25. November 2016 · Comments Off on Going Indoors (1896) | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2016

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These days there’s no question about the identity of Michigan’s biggest rival—that’s that team from Ohio —but back in the late 1800s and well into the Fielding Yost era, public enemy number one was Chicago and Coach Stagg.

 

While today we play the Buckeyes after the Thanksgiving holiday each season, did you know that Michigan actually used to play ON Thanksgiving day?
Indeed and On this day exactly 120 years ago, Michigan and Chicago squared off on Thanksgiving Thursday in Chicago and they did this a few times starting in the 1890s. 

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As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  Go Blue!

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script after the jump:

This week take a trip waaay back to 1896, as the Wolverines led by coach William Ward headed to the Windy City to face Amos Alonzo Stagg and his Chicago Maroons.
These days there’s no question about the identity of Michigan’s biggest rival—that’s that team from Ohio—but back in the late 1800s and well into the Fielding Yost era, public enemy number one was Chicago and Coach Stagg.
While today we play the Buckeyes after the Thanksgiving holiday each season, did you know that Michigan actually used to play ON Thanksgiving day?
Indeed and On this day exactly 120 years ago, Michigan and Chicago squared off on Thanksgiving Thursday in Chicago and they did this a few times starting in the 1890s. 
The newly formed Western conference had recently mandated that each game be played on campus, but Stagg steered the season finale against undefeated Michigan to be played indoors, yes, INDOORS, downtown at the Chicago Coliseum on an oddly shaped gridiron.
I’m guessing the thousands who attended were thankful for the climate controlled setting, as outside Chicago was battered by driving winds and rain.  Northwestern and Wisconsin played on the same day just down the road in Evanston in what was described as “a sea of mud”.
Inside the Coliseum Chicago went up 7-to-nothing on a safety and touchdown (TDs were only worth 5 points back then).  Michigan made it close with a TD and an extra point to pull it to 7-6.   The nasty weather outside affected the ability of the fans to see the action so they actually turned on the lights inside the Coliseum to the delight of the thousands on hand.  This 1896 game ended 7-6 in the Maroons’ favor, and the local press proclaimed– “indoor football is a success”.
Two years later in 1898 Michigan would have its revenge on Stagg.  Once again undefeated heading into the Thanksgiving finale in Chicago, the Wolverines took down the Maroons 12-11.  Deeply inspired by the win, U-M student Louis Elbel put pen to paper and wrote ‘The Victors’ and forever immortalized the 1898 team as the Victors Valiant, the Conquering Heroes, and the The Champions of the West.

For more, check out WTKA.com and MVictors.com. 

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