[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew. The 1950 squad featuring team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl took the conference title and finished with a 6-3-1 record, dropping games to Michigan State, #1 ranked Army [played at Yankee Stadium), and to Illinois. Despite a tough start the team rallied to win their final three games in conference and added the great victory in Pasadena.

You probably can’t say this for any Michigan Rose Bowl champion, but the win over Cal in Pasadena was not the definitive victory for this team. That distinction will always be reserved for the game held a little over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus–The Snow Bowl.

The week leading up to the game was somewhat normal for a November in the Midwest. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), Columbus experienced 38 degree temperatures and rain. By 8am Friday morning the thermometer sunk to 5 degrees and it snowed off and on for most of the day. The forecast for Saturday was a chilly 15 degrees and possible snow, but Friday evening to early Saturday morning things took a wicked turn:


Shirtless, hairy beast with bad teeth seen outside Ohio stadium? shocker

During the night, a storm moving up the Carolina coast pumped Atlantic moisture like a fire hose westward to meet the southward blast of frigid air. The clash of these two air masses reached full fury over Ohio and western Pennsylvania, paralyzing the region with heavy snow, gale-force winds and near-zero temperatures. Pittsburgh lay under a 16-inch snowfall with another foot forecast, forcing cancellation of the Pitt-Penn State game. Southeastern Ohio measured 14 plus inches. Transportation across the state ground to a halt.

As game time drew near the field was buried and around 50,000 brave fans huddled beneath the Ohio Stadium stands and waited to take their seats. A meeting was held between the schools to decide whether to play the game that included Ohio coach Wes Felser, Ohio athletic director Dick Larkin, Michigan AD Fritz Crisler and Oosterbaan. There had yet to be a Big Ten conference game canceled for any reason and this game held greater significance. If the game wasn’t played, Ohio State would earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. But Larkin knew (and certainly Oosterbaan and especially Crisler reminded him) that Michigan could potentially earn a trip to the Rose Bowl with a win. Ultimately Larkin gave the green light and remarked, “We’ll just have to do the best we can.”

When the game started, the teams did the only thing they could. Run a play or two and then punt rather than risk a turnover.

Michigan entered the game third in the conference standings behind the Buckeyes and Illinois. During the game word made it to the Michigan sideline that Northwestern upset the Illini meaning a Wolverine victory would send Oosterbaan and company to Pasadena.

The decisive moment came with time running out in the first half as Fesler made a tactical move that probably cost him his job, as described by Sports Illustrated:

On third and 6 at the Ohio State 13, Buckeyes coach Wes Fesler instructed [Heisman Trophy winner Vic] Janowicz to punt with Ohio State holding a 3-2 lead. Only 47 seconds remained in the half and it is likely that Ohio State could have run out the clock. But Michigan’s Tony Momsen — whose older brother Bob played for the Buckeyes — blocked the kick and then fell on it in the end zone, closing the scoring in a 9-3 Michigan win.

Thanks to WolverineHistorian, a few clips from the game:

 

The statistics from the game are remarkable:

  • Ohio State had 41 yards of total offense, Michigan 27.
  • The Buckeyes actually attempted 18 passes, completing just three for 25 yards.
  • Michigan had no first downs; Ohio State three.
  • The teams punted a combined 45 times for a total of 1,408 yards.
  • The team fumbled 10 times but lost only one each.

There’s probably hundreds of other stories about the game from those who witnessed it. HBO’s The Rivalry spent a good portion of the documentary on the game providing some phenomenal footage. The BBC website pulled together an impressive recap and added this anecdote which will definitely get a chuckle out of any Michigan Marching Band fan:

..the Ohio State Marching Band, which considered itself the best in the country (and still does), was offended by an article in Life magazine which claimed Michigan had the best. Ohio State was determined to prove itself and arranged an elaborate performance for half time. However, the brass instruments were chilled and the mouthpieces frozen. It seemed it would be unable to play.

The band planned to silently perform its manoeuvres, which included standing together in a shape resembling a Buckeye leaf, while previously recorded music played over the loudspeakers. However, the determined band members got hold of some antifreeze for their mouthpieces and did the performance.

I’ll bookend end this eBay Watch with another item from the period. It’s a 1951 Michiganensian yearbook, featuring a few photos from both games, here’s a few pics from the Snow Bowl as displayed in the yearbook:

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Sources:
* From the Ohio State library 1950 OSU vs. Michigan, The Snow Bowl
* An excellent recap from The BBC Website
* Game footage from ohiohistory.com
* Weather Events: Blizzard Bowl
* SI.com on the 10 greatest games in the U-M/OSU Rivalry

[Ed. Originally posted Feb 7 2011, I’m moving this up front due to the 30th Anniversary]

I’ve been digging out a few interesting old stories on the periphery of Michigan football in recent days and here’s another story I think you’ll like.

You know Bob Wojnowski of course, the long time Detroit News columnist and the Nutter Butter-gobbling co-host of the great ‘Stoney and Wojo’ radio show from 1995 to 2009.

Wojo is a Michigan grad and cut his journalistic teeth at the Michigan Daily three decades ago.  In one of his final assignments as sports editor, he and Daily photographer Brian Masck became part of the story back in 1982 after they spent a few hours in a Columbus jail.

After midnight on November 20, 1982, the evening before The Game, the two were down on High Street taking in the sights and sounds with a few of their peers from The Lantern.  When a pickled reveler started cussing out the police monitoring the scene, the cops got rough–brutally shoving him up against a wall.  Masck questioned the police tactics and whipped out his camera hoping to capture the scene.

When the cops told him to put away the camera, Masck challenged the legality of such a request and was arrested.  The Daily later published this shot, the best Masck could manage:

masck photo

Meanwhile, Wojo saw this go down and protested Brian’s arrest (and also tried to fetch the car keys in Masck’s pocket).  Wojo was promptly arrested as well.

They spent a few hours in the Columbus clink before being released around 6 a.m.

Fast forward to the early 1983.   Once the “charges” were dropped against he and Masck, Wojo dropped this guest opinion piece/bomb (he was no longer editor) into the March 22, 1983 Daily.  I was going to highlight a few sections but it’s too good.  For those who have heard the story before I still encourage you to read this piece of vintage Wojo from the aftermath of this incident:

wojo-82

I’ll have a pretty interesting follow-up in the next couple days [Ed. It’s posted now]. I reached out and exchanged a few emails with Masck about all this and he shared some great stuff.  I asked him (not being snarky, I was generally curious) why he had his camera at with him at 1am-ish on High Street, back when cameras didn’t fit in your pocket of course.   You’ll love his answer.

Related:
Part II
High Street Blues (‘82 Daily arrests – Part Two)

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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)

image

[Ed 4/27/2011:  Originally posted November 19, 2009 – bumping up this interview with Ira and Mandich because you should hear it.]

Excellent interview this morning on WTKA 1050AM, as Michigan legend and current Miami, FL radio personality Jim Mandich dialed up Ira Weintraub to discuss Ohio State, 1969, the current team, Bo, Chad Henne and Jake Long on his Dolphins and much more.

Gotta love that he’s flying up to the big game on Steve Ross’s luxuriously private jet.

Definitely worth a listen:

.

You can hear all of the WTKA podcasts here, anytime.

One nugget in the Ohio State/Tressel tattoogate Notice of Allegations [full version] released today concerns the gold pants:

goldpantsprice

I’m not a memorabilia dealer but from hours of watching Pickers and Pawn Stars, I realize buyers need to leave themselves with plenty of room for profit.  That said, I think the players could have done better.

There happens to be a 2009 version on eBay right now listed for $745 which is around fair market value these days.  (Sadly the market is saturated):

image

Remember when Rick bought a pair on two of these on Pawn Stars not long ago?  He paid the seller $1000/each (too much).   And we’ve seen other auctions asking between $600-$700 not long ago.

Because there’s an established market, I think the athletes selling their pants should have asked for and received closer to $500.

The NCAA also requested more info on the gold pants award, to be returned as part of Ohio State’s official response:

statement

For starters, they can go to Coach Tressel’s website for a nice summary. 

I’d like to know the real “cost” to Ohio State which of course we’ll find out soon enough.  As Rick on Pawn Stars pointed out they are plated gold, and I’m guessing Ohio State will have to explain that some of the cost is variable based on gold prices.  Either way, I guessing the NCAA will be tallying up the cost of Ohio State’s gifts to the players in recent years.  It’d be something if they came back and said that the Buckeyes can’t offer both bowl rings and gold pants in a given season because the value of the gift exceeds current NCAA limits. 

Oh man, word is out that Terelle Pryor hocked his ‘gold pants’ charm, the prize Buckeyes get if they beat Michigan in the big one.  The tradition started in 1934,  Gerald Ford’s senior year, when then coach Francis Schmidt told his men not to fear Harry Kipke’s Wolverines because:

“They put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as we do!”
–Francis Schmidt, March 2, 1934

There are four sets of the gold beauties on sale right now:

The pants include the year, the score and initials of the player who originally owned them.

As a Wolverine this is funny but as a historian/memorabilian this hurts – really.  That a guy would toss this out on the market while he was still in school?  I almost understand a ring to the BCS game, but brother, not the pants!

Ed. 12/24 –  Sure enough, the auctions above were pulled from eBay :{

Here’s the next entry in ‘This Week in Michigan Football History’ to be played Saturday on WTKA 1050AM’s Key Bank Countdown to Kick-off pregame show before tomorrow’s battle against the Badgers.

This time we look back to 1976, as Bo was set to face off with Woody Hayes in the 8th battle of their 10 Year War.   Here’s the audio and it’s deeply laced with the voice of the great Bob Ufer and I love it:

A  hat tip to the great WolverineHistorian who compiled this collection of clips with Bob Ufer calls overlaid.  Watching Rob Lytle fly out of the backfield and break off those big chunks of years is a quite a spectacle:

The sponsor of This Week…is Wolverine Beer so here’s where you can find it.

You can hear all of the  This Week… clips here.

WTKA welcomed Dave Brandon with Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ on air this morning.  Brandon said he got a lot of nice emails last night and was clearly happy how things ended up. 

Here’s the audio, give it a sec to load:

A few notes:

  • "I’ve run public companies for the last 22 years. I’ve gotten pretty good at managing expectations.    A way to exceed expectations is to manage them [laughs].  We were in a situation where it was absolutely unclear what the ultimate decision was going to be and I wanted to make that known that it was unclear and the fan reaction was very helpful and very important."
  • He joked that he had 2006 U-M graduates emailing him explaining the importance of the OSU-UM rivalry.   "I knew that.."
  • "I don’t know how you lay it out any better for Michigan."
  • "We came out of this really, really well."
  • On determining division rivals.  Brandon said they "went back and forth" but in the end, decided that overall conference record wins division.   Tie-breaker is head-to-head, division record, then BCS rankings.  [Take: I don’t like using BCS rankings in tie-breakers.  Why let that goofy-assed system determine what we do in our league?]
  • On the Notre Dame rivalry. "We’re going to contract out several years, probably to 2014 or 2015.."  There’s a "handshake agreement" with Jack Swarbrick to continue beyond that.  But Brandon noted the nine game conference schedule will be a factor.

On Saturday’s game:

  • Joked about the condition of the roads.
  • Be in your seats by no later than quarter after three.  (I’d suggest 20 minutes minimum.)

Check out all of the WTKA 1050AM podcasts here.

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