You’re sick of lists I’m sure, but this is worth a look for the photos alone. SI has been rolling through a list of the top ten athletes at big schools, now Michigan is up. Here’s its take and the breadth of sports they covered is appreciated:

10. Glen Rice (basketball, 1986-1989)
9. Jennie Ritter (softball, 2003-2006)
8. Brendan Morrison (hockey, 1993-1996)
7. Barry Larkin (baseball, 1983-1985)
6. Tom Dolan (swimming, 1994-1996)
5. Desmond Howard (football, 1989- 1991)
4. Cazzie Russell (basketball, 1964- 1966)
3. Charles Woodson (football, 1995-1997)
2. Tom Harmon (football, basketball, 1938-1940)
1. Bennie Oosterbaan (football, basketball, baseball, 1924-1927)

Why Oosterbaan? Here’s their take:

Considered one of the greatest athletes in Michigan history, Bennie Oosterbaan was a three-time All-America football player, a two-time All-America basketball player (who led the Big Ten in scoring during his senior season) and a baseball player. Turning down professional football for religious reasons, Oosterbaan went on to coach football, basketball and baseball at Michigan. In his first season as head football coach in 1948, he led the Wolverines to a national championship.


  1. Jennie Ritter isn’t in the top 5? That’s garbage.

  2. Michael Phelps? The soon to be most decorated Olympian …ever?

    Oh, Sports Illustrated…/sigh

  3. Ben-looks like they were targeting folks that participated on a Michigan team, not a private club. That’s one of the minor reasons I’m not on this list.

  4. I would think Ron Kramer would be up there, a 3 sport star and NFL star.

    I agree that Phelps should not be in there since he never swam for Michigan, only trained there. He is a professional.

  5. Basically, out of your top 10 only 3 are from michigan and one of those 3 plays girls softball

    way to go Michigan…you are well represented in the wide world of sports

    Bennie Oosterbaan – from Michigan
    Tom Harmon – from Indiana
    Charles Woodson – from OHIO
    Cazzie Russell – from Illinois
    Desmond Howard – from OHIO
    Tom Dolan – from Virginia
    Barry Larkin – from OHIO
    Brendan Morrison – Canadian
    Jennie Ritter – women’s softball? are you kidding me
    Glen Rice – from Michigan

    Michigan is one of the worst states in the union.
    Sell them to canada

  6. Pingback: eBay Watch: Hanging Bennie in Effigy (1958)

  7. SI sure missed the boat on some former UofM GREATS:
    Ron Kramer – SHOULD BE #2 BEHIND BENNIE – 3 sport Great at UofM. Led fball & bball teams in scoring & a great Trackster.. Earned 9 varisty letters, the max. and was a stud in all 3 sports. Then a Packer Great for Lombardi and in the NFL. How could Ron be left off this list for a Softball Player or Swimmer ???
    Elroy Crazylegs Hirsch – only M athlete to letter in 4 Sports in one year – football, basketball, baseball, track – in NFL HOF.
    Pete Elliott – earned 12 letters as 3 sport Great in Football, Basketball & Golf, went on to coach at 4 Div I schools. All-Amer in football.
    Bump Elliott – played football, basketball & baseball at Purdue, then after stint in China as a Marine played the same 3 sports at Michigan. All-Amer in Football. Went on as a great college coach and AD at Iowa.
    Rick Leach – All-Amer QB, All-Amer Outfielder and a little JV Basketball at Michigan. An all time great in AA – went on to 10 year MLB career & was drafted by Denver Broncos.
    Willie Heston – All-Amer RB on teams that went 43-0-1 at UofM, scored 72 TD’s, and 6,000 yard rushing. Was bigger, stronger & Faster than any other player his era..
    Don Dufek – All-Amer DB in football, then UofM hockey team great. Played in NFL for 8 years. Drafted by Seattle in NFL and Red Wings in NHL..
    The list goes on and on and on….
    How can a swimmer and softball player be over some of these guys ????

  8. This list is pretty solid, though i would not consider an athlete from 80 years ago, who didnt play professional to be no. 1. Atheletes these days specialize in their sports so it woud be impossible for an athlete to excell at 3 sports.

    Move Oosterbaan back to 5, move Woodson ahead of Harmon. much better top 10 list IMO.