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

12. January 2009 · Comments Off on When the Game Must be Moved · Categories: Archive 2009, Detroit Lions, History, Ohio State, Rose Bowl, Tickets


Played January 11, 2009, scheduled January 9, 2009

Red Berenson and crew continued its roll yesterday afternoon, wrapping up a sweep of Miami, OH with a 4-0 shutout. The rare Sunday tilt was of course due to the postponement of Friday’s scheduled game, due to the structural issues uncovered at Yost Ice Arena.

This wasn’t the first time a scheduled game had to be moved, and unfortunately many of the other incidents were brought on by darker circumstances. I thought this would be a nice opportunity to look at some of those instances:

1963 – Kennedy

The assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963 moved out the Ohio State game which was scheduled to be played in Ann Arbor the next day.


Played November 30, 1963, scheduled November 23, 1963

I was able to connect with Dr. Barry Dehlin, a sophomore on Bump Elliott’s 1963 crew and ask him about his memories of the days surrounding the assassination. Here’s what he wrote:

Naturally the assassination was a shock to all of us. I remember being in the dorm getting ready to go to practice when I heard what had happened. One of those sentinel moments in your life that you will always remember. We still met that Friday and the decision was already made that the game was postponed and would be played the next Saturday which of course was after Thanksgiving. The players would have to stay in town and not go home for Thanksgiving.

It was a cold week of practice but the interesting thing we did was bus to the Lions/Packers game on Thanksgiving. We sat on the field at Tiger stadium to watch the Lions and Packers tie. I believe that was the last game of the Lions and Packers on Thanksgiving for many years. That story I don’t know. [Ed: Correct. That game, a 13-13 tie, was the end of a string of thirteen straight Thanksgiving Day games for the Packers and Lions in Detroit.]

The game then was played the next Saturday and Ohio won on a pass to Paul Warfield in the end zone just over the hands of Jack Clancy. Warfield of course had a fine pro career and so did Clancy, who also was a wideout in the pros. Also remember the college game before 1965 did not allow unlimited substitution. On a fumble or interception only 2 players could be substituted each down for the first series. It was a much different game.

Thanks for letting me reminisce.

Incredible stuff.

The Ohio State loss capped a tough run for Elliott’s squad, as they finished 3-4-2 good for fifth in the conference. The following season, Dehlin along with captain Jim Conley turned things completely around capped off with a 10-0 victory in Columbus and a 34-7 thumping of Oregon State in the Rose Bowl.

2001 – 9/11
The September 11, 2001 attacks took place right in the beginning of the college football season and caused a few ripples throughout the schedule. Michigan pushed games against Western Michigan and Illinois out one week.


Played September 29, 2001, scheduled September 22, 2001

1918 – WWI, Flu
In 1918 football took a backseat to WWI and a massive flu outbreak. The schedule was a complete mess and the Bentley Library added a note to help sort out all the shifts/cancellations:

Scheduled games with Camp Custer (10/12), Michigan State (10/19), Ohio State (10/26 at Columbus), Northwestern (11/02), Cornell (11/16), Syracuse (11/16 in place of Cornell) and Minnesota (11/23) were canceled in response to the influenza epidemic and war-related travel restrictions. Only the Michigan State and Ohio State games were rescheduled.

Fielding Yost’s Michigan squad ended up playing and winning five games that season and claimed the national championship. Ticketmuseum.com had a stub from the Michigan State (still named Michigan Agricultural College) game that season:


Scheduled October 19, 1918, played November 23, 1918, scheduled

You’ll note that the ticket has the date of the day the game was actually played, not when it was originally scheduled. Assuming the Bentley’s facts are correct on the date shuffle, they either printed new tickets (possible) or they were aware of the changes before they printed the 1918 tickets (likely).

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:


Click Here

04. December 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: 1997 National Championship Ring :( · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, Hockey, Road Trips, Rose Bowl

[Ed. 7/6/2010 – Another (or maybe the same?) 1997 Championship Ring is currently up for auction.  Details here.  ]

This site has profiled a few different Michigan championship rings that have ended up on eBay. Long time readers may recall:

  • 1980 Rose Bowl ring: Probably the wildest story, a ring alleged to a salesman sample bearing the name ‘McCartney’ on the side prompts a note from former Michigan and Colorado coach Bill McCartney’s wife Lyndi, asking that the ring be returned to her husband.

Funny, when I was posting about these other rings it crossed my mind that this day could happen but hoped it never would. It did:

Michigan 1997 Championship Ring

Ah yes, the 1998 Rose Bowl, what a week, what a game. [Sidenote: I arrived in Los Angeles a couple days before the game. I saw Morris Day and the Time at the House of Blues on 12/30, then I joined Run DMC at the Viper Room to ring in the New Year. I still have the T-shirt from the show, it was incredible].

As with the 1986 ring, the seller has offered a clue as to the original owner, but not much. From the auction description:

“..this is a players ring designed in 10k YG and is an original ring not a copy or reproduction. This ring was from a running back that actually saw playing time during the game. The ring is size 13 ish?”

As far as the owner of the ring, I’m not going to push this too far. I’ll mention the disclaimer that I’ve been through before: there are a variety of ways things like this can end up on eBay (lost, stolen, sold by a relative/friend, & so on). You can’t assume that player deliberately sold his ring on the auction site, let alone whether the ring is authentic.

I asked the seller for more details (waiting for a response) but based on the clue in the description I think we can narrow down the potential options of the original owner. If we exclude any running backs that could have seen game action but a) got in on offense but didn’t register a carry, or b) played on special teams, it narrows the possibilities down to the following:

  • Chris Howard
  • Anthony Thomas
  • Clarence Williams
  • Chris Floyd

I think/hope we can cut the A-Train off this list; that’d leave Howard, Williams and Floyd. [Ed: Update 12/5 – The seller contacted me, thankfully it is none of these guys. Either the clue was wrong or my game facts were incorrect. ]

Seeing these rings on eBay is sad no matter what the circumstances. The seller is asking for an opening big of $3,600.


Click Here

01. December 2008 · Comments Off on Lloyd Carr Chuckled at this · Categories: Archive 2008, Lloyd Carr, Media, Rose Bowl

Thanks to an October 25, 2007 post on the NY Times sports blog The Quad, we know that Lloyd Carr is a big fan of Times columnist Maureen Dowd [see Another Side of Carr by Pete Thamel]. It prompted me to write this post which included this spicy meatball:

Well, if Carr isn’t too busy with consulting on the Eastern Michigan coaching search, he read Dowd’s column on Saturday. She was filling in for fellow columnist Frank Rich and scribed a piece on the state of the print news industry, in particular, the trend that some papers are firing staff and outsourcing their news to India. Seriously. Paying by the article, one thousand words for $7.50.

Dowd found James Macphearson, the man who runs Pasadena Now, an online news site covering the town where you want to be each January first. Here’s a snip:

So, he thought, “Where can I get people who can write the word for less?” In a move that sounded so preposterous it became a Stephen Colbert skit, he put an ad on Craigslist for Indian reporters and got a flood of responses.

He fired his seven Pasadena staffers — including five reporters — who were making $600 to $800 a week, and now he and his wife direct six employees all over India on how to write news and features, using telephones, e-mail, press releases, Web harvesting and live video streaming from a cellphone at City Hall.

Wow. Now, while Coach Carr might laugh at the thought of columnists losing their jobs I doubt it. But surely Lloyd would get a chuckle out of this, emphasis mine:

[Dowd] checked in with one of his workers in Mysore City in southern India, 40-year-old G. Sreejayanthi, who puts together Pasadena events listings. She said she had a full-time job in India and didn’t think of herself as a journalist. “I try to do my best, which need not necessarily be correct always,” she wrote back. “Regarding Rose Bowl, my first thought was it was related to some food event but then found that is related to Sports field.”

What do we want?
Pasadena Now!
When do we want it?
– Ehh…NOW!

P.S. At 359 words, this post would be worth a cool $2.69 baby!

1950 Army Michigan from Yankee Stadium

1950 was a special season in Michigan football history. Many M historians know this is the year that the Wolverines defeated Ohio State 9-3 in the epic Snow Bowl. That classic win earned the Blue a trip to Pasadena where they defeated Cal 14-6 on two late touchdowns.

All’s well that ends well, but things didn’t start well and included a trip to New York. The next edition of eBay Watch features this ticket stub from the Army-Michigan game held October 14, 1950 at Yankee Stadium:

1950 Army Michigan stub

You can see the full auction here.

Army was riding a twenty-two game winning streak heading into the game and dropped the Wolverines 27-6 in front of 67,076 fans including General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Gazing soley at the boxscore you might have figured the Victors prevailed or at least kept the score respectable:

1950 Army Michigan from Yankee Stadium

The New York Times commended the Wolverines effort that day and reported that Oosterbaan’s men put a bit of a scare into the Black Knights, scoring early and threatening often. In the end Army was too tough, capitalizing when they needed to pull safely away. Army’s streak eventually ended later that season in a 14-2 loss to Navy.

While the football squad took a bit of a beating in a hard fought battle, the Michigan Marching Band made a few headlines with a legendary performance on the historic field. Their effort earned a few inches in the Times post-game coverage:

1950 Army Michigan from Yankee Stadium

Brush away tear after reading that. My god, Revelli pulled out all the stops!

Other Notes:
* This was Michigan second trip to Yankee Stadium, the first was in 1945 also against Army. The Wolverines were defeated in a similar fashion 28-7.

* I actually made it out to Yankee stadium last week to check out the stadium before they move to the new digs, a photo for you from my seats featuring the captain and M man Jeter:

Yankee Stadium

* They don’t write like this anymore. From the New York Times, Tuesday January 2, 1951 on the Rose Bowl later that season:

A crowd of 89,939, basking in sunny but brisk ideal football weather, watched Bennie Oosterbann’s indomitable Wolverines, indecisive winners of the 1950 Big Ten crown, cap the immolation of the Coast in the New Year interconference competition with their trouncing of Lynn Waldorkf’s pigskin chasers.

Credits: The lead photo, boxscore and the Marching band summary were all from the October 15, 1950 edition of the New York Times, “Cadet Streak at 23”.

Once again we’ve got a Michigan Rose Bowl ring on eBay adding to the recent auctions of the 1977-78 and 1980-81 versions. This time it’s a beauty from the 1986 season and it commemorates the Rose Bowl appearance [see the auction here].

The game was unfortunately a loss for the Wolverines who fell to 22-15 to Arizona State in Pasadena. Schembechler’s men actually played 13 games that season somehow getting the green light to schedule Hawaii after the close of the Big Ten schedule. A shocking defeat to Minnesota on November 15th was the only other setback that season for the Wolverines who ended up ranked #8 in the AP.

The seller is a true beauty himself…see what I mean as you check out this warning to bidders within the item description:

If you have zero feedback or less please bypass this auction unless you contact us first, otherwise your bid will unfortunately be cancelled then stomped all over before we catapult it into outer space using our giant intergalactic slingshot. There are too many of you rascals out there who understand with absolute precision how to place a bid but freeze up like a popsicle during the payment process it’s really quite weird.

This ring is very nice. A little worn, but the inscription of “The Team” below the likeness of Rose Bowl makes it special. I’m guessing it’ll fetch a couple grand even in these hard times.

As far as these rings going up on eBay, it hurts a little bit to see these up on the block but we just don’t know the circumstances behind the sale (if it was sold legitimately) and I like the way MVictors reader Brian framed it in his comment a couple weeks ago:

….I think getting items like this into the hands of those that appreciate them and would happily display them is better than storing them in some box in an attic where grandkids will throw them away. I’m convinced that those that appreciate their UM FB experience would not sell them unless they are in dire straights. Those that don’t appreciate it….shouldn’t have it in the first place. I expect a Boren ring to show up soon.

UPDATE 6/2: Is this Garland Rivers’ Ring?

Michigan Memorabilia Vault

17. May 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: The 1954 Bust · Categories: Archive 2008, Charity, eBay Watch, Fans, History, Michigan Memorabilia, Ohio State, Rose Bowl, The University

There’s a bevy of legendary former coaches and players descending on Ann Arbor for the 2008 Griese/Hutchinson Champions for Children’s Hearts Celebrity Golf Tournament (Sunday) as well as the Swing to Cure Diabetes (Monday) both at the M Course.

This provides a nice opportunity to take a look at another item in the eBay Watch series, this time a signed program from the 1954 post-season football Bust autographed by the team and many of the greatest names in Michigan football history. Check it out:

Coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s ’54 Wolverines finished just 6-3, certainly nothing too special but there were some notable wins. Anchored by All Big Ten quarterback Ron Kramer and All American tackle Art Walker, Michigan upset #4 Iowa and #8 Minnesota at home but fell 21-7 in the season finale to Woody Hayes and his #1 Buckeyes. The AP slotted the Wolverines at #15 in the final poll and Dr. StrangeHayes and the Bucks ended up sharing the national title after downing Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl.

The 1954 season holds a special place in Buckeye lore. Obviously the national championship cements this distinction but this is in essence the year Woody Hayes deflected his critics and became a legend. I could go on about the ’54 version of ‘The Game’ but since my team lost, I won’t dwell. I will offer that there’s a wonderful write up of the game that even includes a Ufer reference on this site. A snippet:

Early in Michigan week, Hayes supposedly received a letter from someone claiming to be a Michigan student, wanting to know if the coach was interested in learning about the Wolverines’ special preparations for the game. While Woody didn’t respond, it made him wonder about his own camp. As a result, all non-players coming to practice that week were issued spare jerseys, and NO ONE was to be admitted without wearing one. This went for longtime sportswriters and even Dr. Walter Duffee, who had been the team physician since the end of World War I!

Columbus was about to burst in anticipation of this 51st edition of “THE GAME”. When asked if there were any ticket “problems”, Bill Snypp of the athletic ticket office responded, “There is no ticket problem because there are no tickets. The ticket office has started working on basketball.” Scalpers who did have ducats were reportedly asking the astronomical amount of THIRTY dollars apiece. The third-largest press contingent in Ohio Stadium history was expected, and to assist the media 25 Western Union lines were being installed in the pressbox. Five different Columbus radio stations would air the game, and for only the third time in their history, the Buckeyes would be nationally televised in glorious black-and-white on ABC, with Jack Drees handling the play-by-play, former UM icon and Heisman winner Tom Harmon providing commentary, and legendary broadcaster Bill Stern taking care of pre- and postgame duties.

So for the Wolverines, it was a nice season all in all and although the players didn’t enjoy the spoils of a bowl game, the 34th annual Football Bust held November 29, 1954 was quite a hoot. The organizers managed to gather a few of the greatest names in the first 50 years of Michigan football including:

* Benny Friedman, the great quarterback in the 1920s was team MVP, an All-American, named Big Ten Player of the Year in 1926. He and Oosterbaan formed that team’s trademark play: the “Benny to Bennie” combination.
* Legendary former head coach Fritz Crisler.
* Francis ‘Whitey’ Wistert, the All American left tackle and anchor of Harry Kipke’s back-to-back national champions in 1932 and 1933., and won the conference title each year in which he was on the team.
* Willie Heston, arguably the greatest back of all-time.

Here’s their signatures:

The auction just closed and this beauty sold with a high bid of $637.88 US. Not too bad.

Other tidbits on 1954:
* According to Bruce Madej’s book Champions of the West, 1954 was the first year that women were allowed to enter the U-M Union through the front door.
* Coach Crisler entered College Football’s Hall of Fame this year.

Michigan Memorabilia Vault

1978 Michigan Rose Bowl Ring

Come on former Wolverines, these rings need to stop ending up on the eBay! This one’s priced at $3000 take it or leave it, Coach Bill McCartney’s 1980 ring sold for just over $2000 last year.

This one isn’t quite as pretty as the 1980/81 version although it appears as though the top is a likeness of old Michigan stadium, press box and all, although it could be the Rose Bowl as well as there’s no tunnel. On the downside, the designer dropped the ball on one side deciding to go with a cute bear sitting on top of Jan Stenerud’s helmet.

1978 Michigan Rose Bowl Ring