[Ed. This was originally posted July 31, 2011. I'm reposting again for Notre Dame week and probably will next year. This is one of my all time favorites.]
Yost was such a beauty.
I slung the photo over to my pal John Kryk (Natural Enemies) who, after a laugh no doubt, wrote me back suggesting ol’ Yost probably put the pooch in the photo to counter the antics of then Notre Dame coach Shorty Longman and his bulldog mascot “Mike”.
Longman was a player on Yost’s point-a-minute squads but even after he took the coaching reins in South Bend, Shorty kept his permanent home in Ann Arbor. In 1909 the Irish defeated Michigan 11-3 in Ann Arbor for their first win in the series. As Kryk wrote in Natural Enemies, apparently after that historic game Shorty outfitted “Mike” with a little jacket that advertised the 11-3 score and was known to parade him around town. Ugh.
Michigan and Notre Dame were scheduled for a rematch in 1910 but the game was abruptly cancelled due to a contention over the eligibility of two of the Irish players. [Ed. Kryk broke down the whole thing here in an excellent guest post.]
While we don’t know for sure when (in 1910) this photo was taken, it’s safe to say that one way or another Yost included the conspicuous canine as a response to Longman’s “Mike”. And speaking of postcards, here Shorty’s best friend featured in a 1909 Notre Dame postcard:
So…either Yost captured Mike for the team photo, or more likely he rustled up a Mike lookalike and had his tailor work up the cute little jacket. My only regret—we can’t confirm that FHY put a big fat ‘bite me’ on the dog’s jacket. If I had to guess, it would have read something like, “Michigan – 1909 Champions of the West” as a stick in the eye to Notre Dame’s similar claim.
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Related: Teaching Them Modern Football (1887)