The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew.  The 1950 squad featured team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl and won the conference title with a 6-3-1 overall 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 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 over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus—a game that will forever be known as 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:


A shirtless, unruly 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 maneuvers, 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:

[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

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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

09. January 2009 · Comments Off on Tonight’s Hockey Game Postponed · Categories: Archive 2008

Per the Freep and thanks to reader Trey:

Friday night’s Michigan hockey game against Miami of Ohio has been postponed due to structural damages to Yost Ice Arena.

Damage to the brick façade is visible along the roof line on State Street. Workers were making repairs to Friday morning.

A U-M release called the damage weather-related from recent snow and wind storms.

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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06. January 2009 · Comments Off on Yost should bow to Stoops’ Sooners? · Categories: Archive 2008, History, Yost


Fielding H. Yost, 1907 team postcards

From a post composed by John Fineran of gatorcountry.com:

Even Michigan’s legendary coach Fielding Yost might rise from his grave and pay Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his Sooners their due. Yost, you’ll remember, was the architect of Michigan’s “point-a-minute” team of 1901 that scored 550 points in 660 minutes of football in winning the national championship and the first Rose Bowl. Actually, that’s 0.83 points every 60 seconds, making the offense of Michigan’s Yost toast when compared to Oklahoma, where the points come whistling down the plains.

These 2008 Sooners, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, have scored 702 points in 780 minutes of play this year – 12 regular-season games and the Big 12 Championship – in running up a 12-1 record that has them in the BCS National Championship Game Thursday night at Dolphin Stadium against the potent Florida Gators.

Not quite a point-a-minute, mind you. But again, fathom the numbers – 702 points in 780 minutes of play. That’s 0.9 points every 60 seconds.

Clearly this isn’t meant to be a deep dive comparison on Yost vs. Stoops– the purpose is to highlight the prolific offense possessed by the Gators’ barrier to another BCS championship.  That said, there’s an inaccuracy in those numbers.   The Wolverines played 11 games in 1901 which Fineran equates to 660 minutes of play (11 games x 60 minutes).  In 1901 games weren’t 60 minutes, they were 70 (composed of two 35-minute halves) although games were frequently cut short.

By writing this I’m not attempting to show that Yost was better/worse than Stoops or any other modern offense.  The comparison is silly if not meaningless, save for the nostalgia and another mention of the great historical teams/figures like Yost’s 1901 team.    FWIW, here’s a few other points that should be mentioned when comparing these eras:

  • The field was 10 yards longer.
  • Forward passing was not permitted.
  • Touchdowns were worth five points, extra points one and there were no two-point conversions of course.
05. January 2009 · Comments Off on Bacon Interviews Rodriguez on Inaugural Big Show (audio) · Categories: Archive 2008, Coach Rod, WTKA 1050AM

Local author, professor and Michigan athletics historian John U. Bacon launched his new radio program this afternoon on WTKA’s ‘Big Show’. As announced a few weeks ago, Bacs will take the Monday 3-6pm slot on the live local program which rotates hosts throughout the week.

He started off with a bang as just a few minutes after taking the air he had Coach Rich Rodriguez on the line. They discussed the rigors of recruiting, how the internet has changed recruiting, on “derecruiting” (getting players adjusted to school and the football program after they’ve been fawned over for years), on the reception he got at Crisler during the Illinois hoops game, on the search for the defensive coordinator (nothing new, although he admitted a factor was the NFL playoffs) and on the defensive scheme he’s looking for, and more. Enjoy:

A couple notes:
* I got a chuckle when he and Bacon joked about how coaches rave over the food served the families of recruits. Rodriguez said jokingly, “the tea tastes sweeter”, which is a reference to southern-style iced tea, also called sweet tea (prounounced swate tay) due to (duh) it being loaded with sugar. You’d be hard pressed to find a recruit’s moms serving sweet tea anywhere in these parts anytime but especially this time of year. I’m not sure I’d have any idea what he was talking about if I hadn’t lived in Washington, DC and southern Virginia for a stint. It also touches on one of the criticisms of Rich Rodriguez, that he’s abandoned the Michigan base of recruiting. This of course seems silly in the wake of the commitment of #1 recruit in the state, but so it goes.

* Bacon noted he’s going to write a piece that’ll describe the experience of going through an extensive workout S&C coordinator Mike Barwis. Oh, and as Bacon notes, he’ll be the guinea pig for the article, actually going through the paces with Barwis. Rodriguez told him to bring extra Tylenol. Word.

Bo's Lasting Lessons

05. January 2009 · Comments Off on Webb Explains Will Campbell’s head (audio) · Categories: Archive 2008

A great segment of Recruiting Round-up on WTKA this morning. Host Sam Webb broke down the William ‘Big Will’ Campbell recruitment process and revealed some of the inside pool on why Webb and other recruiting gurus weren’t buying Campbell’s declaration that Michigan was off his list last week.

Here’s the first five or so minutes where Webb gives you all the goodies and explains:
– Campbell’s initial commitment
– The reason for Big Will’s decommitment
– The rationale behind declaring Michigan was off his list earlier this week
– On his mother’s assurance that Michigan was at the top of the list
– And, Big Will’s message to Rich Rod and the text he blasted out to his Michigan peeps before the selection:

Summary:
– On why he decommitted: There was a coaching change of course, but Webb advises that it was primarily the desire to visit other schools (LSU, for instance, wouldn’t allow a visit if he was committed to Michigan) and his desire to declare on national TV (and pick the hat, etc.)

– Why Campbell said Michigan was off his list last week:: “to inject a little bit a intrigue” into the selection.

– On why Webb was still confident of Will going to Michigan after those statements: Several things:
– Campbell told the Army people to keep a Michigan hat on the table right after making that comment.
– Big Will told his boys and family he was just playing with the media (not sure if he’s sorry about Sean at MSC’s wall)
– Last week he called Rodriguez and told him to make sure he watches the Army game.
– Finally, Campbell’s mom told Webb last week that Michigan was top of the list but Sam didn’t get clearance from Big Will to release that statement.

Webb also got a text Saturday morning that included many of Will’s peeps, saying he wanted to show folks how we do things in the D– BAM:


Here’s the full audio of the segment via the WTKA podcasts.

Hat tip to the Ann Arbor Chronicle, it appears as though the primary donors to the new (& very well done) University of Michigan baseball and softball complex were stung a bit by Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff. Ouch.

Bloomberg.com compiled and published a list of foundations that invested with Madoff and included the Wilpon Family Foundation.

Thankfully it’s not clear how much the family invested and lost with the shmuck Madoff.

Related:

The WSJ has been all over the Madoff story, read Stephen Greenspan’s essay this weekend, Anatomy of Gullibility: Why We Keep Falling for Financial Scams.

01. January 2009 · Comments Off on Memories…Michigan Rose Bowls · Categories: Archive 2008

To help get through this tough bowl season, how about few select items from the MVictors Vault featuring Rose Bowl-related items throughout the years.

My favorite? Probably the photo of above from Fielding Yost & company’s trip to the first Rose Bowl football game in 1901. The team is on a trolley heading around town and the photo is featured in Bo Schembechler’s Tradition, available from Amazon.com.

Runner up may be the lighter from the 1948 tilt.

Want to own your own piece of Michigan Rose Bowl history? There’s a few solid eBay auctions out there right now:
* 1981 Rose Bowl Glass
* 1965 Rose Bowl Ticket Stub
* 1948 Rose Bowl Program
* 1998 Rose Bowl Seat Cushion