28. January 2009 · Comments Off on Coach Red Speaks, again, for the last time (WTKA audio) · Categories: Archive 2009, Coach Berenson, Michigan State, WTKA 1050AM

Michigan coach Red Berenson clearly wants to put this to bed and behind his team, and after one more post I’ll do the same (for tonight).  I’ve already checked the availability of MDekers.com since I’m hockey guy now.

Last night on the WTKA Red Berenson show at The Arena in downtown Ann Arbor, the Michigan coach gave hosts Andy Evans and John U. Bacon his take on the Kampfer/Tropp/Conboy incident.  Here’s the audio:

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Notes and quotes:

  • Red was still concerned about Kampfer’s health and his ability to play this weekend.
  • “The incident was uncalled for, it was unnecessary, it has been dealt with.  It  should not happen in any league.”
  • “Kids have to remember you’re responsible for what you do on the ice.  Whether you’re a hockey player or a baseball player, when you’re holding that bat or holding a hockey stick, you’re responsible for what you’re doing with it.”
  • Even asmuch as the kid that grabbed Kampfer, the Conboy kid, who’s a big tough kid, and was maybe out of line to jump Kampfer from behind needlessly, but maybe out of frustration, the end of the game or whatever, and he held the other kid [Corey Tropp] off that already hit him with a stick when he was down.  He held him off with one hand, and said, ‘What are you doing?’.”
  • The best quote of the night:  “It has been dealt with, and Rick Comley at Michigan State, I’ll give him high marks for dealing with that the way it had to be dealt with.  That’s a tough thing for a coach you’ve got these kids, you recruit them, you believe in the them, you want to defend them, you want them to grow and learn, but this was over the line.”
  • “This was one of the worst incidents I’ve seen in my many years in college hockey…”
  • “This story’s over.  Louie’s here.”    Classic – Caporusso was next up for an interview.

Complete podcast can be found here (in four parts).  Includes Caporusso, Jack Johnson, talk about Notre Dame and more.

22. January 2009 · Comments Off on The Grind, Beilein audio and Wildcat mix-tape · Categories: Archive 2009, Coach Beilein, Hoops, Jokes, Michigan State · Tags: , ,

After the Penn State loss, I’m guessing most M fans would say a NCAA tourney bid is not going to happen in 2009. That’s of course a 180 from just over a week ago, but we were warned by a few folks this season might go this way. Shots aren’t falling and the team is struggling, Coach Beilein talked with Sam Webb and Andy Evans this morning on WTKA about where the team is at, what he’s doing to get things back on track, and how he & Pittsnogle faced a similar slump one year at West Virginia:

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The situation is even worse than Brian at mgoblog suggested just earlier this week:

Moving forward, the last two games have blown whatever margin of error Michigan had in their effort to make the tournament. Even if you assume wins home and away against Northwestern and away against Iowa—potentially dodgy but absolutely necessary to make the tourney—you have to find three wins in these games to get Michigan to .500 in conference:

Home: Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue
Away: Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota

Yikes. One of those assumed games is Saturday’s tilt against Kevin Coble and the bomb-dropping Northwestern Wildcats who showed Michigan State a little something called style last night at Breslin. A few highlights from the action, you’ve got to see these guys:



And more….I can’t get enough of these guys:


This week I sat down with Pete Tiernan, founder of bracketscience.com, a website with a comprehensive database that allows subscribers to slice and dice historical NCAA tournament data.  Tiernan also provides statistical trends, charts, tips and strategies for busting up your pools. Over the past several years he’s contributed a column to ESPN.com insider$ and in 2009 will be featured at CBSSports.com.

Tiernan holds two degrees from Michigan and taught for a while within the English department.   His ties to the M basketball program run deep as his dad, ‘Boom Boom’ Tom Tiernan, laced them up for the Maize & Blue back when they played at Yost Field House in the early 1950s.

We met in downtown Saline at the excellent Brecon Grille and over a few pints, he was kind enough to answer questions about Beilein, Michigan, tourney trends, the selection committee and more.  We close with a cool story about his son who played for the Grand Valley State team that shocked Michigan State at Breslin last year.  Enjoy:

MVictors: Michigan basketball is becoming relevant again thanks to John Beilein. Let’s cut right to it, how does Beilein’s tournament coaching record stack up?
Tiernan: Michigan made a very good choice.   John Beilein is the top overperforming active coach of the modern tournament era. There’s a statistic that I have called PASE (Performance Against Seed Expectation) which compares what a coach or team or conference should win based on their seed, versus how many games that actually do win.

For coaches with at least four tournament appearances, John Beilein’s expected number of wins was just 2 ½ and  he achieved 6. And he’s exceeded seed expectation in three of his four tournaments.  He’s consistently overachieved.

MVictors: Are there any regular season characteristics that indicate a team will excel/overachieve in the tournament?
Tiernan: I did an analysis last year looking at the attributes [of teams coming into the tournament] that lead to overperformance in the tournament. By far the biggest one was scoring margin. If you had a team that beats its opponents by an average of 15 points a game, their PASE is +.5, meaning that they on average, overachieve by half a game in the tournament.

MVictors: Once in the tournament, are there statistical tendencies of teams that overachieve in tournament play?
Tiernan: Last year I looked at a bunch of different numbers, from rebounding margin, to turnovers, shooting percentage, free throw percentage and more. The stat led to the most overachievement was not three point shooting percentage, but the amount of three point shots you take compared to overall field goals. Of course Beilein is huge on that. It didn’t matter what their shooting percentage was. What mattered was that they took the shots.

MVictors:
Speaking of Beilein’s style, you’ve watched a lot of Michigan this season, what are your impressions?
Tiernan:
When you think about the Beilein style, it’s very unorthodox.   His teams always get out-rebounded.  Always.   You watch Michigan play and it just drives me crazy.   They give up so many offensive rebounds. You’d think intuitively, ‘This can’t work! Why is this working?’.

I think it has a lot to do the fact that he’s going for offense, he’s going for turnovers. They are not going to get beat on fast breaks and they’re going to try to generate as many fast breaks as they can. His whole thing defensively is ‘We’re not going to give you an easy basket.’  And the offense. I’ve never seen a Michigan team get up the court as fast as these guys. Maybe with Ricky Green or Phil Hubbard. This team is pretty fast.

MVictors: As of January 12, Joe Lunardi of ESPN currently projects Michigan as a #9 seed playing in the South.  Is getting an 8 or 9 seed a bad break because of the inevitable game against a top seed in the next round?
Tiernan: It’s actually better to be a 10 seed than an eight or a nine. I’ve studied every seed match-up and the nine’s hold a 52-44 edge over eight seeds since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams. In round two, 9 seeds are 3-49 (against #1 seeds). Seven seeds beat 10’s by a 60-36 margin, but in the second round, they are just 18-42 against 2 seeds. But look at 10 seeds: they are 18-18  in the second round.   If I were Michigan I’d rather fall to a 10 or even an 11.

MVictors:
Is Michigan historically/statistically at a disadvantage for completely lacking recent tournament experience?
Tiernan: There’s only one team that won without being in the previous years’ tournament—that was Syracuse in 2003. There are actually six characteristics of 17 of the last 19 winners:
* They score 77+ points/game
* Their scoring margin is +10
* They’re from the big 6 conferences
* They went to the previous year’s tournament
* Their coach has at least five years of tournament experience
* They’re seeded 1-4

There’s only one coach who won the championship in his first year, and that was Steve Fisher of course. If you take those six statistics you can see who’s most likely to be in the championship. I did the analysis last night, and there’s seven teams that have those characteristics. I don’t have the seeds, of course, so I looked at the current top 20:
* Duke
* Pitt (barely, based on scoring margin)
* Michigan State (also barely based on scoring margin)
* North Carolina
* Notre Dame
* Clemson
* Connecticut

MVictors: If Michigan or more likely Michigan State find themselves in the Final Four in Detroit, is there notable advantage for teams playing at or near their campus?
Tiernan: I’ve looked at proximity to home, within 100 miles. Overall, there is a slight advantage, about an eighth of a game advantage or about 12 percent.

MVictors: Talking about seedings, if you had an audience with the selection committee what would you tell them, what do they consistently miss?
Tiernan: When you ask yourself, ‘What does the selection committee want?’ I guess they’d want that they seeded so correctly that the high seed always won, and that we’d end up with four #1 seeds in the Final Four.

I actually think they are getting more statistically savvy.   I bet you they are looking at things like Ken Pomeroy’s possession-based statistics.   Otherwise it’s very hard to take a Memphis for instance, look at their performance in their conference which is a soft conference and compare it to playing in the Big East.

I never really have a lot of problems [with the seedings]. Every year there are teams that seem to be criminally omitted, and other teams that get in that probably shouldn’t.  I would say that certain coaches get overseeded, which I think usually to those coaches detriment than anything else. Bobby Knight for years used to get overseeded. If you look at the statistics for his team, you’d say they should have been a 7 or 8 seed, and damned if they didn’t get a 5 or a 6 seed. You almost wish you could take names off of the teams, look at the numbers, look at who they beat. If there was some way of doing that I think you’d see a lot more surprises in the seedings.

MVictors: You’ve written for ESPN.com on the insider site in the past couple years, I understand you are moving to CBS sports this spring. When will we see your first columns?
Tiernan: They’ll start running three weeks from selection Sunday, then they double up the week of Selection Sunday, and the week after.   I was behind the “Insiders” [pay] site at ESPN. I look at ESPN vs. CBS and I’m sure that ESPN dwarfs CBS in traffic, but CBS seems to handle things like commenting much better. On top of that, my columns will be available to anyone not just subscribers.

MVictors: Ultimately pools are a form of gambling, and you’re not promoting that aspect at all. But are a large number of your subscribers looking for a gambling edge?
Tiernan: As much as I try to downplay it, I do get subscribers for that reason. I don’t bet. I do enter pools and I run a pool on my site. For me it’s a friendly way to get involved in the tournament. I’ve won my share of pools but it’s not like I’m going to win the ESPN tournament challenge. [laughter]

I’d say about half of the subscribers are just passionate about it like I am. Then, there are the guys cramming for the test on Selection Sunday night or Monday, all they want is the answer. They say, ‘Pete, what are your models?’ I put up eight statistical models. And they want them because they want to bet them. I try to caveat the hell out of the models. I say, ‘Use the statistics for guidance but don’t use it as gospel’.

The tournament is maddeningly unpredictable. Even when it’s predictable it’s unpredictable. Two years ago who’d of thought we’d only have three upsets? I put together a thing I call the Madometer, which is a measure of tournament madness:

MVictors: Your son plays hoops at Grand Valley State, and was part of the team that upset Michigan State in East Lansing in an exhibition last season, correct? That must have been a proud moment for your family.
Tiernan: [big smile]. That was… [pauses]. I’ll never forget it. I mean, I’ll get emotional talking about it.

Bobby was 5’ 9” as a freshman [at Saline] and as a senior he was 6’ 5”. In his sophomore season he was the starting point guard in the beginning of the year, at the end, he was the center. That’s how much he grew.

He went up to Grand Valley on a football scholarship. Like any other kid, he’s up there and he thinks his shit doesn’t stink. He goes to football practice and realizes, ‘holy cow. There’s a lot of good football players here.’ So he quits and we were disappointed. Then he decides that he’s going to walk on the Grand Valley basketball team and he makes team.

Going into the year t hey thought they could beat Michigan State. They were so sure. So we go to Breslin and it was unbelievable. If you’ve ever been to Breslin you know it’s a lot different from Crisler. Half of the court is surrounded by rabid students and fans. And they went in there and they beat ‘em. And it wasn’t a bullshit game. It went into [double] overtime. We had a guard who was the best defensive guard I’ve ever seen, and he could hound Neitzel. All the guys on the frontline basically negated Suton, Gray, Morgan and Naymick. And they beat ‘em.

My dad was there and he hates Michigan State. Just hates them, like any good Michigan man. Just can’t stand them. It was just the proudest moment for him. He was beaming after the game.

That night they were on the top 10 on ESPN.   Bobby did a chest bump with the guy that hit the winning shot. I think they really knew they could beat them. And for Bobby, he’ll always have that. It’s one of those things I try to tell my son, ‘You’ll always have that’. Yes, life is more than sports and it’s more than what you did in high school or college, but damned if it isn’t satisfying.   He’ll always have that.

[A little taste:]


[Ed: Definitely look out for Pete Tiernan in a couple months on the radio, on CBS Sports and anytime on bracketscience.com. I may try to get with him a little closer to the tournament if Michigan looks like they are going to sneak in.]

24. October 2008 · Comments Off on Rx for Pre-game: Larry Foote on WDFN (audio) · Categories: Archive 2006, Archive 2008, Detroit Lions, M in NFL, Michigan State

First off, here’s Larry Foote on WDFN back in July with his special message for Michigan State: “Go Blue and Michigan State, y’all always gonna suck.”

Here’s the unabashed Rich Rodriguez backer and current Steeler on the radio today with Stoney and Wojo:

Foote admits he like Tom Izzo and notes that they have some fine women up there in East Lansing. Hilarious moment, listen to him at the end of the interview sing the company line for the NFL.

12. August 2008 · Comments Off on A-Rittz Drops Factoids · Categories: Archive 2008, Bo Schembechler, Coach Rod, Fans, History, Michigan State, Ohio State


Another post worthy mention coming out of Adam Rittenberg’s ESPN Big Ten Blog. Adam took a break from his cold cut combo to answer notes in his mailbag segment

Dan from Minneapolis writes: Adam, you pointed out the unique nature of first time coaches in the UM – MSU rivalry. I also wanted to point out uniqueness about first time coaches in the UM – OSU rivalry. Aside from Cooper, going back to WW Hayes, first time coaches have WON their first meeting in the series. Correct me if I am wrong but that is quite impressive

Adam Rittenberg writes: You’re correct, first-time coaches have fared well in the Michigan-Ohio State series, perhaps because the games typically are played later in the season when coaches have a better feel for their teams. Woody Hayes lost his first meeting with Michigan, 7-0, in 1951, but Earle Bruce beat the Wolverines in 1979 and Jim Tressel did the same in 2001. The Buckeyes went through four coaches during the 1940s who went 1-2-1 against Michigan. Michigan hasn’t had a coach lose his first game against Ohio State since Harry Kipke in 1929. Kipke’s first game, interestingly enough, was played midway through the season on Oct. 19. Rich Rodriguez will have a tough task to keep Michigan’s run alive, but it helps that the game is at the end of the season.

Next, Dave Dye of the Detroit News drops some more history when he makes this prediction:

Michigan State will finish ahead of Michigan in the Big Ten standings for only the second time since 1969, the first year Bo Schembechler took over in Ann Arbor. The only time has been MSU’s 1987 Rose Bowl season.

Really? Not even when Gibby was there?

Finally, Eric Lacy, in his blog post on DetNews.com pointed out this beauty of a photoshop from spartantailgate.com:

Braylon Edwards Michigan

A few weeks ago College Football News ran a series a roundtable discussions with a set of journalists. One of the questions asked the panel to name their favorite college football players of all-time. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune picked Braylon Edwards as his top choice – keep in mind this was for any college player on any college team, not last 10 years, not Big Ten only, etc.

I wasn’t sure if it was half in jest (he had J Leman on his list) so I emailed him:

Teddy,
I noticed you named Braylon Edwards your favorite college football player of all time, then didn’t offer any explanation on that. I’d love to hear it. I don’t think even the hardest of die-hard M fans would put Braylon on such a list. I think Braylon’s mom put him third. What’s the deal?

Greenstein’s reply:

No, I’ve talked to Braylon’s mom. She’s a huge fan, as am I. Braylon had a phenomenal senior year, as you know, and had one of the best single-game performances I’ve ever seen vs. MSU. And he was an oustanding interview before the season and then when I did a profile on him for our Silver Football award. I’m actually surprised I appreciate him more than you do.

I didn’t say I didn’t appreciate Braylon, he’s just not my favorite football player of all time.

He’s a great story of a guy that apparently was on the wrong track and could have left his junior year but didn’t. His senior year was phenomenal and yes, I’ll always remember that MSU game. But I can’t put him near the top of my favorite college players of all-time. I mean, just looking at Michigan in recent years I’d take Desmond, Woodson, Mike Hart, for sure over Edwards.

Elsewhere: Speaking of Hart, did anyone catch his limited action against the Redskins on Sunday night? Sure, it was against third stringers but he went off. Four attempts for 53 yards, and I think each run went for over 10 yards including one jaunt where he lost his helmet but still ducked forward for extra yards. He added 3 catches for 28.

03. August 2008 · Comments Off on Dantonio Reaches out at EL JDRF Walk · Categories: Archive 2008, Bo Schembechler, Charity, Michigan State


From behind enemy lines, here’s a photo from Saturday’s for the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes held on the MSU Campus. Spartan coach Mark Dantonio was the honorary chair, here speaking to the crowd of over 1200 that gathered for the event. He and some MSU players greeted, signed and took some pics with the fans. During his speech passed along a few words of encouragement to the supporters, JDRF donors and even took a shot or two at those that lean Blue.

The JDRF also holds a walk an Ann Arbor walk each year, this year it’ll be held September 14 at Hudson Mills Metro Park in Dexter. More info here. I know that Coach Bo walked in previous years. Here he is at the 2005 Walk:

Perhaps Coach Rod will get out there once he settles into his new digs? Word is that the EL Walk raised nearly $300,000 for JDRF (wow!).

Continuing the roll of Michigan athletes, coaches and beat writers on the WDFN 1130AM Stoney and Wojo radiothon is former Wolverine Larry Foote. As usual, Foote came hard and came raw. He hit on a variety of topics including what it’s like working out with Mike Barwis, his Steelers, and like Jalen Rose yesterday, took time to blast MSU.

Notes:
– Thinks this team will “shock a lot of people” based on the conditioning they are going through.
– He confirmed Barwis is “a psycho”, “a freak”, is “nutso”, and has “some screws missing.”
– Said Tyrone Wheatley’s been working out just “testing it out.”
– Said he “had a dream” about the Detroit Lions’ season. “9-7 and they make the playoffs.”
– When asked the obligatory Brett Favre question: “he’s definitely being selfish.”

For your ringtones and tailgate mixtapes, here’s just Foote’s message to the Spartans as he signed off, “Go Blue and Michigan State, y’all always gonna suck.”

More »

23. June 2008 · Comments Off on eBay “Watch”: Biggie Munn’s stuff · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, History, Lloyd Carr, Michigan State

Biggie Munn: Minnesota
Zeke the Wonder Seal

I’m not sure what I’d do if someone started selling the personal effects of legendary Michigan coaches Fielding Yost or Fritz Crisler. Perhaps my head would explode.

In this installment of eBay Watch I stumbled upon someone selling a few items that were previously owned by arguably the greatest Michigan State football coach of all-time: Biggie Munn. The auctions include photos, a playbook, a gold Sparty replica (not chocolate inside) but these are my favorites: a pocket watch presented to him by the governor of Michigan, and a whistle described as the one Biggie carried during workouts before the 1954 Rose Bowl, dig:

Biggie Munn: Watch presented by Governor Milliken of Michigan

Biggie Munn: Coaching Whistle
Biggie wondering what time the bakeries close in Pasadena

The watch sold Sunday night for $500; the whistle for $89. As I kid growing up outside East Lansing I always knew the name Munn because of the hockey arena. I wonder how many kids in Ann Arbor only know the name Yost for the same reason?

So why’s a Spartan coach ending up on an MVictors post? Some of you may know that Biggie played for Fritiz Crisler at Minnesota and then coached under Crisler for a stint in Ann Arbor. A brief bio on Munn’s coaching career – check out his record at State:

Munn served as an assistant at Syracuse University in 1937 and at the University of Michigan from 1938 through 1944. He returned to Syracuse as head coach, winning 4 games and losing 5, before taking over at Michigan State in 1946.

Michigan State won all 9 of its games in both 1951 and 1952, and the winning streak stretched to 28 in 1953 before a 6-0 upset by Purdue. Munn was voted coach of the year in 1952, when his team was ranked first in the country.

The school had joined the Big Ten Conference in 1949 but wasn’t allowed to contend for the championship until 1953, when Michigan State and Illinois tied for the title. The conference voted to send Munn’s team to the Rose Bowl, where it beat UCLA 28-20. Munn was named athletic director in 1954 and he resigned his coaching job. His record in 7 seasons was 54-9-2.

Getting a watch that says you are “the greatest” from the governor is pretty cool an all, but it’s kind of like a Wizard presenting you with medal that says you’re courageous. But it begs the question – is Munn the greatest Spartan coach of all-time? To me it comes down to he and Munn’s assistant that took his place as the headman, the great Duffy Daugherty.

Duffy Daugherty

I think the proximity of Daugherty’s tenure would put his name at the top of the list for most Spartan fans today. I asked MVictors reader and guest columnist BiggieMunn (who else?) for his Top 5 Michigan State head football coaches. Here you go:

T5. Chester Brewer & John Macklin (1903-1919) 87-28-7
• These two Aggies coaches combined to lead MAC to 62 shutouts.
• Both doubled as baseball coach.
• Help put the football program on the map.

4. Charles Bachman (1933-1946) 70-34-10
• Played with Knute Rockne at Notre Dame & brought ND system to MSC.
• Four straight victories over UM (1934-37).
• Led MSC to first bowl game….1938 Orange Bowl.

3. George Perles (1983-1994) 68-67-4
• Architect of Steel Curtain defense. 4 Super Bowl rings with Steelers.
• Played and coached under Duffy Daugherty.
• Coached two Big Ten Champions (1987 & 1990)
• 1988 Rose Bowl Champions
• In 2007 donated $500,000 to help with Duffy Daugherty Football Building upgrade.

2. Duffy Daugherty (1954-1972) 109-69-5
• Coached 1966 Game of the Century, the infamous 10-10 tie vs. Notre Dame.
• Big Ten Champions 1965, 1966
• National Champions 1955, 1957, 1965, 1966
• Duffy quote, “When you are playing for a national championship, it’s not a matter of life and death. It’s more important than that.”

1. Clarence “Biggie” Munn (1947-1953) 54-9-2
• Only coached seven seasons.
• Big Ten Champions 1953 (inaugural year in conference)
• 1953 Rose Bowl Champions
• National Champions 1951, 1952
• MSU AD for 18 years.

More »

In February 2008, an item claimed by its seller to be an actual 1930 Wolverine jersey came up for bid on eBay. The description said that the jersey was previously owned by Francis Cornwell, the right guard on coach Harry Kipke’s squad.

1930 Michigan Football Jersey

Obviously authenticity was the key here and the roughly-worded auction description didn’t really help that cause (the seller misspelled ‘university’ in the auction title but this was mostly explained away with the ‘Go Buckeyes!’ that strangely concluded the item summary).

The strongest element of the seller’s claim of authenticity started with the jersey number (28) and name ‘Cornwell’ which was sewn on with prominent maize thread. The 1930 team photo from the University of Michigan Bentley Historical library website features Cornwell donning a #28 jersey that is very similar to the one for sale.

During the auction I emailed the seller to see if more info was available such as the identity of the previous owner or how the seller happened to come into possession of this beauty. My email was promptly returned but with no additional info. A note to the Bentley Library asking for a comment on the authenticity went unreturned. In the end, eBay bidders weren’t dissuaded by the choppy description or the lack of info as the auction closed with a winning price of $1900.

Cornwell and his jersey participated in a wonderful season in M history as Coach Kipke’s Wolverines finished 8-0-1, the lone blemish a scoreless tie at home with Michigan State College. That tie cost the Wolverines consideration for the national title, settling for a share of the conference crown with Northwestern. And although this was a year before a certain future President arrived on campus, the squad featured some very famous names. The sons of both Fielding Yost and the legendary Willie Heston suited up for the Wolverines in 1930- two chips off the old block M.

The 1930 schedule also featured a double-header. Yes, two football games in one day-Consider the tailgating logistics for that one! In an attempt to cover revenue shortfalls due to the Depression, Michigan actually played both Denison and Michigan Normal on September 27, 1930. Unfortunately only a few thousand fans bothered to watch this circus act as the Wolverines shut-out both squads to get off to a quick 2-0 start to the season.

Despite the success, the maize and blue masses didn’t descend into Michigan stadium to watch their Wolverines in the early thirties. In 1931 the Big Ten conference actually scheduled an extra game after the original slate was complete to help boost revenue. On November 28, 1931 Michigan shut-out Wisconsin in its “extra” game but less than 10,000 spectators bothered to show.

Attendance picked up marginally over the next two seasons and the Wolverines continued their victorious trend. Despite the small crowds, Kipke’s crew continued to roll up opponents, taking a share of the conference crown in 1931 and followed that with a perfect season in 1932 to claim the national title.