The ‘Angel of the Big House’, of course Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News, graced WTKA 1050AM this morning.  She discussed a variety of topics with Sam and Ira, from the EMU game, the challenges on defense, her expectations for the season vis a’ vis her preseason predictions.  She finished with a plug for her new book, 100 Things Michigan Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.

Here’s the audio:

Pick up ‘100 Things Michigan Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die’ here at


Update: Thanks to reader Exploding_monkeyface for noticing this. Compliments of the online smear campaign against Michael Rosenberg, check out the tags suggested for Angelique’s new book:


16. January 2009 · Comments Off on The Vague Anxiety and Bill Frieder · Categories: Archive 2009, Blue Books, Bo Schembechler, History, Hoops, Recruits · Tags: , , , , , ,

MVictors: Blue Books

Michigan's Bill Frieder
Rumeal Robinson’s comments this week (which imply that many members of the 1989 championship team had a little extra help) provide an opportunity to take a look back at enigmatic former coach Bill Frieder. I was a young lad in the 1980s but there always a sense that Frieder was an odd bird for sure, perhaps even the kind of guy that would bend the rules. That’s that alpha and omega of my recollection, so thankfully I have a copy Craig Ross’s tome, Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan, published in 2006.

If you enjoy the tone, feel and prose of blogs like mgoblog and even this site, I suggest you get a copy of this book. I had a chance to meet Ross, a local attorney, author and raconteur, for lunch in December. I’m a good way through it and it’s fabulous. Ross takes a good portion of chapter four in discussing cheating in college hoops in general, and takes a look at Johnny Orr, Bill Frieder, Ed Martin and Steve Fisher through this lens.

Here’s a few selections from chapter four when he examines Bill Frieder. [Ed note: To avoid a full reprint of several pages I’ve omitted some of the work, so I risk not fully conveying Ross’s story or point, so I encourage you to get a copy]:

Until Frieder, I am fairly confident Michigan ran an honest program. Or perhaps more accurately, according to people who were around the program and show know, there seemed to be nothing or very little untoward going on. Once Frieder became the head coach, Michigan started to win it share of recruiting wars, and there was always some vague anxiety among Michigan fans that maybe things were not all they should have been. [Ross goes into a variety of recruits that Frieder lured to U-M]

About a page later:

Many people have connected Frieder’s oddball brilliance–his analytical ability, his claimed success at the gaming tables, the fact that he was a night owl and looked like a complete slob–with a lack of ethics. With the above conditions as underpinnings, the well-publicized rift between Schembechler and Frieder was an impetus toward believing the worst about Bill. While Don Canham always liked Frieder, Bo made it plain he thought the guy was a flake and, in his dress and demeanor, not a “Michigan man.” (Clue: This is ironic, since Bill has an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Michigan. Bo’s degree is from Miami of Ohio…)

Later, next page:

I have talked to Frieder on a few occasions. More significantly, I have talked to those who knew Frieder quite well, and were around the program on a day-to-day basis when Frieder was the coach. Everyone I spoke to agrees that Frieder would take full advantage of the rules. And the vast majority agree he was paranoid about not crossing the line. It is true that others are not so sure, and this includes certain friends.


[Former legendary AD Don] Canham, for certain, saw nothing untoward in Frieder’s regime as coach. But when Frieder took the Arizona State job, I believe there was a collective sigh of relief from many Michigan fans, since there was a general, public distrust of Frieder. And when the Steve Fisher-led Wolverines won their first NCAA championship with Frieder’s team, the relief turned to exaltation.

The Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan by Craig Ross

13. November 2008 · Comments Off on Blue Books: Bo’s Winless Season · Categories: Archive 2008, Blue Books, Bo Schembechler, History · Tags: , , , ,

MVictors: Blue Books

Thanks to the profileration of sports media folks in Haiti can tell you that Michigan’s going to end up with its first losing season since 1967, a couple years removed from Bo Schembechler’s arrival on campus in 1969. Bo started the streak and only dipped to .500 once, in 1984 when Jim Harbaugh was hurt and they lost to #1 BYU in the Holiday Bowl.

But Bo wasn’t foreign to tough seasons in his professional life before leading Miami, OH and Michigan. In fact, he lived through the worst season you can possibly have during his time as an assistant in Northwestern.

With the Wildcats heading into town Saturday this version of Blue Books pulls an excerpt from John U. Bacon‘s tome Bo’s Lasting Lessons, this selection from Chapter 2: Seek Mentors, Not Money:

I learned an awful lot from Ara in my first year at Northwestern, but I learned a heckuva lot more from him that second season, when we lost ’em all. And what I learned was how a real leader leads when things aren’t going his way.

Ara treated the staff as though we were winning every game. He never gave the slightest inclination that we were the problem. He not once blamed any assistant or any player for any loss we suffered that year. NOT ONCE.

I’m not saying there wasn’t some bitching among the players. When you’re losing every game, every player thinks he deserves more playing time. But I promise you this: There was a whole lot less bitching on that team than I’ve heard on teams that won half their games–and there was absolutely no, but no, bickering among the coaches.

The result? Put this down: Ara Parseghian lost every game that year, but the next year his team went 5-4–Northwestern’s first winning season in eight years.

Bo's Lasting Lessons

02. October 2008 · Comments Off on Yost Busts the Ghost · Categories: Archive 2008, Blue Books, History, Yost

With the Illini coming into town we’ll take a look back to October 24, 1925, the year after Red Grange put a whooping on Michigan at the dedication of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. Grange tallied 6 touchdowns in that game, five rushing and one passing, including four in the first 12 minutes on runs of 95, 67, 56 and 44 yards. For obvious reasons that game is still talked about today.

What isn’t talked about so much is what happened the next year. Someone up in the stands didn’t take kindly to the humiliation of 1924 and was set on doing something about it. From Bruce Madej’s Champions of the West:

Just one year before, Coach George Little’s Wolverines had been humiliated by the Illini and their junior halfback, Harold “Red” Grange. So embarrassed was U-M athletic director Fielding Yost by Michigan’s performance that day, he decided to abandon his seat in the stands and return as head coach.

For 12 months, Yost schemed how to bridle Illinois’ Galloping Ghost. He replaced Michigan’s unsuccessful six-man line of 1924 with a seven-man front and a diamond-shaped secondary. Legendary Illini coach Bob Zuppke tried to counter the wily Yost by shifting Grange from his customary halfback post to quarterback.

A steady rain throughout the night had turned the Memorial Stadium field into a muddy quagmire. Twenty-five times the Wheaton Iceman carried the ball, and 25 times Michigan sent a shudder through the sellout crowd as Grange was jolted to the turf by bone-crushing tackles. The final statistics showed No. 77 with a meager net total of 55 yards, less than a fifth of what he had accumulated the year before. Among Yost’s defensive stars that day were sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan and senior captain Bob Brown. The only score of the game came just before the first half ended when Michigan’s little Benny Friedman converted a 25-yard field goal. Though the final margin was just 3-0, that didn’t matter to Yost. The burden he carried for more than a year had finally been lifted from his shoulders.


MVictors: Blue Books

A couple weeks ago I looked back at Lou Holtz’s attempts to woo Michigan coach Lloyd Carr to South Bend and join his Irish staff. In late 1989 Carr had interviewed for the Wisconsin head coaching job which was eventually given to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez. It was Alvarez’s departure that prompted Holtz to seek out Carr.

Did you know that legendary General Bo considered an offer to take the reins at Madison back in the 60s? Indeed. Here’s an excerpt from John U. Bacon’s wonderful Bo’s Lasting Lessons, where Bo recounts what happened in Chapter Three titled ‘Wait for the Right Opportunity’:

After we won our conference title in my third and fourth seasons at Miami–1965 & 1966–Wisconsin called. From the outside, it seemed like a pretty good job. Wisconsin’s a good school in a great league. It was about ten o’clock on a Sunday when I walk into this meeting room to face twenty guys sitting around–and some board member falls asleep, right there in front of me! Now what does that tell you?

They also had a student on the committee, and this kid asks me how I would handle Clem Turner, a Cincinnati kid, who was always in trouble. Well, how the heck do I know how I would handle Clem Turner? I’ve never met him! And that’s exactly what I told that kid. But I’m thinking, Who the hell’s running this show?

The whole thing lasted maybe forty minutes, and the second I was out that door I walked to the nearest pay phone and called Ivy Williamson, the Wisconsin athletic director, and told him to withdraw my name from consideration.

Bo goes onto say that Wisconsin was after Bob Knight for their hoops coaching position. Schembechler told his pal Knight that he was unimpressed and “If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t go to Wisconsin.”

Bo's Lasting Lessons

MVictors: Blue Books

Writer Fredric Alan Maxwell is pulling together a biography of Michigan legend Tom Harmon titled, ‘The Late Great 98’. Michigan Today released a excerpt of the book that will be released chapter by chapter over time in a unique format, and will eventually result in a hard copy book. Details are found on

The Late Great 98 is the Tom Harmon Biography-in-progress that is being published on an advanced subscription basis. People who purchase reduced-rate advance copies will be e-mailed Harmon stories and chapters as they are written, which they can review and comment on, thus becoming part of the editorial process. Hard cover books containing the final draft will be printed and delivered by mail to subscribers before they are sold in bookstores.

Maxwell’s book intro discusses some of the controversy around Harmon’s military service in World War II. There were accusations out there discrediting Harmon’s military service, summarized below:

…very persistent rumor is afloat to the effect that Tom Harmon, when he crashed in South America was yellow, that he, contrary to all traditions and rules of the Air Service (sic), bailed out first whereas it is the duty of the pilot to be the last to jump. Rumor has it that that was the reason that Tom was the only one to survive that crash. It is also said that he is thoroughly discredited throughout the Air Force because of that alleged fact and that he never would be able to get any cooperation from members of the service.’

Maxwell’s research discredits these rumors, showing that Harmon’s record of service was indeed clean and furthermore, commendable (he received a Silver Star). On the official record eventually Secretary of War Henry Stimson responded to a request from a Michigan senator and concluded in a 52 page report: “the War Department denounces these stories and deplores the circulation of such unfounded rumors.”

These stories and rumors persist, I’ve read them on message boards and the like. I’m glad to see Maxwell looked into it and didn’t just go with a feel good piece on Harmon.

The book is truly still in the works, in fact Maxwell is still compiling his research. The author requests that anyone with Harmon anecdotes, photographs, letters or other Harmon memorabilia or memories contact him at

Here’s an anecdote, does anyone know how Harmon ended up with #98? I do, how about you Fred?

eBay Watch: Harmon says ‘Vote for Heston’
eBay Watch: Old 98’s son faces Michigan, MSU
The Drunk and Old 98 (video)

MVictors: Blue Books

I just received a fresh copy of ‘Historic Photos of University of Michigan Football’ from Turner Publishing. Michelle O’Brien authored the collection, which pulls together fascinating photos from the vaults over at the U-M Bentley Historical Library over the past 100+ years.

It isn’t confined to games and practices; it also includes a few unique looks at the band, the fans and in some cases, the excitement on campus and outside the stadium.

Each photo contains a detailed caption describing the photo often along with a relevant background from the period. O’Brien did a very nice job-it’s a fine collection and would make an excellent gift.

While I’ve seen a few of the photos before but most were new to me. Here’s a few of my favorites, click to enlarge:

Louis Elbel conducts The Victors in 1952
Louis Elbel, the man that composed The Victors after the 1898 Michigan game at Chicago, conducts the Michigan Marching Band in 1952

The original Little Brown Jug, photo from Minnesota
The original Little Brown (White?) Jug. I love the “Not to be taken from the Gymnasium” instruction painted on the top. Can you imagine?

Breaking ground on Michigan Stadium
A photo as they break ground on Michigan stadium, with a clear shot back to Yost Field House in the background. Gorgeous.

Michigan football historic photos

12. September 2008 · Comments Off on Blue Books: Holtz Courting Lloyd Carr · Categories: Archive 2008, Blue Books, Bo Schembechler, History, Lloyd Carr, Notre Dame

MVictors: Blue Books

This week we’ll go again to the absolute definitive tome on the Michigan-Notre Dame Rivarly, John Kryk’s Natural Enemies. There are several anecdotes of interest in the book, some I’ve mentioned on these pages before, and I’ll revisit some of these in the future. Today, a selection from Chapter 11 ‘Extra Points’.

Lou Holtz to be honored at Michigan game

Lou Holtz will be honored at Saturday’s game and they are unveiling a statue. I’m sure Jason Peter has some thoughts on how to decorate the Holtz likeness. I don’t know if Lloyd Carr will ever be honored with a monument at Michigan but I’m sure he’ll get his name on a facility or prominent street. An obscure street near Michigan stadium was the reward for Depression era coach Harry Kipke, who won national championships but was also fired at the end of the decade. But according to Natural Enemies, Lou Holtz wanted Carr to join him in South Bend on a couple occasions:

In an interview for this book in 2003, current Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr revealed that in the 1980s Lou Holtz twice tried to woo him to his staff at Notre Dame.

Carr said he believes that the first offer from Holtz came in 1986. “One night I was sitting at home and Lou called me. I was shocked, honestly,” Carr recalled. “He said, ‘I’ve got a secondary job here,’ and, you know, Lou has been instrumental in placing a lot of his assistants as head coaches.”

Then in his early 40s, Carr was getting itchy to become a head coach, and Holtz promised him that eventually he would become the next defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. And from there, Holtz said, “I promise you I’ll get you a head job. You should be a head coach and I’ll help you get a job.” Carr was intrigued, but turned him down.

A year later Schembechler promoted Carr to defensive coordinator.

Two years later Holtz came a-calling again. It occurred during an eventful few days in December 1989. Carr had just interviewed for the vacant head coach job at Wisconsin, as did Notre Dame defensive coordinator Barry Alaverz. Alavarez got the job. Then Schembechler dropped a bombshell on his Michigan coaching staff.

“[Carr speaking] Bo called me in to tell me, ‘I’m going to get out of coaching and I’m going to name Gary [Moeller] the head coach.’ And I’ll forget this because I was really flattered-he said, ‘If it wasn’t Mo, it would be you.’ I mean, I was flattered by that.

A couple days later the book goes on, Carr got a call from George Kelly, the Irish linebackers coach. He called on behalf of Holtz and offered Alavarez’s defensive coordinator job to Carr with a promise that he’d be strongly considered to replace Holtz once he hung them up. Carr didn’t buy it:

‘What a bunch of B.S.” I said to myself, “Notre Dame is never going to hire an assistant coach.” And yet that’s what they eventually did! They hired Bob Davie, who was the defensive coordinator. It was an amazing thing.

So I went in to see Bo and I said, “Bo, Lou Holtz has offered me the defensive coordinator’s job at Notre Dame.” And he said, “I’ll tell you right now, there’s no way in hell you’re taking that job. You’re going to stay here.”

Natural Enemies John Kryk

08. September 2008 · Comments Off on Blue Books: The Yost-Rockne Feud · Categories: Archive 2008, Blue Books, History, Notre Dame, Yost

MVictors: Blue Books

A new feature on MVictors, periodically I’ll take a look at a passage from one of the great books written on Michigan athletics. This week we’ll go to the absolute definitive tome on the Michigan-Notre Dame Rivarly, John Kryk’s Natural Enemies. There are several anecdotes of interest in the book, some I’ve mentioned on these pages before, and I’ll revisit some of these in the future. But for today, here’s are a few selections from Chapter 4 ‘Yost vs. Rockne: 1918:31’.

[Note: These are selections from through the chapter, just trying to highlight the feud:]

In a nutshell, here’s what each came to think of each other from 1923 to 1931.

Rockne, then in his late 30s to early 40s, saw in Yost a “hill-billy” who was forever grinding the religious ax against Notre Dame, who was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, who was selfish and vain beyond comprehension, who was blindly jealous of Rockne’s own success and ascension to national stardom, and who coached boring, neanderthal football.

Yost, then in his mid to late 50s, saw in Rockne a coach who feared the regulatory confinement of a conference, who ran a renegade football factory at Notre Dame, who sought unfair advantages over his opponents, and who continually and deliberately broke football rules with his controversial offense.

Yost and Rockne

Kryk found reams of letters from the two men which provided some insight to their true feelings. There are a few beauties reviewed in the book, but here’s a few excerpts from a back and forth between them.

First, from Rockne in a letter to Yost:

A half a dozen of my friends among the directors in the Conference came to me Saturday and told me that you had been haranging [sic] them all not to play Notre Dame in anything. I think this was very unfair of you. We live up to Conference eligibility rules as given in your code book, but not your special regulations, as we are not a member of the Western Conference…

…The Western Conference could put in a regulation that all coaches had to join the Ku-Klux-Klan, but that certainly will not apply to us any more than some of the other freak regulations they may have.

Now if you personally do not want to meet Notre Dame, that is your business, no holler from this end. If you do not feel that we are fair, we do not want to play either. But I do not think it is fair for you to carry a knocking campaign against us. I have always been a loyal booster and admirer of yours and I hope always to be. However, I am no quitter…I will not sit by quietly and have my school knocked.

Yost’s reply:

Your letter of June 14th received. This I have read carefully. In my opinion, if a university deems it advisable to play on Thanksgiving, has a 10- or 120game football schedule, and has freshman competition with other schools, it should seek its competition with universities that have the same standards and privileges.

Creed has nothing to do with it. Three of the last four football captains at Michigan have been Catholic and many of my best friends are….

I do not believe that the Universities of the Conference should handicap their teams and men and put them in competition with any university that has many advantages that go toward the development of an athletic team with much added experience in competition. Even under these circumstances, Michigan has competed with Notre Dame for years…

I have made you a frank statement of my position and my viewpoint and I want to assure you that nothing personal enters into this in any way…

As aside, Kryk also notes that Yost told Rockne he was going to send copies of their letters to all the other conference directors since Rockne didn’t reveal the names of the other directors with whom he discussed Yost’s “haranging”.

Natural Enemies John Kryk