets sold for three dollars. The 11,114 student ticket purchaser had to pay a fifty cent surcharge on the normal $2.50 price for this and the other “big games” of the year. The box seats in the lower rows went for four and five dollars. More than 17,000 tickets were sold at Ohio State.

Nearly one thousand Boy Scouts, from all over Michigan, plus a few from Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus, were on hand to usher the ticket holders to their seats. A crowd of nearly 85, 000 was on hand as the dedication ceremonies got under way at 2:00.

Next, the Bentley site republished the Detroit Free Press article on the big day, click here to read the whole thing. An excerpt:

This day, however, the new castle of athletics was formally anointed. While one cheering block pelted the other with yells and massed bands played Michigan hymns, the stadium was properly and thoroughly dedicated.

It was properly dedicated because there were no speeches for one thing. No gentleman mustered sufficient brashness to think he could successfully pit his voice against the roar of the thousands Perhaps it was brashness that was lacking at that, it may have been the understanding that whatever might have been said with mighty word or tidy emphasis would be so much wasted breath.

Finally, the great WolverineHistorian pulled together this beauty of a video of Dedication Day and posted it on YouTube for all to enjoy:

Here’s the full auction for the 1927 ticket stub, there’s been quite a few bids already.

Related:

1981 Wisconsin Michigan pin

This edition of eBay Watch takes a look at an interesting pin commemorating Wisconsin’s 1981 victory over Michigan. Certainly no one in Madison would produce a trinket today for a regular season victory, but keep in mind that Barry Alvarez wouldn’t arrive for another decade and Badger football consistently had a place at or near the bottom of the Big Ten.

The lowly Badgers and hadn’t defeated the Blue since 1962 and in the previous four meetings Bo’s Wolverines outscored Wisconsin 176 to zero.   Michigan was riding a nine game win streak (including Schembechler’s first Rose Bowl victory) and that was enough for the pollsters to slot the Wolverines #1 in the preseason poll.

This seemed to be an ideal opponent for the opener, held September 12, 1981, and Michigan came in as a 19 point favorite.  Over 68,000 pickled fans witnessed the historic 21-14 upset.   Longtime sportswriter Jack McCallum was on hand for Sports Illustrated:

Last year Wisconsin didn’t score a touchdown until its fourth game. On Saturday in Madison, against a Michigan team that hadn’t yielded a touchdown in 5 games, Wisconsin scored two touchdowns in the second quarter and the gamer—on a 71-yard pass play. Quarterback Jess Cole throwing to Tailback John Williams—in the third. “This win is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Coach Dave McClain.

The issue? Michigan’s new dual threat quarterback Steve Smith struggled big time in the game. More McCallum:

For sure, Schembechler now knows, if he didn’t beforehand, that he has a quarterback problem; freshman [Steve] Smith may run a 4.5 40, but he completed only three of 18 passes for just 39 yards and threw three interceptions—all by Safety Matt Vanden Boom. And if Schembechler can’t find a quarterback who can get the ball to Anthony Carter, who caught only one pass for 11 yards against Wisconsin, well. Bo may not visit Pasadena on New Year’s Day after all.

The 1981 Wisconsin game was certainly not the last time that fans created souvenirs commemorating a regular season win over the Wolverines. Heck, it happened at least twice this season (Toledo, Michigan State) and of course you can still load up on goodies like this:

Appalachian State

In closing the SI column McCallum loaded up his pen and described the scene on the campus. In my mind’s eye I kind of envision State Street Madison being like this every Saturday night, but read on:

On Saturday night, though, State Street, the main drag, was loaded with people. Many were loaded; many were hanging from lampposts; all were singing the Badgers’ theme song, whose tune is that of the Budweiser ditty: “When you’ve said Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.”

More on the 1981 Season:

  • There would certainly be a few ups and downs but the Wolverines got a lift the following weekend. Notre Dame assumed the #1 ranking after M was upset, but Bo’s men were no doubt fired up as they hammered the Irish 25-7.
  • Sadly we lost legendary Michigan radio voice Bob Ufer during this season. He gave his legendary goodbye at the Iowa game and the Michigan Marching Band delivered a special formation in his honor [More from M Zone]:

Michigan Marching Band spells UFER

  • 1981 featured an incredible roster (Wangler, Humphries, Carter, Paris, Edwards, Woolfolk, Hammerstein, um, Boren, etc.)  That’s impressive, but check out some of the names on the coaching staff:  Schembechler, Carr, Miles, McCartney, Hanlon – wow.
  • No, Michigan didn’t make it back to Pasadena that season. They settled for a trip to Houston’s Bluebonnet Bowl where they faced UCLA in the first Pac 10 vs. Big 10 bowl game outside the Rose Bowl. WolverineHistorian put together a nice package for you, as the Victors prevailed 33-14:

  • Curiously, UCLA was a very familiar foe for old Michigan in 1981 and 1982.  After defeating the Bruins in the BB bowl, the teams met again the following September [31-27 loss] and again in the Rose Bowl later that season [24-14 loss].

You can view the full auction here, ending soon.  Other cool auctions out there:


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