Conley and Bump

Ed.  On Saturday the 1964 championship team will be honored during the Minnesota game.  Earlier this year I spent a couple hours with the (lone) captain on that squad, Jim Conley.  The full version of this story is available in mgoblog’s wonderful annual Hail To The Victors mag.   Given it’s their week, here’s a tighter and yes, less spicy, version of the story of that great season.

See Part I: Starting from Nothing

 

The Season
Following Conley’s direction the team returned ready to go.  More than that, they were ready from something more—they were hungry.

A few players made personal sacrifices that fall to help stay focused.   Conley gave up drinking—at least for the most part.  “OK, I slipped a couple of times on a Saturday night after we won.  But for the most part I didn’t do it.”  Other guys on the team made more challenging sacrifices—like steering clear of the ladies before games.

The 1964 season began in Ann Arbor on September 26 with a convincing 24-7 win over Air Force.  The following week Navy’s Roger Staubach, the reigning Heisman winner, returned to town.  The rematch game got national attention but there was a lack of local media coverage—all season in fact–thanks to a Detroit newspaper strike.  

In 1963 the mobile QB had torched U-M for over 300 yards of offense (back when that was a huge deal) in a 26-13 victory for the Midshipmen.   Many, including Conley and Elliott, feel Staubach effectively won the Heisman due to his performance against U-M in ’63.  This time Staubach didn’t live up to his Roger the Dodger moniker as the defense suffocated him early on.  “Basically we ended his college career,” Conley recalled.  “Bill Yearby and I met him at the sidelines, more Yearby than me, and nailed him.  He should have got out of bounds and I was disappointed he didn’t.  That was the end of him.” 

With Staubach grounded, Michigan forced six turnovers and won 21-0, paced by a pair of TDs by back Carl Ward. 

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Marcus went off this morning on WTKA 1050AM.  Here’s the 2nd segment of his call this morning, holy moly:

Woooo!  Take That!

You can catch all the WTKA podcasts here, including the first segment where Ray pretty much endorses my 3 point plan:

1. Calm down & maintain your dignity.
2. Support the team Saturday
3. Retain Jug & let’s talk Monday

1 - Charm Front Conley’s 1964 Charm.   How he earned it?  Read below.  How got it in his hands? click here.

[Ed.  On Saturday the 1964 championship team will be honored during the Minnesota game.  Earlier this year I spent a couple hours with the (lone) captain on that squad, Jim Conley.  The full version of this story is available in mgoblog’s wonderful annual Hail To The Victors mag.   Given it’s their week, here’s a tighter and yes, less spicy, version of the story of that great season.]

“You’ve got to remember, we were a bunch of losers.”

That’s how 1964 Michigan team captain Jim Conley labeled his team before summer training camp.  But somehow this group of losers, who won just 5 games in 1962 and 1963 combined, captured Michigan’s first Big Ten title since 1950 then pummeled Oregon State 34-7 in the Rose Bowl.   Bump Elliott’s team transformed into a powerhouse that put away four top-10 squads, including powerful rivals Michigan State and Ohio State on the road.  They crushed teams led by a returning Heisman-winning quarterback in Roger Staubach (Navy), and a squad (Illinois) that featured Dick Butkus, arguably the greatest linebacker in football history.

So how did it happen?  Perhaps more importantly, why are these champions — who were literally inches away from a perfect season and a national championship — generally ignored by you, the well-informed diehards that make up the Michigan football fan base?

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21. September 2014 · 7 comments · Categories: 2014

Bump and Pete Bump (left) and brother Pete – signed pic up on eBay now

Bump Elliott has lived a life about which they write books and make movies. After he served in World War II, he enrolled in Ann Arbor and led the backfield of the famed Mad Magicians, one of the greatest teams in college football history. After that national championship season he was named Big Ten MVP and an All-American. He took over as head coach in 1958 and led U-M to the 1964 conference and Rose Bowl titles.

Later he went onto a (beyond) sterling career as athletic director at Iowa and was responsible for hiring a few of the greatest coaches in collegiate athletics history. During his tenure he brought 11 NCAA titles to Iowa City.

Elliott is 89 today and still lives in the Hawkeye state. On Saturday, his 1964 championship squad celebrates their 50th anniversary–I hope he makes it to town (I’ve heard he’s planning on it). I also hope and that you–those in attendance–give Bump and his team a massive ovation.

Earlier this year the Michigan legend was kind enough to chat with me about that great season, his legacy and much more. 

[Ed. Before the interview transcript just a personal note: I’ve been doing this for a little while now and hardcore followers I’ve chatted with many big names in U-M lore. Speaking with Coach Elliott was a huge deal for me on many levels, and I’ll leave it at that.]

MVictors: First off, on your nickname “Bump.” I’ve heard and read that no one, not you or even your mother really remember how you got that nickname. Is that right?

Bump Elliott: That’s correct. It just happened and nobody could remember, nor could I. [laughs]

MVictors: Talk to me about your team captain on the ’64 team, Jim Conley. How do you remember Conley’s role that season?

Bump Elliott: Well the biggest asset he gave to the team was leadership. He really was an outstanding leader and the players listened to him. When he had something to say it was important. I think probably as much as the success of that team, as much as anything else, can go to Jim partly because of his leadership qualities and the way he handled the players. He was a senior, he’d been through the mill, and it was a great asset for us to have him working there.
He was a no-nonsense guy, but by the same token, when he had things to say people listened, and certainly the players did. He wasn’t the most talented player on the team but we would’ve been lost without him. He was a great player.

MVictors: Let’s talk a little bit about the ’64 season itself. In the second game you faced Navy and Roger Staubach [who won the 1963 Heisman Trophy] in Ann Arbor. Any special memories of Staubach?

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Jil Gordon paints new section (2013 - Greg Dooley photo)

Your primer for Jug week – this will keep you busy for a while:

Chapter 1: What Really Happened in the 1930s
Chapter 2: Spinning Myths
Chapter 3: Getting it Right
Chapter 4: 2013: A Space Quandary (solved! see above)
Chapter 5: Red Wing Roots
Chapter 6: Is the Greatest Trophy in College Sports a Fake?
Chapter 7: Open Questions
Chapter 8: Doc Cooke and the Real Origins of the Rivalry
Chapter 9: Gophers Here, Gophers There – When Michigan played Minnesota Twice
Chapter 10: How It Started: Minnesota Madmen 6, Michigan Machine 6
Chapter 11: A Righteous Sip, and Why Michigan Bought the Jug
Chapter 12: Making It Official—Jil Gordon & Painting the Little Brown Jug
Chapter 13: 40,000 Jugs—Financial Analysis from 1903

Elsewhere:  Did you order your Little Brown Jug book?  It’s new and it’s hot – I heard they already sold out the initial printing and a setting up for run #2.  Get yours now:

Little Brown Jug Book Yes, I endorse this book.  There are some incredible photos, many I’d never seen before getting the book.  If you are local to Ann Arbor, contact Kenny Magee of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia at (734) 222-9321 or email kenmagee22[at]aol.com.

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UGPtop[2]

Son of a BISCUIT I want these guys to turn this around.  It’s a little odd to me because I still see the pieces of a decent team but the results are a wreck.  Yesterday – with a the exception of a few breakdowns I thought the defense played pretty damn well (Jake Ryan – Manster.  Jourdan Lewis – fun to watch).  Derrick Green, when he was in there, looked like a seasoned back – he was patient and found the holes.  And once again, we outgained our opponent yet failed to score a TD.

Gardner.  I don’t know what I’d do with 98.  He’s losing confidence with every interception – he’s becoming more tentative and locking on.  That’s fine against Miami but we’re not going to out-athlete the rest of the schedule.  If you bench him now I just wonder if that’s a point of no return for his confidence.  So I guess there are a couple options?

1. Start Gardner with a limited playbook.  It sucks to say that about a 5th year senior but sorry.   Shorter passes with the occasional sideline heave to Funch, and he’s got to run more. I’d encourage the big guy to take off for 5-7 yards more with more frequency.   I feel like we’re still on that treadmill of doing what we think a Michigan team should do, as opposed to what we could do with the players (namely 98) that we have.
2. Start Morris with a limited playbook.  Mix in Gardner in the slot or in the backfield to mess with everybody and possibly get some of 98’s confidence back.

But what do I know, man?

Other question – So we have a good if not darn good defense (take stats through 4 games for what they are worth, but we’re #8 nationally), right?  Why do we keep punting in the opponent’s territory?  Hagerup’s been pretty bad, but the reason we are #123 (of 125) in net punting is that he’s become Poocherup.  Even if you take out the 66 yard punt return from the equation (after a bad punt and horrible coverage), we’d still be ranked in the 110s nationally.  Dude. 

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maratop[4]

 Dr. Sap's Decals

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is back this season with his weekly postgame helmet stickers.  Sap would do a backflip if coach Hoke decided to reinstate this tradition that Bo brought to the team in 1969. 

Until that day comes, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.   I’ll typically toss in the Fan Award and the Editor’s Choice:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

Devin Funchess – There is an old Canadian Hockey saying about getting or giving a “Hotel Dieu Pass” to or from one of your teammates. That means your inaccurate pass caused one of your teammates to get laid out and lit up, to the point where they have to be taken off on a stretcher and taken to the local hospital. (Hotel Dieu is a common Canadian Hospital name.)

image

What that pass did, aside from Funchess taking a wicked shot, was jack up Utah even more. When you get a freebie to lay out one of the stars from the other team, you have just incited the feeding-frenzy to begin.

over the middle 
Via mgoblog / Fuller

So while it was just one incomplete pass, it was MUCH more than that. It was Utah’s cue to come after Michigan for more. I commend Funchess for staying in the game and making two huge catches after that hit. Devin Gardner, you owe Funchess a dinner, and an apology.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION Jourdan Lewis – Dude came to play and it showed. He held his own and then some against a quality group of receivers. The defensive backfield may have lost Raymon Taylor for a while, but they just found themselves a new corner. Lewis has closing speed on routes and also when tracking down opponents on blown coverage. So impressed with this guy!
SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION None – I don’t know what to say. Giving up a punt return for a TD is always lethal, but is it too much to ask your punter to angle for the coffin corner?
UNIFORM CHAMPION “M” Terrible Towel – Thought it looked cool that most of the skilled players on offense were all wearing it as well as some of the guys on D. Just worried that the “Terrible Towel” name and connotation might stick.
BOB UFER FAN AWARD Those Who Stayed – This category is quickly turning into a Fan Endurance Award of sorts, but there’s no question who gets it this week:

stayed

EDITOR’S CHOICE Willie Henry Jr.  Obvious (via Ace at mgoblog)
 Henry Ace

 

 

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1969 Michigan Vanderbilt Program

This week we head back exactly 45 years to the opener of the 1969 season and a new era in Michigan Football History.  It was of course the debut of Bo…and Canham’s beloved new carpet:

Speaking of Canham’s carpet, I love this old shot of Dierdorf and Bo:

Bo and Dierdorf inspect new artificial turf

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or inside the Bud Light Victors Lounge starting at 11:30am.

 

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maratop[3]

While I’m not sure it deserves anywhere in the orbit of the $4,000 price tag, nonetheless, there’s an interesting item up on eBay right now.   In sum, it’s a 1905 petition asking the athletic department to address a few questions about the idea of withdrawing from the Western Conference–a debate that was burning hot on campus obviously:

We Should Leave

The questions translated, as I see it:

1. Is there any meaningful/tangible penalty (if we leave)? 
2. Can we still play conference rivals like Minnesota and Chicago? 
3. Whoa – does this mean we can play teams like Penn, Harvard and Yale? 
4. Will people think we are a-holes if we leave? 

Good questions.  Answers in hindsight (knowing how this played out once we did indeed leave the Western Conference) IMHO:

1. Not really.
2. Not really. (We did play the occasional conference opponent – see Minnesota in 1909 and 1910).
3. Kind of.  Michigan did start to schedule some cool eastern schools (we consistently played Penn, Cornell and Syracuse) but overall filling the schedule with quality opponents was a struggle, as was consistently beating the eastern schools.
4. Kind of.

Note the letter above also makes reference to a student petition specifically asking for Michigan to leave the conference (that would be cool to see as well).

In this old post I broke down what happened, and here’s a summary of the provisions/demands put down by the conference a few months later, and a bit on how that affected Michigan:

..Finally, spearheaded by the request of Michigan’s president James B. Angell, officials from the schools representing the Western Conference (U-M, Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana) met in Chicago in January 1906 to discuss these issues and more.  Keep in mind this was far from a gathering of athletic directors—these men were faculty and administrators from each school.

The day after the meeting the headline of the New York Times roared, “FOOTBALL HIT HARD BY WESTERN COLLEGES”.  The changes outlined by the committee were indeed drastic and aimed primarily at the gridiron.   Here’s a breakdown of the recommendations:

  1. Accept or Abolish: The committee started by making one thing clear…one way or another serious changes were going to happen.   While the individual schools of the conference would be able to accept or reject the committee’s recommendations, included was a poisonous provision dictating that if the changes were NOT agreed to by a majority of the schools, football would be suspended in the conference for two years.   They effectively were daring the schools to not ratify the recommendations.  Obviously Michigan, nor most of the other schools, would go along with this so they were really left with a simple choice: either accept the recommendations or leave the conference.
  2. Reduced number of games: The committee dictated that the football season be limited to just five games.   Practice could start only when the college term began in the fall, and the last game of the schedule would be played two weeks before Thanksgiving.   This would be a big change to the direction Michigan was heading as Yost’s squad played 13 games in 1905.
  3. Training Tables: The committee also proposed having “training tables”, that is, structured and planned team-only meals, abolished.  This is an accepted practice today—I remember the team enjoying specialized meals at South Quad when I was on campus.   Back at the turn of the century, this was probably viewed as a very special benefit, even a form of compensation, and Michigan held training tables and even had a team trainer on staff.   Given the results on the field, Yost understandably had no plans in changing their practice regimen.  Michigan argued that this recommendation should be eliminated from the proposal.
  4. Three-year Rule: The conference sought to abolish the practice of having athletes participate for more than three years. Freshman would be required to have residence at the school for one year before participating.   The practice of having players transfer in and out (including those who already had degrees from other schools) would be barred.  Football was to be played by enrolled undergraduates only.    One of Michigan’s finest players was their center Germany Schultz.  Schultz arrived on campus as a 21-year-old, and allegedly played football before he arrived in Ann Arbor.  Whether he was a ringer or just someone who started a bit late was inconsequential as under the proposed changes he would be ineligible.  Michigan countered that this rule not be retroactive, thus allowing players like Schultz to participate until they moved on.
  5. The Money: Another recommendation proposed that all gate revenue from games be controlled by the faculty (not by alumni or by the athletic department) and that ticket prices should be fixed at fifty cents.  Prices ranged quite a bit in those days, but generally the best seats went for about three bucks.   Of U-M’s thirteen games in 1905, a whopping eleven of those were played on the Wolverines home turf of Ferry Field.   This collection of professors and administrators naturally wanted to decide what to do with it.
  6. Professional Coaches: Teams would be managed by members of the faculty, who would receive a small stipend for their efforts as coaches.  This is essence extended the concept of the student-athlete to apply to coaches.  This worked well for the other two ‘Western’ powers in the conference as Stagg and Minnesota’s coach Henry “Doc” Williams were already members of their respective faculties.  Yost was not.   Furthermore, it was deemed that future coaches would be selected by the faculty, not the athletic departments within each school.   There’s little doubt that this sweeping change in the place of the coach within the university was a direct shot at Michigan and Yost.  The New York Times speculated that if it were instituted it would effectively end Yost’s career.

———————————————

Michigan did eventually decide to leave the conference (probably not the best idea as it turned out) and returned in 1917.

P.S. I’m sensitive to anything up on eBay that could have been obtained via dubious means (i.e., swiped from campus archives at the Bentley or wherever), but this appears to be legit, as there are a few items on eBay recently that seems to be owned by Mr. Stevenson (2nd signature down on the right).

 

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