[Ed.  Originally posted in 2010, a repost for the anniversary of this important day in Meechigan football history.  And if you love Kryk, and I know you do, get STAGG vs. YOST now!]

1910 Headlines 

Guest post by JOHN KRYK of Natural Enemies – (Follow John Kryk on Twitter)

On Friday, Nov. 4, 1910, Michigan authorities cancelled the showdown football game scheduled for the next day between the Wolverines and the University of Notre Dame on old Ferry Field, now site of UM’s track and field oval.  In a nutshell, the Wolverines contended that at least two Fighting Irish players were ineligible under the rules of the game contract, and when Notre Dame refused to sit them out, Michigan pulled the plug on the contest, and, as it turned out, on the series for the next 32 years.

As I wrote in the two incarnations of my book Natural Enemies, just who was right and who was wrong is difficult to ascertain, because the status of the disputed players rested on the vague and variant eligibility rules of the day. That each side devised interpretations to suit its position, then steadfastly defended that position, should come as no surprise. Nor should the explosions that followed.

Michigan had literally taught the game of football to Notre Dame, in November 1887. For the next 21 years, the teams played off and on, with  Michigan always winning. Small-fry colleges in the Midwest, such as Notre Dame at the time, were always desperate to get a spot on the football schedule of a Midwestern giant such as Michigan, and when they failed it could devastate them. But as I first wrote in Natural Enemies in 1994 (13 years before Mike Hart popularized the analogy):

In Michigan’s eyes, Notre Dame was just the pesky kid brother who refuses to understand he can’t always hang out with the big boys. And when kid brother goes off whining to the other small fry on the block, well, big brother couldn’t care less. But kid brother was determined to prove he belonged. Indeed, for the next two decades, Notre Dame aspired to be everything that mighty Michigan already was in athletics.

In 1909 Notre Dame finally defeated Michigan in its ninth attempt, 11-3 at Ann Arbor. It was the only blight on an otherwise landmark year for Yost and his Wolverines, who knocked off defending national champion Penn in Philadelphia, and Conference champion Minnesota in Minneapolis. The loss rankled Yost and his team, because Michigan was observing the new Conference rules that barred freshmen and limited player eligibility to three years, while Notre Dame was still wantonly playing freshmen and four-year men. More »

13. November 2015 · Comments Off on Natural Rivalry Resumed (1942) | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2015 · Tags: , , , , , ,

1942 Notre Dame Michigan

This week we mark Saturday’s anniversary of the resumption of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry in 1942, when your beloved #6 ranked Wolverines traveled to South Bend and crushed on the #4 Irish.  But to understand the significance of that day, we first take a trip back to November 1910 to understand why the rivalry was originally cancelled.  Go Blue, Beat Irish!

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 Saturday starting at 11:30am.

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11. September 2015 · Comments Off on TWIMFbH – Winning the September Heisman (2009) · Categories: 2015 · Tags: , , , , , , ,

moes

tatesi_thumb

Admit it.  Perhaps not to the extent of @mgojen, but you have a few fond memories of the RichRod era.  You squealed like a little girl when this happened back in 2009:

 

It was indeed a fantastic moment in an otherwise rough stretch.  All this happened six years ago this Saturday so why not?  It’s the subject of This Week in Michigan Football History:

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 when they lace them up in Ann Arbor.   See you out there.

 

Script:

While Rich Rodriguez’s tenure in Ann Arbor was widely a struggle, it certainly wasn’t without its moments. One of those came on this day 6 years ago, and Charlie Weis and his #18 ranked Fighting Irish visited the Big House for what would prove to be another epic chapter of the great rivalry between our storied programs.

The Wolverines got the upper hand early, as over 110,000 fans saw the Blue jump to a 14-3 lead thanks to a Brandon Minor run and at the end of the first quarter and a blazing 94-yard kickoff return by Daryl Stonem.

But the second quartered was owned by the Irish as quarterback Jimmy Clausen tossed a pair of touchdown strikes to receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Weis waddled into the locker room up 20-17 and certainly felt pretty good.

coach weis

But there was fight left in the the Wolverines and they didn’t back down. After freshman qb Tate Forcier found Kevin Koger for a short touchdown pass in the third, the stage was set for an epic final stanza.

Early in the fourth Forcier had Michigan in Irish territory when we he took the pigskin on a classic RichRod quarterback zone read, juked one defender out of his jock and went 31 years untouched into the South End Zone – saluting the fans on his way as he crossed the end zone.

But Notre Dame countered with a pair of touchdowns and with just a couple minutes to go the Wolverines trailed 34-31. From there Forcier when back to work and moved the Blue down the field, barely escaping disaster along the way and burning quickly through the remaining timeouts.

Finally – with just 11 ticks left – Tate took the snap, shuffled back and found Greg Mathews in the end zone right in front of the Irish band. Meeechigan prevailed 38-34 and another brilliant chapter of the rivalry was written.

For more, check out WTKA.com and MVictors.com.

[Ed. This was originally posted July 31, 2011.  I’m reposting again for Notre Dame week once again, this is one of my all time favorites.]

Yost was such a beauty.

yost_with_mike

Up on eBay right now is a 1910 panoramic postcard featuring the Wolverine football squad that season.  In the realm of postcards this is a choice collectible—and the seller is asking $600 for it.

While we’ve seen various postcards featuring squads from this era, what caught my eye is the special addition to the gathering–the white bulldog mascot at Yost’s feet (inset left).

I slung the photo over to my pal John Kryk (Natural Enemies) who, after a laugh no doubt, wrote me back suggesting ol’ Yost probably put the pooch in the photo to counter the antics of then Notre Dame coach Shorty Longman and his bulldog mascot “Mike”.

Longman was a player on Yost’s point-a-minute squads but even after he took the coaching reins in South Bend, Shorty kept his permanent home in Ann Arbor.   In 1909 the Irish defeated Michigan 11-3 in Ann Arbor for their first win in the series.   As Kryk wrote in Natural Enemies, apparently after that historic game Shorty outfitted “Mike” with a little jacket that advertised the 11-3 score and was known to parade him around town.  Ugh.

Michigan and Notre Dame were scheduled for a rematch in 1910 but the game was abruptly cancelled due to a contention over the eligibility of two of the Irish players.  [Ed. Kryk broke down the whole thing here in an excellent guest post.]

While we don’t know for sure when (in 1910) this photo was taken, it’s safe to say that one way or another Yost included the conspicuous canine as a response to Longman’s “Mike”.  And speaking of postcards, here Shorty’s best friend featured in a 1909 Notre Dame postcard:

notre_dame_Mike

So…either Yost captured Mike for the team photo, or more likely he rustled up a Mike lookalike and had his tailor work up the cute little jacket.  My only regret—we can’t confirm that FHY put a big fat ‘bite me’ on the dog’s jacket.   If I had to guess, it would have read something like, “Michigan – 1909 Champions of the West” as a stick in the eye to Notre Dame’s similar claim.

1909 U-M Bentley Library team photo

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Related: Teaching Them Modern Football (1887)

In the intro of this week’s edition of ‘This Week in Michigan football History’, I said, “Time will tell if this tonight’s battle will be talked about for decades to come…” 

1 - blimp Well, it didn’t take much time to make that assessment and you can have that answer now if you’d like it.  Yes, this will be talked about for decades to come.

I don’t know exactly where that stacks up in the pantheon of historic games and finishes but it’s got to be near the top of the list.  Certainly the fourth quarter was the wildest I’ve ever witnessed, right above the 1995 Virginia tilt and even the 2004 Michigan State game. 

Bullets:

  • The Credit.  Denard’s getting all the accolades this morning, some of it deserved, but I think the performance of the receivers is really underappreciated.  On the replay of the telecast I heard Herby suggest that Denard intentionally/strategically underthrew some of those balls.  Ummm, no chance.  I just saw several weak tosses that were basically up for grabs.  And thankfully most of the time an M man came down with it including the game winner to Easy Treezy.   Vincent Smith Score - Notre Dame
  • Best Toss of the Game.  I don’t think you could see this on ESPN when Vincent Smith made his amazing TD run (pic above) on the screen.  (And BTW-what a nice call by Borges.)  Anyway, after Smith scored he tossed the ball in the air—right into the hands of one of the members of the Irish Guard
  • The Big Man is Back.  I’m not sure how I missed Stevie Everitt on the sidelines during the game in his signature Big House Football shirt, but I did.   Thankfully he popped into the postgame interview.  I noticed on my way home that my website blew up with search engine hits on “Steve Everitt” and I was afraid the big guy was in some tragic accident or more likely, killed someone.  [UPDATE:  Somehow I managed to catch the big guy for a few words in the postgame.  He was a tad confused but whatever, here’s the audio.]
  • Passing Leach.  Denard passed Rick Leach into first place all-time for Michigan rushing by a quarterback.  That also moved him up to #3 in Big Ten history in the same category.
  • Wisdom.  My 5 year-old watched the replay of the Shoelacerooksi and told me, “Well, that was easy.”
  • Poms.  I joked about the maize poms-poms in a pregame tweet but I must say they looked incredible at the end of the game.
  • 9/11 Tribute.  I thought the 10th anniversary tribute was nicely done and scrolling the victims who were Michigan graduates on the big screen was a nice way to recognize them.
  • Program.  Order a commemorative program from the game, if nothing else to impress your friends.  It’s packed with history on this great rivalry from the likes of John Kryk (Natural Enemies), John Borton from The Wolverine and even a tiny bit from me on the first night game.
  • Print Media.  Speaking of printed material (and I realize most of you may rejoice in this), a night game puts enormous pressure on those in the print media to get their columns in before the deadline to go to the presses for the Sunday edition. (Here’s the AnnArbor.com mega guide).  The way things played out obviously this was a nightmare for those guys.  I’m guessing many a column was half written heading into the fourth quarter and ended up on the press box floor.  On the sunny side, they pulled out all the stops in the press box for the media on hand.  Witness the butter dish of victory:

butter dish 

Here’s my “MEGA GUIDE” from the big weekend:

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Support the guys that support sites like this and this and this—that’s Moe’s:

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10. September 2011 · Comments Off on This Week in Michigan Football History – Remy Steals Powlus’ Thunder (audio) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , ,

remy_hamilton_michigan

On this historic day, how about a look back to one of the most memorable in Michigan history?

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07. September 2011 · Comments Off on Night Moves – Michigan’s First Name Game (1944) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , ,

[Ed.  Adapted from a couple posts from 2007.  Yes, there were a few blogs around back then.]

While Notre Dame will be Michigan’s guest for the first night game at the Big House, did you know it was Bo Schembechler’s 1982 Wolverines who played in the inaugural battle under the lights in South Bend? The Irish upset the 10th-ranked Wolverines 23-17 on that historic evening in front of 59,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium.

But that ’82 game wasn’t the first time the Wolverines played at night, as that tradition started nearly 70 years ago.  On September 23, 1944, Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines traveled to Wisconsin to play The Hilltoppers of Marquette in a game that kicked off at 7 p.m.

As part of the war effort, Michigan had several players on the roster as part of the Navy’s “V-12” training program. To enhance the supply of college-educated officers, the Navy rolled out V-12 in 131 U.S. schools. Those enrolled were considered active duty personnel, required to adhere to strict military rules and discipline. One of those rules prevented any member to be away from the “base” (the campus, in this case) for more than 48 hours.

To accommodate the 48 hour rule and to play a game on the road as far as Milwaukee, Fritz Crisler’s crew left Ann Arbor at around 1:30pm Friday afternoon and arrived at Marquette that evening. Crisler held a brief practice under the lights and even employed a maize-colored football.

The ’44 game against Marquette was the first time the teams met since 1909, a tight 6-5 win for Fielding Yost in his ninth season at the helm of the Wolverines. Coincidentally Marquette was at the center of a controversy over the rightful owner of the distinction of ‘Champion of the West’ that season between–you guessed it–Michigan and Notre Dame. The Irish seemed poised to claim the title after beating the Wolverines for the first time in their history in November 1909, but on Thanksgiving Day, Notre Dame and Marquette battled to a scoreless tie. A debate ensued among sportswriters and in the end they favored awarding the mythical honor to Michigan.

Marquette was looking to avenge that 6-5 loss from 1909 when Crisler and his men returned in 1944.  While Fritz would have preferred to play the game in the afternoon, many on his staff were open to the idea of playing under the lights. One Michigan coach told reporters, “Variety is the spice and maybe we’ll like night football. Who knows?”

They liked it well enough, defeating Marquette 14-0 in front of 20,000 fans, despite fumbling that maize pigskin (which was also used in the game) a whopping eight times. (One reporter even suggested Michigan caught a bad case of "fumblitis”!)

After the win the team quickly hopped the train back to Chicago and arrived in Ann Arbor late Sunday morning—safety within the 48 hour required limit of the V-12 program.

Related:

* eBay Watch: Yost Gets a Dog to Get Shorty’s Goat (1910)
* Vintage Michigan Man

 

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07. September 2011 · Comments Off on Hoisting A Legend · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , , ,

Author Bill Roose was kind enough to send along an excerpt from his new book on Desmond Howard titled, “I Wore 21: The Legend of Desmond Howard”.  The book is dropping this week around Ann Arbor and will be available at the game on Saturday.

While we’ve all seen the famous photo of Desmond making ‘The Catch’, how about this shot from page 69 of I Wore 21 of Howard celebrating with the lineman and the madness over in the student section?  Look at the faces of the guys running up to him:

iwore21

Side note: I’m probably in that photo somewhere, over to the left.  It’s up there with Woodson’s 1997 interception in East Lansing as the greatest Michigan catch I’ve witnessed.

Here’s a clip from chapter two, Grbac talking about the play:

Quarterback Elvis Grbac is still amazed by what Howard did that day. “I threw the ball up and it was really incomplete, to tell you the truth,” Grbac said. “Then at about the 5-yard line, Des looks up and he goes into another gear and absolutely runs by the corner and there are not too many guys who can do that. "That was a catch that just propelled him through the entire season, because now once we got inside the 20-yard line, people were like, ‘OK, what’s he going to run? Nobody’s going to stop him.’ After that ND game we could do whatever we wanted with Des.”

Looking forward to seeing my classmate and Heisman Trophy winner honored on Saturday.

More details on the book and where to find it here.

04. September 2011 · Comments Off on Ending Early · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

From the official game release:

This is the first Michigan football game to end before all 60 minutes of regulation have been played.

Well kind of.  And I’ll clarify in a minute.

It’s certainly not the first Michigan football game to end before the planned allotted time.   Most notably two of the most famous games in college football history ended early:

  • The 1902 Rose Bowl (the first bowl game ever played) ended with plenty of time on the clock because Yost, Heston and crew were putting a colossal smack down on Stanford.  From the Bentley:

    With eight minutes remaining in the game, Stanford captain Ralph Fisher approached the Wolverine bench and offered to concede; Michigan consented.

  • While this game yielded the Little Brown Jug, the great 1903 Minnesota-Michigan battle between the Western powerhouses also ended early.  The common story is that after the Gophers scored a late TD to tie the game, the Minnesota fans stormed the field and the coaches agreed to call the game. (I’ve heard other claims that approaching weather was a factor in the decision, but haven’t seen much evidence to back that up).  The Sunday November 1, 1903 Minneapolis Tribune says the game ended with “but a few seconds left to play.”  The Detroit Free Press from that Sunday said two minutes remained, headline: 

Freep Nov 1 1903Detroit Free Press  November 1, 1903

As you can imagine they were a little more liberal with the clock in those days, and there were many times when the teams agreed to end the game, mostly due to the Yost beat down that was going on. 

The great John Kryk of Natural Enemies emailed me with some brilliant stuff, explaining this further:

It not only happened often during Point-A-Minute years (and before) as a result of Yost maulings, but in those days the full 70 minutes (two 35-minute halves) were ONLY played when the opponent was of sufficient strength or reputation.

For instance in 1901 Michigan played 10 regular-season games. Only two (Chicago and Iowa) had halves of 35-35. This was by mutual agreement.  Games not only could, but usually were, shortened by mutual agreement.  Sometimes it was even put into the contract a year before.   For instance, the halves were only 20 minutes long in Yost’s first game vs Albion.   Against Pop Warner’s Carlisle team they were 27.5 and 27.5 — obviously a compromise between 25 and 30.

This practice continued at least until the end of the decade. By the early 1910s, with the change to four downs, 100-yard fields and 60-minute, four-quarter games, the practice of pre-determined or ad-hoc shortening was eliminated.

I’m sure there have been other anomalies over the years.  Only one I know of, because of my research focus, is the 1943 Michigan Notre Dame game. The M stadium scoreboard clock malfunctioned, and players and coaches couldn’t believe how long the 3rd quarter was going.   It became evident that it had stopped for a long time. Crisler, Leahy and the officials agreed that they’d probably played (I think it was something like) a 23-minute third quarter, so by mutual agreement they played only a seven-minute fourth quarter.

So in that way, yesterday’s was the shortest 3rd quarter in modern times, and that 43 ND game was the longest.

That is raw historical horsepower, people.  [Get yourself some Natural Enemies if you don’t have it.]

So back to the athletic department line, it’s probably correct that this was the first game since they enacted the standard 60 minute clock to end early.  That said, you certainly can’t dismiss that this happened several times during the Yost era, including in two very famous games.

Related stuff from Saturday’s game:

  • Herron vs. Harmon – Longest Interception Return Ever?
  • Last Weather Delay (Photos from ‘06)
  • Head for The Hills
  • Brady Hoke Arrives…
  • Big House Seat Cushions