While the business of college football (and in particular at Michigan) seems to be on topic more than ever these days, the financial bottom line of the U-M football program and its projects have been measured closely over the years. We know that Michigan’s share of the gate revenue from 1903 Little Brown Jug game was $13,000. To finance the construction of Michigan Stadium in the mid-1920s, Yost sold bonds that gave the owners special seating privileges in the new digs.
The cost associated with bowl trips has been watched closely as well. According to 1964 team captain Jim Conley, then-athletic director Fritz Crisler tried to seize some funds donated to the team that was designated to give the players a football charm celebrating their championship year. Why did Crisler want to such a thing? The team racked up some serious phone bills on their trip to Pasadena and the old man wanted to recoup the cost.
Up on eBay right now, a letter including the estimated budget for the trip then-Coach Crisler and his Mad Magicians would take to Pasadena to pummel USC in the Rose Bowl. First, the letter describing the logistics of the day and the nearly two day trek to the west coast involving stops in Chicago, Colorado, New Mexico:
And here’s the budget for the contingent including 44 players, breaking out to about $750 per player:
Perhaps the “Special Equipment” was the cloaking device or just your run-of-the-mill No Look Confusion Maker. Whatever it was it worked as U-M pummeled USC so bad it prompted the Associated Press to cast an unprecedented post-bowl vote to name the Wolverines national champions. I love how TIME Magazine described the beating Crisler’s men put down on the Trojans:
Southern Cal’s beefy bruisers, the West Coast champs, were not clubbed to death. They were just hoodwinked and whipsawed by Michigan’s slickers. Jack Weisenburger, Crisler’s sturdy spinning fullback, started most of Michigan’s backfield ballet and ball-handling hocuspocus, and chewed through the center of Southern Cal’s bewildered line for three Michigan touchdowns.
Southern Cal never really had a chance. Here’s how it looked:
I’m sure they enjoyed the train ride home.
Speaking of finances…the seller is asking $65 for the righteous letter.
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