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 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.
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.