tulane
Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov 17, 1937

Eighty years ago today on November 13, 1937, this Western Union telegram landed in Ann Arbor (a copy was later obtained by the Michigan Daily and plastered on the front page):

In the fall of 1937 things were a bit dicey for the football program.  Since the 1933 national championship, coach Harry Kipke’s crew had just a handful of wins on the the field.   And in November 1937 the university launched a well-publicized investigation of the program, suspecting that football players were being “subsidized.”  Kipke was sitting atop a flaming hot seat.

As the drama unfolded, eyes turned to Michigan freshman Tom Harmon.   Despite the struggles on the field (..but perhaps due to some of the questionable behavior off the field) Kipke landed the multi-sport high school superstar from Gary, IN.   In the fall of ‘37 he suited up for the freshman football team as was required back then.   Harmon’s athletic exploits in high school made him widely known in the sporting world and even as a freshman, having yet to take a snap on the varsity squad, a Chicago Tribune headline dubbed frosh Harmon a “star”.

Suddenly Harmon found himself involved in the off-field drama.  He was named in the investigation as one of the freshman football student-athletes who were allegedly illegally compensated, and soon word spread across the land that Harmon might entertain changing scenery.

Several schools were interested in Harmon’s services, most publicly Tulane.  A telegram sent by the then-southeastern Conference school was obtained and published by The Michigan Daily.  In the wired note, Tulane assistant coach Bill Bevan told Harmon, “Our offer still stands. [You] Can still enter this semester.”

trib Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov 17, 1937

When asked what exactly that “offer” was, Bevan explained it was, “an athletic scholarship,” which he added was, “perfectly legal in the Southeastern conference.”  Note that Michigan didn’t offer athletic scholarships at the time.   If Tulane sounds like a strange destination for a Midwestern kid, Harmon’s brother Gene played basketball for the Green Wave so there was a connection.

One of the potential destinations for Harmon was rumored to be Yale, but when word spread that the people in New Haven may have offered Harmon some sort of financial assistance, the school fired back hard.   They denied the claims & made it known that Harmon had applied to attend Yale in January 1937—at least kind of.    After requesting admission and financial aid, Yale sent the necessary forms.  In his only letter to the school he wrote that his credentials for admission to the Ivy League college were: “Four years of football, four years of basketball, two years of track.”

harmon-yale
No mention his of skills with the ladies.

Old 98 of course decided to stay in Ann Arbor.  Kipke was found guilty of subsidizing players (among other things) and was fired in December 1937.  Harmon wasn’t penalized in the aftermath and would thrive during his three varsity-eligible years under new coach Fritz Crisler.   His exploits peaked in 1940 when he dodged at least one drunk fan and later accepted the Heisman Trophy.

Related:
The Drunk and Old 98
Tommy’s the BMOC
Harmon and Old Number..Six?
Tom Harmon says ‘Vote Heston’
Harmon Jitterbugs with Joan & Jinx
Harmon Goes for the Gusto

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The saga continues on the Big Ten all-time coaching statistics.  Readers of this site know that at the urging of a pesky blogger, the Big Ten officials updated their records last season to reflect the time Michigan left the conference from 1907-1916. 

The result was a boost to Fielding Yost’s lead over Jim Tressel in conference win percentage by coaches from .833 to .888 (here are the current numbers, through last year’s bowls):

B1G Conference Records

Mark Snyder discussed the ramifications of the Ohio State self-imposed vacated wins on the all-time records in this recent piece, & note Mark corrected Yost’s official win pct last night ;)

As Snyder points out, I think we can assume nothing is official until the NCAA/Big Ten complete their investigations.   I asked the Big Ten offices to confirm and I’m guessing they will say it be resolved when the investigation is completed. 

[Update July 11] I got the expected response from the Big Ten’s Scott Chipman:

My question:  Scott, is there an official ruling from the Big Ten on how the Ohio State sanctions/vacated wins affect Tressel’s conference win percentage?  Or is this all pending the final NCAA/B10 rulings on the sanctions?

Chipman’s reply:  Greg, As of right now, that’s all TBD.

I see a few possible outcomes that could impact these records once again:

Final Punishment

W

L

Revised  Win %

Impact

1 NCAA reverses vacated wins; no change in 2010 record. 106 22 0.828 Pigs fly.
2 All 12 wins taken off the books, only the loss to Wisconsin remains 94 22 0.810 Tressel remains #2 behind Yost on the Big Ten books, slightly above Bo who’s at .796
3 All 12 2010 wins now reflected as losses on the books 94 34 0.734 Tressel drops to #7 on the all-time list, behind Yost, Bo, Crisler, Carr, Woody, etc.
4 The entire 2010 season is wiped (0-0), but Tressel is still officially coach for the 2010 season. 94 21 0.817 He remains on the list at #2, given he still qualifies with 10 seasons.
5 The entire 2010 season is wiped (0-0), and Tressel doesn’t get credit for coaching in the conference last season 94 21 0.817 Poof! Tressel completely wiped from the record books–he would not meet the minimum 10 year qualification.

 

Of course that assumes the punishment stays somewhere within the framework for the self-imposed penalty.  If not, there are many other potential outcomes:

  • The Big Ten could decide to take some action that’s not consistent with the NCAA ruling (like making a ruling on only the conference games, which would tweak the above table).
  • The NCAA penalty could go deeper than 2010, resulting in a bigger shift in the rankings.
  • And there’s the off chance the other coaches (Carr) could be credited with additional wins shifting the rankings even further.

Related: The ‘H’ is for Handlebar (1896)

11. April 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , ,

A big thanks to Noel for passing this along. 

You’ve certainly heard about the new scoreboards going up next season at Crisler, Yost and inside Michigan Stadium.   Well, U-M is apparently unloading some of the old visual equipment on eBay, at least this beauty along with a back-up that looks just like it:

crislerscoreboards 
You could find this one at center court opposite the benches for years including last season.  It comes affixed to a table:

table 
So what would you do with something like this?  Trick out your man cave?  Roll it out for pick-up games at your house?  Mount it upside down and layout the most epic spelling of digital “BOOBS” ever? 

Current bid is just $200.  Do it, do it.  Local pick-up only!

the_victors_m_basketball 

What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, don’t you think?  Bullets:

  • It has been amazing to witness the young guys, especially Morgan, Hardaway & Morris, maturing and improving since the start of the season.   It’s tangible progress before our eyes so hats off to the entire coaching staff and of course the team. 
  • I actually give some credit to the M fans for the Maize out.  As I like to say, Wolverine fans are really good at “Wear Whatever You Want-Outs” but horrible at Maize-outs.  I thought the place was about 75-ish percent maize which is about as good as you are going to get.  I was a student during the Fab Five era when we used to wait out hours to pile into Crisler and pack the place  It had that feel yesterday.
  • Speaking of the Maize-out: the always sharp-dressed M assistant Bacari Alexander looked sharp in his brown suit, but what do we need to do to get Coach Tweet outfitted in an all-Maize ensemble??  Sharp!

HALOL!

  • Those on Twitter might have seen a barrage of  “HALOL!”.   I’ve been asked by a few folks what it refers to.  It’s a common tag on Coach Alexander’s tweets which I presumed to simply be an emphatic version of “LOL!”.   Sunday morning Bacari confirmed this:

bacariHALOL

  • I expected the students to rush the court after the game—kind of glad they didn’t.  Act like you’ve been there before.  
  • I guess Kalin Lucas (who is amazing to watch) got a little pissed at D Morris’s trash talk and the lay-up at the end of the game.  Izzo commented on it:

    “I’ll straighten that (Lucas throwing the ball at Morris) out but at the same time, (Morris) going for a layup with 2 seconds left and talking a lot stuff all game, including at our place, maybe he (Morris) deserved it.”

    That’s fine.  Both players downplayed it after the game.  From my view, I didn’t have any problem with Morris going coast-to-coast.  Given some of the tension in the final couple minutes I guess I didn’t think the game was absolutely over, and they tried to get the ball from Morris (who beautifully weaved around a few Spartan players).   Maybe he should have pulled to the wing instead of taking it to the rack but dude—we’ve struggled so much at the end of game (IU, Wisconsin, etc.) that I was relieved when he scored.

Great coverage of course over at UMHoops.com and by Rothstein and crew at AnnArbor.com

More later on Hoke and his comments, but thought I’d share a couple quick photos.

hoke enters crisler

Here’s Hoke emerging from the Crisler tunnel, his first public appearance before the Michigan crowd.  After people figured out who he was he got a very nice reception.  Hoke did not speak at the game and sat courtside with Dave Brandon and his wife and daughter.

 

denard victors This man was also there and the camera panned on him during the break – the crowd went nuts.  When he heard the crowd roar and saw his face on the big screen, I saw him mouth, “Aww mann,” and break out that huge smile.  Here he is finishing off ‘The Victors’ with authority.

While fans certainly wanted these two ships to meet and hug, it didn’t happen.  Hoke did chat with Governor Snyder for what it’s worth.   I was kind of hoping Hoke and Coach Tweet (Barcari Alexander) would get to get together a shout at each other about how much they love Michigan.

22. December 2010 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Signed WWJ Michigan Pigskin (1958) · Categories: Archive 2010 · Tags: , , , ,

Fresh up on the eBay, a pigskin signed by the 1958 Michigan football squad:

football_whole_michigan_1958

Above ‘UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN’ it is stamped ‘WWJ 1958’.   Certainly the WWJ stands for longtime radio station WWJ in Detroit which aired Wolverine games for many years, including, according to the Bentley Library, what is believed to be the first live broadcast from a football stadium in 1924.

The auction’s limited description doesn’t indicate why it says WWJ or when the ball was signed, but perhaps it was passed around during the annual bust held in December of that year after the rough season.

How rough?  Well, the Wolverines finished 2-6-1, losing their final four games and prior to the finale against Ohio State coach Bennie Oosterbaan resigned.  This probably didn’t help matters:

bennie_oosterbaan_in_effigy

There was no drama or transition period after Oosterbaan handed in his resignation.  He stayed at the University and former star player and then assistant coach Bump Elliott took over effective January 1, 1959.

Back to the ball, while it doesn’t appear to be loaded down with superstars, it does include Oosterbaan’s predecessor and current athletic director Fritz Crisler:

fritz_1958

And historians might recognize the name Harry Newman, the great quarterback from the early 1930s, but..

harry_newman_1958

..you might also noticed the “Jr.” tagged on the end.  That’s Harry Newman’s son who didn’t leave quite the mark on the program as did his old man…but few have.  Ask Willie Heston, Jr. and Fielding Yost, Jr., who played coincidentally with Harry Newman, Sr. on the 1930 squad.  There’s still time for TWoolf29.

Speaking All-Americans, it’s notable that Oosterbaan, Elliott, and Crisler’s predecessor Harry Kipke were each All-Americans on the field at Michigan but had underwhelming coaching careers on the sideline for the Blue.  They either resigned after a tough stretch of seasons and mounting pressure (Oosterbaan, Elliott) or were canned (Kipke).  File under FWIW for All-American Harbaugh.

You can buy the righteous signed pigskin here.

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25. May 2010 · Comments Off on Winged Helmet T (As in Trouble) · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

clip_image002 New York Times  – December 24, 1909

Michigan is set to release their self-imposed sanctions in about 30 minutes.   File this under FWIW, but despite what some maintain it’s not the first time Michigan has been mixed up with serious off-the-field issues.   I’ve covered a couple of these incidents on these pages and beyond, but thought it’d be a good time to review.  

These events happened years back and of course times were different.  There was no governing structure like the NCAA in place when this stuff went down, and much of the enforcement was placed on the leagues and on the schools themselves. 

Joy Miller Scandal (1909)
[Ed. This originally appeared in
Brian Cook’s Hail to the Victors 1909]
In early December 1909 the Michigan Daily reported concerns over whether newly elected team captain James ‘Joy’ Miller was properly registered as a U-M and if he actually attended enough classes during the fall 1909 to be eligible for the football team. Miller responded to the charges claiming he had switched majors and was confused over the registration process. He actually attempted to enroll back in school on December 8, filling out a card and paying his $45 dues.

While an official decision had yet to come down on the incident, Chairman of the Board in Control of Outdoor Athletics Geo. W. Patterson had heard enough and started firing off letters of apology to Michigan’s 1909 opponents. The U-M Bentley Library holds a copy of the apology sent to Minnesota in its archives. The one page missive, dated December 22, 1909, explained the situation:

The facts of the case are that Mr. Miller returned to college late this fall, registered in the Engineering Department but neglected to enroll in his classes, although he did attend some of them.

The letter closed by offering the University’s “sincere regret for this unfortunate error”, but notably, no where did Patterson suggest the result of the game should be reversed or reconsidered.

On Christmas Eve 1909 the New York Times broke the news to the world with a headline that howled “FOOTBALL SCANDAL IN MICHIGAN TEAM”. In the article Patterson addressed the question of potential penalties declaring, “As the matter stands any of the teams Michigan defeated during the year now has the right of protest, and may ask that the game be declared ‘no game’ or its result reversed. We are expecting such action.” He added, “The whole university is sick about the business.”

In early January Miller’s colleagues in the School of Engineering recommended that he be kick out of school. After ignoring several requests to return to campus to face the charges, Miller was officially expelled on January 14, 1910.

Despite Patterson’s suggestion that Michigan’s opponents could claim the results of the season invalid or even reversed, no such measures were taken. Given that the apology letters (at least the Minnesota note) were dated prior to when the major newspapers ran the full story, it’s possible that Michigan’s quick and obsequious admission of the embarrassing issue was enough to pacify its football foes.  Author John Kryk in his wonderful book Natural Enemies, agrees writing, “Michigan officials were able to save face, to a large degree, by the swift, open and decisive manner in which they tackled these scandals.”

Cloud over Kipke (1937)
Thirty years after the Joy Miller mess, Michigan was dealing with far more serious allegations.  Despite a coaching stint that featured four straight conference titles and a pair of national championships (‘32-‘33), head coach Harry Kipke was in trouble.  Yes, his teams had major struggles on the field in the mid-1930s but there were darker clouds afoot and U-M decided to let him go.   The Board in Control of Athletics issued to Kipke the following five reasons for his dismissal, and they were published in the December 12, 1937 Chicago Tribune:

kipke_charges 

Here’s a brief look at a few of the spiciest of the charges:

  • Subsidizing players.  Yes, it appears as though Michigan promised the classic nice “jobs” to incoming freshman.  According to a university report players were basically guaranteed a wage at certain jobs whether they showed up or not.  The local employer was “instructed to bill another Ann Arbor firm for the time the freshman collected for not working” [Chicago Tribune, 11/11/37].  The whole thing unraveled when a bogus “employer” wasn’t reimbursed in a timely manner and complained. 
  • Those “Private Associates”.  This was aimed squarely at Kipke’s relationship with Mr. Harry Bennett, henchman/muscle/head of security at Ford.  (Henry Ford sent his problems to Bennett and they disappeared – Or were buried up north.)  The university brass found Bennett to be a distasteful character and made that clear here.
  • Summer Practice.  Not sure if Kipke employed quality control coaches, but it was alleged that most of the team held cushy summer jobs at Ford and whilst there, even worked on their football skills, from the Tribune 12/12/1937:

    Kipke allowed fifteen Michigan football players to practice three and four times a week throughout the last summer while employed at the Ford Motor company.  The players were said to have worked in the service department under Harry Bennett, Ford personnel director.  On practice afternoons, it was reported, they were driven in a truck from their posts about the plant to a remote place on Ford property along the Detroit river shore for practice.

    Shortly after the dismissal Michigan hired legendary coach and athletic director Fritz Crisler.

Just posted on YouTube, a quick interview with Ohio State center B.J. Mullens this week on the upcoming Michigan game.

Interviewer: Let’s be honest, give me your thoughts on the University of Michigan.
Mullens: They suck. I mean come on. We’re going to go up there and beat them pretty bad. That’s a rival and that’s how it’s going to be.
Interviewer: Do you give a damn for that whole state?
Mullens: No. Not at all.

So that’s fine, I don’t have an issue with a Buckeye trashing Michigan or vice versa, even dropping a “sucks” here and there. But the final question inadvertently produces a great moment in the history of this rivalry:

Interviewer: In as many S.A.T vocabulary words as you can, your opinion of Michigan.
Mullens: Boo.

Isn’t that grounds for an NCAA investigation? A cow could have scored as well on that question. I love it because you know the interviewer is a Buckeye grad, yet he inadvertently delivers a perfect Stuttering John question.



Update 1/17: Good question from Biggie Munn, ‘what in the hell sport did this raj cat play that he did not lose to um in 4 years?‘. Midway through the interview Raj offers that he “went four years and never lost to Michigan”.

Best I can tell Raj was in the homecoming class and his bio reveals he’s a super huge Buckeye fan. Beyond that, I doubt Raj was raining down threes or delivering touchdown dances on old Mich during his time in Columbus.

As for BJM, I consulted some folks at the Princeton Review and they confirmed that the S.A.T would give zero points for that answer. Had the question been, “What do ghosts say?” or “Who’s your favorite golfer?” or, “Name a key character in To Kill a Mockingbird?” or even, “What’s a common urban term for one’s ladyfriend?”, BJ would have been offered some credit.

Empty Crisler Arena
This is midway through the first half – this is real

Made it up to the game last night and it wasn’t as close as the 78-64 final score.

– It’s a little frustrating to sit and watch. The offense pretty much looks for an open three and then clanks it off the rim. The good news? It seemed like they were getting good looks at the rim before then tossing the brick.
– The highlight of the game was DeShawn Sims’ three-quarter court heave to end the half. The place erupted and that was nice to see.
– Newsflash: Eric Gordon is amazing. Michigan kept it relatively close near half because Gordon was on the bench with three fouls.
– A few local AA-list celebrities at the game including:
* Coach Carr with wife Laurie at mid-court. He got a huge cheer when they showed him on the screen.
* Coach Rod with a few new staffers (see pic). Both coaches spent some time with Florida grad and supreme hotness Erin Andrews.
* Joe Dumars courtside checking out the talent.
* Sam Webb of WTKA.

– As far as the arena, it was at best 40% full with large portions of the Maize section empty. Four of us walked up to Crisler without tickets. A few different fans handed us free tickets within minutes.

Elsewhere:
– Carty reacts to the Jay Bilas comments. He inserted the entire Bilas comment on Beilein in the post then reacts. Check it out.
– mgoblue.com publishes Coach Rod’s entire new staff. Glad to see he retained equipment manager Jon Falk, keeper of the Little Brown Jug.
– MLive published the audio of Rich Rodriquez’s interview with Jim Rome from yesterday. I’ve got it here:

Update Postgame:

Eric Gordon: Money!

And in case the Indiana blow-out wasn’t out of your mind yet, the IU Blog Inside the Hall runs a little film session on Eric Gordon demonstrating the super frosh’s ridiculous range. The set? You bet: Crisler arena.