A periodic feature here on MVictors is a review of some cool Michigan football-related memorabilia on eBay. I really like this one, it’s a Depression Era ticket application from Michigan State College to purchase tickets for the 1933 game in Ann Arbor. It’s timely because the M athletic department just sent out season ticket renewals. Anyway, click here for a full size pic or enjoy this one:
In 1933 the Wolverines set to open the defense of its championships against its emerging rival Michigan State College- and this takes us to a unique, perhaps one-of-a-kind item that emerged on eBay in 2007.
It’s a dual-purpose application and envelope for Michigan State fans to purchase tickets to the game in Ann Arbor that season. It sold for a mere $10. A little known detail is that Kipke actually coached M.S.C. for one season before taking the helm at Michigan in 1929.
The Wolverines finished the 1933 season 7-0-1 by outscoring opponents 131-18. The body of work was enough to retain the national championship. The lone tie was a scoreless game against Minnesota who was led by legendary coach Bernie Bierman. Despite finishing 4-0-4 that season and 2-0-4 in the Big Ten, the Gophers were actually given a share of the conference title under the goofy tie-breaker rules of the day. Bierman’s teams went on to claim national titles in the three seasons that followed dropping just one game in the stretch.
Along with the curious Big Ten conference tie-breaker, there was an interesting method in place to help sort out the national championship picture. In the early to mid-thirties the most recognized system to determine college football’s champion was, in essence, a computer calculation developed by Illinois economics professor Dr. Frank Dickinson.
The Dickson System employed a fairly simple formula. Each game outcome (win, loss or tie) earned a score based on the quality of the opponent. The total of points for a season was then divided by the number of games to arrive at a common rating metric. Dickinson added a factor to adjust for the strength of a conference which heavily favored the Midwest teams, the Big Ten in particular. The winner actually received the Knute Rockne Trophy and it was presented by the Notre Dame’s Four Horseman.
Strength of your opponent was a major factor in the Dickinson system. A loss against a ‘first division’ team earned you 15 points, while a win against a ’second division’ team earned you just 20. Michigan actually earned more points for tying Minnesota than did Princeton for pummeling Amherst 45-0. I mention the Tigers as they were the only unbeaten, untied team but only received sparse support for recognition as national champ as they finished a distant seventh according to Dickinson. Not a major surprise but the Tigers do claim ownership of the ‘33 title according to their shameful website that “covers” the rich history of their football program.
Without knowing much about the man, Dickinson clearly wanted to stay out of the national title debate. The professor clarified his position in the December 10, 1933 New York Times stating, “I do not claim that Michigan is national champion. My rating merely means that the Wolverines have overcome stronger opposition than any other team in the nation.” The Dickinson rating was published until 1940 but was replaced as the most widely used determinant when the Associated Press started voting in 1936.
As far as those fans from East Lansing who sent in that ticket application for a seat, they were treated to a 20-6 Michigan win. This was actually the first game of the year, despite being held in early October. Once again the trend of small crowds continued as the Big House was three-quarters empty.
As the year set to close on 1933, coach Kipke’s Wolverines were sitting on back-to-back national championships and four straight conference titles. On December 23, 1933 the Hartford Courant reflected on Michigan’s success to start the decade and boldly declared “Michigan has just completed a successful football season which added to the results of the three seasons before it, make the Wolverine record without question the greatest that has ever been built in football history.”
Thanks to ticketmuseum.com, here’s a snapshot of an actual ticket stub from that game:
Enjoy the memorabilia? Here are the archived “eBay Watch:” features on MVictors.com.