One of the great benefits of the U-M Bentley Library is the high quality athletics photos that they’ve preserved. I frequently pop into the year-by-year football summaries posted online which feature a team photos and information about each season.
One gent who’s prominent in the team pictures, at least for the first 40 years of the last century, is of course Michigan’s legendary coach and Director of Athletics Fielding Yost. Last season I thought it might be cool to take a look at the photos over the years and it eventually led to what you’ve got below, a collection of Yost’s face from each team photo he’s appeared in. Here you go:
When it started coming together it hit me that while it’s kind of cool to see the different photos (and smile/smirks) over the years, it’s also a little depressing to watch him grow old over a two minute clip. Watch the years fly back and next thing you know you’re humming Cat’s in the Cradle or 100 Years and I considered going Benjamin Button with the photos but held steady.
I don’t know how long this was the practice, but I know for a long stretch they actually took the team photo at the end of the season. Today of course the photo is snapped at media day before the season starts. How do we know this? For starters, the team often holds a football that says ‘Champions’ or something like that in the shots. I also know from other projects that the team also used to select their captains for the next season at the time of the photo shoot (and this occasionally backfired).
One thing I noticed is that Old Yost sometimes didn’t show up for the photo but this tended to be after lean seasons, especially after Michigan dropped the finale or a few games during the campaign. This isn’t to completely indict Yost—he also wasn’t present in the 1918 photo when Michigan claimed its fifth national championship.
The Old Man likes his pins as well, you’ll notice he had a favorite tie pin for several years, and if you can spot it, from about 1920 old he sported a cool block M lapel pin.
I also noticed Yost seemed to have a different smile is his later years – almost more of a content man, like a grandfather proudly smiling watching his family, even in 1934! That’s not hard to understand as in the late 20s and 30s the AD was no doubt enjoying the fruits of building Michigan’s world class athletic campus for the men and women in Ann Arbor.