02. December 2014 · Comments Off on Worshipping the Varsity Man · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , ,

Check out the latest edition of Michigan Today for James Tobin’s piece on the Yost’s fight to build Michigan Stadium.  It narrows in on a few folks that represented the opposition to not only the new stadium, but the culture of football itself during the period.   We’re talking the mid-1920s during the first major football arms race (when giant stadiums were popping up all over the place), and some struggled with the new found popularity (and off-field revelry) that followed the growth of the sport.

The piece also includes this clip of Yost at practice in 1928 –FWIW this was after the stadium was built and Yost’s coaching days were through:

A few choice quotes – starting with Robert C. Angell, one of the leaders of the opposition:

As for the players themselves, Angell said, only a few did more in class than maintain their eligibility. Nearly all their time and energy went to the sport. “Their diplomas cover a multitude of intellectual sins.”

But the athletes were only “a few drops in the bucket of university life.” What harm could football possibly do to the thousands of other students who simply showed up to cheer?

Well, said Angell, every autumn, football became a kind of addiction for students, “many but mildly, some seriously.” The sport seized “a monopoly of undergraduate conversation… A scientific theory or a piece of fine poetry has not a chance to squeeze in edgewise.

“Around the dinner table, in one another’s rooms, walking to and from classes, the chief topic for discussion is the team’s make-up, its powers, its chances for the next game…”

And all this talk hauled students’ attention away from the real purpose of college. Their focus was not the mind but the muscles, not clashing ideas but clashing bodies on a field of battle.

“The worship of the man who can throw a forward pass thirty yards…is not likely to turn…impressionable youngsters towards the fascinating problems of science, history and literature.”

And beyond the campuses, Angell said, big-time football was exerting “a subtle degrading influence” on the public’s opinion of education.

Because of press attention to football, he said, now “the ‘college man’ is proverbially an individual with little to do but drink, make love, and cheer for the team.” That influence, in turn, was attracting “pleasure seekers with no intellectual interest”—and “how can we hope to stimulate a love of knowledge in students like this?

Yost naturally didn’t take kindly to Angell’s comments, and offered this rebuttal:

“This same Robert C. Angell is a former member of the Varsity Tennis Team,” Yost fumed in a letter to the press. “He played with racquets and tennis balls purchased by the Athletic Association. He played on tennis courts built and maintained by the Athletic Association. He went on out-of-town trips and had all his expenses paid by the Athletic Association. He wears the ‘M’ Hat and ‘M’ Sweater awards he received from the Athletic Association. The money for all these items was taken from the earnings made by these horrible football men.”

The Michigan Daily sided with Yost and offered this in an editorial:

“What are the objections?” the paper’s lead editorial asked. Angell was attacking intercollegiate football as a whole, they said, not the proposal for a bigger stadium. And that was plain nuts, since “football is here to stay.”

In that case, they said, “one finds it hard to understand how a stadium of 75,000 seats will have a more detrimental effect on the student body than one of 45,000.”

If there were any good reasons not to build a bigger stadium, the Daily taunted, the critics should state them, “but the mere fact that freshmen idolize the Varsity man is hardly a valid objection.”

Check out the entire piece here.

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10. October 2014 · Comments Off on Getting Wild About Harrys | 1930 #TWIMFbH · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Michigan Purdue

For tomorrow’s evening affair, a trip back to 1930, a season that started with a double-header(!) in front of only 13,000 fans but was notable nonetheless.  In that year coach Harry Kipke got things working and started a string of 4 consecutive conference crowns.   October 11, 1930 was week 3 when his Wolverines faced defending league champ Purdue.  This game also marked the debut start of would-be superstar quarterback Harry Newman.  Check it out:

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 3pm.


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[Ed. With the talk of boycotting Saturday’s game (or at least the kickoff), a repost.  It’s not the first time there was talk on campus of boycotting a home game, although the circumstances in 1931 were quite different. Originally published in July 2011.]


I rarely feature ticket stubs on eBay Watch but this one is pretty unique.  In 1931 the Western Conference agreed to schedule a full slate of games to benefit a fund for the many Depression-era unemployed worker at the end of the season.   The league also agreed the games would count in the tight conference standings.

A full unused ticket to the game between the Wolverines and Wisconsin on November 28, 1931 went up on on eBay:

Wisconsin Ticket Stub
Check out the backdrop of the stub with the football player tossing a bag of loot (“A Forward Pass”) to the mass of needy onlookers with arms outstretched.

It’s actually not a shock that this ticket appears to be unused given the story of this one.  Charity be damned, barely 9,000 fans (some reports say only 7,000) bothered to show up for the game.  This ticket sold for $1, others went for $2.  Regular season ducats went for between $2-$3 that season.

Why the poor turnout?

Well, it seems that early in the process of determining the match-ups for the charity games, it was decided that Michigan would square off in the Big House against Northwestern.  The teams had shared the conference crown in 1930 and were near the top of the standings again.  Thinking they could raise more money by putting Northwestern in Chicago’s Solider Field, a couple weeks before the date they changed course and pitted the Wildcats against Purdue. Michigan was left with Wisconsin.


Everyone in Ann Arbor – from Fielding Yost to the editors of the Michigan Daily — went berserk.   After the Badgers were assigned, director Yost told reporters, “This whole thing has been such mess that I won’t even venture a conservative guess on how many will turn out.  It won’t be many.”

The Daily suggested a boycott.  Students were quoted saying they “wouldn’t give a nickel” or even “cross the street” to see a weak Wisconsin squad.

Ironically the biggest benefactor of the whole event, which raised $154,000, might have been Michigan.  Northwestern ended up losing to Purdue 7-0, so those who watched Michigan defeat Wisconsin 16-0 actually saw them earn a share of the league title.

The Wisconsin win propelled Michigan into the next two championship seasons when Kipke and crew won back-to-back national titles in 1932 and 1933.

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03. October 2014 · Comments Off on Neil Snow Wants Beer, Gets Beer | #TWIMFbH (1902) · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , ,

Koppitz-Melchers Brewery For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History, we head back 112 years to arguably the greatest calendar year in Michigan football history.  That’s right I said it.

While that’s up for discussion, there’s little doubt 1902 was one of the finest for Michigan athlete Neil Snow. 

On January 1, 1902, Snow tallied 5 touchdowns in the inaugural Rose Bowl.

Back in Ann Arbor my man Snow the undisputed was big man on campus #BMOC, and the folks at the Koppitz-Melchers Brewery of Detroit put an ad in the Cornell-Michigan baseball program telling everyone how much Snow loved their beer.  Of course he didn’t consent to the ad.

Here’s how that all played out, as well as the game played on October 4, 1902:

The full story of the 1902 beergate tale here.  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 starting tomorrow at 3pm EDT (4 hours prior to Rutgers getting their butts kicked).


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Synopsis: They might be chicken but we’re the jive turkeys.  

No, the season is not lost but what happened last night was worse as anything that has happened in recent years – seriously – including last year’s beat down in East Lansing.   Oh yes, it got ugly (ironically, mostly Chicken Little sky is falling) on WTKA on Sunday morning.  A reminder to callers, please recite your fandom credentials BEFORE your rant, please.  Oh and the Twitterverse was less than kind to the current #1000SSS regime.  

Hope is not a strategy but..that’s my strategy.  And bourbon.

Peacock Trolls:  Nice to know NBC Sports is trolling this site…did you see that photo and brief mention of Yost’s dog?    I wonder where they got that?

More »

Many of you know the story—For those who don’t read on.  For those who do, skip to the bottom for a little Jug update.

PANIC(!) erupted in mid-September 1931.   The coveted Little Brown Jug, the symbol of the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry, vanished from the U-M Administration building.   A frantic search ensued sending media relations man Phil Pack (think of a vintage Bruce Madej) all over town chasing leads.  Based on a tip Pack even searched a few cider mills..but those visits proved fruitless.  /wink

Then, on November 19, 1931, the very same week of the Minnesota game that season, a car pulled up to the Tuomy Hills gas station (now the Bearclaw Coffee at the corner of Washtenaw and Stadium) with four men wearing “dark goggles.”   One of the disguised passengers rolled out a jug onto the pavement & it was scooped up by gas station attendant K.D. Smith.   While initial reports were skeptical of the authenticity of the crock, which was said to have been “freshly painted”, Fielding H. Yost himself inspected it and said it was indeed the real McCoy.  A local sports writer said Yost was full of it, calling it “a clever imitation.” 

Michigan retained the jug in 1931 but then headed back to Minneapolis in 1932.  Yost went along on the trip (Harry Kipke coached the squad) and was bombarded by the press with questions on authenticity of the trophy.   Old “Hurry Up” told them, “Why sure, it’s the real jug.  Take a look at it.  Does it look like a phony?”  [memo: Yes, it more than kind of looked like a phony apparently.]  Thankfully the Wolverines retained the jug in 1932 and Kipke, Yost and crew traveled home with the prized piece of stoneware.  And since we’re all friends here, I’ll add that U-M went onto to an undefeated season and took the 1932 national championship.

Then in 1933…on this day eighty years ago…another jug appeared on campus.  A little media outfit named the New York Times reported thusly:

1933 New York Times

Now Yost confirms that this is the authentic jug (effectively admitting he tried to pass off the “gas station jug” as the real deal).  The Grand Old Man claimed ignorance on what happened or who was involved with the thievery and the return, but openly asked for the person responsible for keep the jug the last 2 years contact him.

The full timeline events from the 1931 disappearance is here.   And all of your Little Brown Jug Lore is here.


Note 1: Commemorative?:  Attention Jug fans and Jug Brotherhood.  My spies tell me that the outfit that undoubtedly spun and kilned the original Brown Jug, Red Wing Pottery, are considering issuing a commemorative jug in honor of this special season which is the 110th anniversary of the 1903 6-6 tie (that launched the LBJ rivalry) and/or the 100th meeting between our two schools.   Nothing firm..but I’m efforting the details.  Stay tuned.

Note 2: Fourth and Long:  Unconfirmed…but there might be a little shoutout to the Jug and a Jugologist in John U.’s soon-to-be released book, Fourth and LongGet it now!

Note 3:  Follow MVictors on Twitter 

Michigan Football Tickets

** H/T goes to Craig Barker of The Hoover Street Rag for dropping this tasty morsel into the very rich with tradition Michigan Football History Calendar, effectively validating why we creating the calendar in the first place.

20. August 2013 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Michigan’s Grand Old Man Laid to Rest (1946) · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , ,

Michigan Football Tickets

On this day in 1946 Michigan lost its Grand Old Man—Fielding H. Yost.   This was an eBay Watch topic back in 2009 thanks to the auction of a press wire photo from Yost’s funeral procession, held on from August 22, 1946 in Ann Arbor.  The photo depicts the casket and his pallbearers:

For as many times as you’ve speculated that Yost was rolling over in his grave, now you’ve got an idea of what he’s rolling in.  Curiously the gent who composed the photo caption spelled Bennie Oosterbaan’s first name correctly (with the “ie”, often butchered as Benny) but laid an egg hammering when it came to his last name (“Oosterbaum”).  Bah.

The caption of the wire photo reads “GRAND OLD MAN OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL LAID TO REST”.

I can’t summarize Yost’s impact on Michigan athletics in a single post and won’t really try to.  While he was not a man without flaws, he leveraged his incredible success on the football field along with his business acumen to lead U-M to build an athletic campus (for men, for women, and in spirit, for the people of the State of Michigan) that was years ahead of its time, with iconic structures like Yost Field House, the U-M Golf Course, and of course Michigan Stadium still standing and very much operating today.

The day Yost passed must have been a sad day for everyone in Ann Arbor and for the college football world in general.  Except maybe in South Bend.  It was probably a similar feeling as we had a few years back when we lost Bo or to Buckeye fans when Woody passed on.

BTW, and speaking of Woody’s demise…creepily this is not the first time a coffin has appeared on eBay Watch, as in 2008 I featured the auction of Bob Ufer’s makeshift coffin for his Woody Hayes doll:



Originally posted  March 21, 2009

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05. October 2012 · Comments Off on TWIMFbH: Case Closed, Ghost Trapped, Yost Opened (1923) · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , , ,


Cigars, Ghosts, Field Houses and Yost.

You get a little bit of it all and more in this week’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History.  Enjoy:

Want more?  Check out:
Yost Steps off the Sidelines, for now 
Leathernecks Help Dedicate Yost Field House (1923)


You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.   Listen to it live tomorrow on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or catch it live at the Wolverine Beer Tap Room.

Just a reminder the segment is sponsored by Stadium Trophy which has partnered with WTKA on its ‘Michigan High School Scholar Athlete of the Week Award’ segment.  

1974 Rose Bowl MichiganSalute!  via Dr. Sap’s archives

The Stanford Cardinals (yes, s) came to town exactly 39 years ago Saturday and surely braced themselves to face Bo Schembechler in the 1973 home opener.   TWIMFbH gets into that game and much more.  Have a listen…includes a couple salutes to the great Bob Ufer:

As discussed in the clip, the boys from Palo Alto hold a special place in Michigan football history as they were the lambs opponents vs. Fielding Yost’s undefeated, untied, and unscored upon Point-A-Minute crew in the 1902 Rose Bowl.   Staring at a 49-0 deficit with eight minutes still left in the game, the Indians found the only white towel that wasn’t blood-stained and waved it, begging for mercy.  It was granted.

Fast forward nearly four decades and it was once again Stanford who faced another one of the finest Wolverines squads in history—this time Fritz Crisler, Bob Chappuis and the Mad Magicians of 1947.  Once again Michigan hung 49 (to Stanford’s 13) on October 4, 1947.

Bo Schembechler didn’t hold back either when the Cardinals visited in ‘73, thirty-nine years ago this Saturday, in fact he practically beat the “s” of the Stanford nickname (although that wouldn’t officially happen until 1981), winning 47-10.

But ‘73 is better remembered by U-M fans by the vote of Big Ten commissioners that occurred at the conclusion of the regular season.   We salute you (see bumper sticker above) and We Never forget!

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.   Listen to it live tomorrow on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or catch it live at the Wolverine Beer Tap Room.

Just a reminder the segment is sponsored by Stadium Trophy which has partnered with WTKA on its ‘Michigan High School Scholar Athlete of the Week Award’ segment.