26. September 2014 · Comments Off on Bennie O. to Bump, and the Unforgettable 1964 | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This week we start with 1958, Bennie Oosterbaan’s final season at the helm in Ann Arbor and roll up to the coach and the team being honored Saturday in Michigan Stadium: Bump Elliott and the 1964 Big Ten & Rose Bowl Champions:

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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24. September 2014 · Comments Off on Captain Conley & the 1964 Wolverines | The Season (Part II) · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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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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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29. August 2014 · Comments Off on Oh Captain! My Captain! | Captain Jim Conley on WTKA · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , ,

3 - conleyspringgame

This morning 1964 championship team captain Jim Conley joined John U. Bacon on WTKA as part of the Fantastic Friday lineup.  Captain Conley covered a lot of ground – from leadership, to his unique set of teammates, to coach Bump Elliott – and of course shared a bunch of stories from that amazing season:

Conley also noted that the ‘64 team will be honored during the Minnesota game this year – which is great news.  Hopefully Bump (who is 89 and lives in Iowa) will be there.


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This week WPW takes a look at three outstanding shots, each featuring a unique perspective of three Michigan greats – Cazzie Russell, Tom Harmon and Bill Yearby:
Cazzie Russell with basketball in Yost Field House
Crisler is known as the house that Cazzie built, but here’s a look at Cazzie’s original digs: Yost Arena.  Dang it looks pretty cool in there and I love the angle of that photo.   Memo to #41: Nice socks, Milhous.

Speaking of that venue, who’d like to see a hoops game at Yost?  Get on board #1000SSS.   And maybe they’d even bring back the Old Man?: 
Yost Photo


Tom Harmon emerges from Michigan Stadium Tunnel (1938)
Speaking of cool angles, I’m not sure I can recall a old shot quite like this, here you’ve got Old 98 Tom Harmon in 1938 trotting out of the tunnel handling a pigskin.   Uniform snobs will note the block M socks.  I also love the cheerleader’s sweater and the shiny pants (that guy has a little Barney Fife in him).  Turning to the crowd, clearly if you didn’t wear a hat (children and ladies included) to the game back then you were a square, Daddy-O.  A real flat tire.

What I can’t make out is what’s on the guy’s sweatshirt behind Harmon?  Best guess – it either reads “Maroons” (played in the Big House 10/8/38) or “Spartans” (the season opener 10/1/38). 


Bill Yearby of Michigan leaps during 1965 Rose Bowl (vs. Oregon State)

Hmm, who do you think won this game?   This season marks the 50th anniversary of the underappreciated 1964 Big Ten & Rose Bowl Championship team, and above that’s All-American Bill Yearby leaping and scaring the crap out of an overmatched Oregon State squad in the ‘65 Rose Bowl (U-M 34, OSU 7). 


Previous editions:


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01. December 2012 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: The Sting & the 1965 Rose Bowl Ring · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , , ,

Naturally the question emerges from fans when they see stuff belonging to former U-M players up on eBay:  How could (or how dare?) a Wolverine player do that?   As I’ve stated on these pages again and again, we usually don’t know the circumstances of how or why something ends up for sale so I’d rather not speculate on the reason.  And we know, of course, that property of former athletes has value and thus is sought after—sometimes by deviants.  

Take the case of former footballer Jerry Mader.  He earned 3 letters in football and played on Bump Elliott’s 1964 Big Ten & 1965 Rose Bowl championship squad.   When his ‘64 Rose Bowl ring showed up on eBay recently he sent this note to his teammates explaining what happened..along with the rosy conclusion.  Thanks to Mader for sharing a copy:

For those of you who are concerned about my Rose Bowl being put up for sale on EBay, please understand that I’m not destitute and in need of extra cash. Of course, a little extra cash will always help but I wouldn’t mortgage my past efforts and experience as a member of the 1965 Rose Bowl Team! I especially appreciate the close relationships I have with many of you.

1965 Rose Bowl Ring - Michigan As background, my ring was stolen from the Med- Sport locker room at Domino Farms in mid-December 2006 when I was rehabbing 2 knee surgeries and a wrist surgery. I notice that many of us are experiencing these physical  breakdowns from those football days of long ago. I’m OK with that because I learned much and of course, I need the scholarship. At that time, I filed a police report with the U of M Campus Police and then the issue went dormant.  Early July of this year I received an email from an unnamed person asking me if I would be interested in purchasing my ring from him since he bought it in an auction. We exchanged several email and of course I told him that the ring was stolen. I attempted to draw him into a conversation but the email ended abruptly when it appeared that I would send him $ 8,000 for my ring.

A couple of weeks ago he placed the Ring on EBay with my bio. He might of done this because I told him the Ring would be more valuable if my bio accompanied it. Well, when several of you informed me that my Ring was up for sale on EBay, I called the Sheriff’s Office and a very nice junior detective researched my case and forwarded my past police report and the EBay information to the Campus Police.

Jerry Mader - Michigan

Yesterday, I received a phone call from Detective [name removed] of the Campus Police, informing that there division organized a sting operation and enticed the perpetrator to travel from Chicago to Ann Arbor to buy my Ring plus another ring (2003 Rose Bowl). The sting involved 9 officers and was very well thought out and creative.

The bottom line is my Ring has been recovered and the perpetrator is being held on 2 felonies, selling stolen goods and extortion! The Detective is a very good guy and he was pleased to point out that this creep in an MSU grad!

Thank you for your concern.  I [was] lucky to have the opportunities back play football and go to Michigan and I continue to be blessed today by an awesome God.

Go Blue,

Punish the Spartan deviant!

So here’s another case.  Up on eBay right now, a pile memorabilia and awards that belonged former back Jon Vaughn. [HT: Brian at mgoblog and mgo-reader Joe].   The stuff ranges from his high school to his NFL days:

rose bowl Bo pic

John, err, Jon Vaughn won this for leading the league in kickoff return yards as a member of the Patriots:1993 NFL Mackey Award - Jon Vaughn 
Vaughn is best known around these parts for his 1990 season, and in particular his ridiculous start to that year, with over 200 against Notre Dame and UCLA:

jon vaughn stats 1990 
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something of Vaughn’s up on eBay.  Here’s a post from 2010 featuring his “Hustler” award from 1990 after the ND game.

Again, I don’t know the circumstances of why Vaughn’s stuff is on eBay and won’t speculate unless I have some better info.


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