16. October 2015 · Comments Off on Yost Returns to Bust the Galloping Ghost 1925 | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2015 · Tags: , , , , , ,


Lesson:  Don’t mess with Michigan, its football team, or in particular, Fielding Yost or Benny Friedman.  You’ll pay.

Just the great Red Grange about what happened in 1925…or better yet listen to Saturday’s BEAT STATE edition of This Week in Michigan Football History:

More on that 1925 game against Red Grange here.  Or better yet, check out Craig Ross’ brilliant piece on the 1925 season mgoblog’s Hail to the Victors 2015!

You can listen to all 6 years of This Week In Michigan Football History here.  And don’t forget to catch the whole KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff on WTKA 1050AM starting 4 hours before each game, and of course live in the Bud Light Victors Lounge tomorrow starting at 11:30am.


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1925 was a special year in Wolverine football lore as it featured the return, after taking a season off, of Fielding Yost as head coach. His timing couldn’t be better and he led his beloved Meeechigan with one of the finest, arguably THE best, squads in his brilliant tenure in Ann Arbor.

The 1925 season opened with 39-0 and 63-0 drubbings of Michigan State and Indiana leading to this day in Michigan Football History – a trip to Madison Wisconsin to face the Badgers 90 years ago today. The Badgers were headed by George Little, a former Yost assistant, who coincidently served as the Wolverine head coach in 1924.

Wolverine quarterback Benny Friedman wasn’t a fan of coach Little – and he held a bit of a grudge because he felt he was unfairly sidelined when Little was in charge. But Yost put Friedman in as signal caller and the junior didn’t take long to stun the 44 thousand at Camp Randall – and perhaps exact some revenge on this old coach.

On the first play of the game he tossed a 62 yard touchdown pass. Shortly thereafter he took a Badger kickoff 85 yards to the house. Late in the game he connected with sophomore Bennie Oosterbaan to cap off the 21-0 drubbing.

The following week, October 24, 1925, the eyes of the nation turned Michigan’s trip to Champaign, Illinois to watch Yost square off against the Illini and the great Red Grange. As a junior in 1924, Grange crushed the George Little-coached Wolverines for the dedication of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. In an iconic performance in college football history Grange tallied 6 touchdowns in that game, including four in the first 12 minutes on runs of 95, 67, 56 and 44 yards.

People talk about that game today, but they really don’t talk about what happened when Yost took back the reins and returned to Champaign in 1925.

For 12 months, Yost planned and schemed on how to stop Illinois’ Grange. He went with a seven-man front and a diamond-shaped secondary. Illini coach Bob Zuppke tried to counter the wily Yost by shifting Grange from halfback to quarterback. Twenty-five times the Galloping Ghost Iceman carried the ball, and 25 times he was sent to the turf by bone-crushing hits.

The only score of the game came just before the first half ended when Friedman converted a 25-yard field goal. Michigan prevailed 3 to nothing and the Ghost legend was taken down a peg. Michigan finished the year 7 and 1, claimed the Western Conference and outscored opponents 227-3.

19. July 2011 · Comments Off on Why Michigan and Minnesota Played Twice in 1926 · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , ,

One of my Little Brown Jug spies mentioned that morning host Ira Weintraub openly asked on WTKA 1050AM why Michigan faced Minnesota twice in 1926.

It happened…jug don’t lie:

1926 Michigan Minnesota

Here’s a nutshell of what went down.  First, the conference voted at the end of the 1925 season to require teams to play at least four conference games each year (starting in 1926).   For context, the Gophers had played just three conference games in 1925, the Wolverines played six.

Leading up to the annual coaches meeting in December held in Chicago, no team jumped at the chance to add the Gophers to the schedule so that they would meet the minimum four game requirement.

A big reason why no one would schedule the Gophers was that Minnesota’s coach, Doc Spears, ran his offense out of “the shift”.    Spears was buds with Knute Rockne—the man who perfected it the controversial moving formation.  Here’s how Rockne’s official page on the Notre Dame website sums it up:

In the shift, all four backs were still in motion at the snap. Opponents were so dumbfounded by the shift that they couldn’t find a consistent way to handle it. The rules board finally enacted a law against the shift.

The leading conference coaches (including Fielding Yost, Illinois’ Bob Zuppke and Chicago’s AA Stagg) felt it was not so much dumbfounding as it was illegal.  Opponents saw the shift effectively giving the backs a head start (or at least momentum) when the ball was snapped, putting the defense at a disadvantage.  Naturally Notre Dame fans argued (and still argue) it was brilliant strategy, while Yost and others said was cheating.   [Ed. And speaking of brilliant, check out John Kyrk’s excellent rundown of the politics of the shift in Natural Enemies.]

So while no one wanted to schedule Spears and the Gophers in 1926, when they met in Chicago, the tension over the matter was broken when Fielding Yost eventually agreed to play Spears twice thus giving Minnesota four league games.  But why?  I pinged John Kryk who explained, via email: “Yost got Spears to agree to drop the shift.  Actually, it was to agree to a two-second stop but such a delay rendered any shift superfluous, so in effect it was a shift-killing rule. As I wrote [in Natural Enemies],  Spears would rather give up his coveted offense than lose Minnesota’s football arch-rival.”

Yost beat Spears twice that season, 20-0 in October at Ferry Field, then 7-6 in the November finale in Minneapolis, Yost’s final game as head coach.

So there you have it.

Related – Little Brown Jug Lore:

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