Harry Kipke Wheaties Card 1934
Harry Kipke, 1935 Wheaties Card – being auctioned on eBay

Well quite a few in the media are pounding the most-losses-in-129-years bongo. That’s true of course but Rich Rodriguez’s 2008 debut will not be the worst season in Michigan football history. The percentage of games in the loss column is certainly among the worst but consider that Michigan didn’t consistently play more than eight games for the first 62 years of its existence. If we’re going to toss around the 129 years number, the worst season record-wise belongs to the 1881 team that played and lost three games, scoring just four points to 28 for our opponents (Harvard, Yale and Princeton). But since there wasn’t a coach or a conference or any known photos of the 1881 team, we’ll have to look a little further down the line for a comparable loser.

The next edition of eBay Watch starts with a spicy and pricey number, a 1935 Wheaties card depicting Harry Kipke, the former Michigan punter and coach. The description doesn’t give a lot of detail, it simply says “This is a card cut off the back of a Wheaties Cereal Box” yet the seller would like a cool $149.95 for it, take it or leave it. I think that’s a stretch and you better be a smooth brother if you’re gonna convince your old lady that $150 for the back of a cereal box is a good play.

Harry Kipke’s 1934 outfit is probably the definitive low point for Michigan football [see my post 'The Fall of 1934' for more on this season]. The Gerald Ford-led team went 1-7, scored just twenty one points while being shut out in five of the games. Kipke’s 1936 team also went 1-7 but played just five league games and scored a few more points than Ford and company.

What’s remarkable about the 1934 skid was that Kipke’s teams had lost just a single game in the previous four seasons, winning two national championships and four conference titles in the stretch.

Normally I’d go on about the season but I’ve already pounded this period into the keyboard on several occasions, so please dig in if you’d like more:
1930 Michigan Football Jersey
1933 and the Dickinson Formula
Norm Daniels’ 1931 Jersey
On the Meyer Morton Award
The 1930 Schedule Bot!
The Fall of 1934

One topic I haven’t dug into is Kipke the player and I will get into this in the future. He was a fine halfback but a phenomenal punter. His punting prowess placed him on the 1922 All American team, and legendary Walter Camp called Kipke the greatest punter in football history.


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2 Comments

  1. FOrmerMichiganSupporter

    Der President Doctor Mary Sue Beth Daughter Girl Coleman:

    Der President Doctor Mary Sue Beth Daughter Girl Coleman:

    I reckon it were not easy for ya ta go into them there hollers in West Virginny and find such a upholder of the fine Michigan feetball tra-ditions as ya done did with that there feetball coach you done hired, but yer work paid off. He done be a settin' records that few folks figured could be a set. Them be a Doutin' Thomases, they be. In der ten thousand years since the God Allmiteee make this here earth, der ben a bunch o' um. Don't give them no nevermind. You justa a keep goin with a what you think needed to be a done. That be what I am a doin' I filled up my what dey call a fer oh un kay retireingment pregram wit dey General car making company stock cer-tif-cats so I be libbin off dey fat o the lan.

  2. you should note that the 3 games of 1881 were all played on the road against the best programs in the nation – oh and they were all played within five days of each other.

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