[Ed. Originally Posted November 17, 2011]
Via mgoblog’s Hail to the Victors 2011, in this post we’ll take a look at when Michigan traveled to Lincoln back for the finale of the 1911 season. The concept of the HTTV piece was to view 1911 gridiron campaign through the pages of the Michigan Daily, so the quotes and information herein is straight from those pages. Thanks to the U-M Bentley Historical Library for housing the best copies of the Daily on the planet. Dig it:
Week 8 vs. Nebraska (Lincoln) | November 25, 1911
With the great Penn win in the bank, Michigan looked ahead to the trip to face Nebraska.
On Yost’s Mind: Certainly Yost’s thoughts were on returning to Lincoln where he was head coach of the Cornhuskers in 1898. He led the team to an 8-3 record but moved on to Kansas following that season, then headed further west to coach at Stanford and San Jose State before ending up in Ann Arbor in 1901. In 1905 Yost crushed the Huskers 31-0 in Ann Arbor, near the conclusion of his the five year Point-A-Minute reign of terror.
Early in the week The Daily reported that Nebraska would treat the Michigan team and band to “a hearty reception” in Lincoln and they requested copies of all Michigan favorite songs (which were gathered up and sent on Monday the week of the game). The “trip out west” would take a couple days and the team headed to Chicago on Thursday and arrived in Lincoln Friday morning.
The Game: The Nebraska governor delivered an “exhibition kick-off” before the game, I assume a form of the old baseball honorary first pitch—something that I’d love to see return. (Imagine a mildly pickled Mike Wallace lining up and giving it a boot).
Michigan’s captain Conklin “saved the day” for the Wolverines, scoring U-M’s only touchdown by converting a blocked punt in the third quarter. After an exchange of punts, Nebraska tied the score and the game ended in a 6-6 deadlock.
The Daily added its maize-and-blue spin on the event reporting, “Outweighed, outlucked, and often outplayed, the Wolverines gave an exhibition of gameness and hard fighting that has never been seen in the west and won even the plaudits of the most loyal Cornhusker.”
In a generous extension of courtesy, the Nebraska folks invited the entire Michigan contingent: we’re talking faculty, alumni and students, to their Cornhuskers banquet. “We were treated royally,” reported one attendee.
Off the Field:
- It was reported that Nebraska also considered using “moving pictures” to cover the Michigan game as a means to advertise their school to folks around the country. I’m not sure this was ever done or if a copy exists.
- A prevalent undercurrent during Michigan’s time as an independent involved the goings on in the Western conference and whether the Wolverines might return or if other schools might follow Michigan and break ties. In 1911 Minnesota signaled that they might be interested in getting the Wolverines back on the schedule, and the Daily speculated on the potential domino effect: “If Minnesota has offered a contract, the minute that Michigan accepts [Chicago’s] Stagg and his conference go up in a cloud of inglorious smoke.”
- Western alumni groups tried to push for a Thanksgiving game at Colorado after the Nebraska game. The idea was Michigan simply wouldn’t come home from Lincoln—they’d just travel to Denver. The administration squashed the idea.
- On the train ride home from Lincoln, Captain Conklin went through the process of determining who on the team earned an ‘M’ letter, apparently a duty left to the captain each season. Those not earning the coveted M were issued a not-so-coveted ‘R’ as in “reserve” (and lady Repellent). On Tuesday of the following week, the team assembled for its annual postseason meeting and “Bottles” Thomson was selected at captain of the 1912 squad. The team also gathered for the team photo which features captain Conklin cradling a painted ball that reads, “Michigan 11, Penn 9”.With another football season gone and several months until Yost and crew returned to Whitmore Lake for summer camp, a Daily writer informed the students of the obvious: “the dull season of athletics has hit the university.”Word.
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