29. January 2009 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: A Hard Combination to Beat (1905) · Categories: Archive 2009, eBay Watch, Fans, History, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Yost · Tags: , , , , ,

Another vintage Michigan football item showed up this week on eBay, this time a post card celebrating Fielding Yost and his fine 1905 squad. The team is assembled in a line with Yost in the middle, standing on a large sign in the shape of a football that reads ‘Western Championship’. Atop the photo is a block letter title, ‘A HARD COMBINATION TO BEAT’.

The copyright of the postcard is 1905, so I’m guessing this was produced before the season as a souvenir to students and fans. The mention of the Western Championship refers to the undefeated 1904 campaign when the great Willie Heston and the Wolverines ran the table 10-0 and outscored opponents 567-22.

More evidence that this was produced prior to the season, someone wrote on the card “We defeated Wisconsin 12 to 0, as ever.”    The Wolverines indeed defeated the Badgers by that margin on homecoming that season, on November 18, 1905 specifically.   The “as ever” zinger was a 1905 version of smack talk if you’re keeping track; probably about as harsh as it got it those days.

The 1905 crew was a well photographed group. Yost and his teams hadn’t been defeated since he stepped on campus four years prior so it makes sense that folks were eager to get a good look at the machine that was tearing up the football world. Thankfully the Bentley Library has republished a few bonus photos of this team online and they include the shot that was used for the postcard in the eBay auction.  Closer inspection reveals that the “Western Championship” oval on the postcard was likely dubbed-in later (1905 version of photoshopping) as Yost is standing on a small stool:

Bentley Library

Other photos of the 1905 squad that can be found (and can be blown up into incredible detail) on the Bentley Library site:

In a very cool huddle around Yost – Bentley Library

Line up for good measure – Bentley Library

At the Whitmore Lake Hotel – 1905 – Bentley Library*

*[Ed 10/1/09: Thanks to reader Michael F., who correctly identified the correct whereabouts of the photo above.   It is from Walter Graham’s photo album at the Bentley Library, a 1905 shot on the front porch of The Whitmore Lake Hotel.  The team used to train at Whitmore Lake before the season.  Very cool.  Here’s a link to the photo.]

The author of that smack talk was justified in dropping some postcard pomposity, as to that point the 1905 crew were rolling.   Through the shot-out of Wisconsin and onto the next week when they added a 75-0 defeat of Oberlin, Yost’s men were undefeated with 12 wins, outscoring opponents 495-0. The smack would end there unfortunately, as a few days later Michigan traveled to the Windy City and experience something that hadn’t happened in Yost’s five seasons: they lost.  Barely.  Their old rivals Chicago sent The Victors back on the train to Ann Arbor with a 2-0 defeat, the streak broken.

A Bonus eBay Watch:
A member of the 1967 Ohio State football squad is selling the sacred gold pants they receive if they defeat Michigan. It’s not the first time one of these beauties has come up for auction; it won’t be the last.

Coaches and players receive the award which has its roots during Michigan’s brutal season of 1934 when new OSU coach Francis Schmidt sized up Gerald Ford & the two-time defending national champions and observed, “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.”

I’ve seen these fetch around $1,000 in the past, we’ll see how this auction goes, here’s a pic:


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

27. September 2008 · Comments Off on Tradition: Students Forming the Block M · Categories: Archive 2008, Fans, History, Wisconsin

The Daily [and MSC] noted earlier this week that the Michigan student section is going to attempt to form a block M within the student section at the game today:

On Saturday, when Michigan plays Wisconsin, students and Athletic Department officials hope to add another tradition to the repertoire by coordinating a human version of Michigan’s iconic block ‘M’ in the middle of the student section.

Volunteers from the Michigan Student Assembly will hand out several thousand shirts — some maize, some blue — to fans entering certain rows.

I’ll join a few others in saying I’ll believe it when I see it. But best of luck. While the Michigan students have done a nice job wearing maize from week to week, I think we might end up seeing more of a smattering of blue dots that will loosely resemble a treble clef.

The stunt is touted as a new tradition, but did you know Michigan students have formed block M’s in the crowd for nearly 100 years? From the cover of Historic Photos of U-M Football features the students at the 1916 Penn game doing their thing, not with t-shirts but with cards (click to enlarge):

And based on this postcard from the Cornell game, we know the tradition dates back at least to 1912:

UPDATE: Hey, they did it – not too bad. Thanks for Kelly for passing this along:

And one more, thanks to Andrew C., admin of the Facebook Student Block M group:

26. September 2008 · Comments Off on A Badger’s Prediction, and the Tyranny · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, Wisconsin

Gilliam, a fellow prestigious Power Index pollster and die hard Wisconsin Badger backer passed along his prediction for Saturday. Somehow his cousin planned a wedding at 2pm [see below] so he won’t be seeing any live action. Either way, here’s his take on what’s going to happen:

Our defense is weak, once you get through the line. We are BAD tacklers, especially the safeties. McGuffie should have a field day. Just run the typical “Michigan screens” (I’m not sure if that’s in Rich Rod’s playbook, but it should be), and get him into space on the corners, and buh-bye….

Unless your defense is horrible against the run (and you are playing at home, and desperate, so that helps), you should be able to contain us. Our QB is not bad….and our offensive coordinator is outstanding (especially making in-game adjustments), so we will put up points.

Michigan 34 – Wisconsin 23

[Note: Gilliam, you’re defense better be really bad for M to roll up 34]

In honor of Gilliam the Badger’s wedding situation I give you a selection from Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch:

“As I get older, the tyranny that football exerts over my life, and therefore over the lives of people around me, is less reasonable and less attractive. Family and friends know, after long years of wearying experience, that the fixture list [schedule] always has the last word in any arrangement; they understand, or at least accept, that christenings or wedding or any gatherings, which in other families would take unquestioned precedence, can only be plotted after consultation. So football is regarded as a given disability that has to be worked around. If I were wheelchair-bound, nobody close to me would organise anything in a top-floor flat, so why would they plan anything for a winter Saturday afternoon?”

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

Another unique piece of Michigan memorabilia went for auction this week on eBay, this time a program from the Minnesota game played on November 21, 1925 at Ferry Field. It sold for just over $42 and makes for a great topic for this installment of eBay Watch. The cover features Michigan’s captain Bob Brown and “Biff”, the living and breathing Wolverine mascot:

Biff the Wolverine
The caption reads “The Wolverine Mascot of Michigan Athletic Teams is noted for its Ferocity and Gameness in Battle, a Characteristic of Every Team That Wears the Maize and Blue.” Indeed. It looks like Biff is giving Bob a run for his money.

Yost is such a beauty. You can thank the old legend for getting an actual wolverine on campus. The Bentley Historical Library has some details on his quest to find one of these ferocious beasts:

Fielding Yost set out to find a wolverine in 1923, after seeing Wisconsin carry live badgers along with its football team. Yost’s desire met with difficulty, as the coach had problems finding a dealer of live wolverines. After a letter to 68 trappers yielded no mascot for his team, Yost expanded his wish to any wolverine, alive or dead.

It’s unclear whether Yost also removed the foreign language requirement for the wily beast. And how about the old man sending sixty-eight letters to trappers?! Granted trapping was likely a bit more prevalent back in the 1920s but where did Yost find the names and addresses of all these guys? Finally his persistence paid off, again from the Bentley:

Yost was finally able to obtain a mounted wolverine from the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company in the fall of 1924, but his quest for a live one continued. In 1927, 10 wolverines were obtained from Alaska and placed in the Detroit Zoo. On big football days, two of these wolverines were brought into Michigan Stadium and carried around in cages.

Biff and Bennie the Wolverines

Did you order the code red?
Hmm….methinks the Bentley Library got this one wrong. If Yost didn’t get a live Wolverine until 1927 as the story implies, how was old Biff featured on the cover of a 1925 program? Something’s not jiving there as either this program is a fake (that’s a lot of work for $40), the Biff on the program is stuffed, or the Bentley’s info is wrong.

It’s too bad because this type of info spreads, as National Geographic apparently found the Bentley info and included it in this piece on wolverines (see the Did You Know? section). Memo to National Geographic: how about a source for that swipe job?

One Setback
The 1925 squad was another fine one for Yost, finishing 7-1 and outscoring opponents 227-3. The one setback was a 3-2 loss to Northwestern in front of 40,000 fans at Solider Field. The Minnesota game capped the season off on a great note as Yost, Brown and the great Bennie Oosterbaan crushed the Gophers 35-0 before 47,000.

10. November 2007 · Comments Off on Badgers win as Hart, Henne held out · Categories: Archive 2007, Big Ten, Wisconsin

Crable hits Wisconsin's Donovan

There was a lot of question as to whether Hart and Henne would play in this one given that the game is essentially meaningless (thanks to ESPN for reminding us of that like 70 times during the game) to the team’s goals.

Give credit to the Bagders because they played hard, with QB Donovan making some great plays but…it’s clear Michigan pulled its chips off the table for this one. It goes without saying but Henne and Hart would have played had the team wearing red was from Columbus.

It’s a bit of a concern that no one on defense rested and at times Donovan and the Badgers sliced them up. Not a good way to go into the Big Game but what can you do? Obviously would have a been much different with H&H intact.

As for Mallett, he started out pretty slow missing a W-I-D-E open Arrington that would have been a touch had the ball been within 20 yards of #16. Mesko could have punted the ball to Arrington. Mallett never really settled down; throwing some pretty weak balls and making some poor decisions.

I don’t know what Manningham’s problem is but he’s got to understand that Mallett is going to make mistakes. His 97-yarder was pretty sweet and it easily became the longest TD catch in Michigan football history, shattering DA’s record:

Longest TD catches in Michigan history

All told no matter. Going into the game I would have traded a win in Madison for a third down against the Buckeyes. All that matters is Saturday. The biggest concern is getting Henne and Hart in position to play the whole game.

One of the biggest knocks on Lloyd Carr’s program has been its inability to win the first road game of the year. Critics of Carr say the trend unmistakenly points to a lack of preparedness which falls on the coaching staff. Since the ’98 season the Blue have won only 2 road openers: 1999 at Syracuse and last year’s beat down in South Bend. That left a 6 year stretch from 2000-2005 where Michigan dropped the opener. Here’s the dismal record:

Michigan Road Openers since 1998
1998 @ Notre Dame Loss – 36-20
1999 @ Syracuse Win – 18-13
2000 @ UCLA Loss – 23-20
2001 @ Washington Loss – 23-18
2002 @ Notre Dame Loss – 25-23
2003 @ Oregon Loss – 31-27
2004 @ Notre Dame Loss – 28-20
2005 @ Wisconsin – Loss – 23-20
2006 @ Notre Dame – Win – 47-21
2007 @ Northwestern

In the past decade the first roadie has been a non-Notre Dame, non-conference opponent but it looks like that won’t happen again for quite awhile. Like it or not, Michigan will pretty much fill the pre-conference schedule with home games leaving the opener for either Notre Dame or, when the Irish game is home, the first conference opponent.

A few other takes heading into the weekend:

Pumping the Records Two major career records are set to fall with Hart closing in on the rushing record and Chad Henne on touchdowns. Mgoblue.com put together a little graphic to keep all this straight:

On BTN game Saturday’s game will be on the Big Ten Network. Sucks to be you if you don’t have the BTN. Sucks worse if you’re a Michigan or Northwestern fan, have BTN, live outside MI or Ohio & your dish provider doesn’t take the overflow channel option and this week. Check out the coverage map: the state of Illinois gets the Illini game. Bollocks! Well, I’m sure they’ll make it work.

More on BTN Adding fuel to the ridiculous Comcast/BTN media fire…. Part of the deal with the Big Ten and ESPN/ABC defined who got the second choice of games to air (ABC with the first choice of course). The Big Ten Network gets the second pick on games to televise 3 weeks this season. If the November 3 weekend is one of those weeks where the BTN gets #2, we’ve got an issue. There’s a good chance the Michigan State vs. Michigan game is covered on the Big Ten Network. Dave Dye raised this scenario a couple weeks ago.

Still boggles the mind That wild Northwestern run of a few years ago still lingers and it is pretty amazing. In today’s Ann Arbor News Antoine Pitts put this factoid in there:

The Wildcats have won more Big Ten championships (three) than anyone in the last 12 years except for Michigan and Ohio State. Fitzgerald played on the team that won the title outright in 1995 and again in 1996 when the Wildcats tied Ohio State for the crown. In 2000, Northwestern shared the title with Michigan and Purdue.

09. November 2006 · Comments Off on Bad Bounce Beats Badgers! M Lucks Out in 2001 · Categories: Archive 2001, Big Ten, Wisconsin

ANN ARBOR MI November 18, 2001 In the worst offensive performance that I can remember, somehow Michigan combined solid defense, superior special teams and a big break to beat Wisconsin. Michigan can clinch the 2001 Big Ten Championship and the automatic BCS birth by beating Ohio State in the Schembechler Bo-bblehead game next Saturday. I’ll be there with bells on.

More Takes on the Wisconsin/Michigan game in 2001:
John Navarre: Everyone knew that Navarre had a tendency to lock onto one receiver, but at least he would throw a nice ball to that one receiver. I was fine with his QB abilities after the Washington game because he showed leadership and skill at the end after giving the game away. Now he is missing people and putting up awful numbers. 11-24 for 58 yards? Brutal. Suffice it to say the QB job is wide open next year, if not for the Bowl game. Lloyd Carr is inserting Gonzales into these games to get him ready.

On Special Teams: Michigan dominates special teams with raw talent. I would bet that any of the 11 guys on the punt return team would be star players on Wisconsin. Obviously special teams was the difference in this game.

Next: Michigan probably has enough to beat Ohio State (again) next week, but if the offense doesn’t improve the BCS bowl game could be embarrassing.