07. March 2009 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Old Fashioned Football (1907) · Categories: Archive 2009

Update3/8:  Added detail on the scheduling of the game thanks to a note from John Kryk of Natural Enemies.

Postcards are a frequent item on eBay Watch because they were popular near the turn of the century, and people don’t like to throw them out.  This week looks at a postcard commemorating the October 19, 1907 against Wabash College played in Indianapolis. Bidding started at $24.99 and had 1 bid at the time of this post.  Here’s a look:


Michigan was originally scheduled to face Notre Dame in Ann Arbor on this day, but something got in the way.  Per Natural Enemies,  the Wolverines were guaranteed $10,000 to face Wabash in Indianapolis.    To put this in context, Yost’s coaching contract signed in 1910 was good for $4,000/year.

The postcard may have been offered at the game, as it appears it was produced before the game with the owner able to complete the final score.  Someone did, correctly noting that Michigan won that day 22-0.

1907 was the first season after Michigan left the Western conference due to disputes over conference rules (formally proposed in 1905) concerning eligibility, revenues and payment of coaches, and more.  The rules were aimed squarely at Yost and Michigan, who dropped but a single game between 1901-1905.  Michigan was tossed in April earlier that year, here’s the New York Times headline from 4/14/07:


In addition, on-the-field rule changes approved two years prior allowed for the use of the forward pass although it was still rarely employed.   Yost was gradually working passing plays into the repertoire, with limited success.

The Little Giants
As for the 1907 season, it started out like old times, with Michigan rolling over Case and Michigan Agricultural College (later MSU) at home.  This set-up a trip south to Indianapolis to face the Wabash ‘Little Giants’.  According to the official website, the team’s nickname had it roots back to the 1904 season:

[The 1904] team played and beat Hanover 81-0, Butler 51-0 and Earlham 35-0. They also lost by close scores against much the larger teams of Purdue, Illinois, Notre Dame and Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State). It was due to their determination that Coach Cayou told them that they played like “little giants”. Overheard by a newspaper reported and reprinted, this tag stuck and so all of our sports teams have been known since that time.

The battle with Wabash was by available accounts quite sloppy.  The Daily headline after the 22-0 victory read, “WABASH TROUNCED IN POORLY PLAYED GAME” and noted the battle was “marked by frequent fumbles and failure of forward pass plays”.   For Yost’s Wolverines, the pass plays were likely part of the game plan.  For Wabash it was out of necessity as they couldn’t move the ball on the ground.

Michigan eventually abandoned the new fangled offense for what the Daily called “straight, old-fashioned football” – slamming the ball straight into the line.  The Wolverines scored three touchdowns including a thirty-five yard dash by the guy featured on the postcard, captain Paul Magoffin.

Yost hangs ‘em up?
Michigan rolled through the rest of the season, not allowing a single point.  This set up the finale against an Eastern powerhouse: the Quakers of Penn.   An interesting subplot prior the game was a report that Yost was going to wrap up his U-M coaching career at the end of the season.  The following was printing in the New York Times on November 14, 1907:


The announcement of his pending retirement, which of course we now know didn’t happen, could have simply been Yost positioning for a better contract extension (remember, he was undefeated and unscored upon at this point in the season), or showing his frustration with the new rule changes including the forward pass, or as an f-you to the Western conference, as an f-you to those in the University administration who wanted Michigan to comply with the Western conference rules which required coaches to be faculty, or as an f-you to some reporter he didn’t like, or, maybe Yost was actually considering finishing his work at Michigan and moving on.  It was probably a combination of these things.

The Penn game was played on November 16 at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor.  Despite pulling out all the stops, including a “triangular pass” play, Yost suffered his first home loss at the helm of the Wolverines, 6-0.  [More on that game here].

Bet you didn’t know: Stan Parrish, former Michigan assistant under Lloyd Carr, is in the Wabash Athletics Hall of Fame thanks to his brilliant stint as head man of the Little Giants.  Before heading for bigger pastures, Parrish and the not-so-Little Giants won 42 of 46 games.  Parrish took over Ball State’s program earlier this year, replacing former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke.

Really, really bet you didn’t know: Jim Allerdice, nephew (I believe) of ‘07 player Dave Allerdice played for Wabash in the 1940s.   For what it’s worth, Dave Allerdice’s son (Dave Jr.) played for Fritz Crisler at Princeton in the late 30s before Crisler bolted for Ann Arbor.

Bidding on the postcard ends March 10.


A Hard Combination to Beat (1905)
Making the Buckeyes Sick in 1907
1907 Michigan Team Postcards
M Leaves the Western Conference
Students Forming the Block M

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