The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew.  The 1950 squad featured team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl and won the conference title with a 6-3-1 overall 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 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 over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus—a game that will forever be known as 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:


A shirtless, unruly 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 maneuvers, 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:

[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

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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

room

At halftime Coach Mattison told Doug Karsch "..they’re getting us on the same play..".  Above (click for poster size) is what it looked like all day.  Hats off to Air Force and I’m not taking anything away from the Falcons.  As you know, they ran that thing to perfection.     It seemed the U-M corners did their job – engaging the block, containing the corner and forcing the run inside.  It’s just that the inside was a gaping hole you could fit a Stealth Bomber though..let alone any one of Sam McGuffie’s brothers.

That was close.  If Air Force could have done something/anything else, namely, toss it downfield more than 15 yards, or execute a fake kick, or execute a real kick, I think we’re 0 and 2.

On the other side of the ball, it’s amazing how numb we’ve become to Denard’s exploits.  Denard’s performance seemed to be an afterthought on postgame the talk.  We untie our shoe laces, compose songs and videos about how much we love the young man, and sleep in #16 jerseys but I just get the sense that his performance yesterday was met with a fat yawn.  Four TDs and 416 total yards, 200 each on the ground and air and those 2 ridiculous scoring runs?  I get that it’s coming off the Bama game where he was smothered but sheesh.

And…that concludes the MVictors game analysis.  Onto the #’M’iscellanea:

Indulging just a little:  Regarding The Michigan Daily’s ‘Resist Temptation’ campaign to get students and fans to replace chanting “You Suck!” with “Defense” before fourth downs.  I only was able to catch one instance outside in the 4th quarter, but from the Air Force sideline I can tell you it sounded like: “DEE—SUCK”.  (Pretty close to “DEEZ NUTZ!”, which would have been awesome).  Also – while there was a lot of space with 10 minutes before kick-off, it looked like the students filed into the Big House at a better than average clip?

Double Zero Indeed.  Our AFA visitors made fine guests as expected and the team played beyond admirably.   But one bone to pick with my sky blue buddies.   The team nickname is the Falcons and apparently they bring a couple of these impressive creatures on road games:

mascot

So why, given you’ve got those badass falcons, do you have that silly/cartoonish feathered mascot walking around who goes by the name, “The Bird”?   They don’t even call him ‘The Falcon’ or Francis the Falcon or whatever.  It’s just ‘The Bird’.   Here’s me giving you the bird, Bird.

The two Devins:  Added to the postgame press conference hall of shame was the fiasco The Devinsaround the media trying to figure out how to address individual questions to Devin Gardner or Devin Funchess,  as the Two Devins were trotted out to meet the press at the same time.   The Wolverine’s Michael Spath asked the first question and intentionally addressed the question to “Devin” as a joke, but that didn’t help matters.   More than a few times the players had to ask for clarification as to whom the question was addressed and it got silly.  “The old one,” was offered up at one point to clear up the confusion, making Gardner, who was trying to be a bit stoic, crack up.   Props to WTKA’s Steve Clarke who directed the final question to “Number nineteen”.    I was going to direct mine to “number square root of 144”.

More Funch:  Speaking of Clarke, he asked #19 what the players call him.  Funchess said they call him by last name or “D Funch”.  I’m going with Hawaiian Funch, or as @stuba2 on Twitter suggested: “Honey Funchess of Oats.”

#NDRG:  Coach Hoke said earlier this year that he likes when things get a little chippy in practice.   Weeeelll, Coach Hoke himself got a bit chippy with the media after the game.  This isn’t the best example of that but it’s the most fun.  Here’s Mike Rothstein of the four letter mother asking about “the ‘non-Denard running game’” and Hoke snorting at the new phrase:

The Fitz & Frank boost:  Regarding the #NDRG…based on today’s game I loaded the data and crunched the numbers on what would have happened in Dallas had Fitz and Frank suited up for the Wolverines.   Average final score after 10,000 simulations:  Alabama 41, Michigan 14.

Tight Spiral.  Spotted pregame, Tim Hardaway outside Crisler with a nice delivery although he needs to bring that arm across his body a bit more and dial down the wrist action.

9 - Hardaway tossing

Oosterbaan.  Looked like they did a real nice job with the Bennie O. ceremony and I love the choice of Jake Ryan to don the #47.  While Oosterbaan, like everyone who suited up in his day, played offense and defense, he was best known for his work at WR.  But I dig that the coaches aren’t necessarily pigeon-holing the Legend jerseys to the positions the player was known for.  If they didn’t it would get weird after a while, with offense skill positions dominating the Legends jerseys. 

Onto #87.  That said…I do think it would be cool to give Ron Kramer’s #87 to a tight end next week and I think the big debate will be whether they’d be willing to offer it up to a freshman, namely Mr. Funchess.  We’ll see.   I know some folks won’t be down with the idea of handing over such an honor to an unproven freshman, but if all signs are that Funchess is a good kid, I say why not.  And for the coaches it means it’s something they won’t have to worry about again for several years.

Elsewhere:

Air Force content on MVictors:

MVictors on Twitter

Via U-M Media Relations

Oosterbaan Recognized as "Michigan Football Legend," Linebacker Jake Ryan to Don Famed No. 47 Jersey

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan Athletic Department officially recognized Bennie Oosterbaan as a "Michigan Football Legend" today (Sept. 8) during a pregame ceremony of the Michigan-Air Force football game.

Junior/sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) will change from No. 90 to No. 47 for the remainder of his career in honor of Oosterbaan. A patch over the left upper chest will be affixed to the No. 47 jersey worn by Ryan and all other future players donning Oosterbaan’s jersey number.

In addition to the permanent patch, Oosterbaan will be featured in a special area to be designed and constructed in the soon-to-be renovated Schembechler Hall. Also, the lockers to be used by No. 47 in both the Schembechler Hall and Michigan Stadium locker rooms will be customized to reflect the fact that Oosterbaan will forever be a Michigan Football Legend.

Oosterbaan was a three-time All-American (1925, ‘26, ‘27) at end for Michigan, becoming the first of only two three-time All-Americans in Wolverines football history; Anthony Carter is the other player to accomplish the feat. Oosterbaan was a nine-time letterman at Michigan, earning three letters in football, basketball and baseball. He was the Big Ten touchdown champion in football, the Big Ten batting champion in baseball and the Big Ten scoring champion and the first Michigan student-athlete to be named a first-team All-American in basketball.

Following graduation in 1928, he turned down contracts from professional baseball and football organizations in order to join the Michigan coaching staff. He served as an assistant under Fritz Crisler for 20 seasons and was U-M’s head coach from 1948 to 1958, compiling a 63-33-4 record. During his tenure, the Wolverines won or shared Big Ten titles three times, won the 1951 Rose Bowl and captured the national championship in 1948.

Former players Ron Kramer, Gerald Ford and Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert also will be honored as "Michigan Football Legends" during the 2012 season. Following are the dates for recognizing legend status for those former players:

· Ron Kramer (No. 87) — Massachusetts (Sept. 15)

· Gerald Ford (No. 48) — Illinois (Oct. 13)

· Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert (No. 11) — Northwestern (Nov. 10)

Desmond Howard was the inaugural Michigan Football Legend, honored in 2011 during the first night game in Michigan Stadium history. Howard’s No. 21 jersey is worn by senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) in 2012.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off on Provisioning for Michigan Stadium 2012: Bridge is Closed version · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , ,

bridge

A couple updates on my annual post of what to bring to Michigan Stadium.  This year local police have added a few other items to pack:

“Bring a dose of patience, a sense of humor and some excitement for the game,”

Check.  Check.  (Yes, we have those.  We were around from ‘08-‘10).  And Check. 

Why?  The Stadium Bridge is still closed and I’m guessing there will be quite a few folks who traditionally rely on that route to get to the stadium coming from the north and east sides of the state.   AnnArbor.com posted a map, etc.   For those finding discovering this little issue today here’s your t-shirt:

You should also bring your history tidbits and you can get all those here:

  • TWIMFbH: Bo Shows ‘The U’ How We Do Things (1984)
  • Oosterbaan, Banners and Books
  • Honoring Oosterbaan: An Interview with Ben McCready
  • This Week in Michigan Football History: The Incomparable Bennie Oosterbaan & September 25, 1948
  •  

    Here’s what else to bring:

    gear_thumb

    1. AM/FM Radio. Forget the latest incarnation of the radio that sticks on your ear, they are unreliable.  Bring in a radio you trust to listen to the play-by-play from Brandy and Beckmann. You’ll get injury reports, sideline observations, statistics and analysis of key plays that are under review (although Brandstatter always seems to think the replay will goes Michigan’s way).   Probably most critical: with the radio in your ears you can block out the blabber from the idiot nearby who won’t shut his Twizzler hole, as he gives his personal play-by-play and screams down to the coaches from row 87. 

    2. M Lid. While not an absolute requirement, it certainly helps to keep that sun from beating down on you.  For those in the North end zone or east side of the field, could be critical.

    3. Digital Camera. You never know who you’re going to see at the game or what live action you might catch. 

    4. Tickets & Lanyard. Obviously you’ll need those tickets to get in but for the big games I always try to bring in a lanyard to hold the ducats. If nothing else, it makes for easy access to display the ticket on the way back into your section.   It also provides some chest coverage if you decide to peel.  (P.S. Take a hard look at those tickets in the pic – anyone know what game that was?  Avert your eyes!)

    5. Your Wallet. Where you keep your bread, Daddy-o. I don’t care how many beers and brats your jammed in your greasy skull at the tailgate, you’ll need at least a drink or two and something to eat at the game.

    6. Seat Cushion. It serves so many purposes. First, it marks your spot in the tight M stadium rows. Next, it provides some comfort to your bony butt.  Finally, it actually gives you an extra inch of torso height above the guy in front of you—really.  Don’t think that matters? Try it sometime – it does.

    7. Phone/PDA/Blackberry. In case something crazy happens you’ll need to call your boys. And the “other scores” communication at M stadium is lackluster at best.  You’ll need your device to keep current on the big games of the day, and follow the latest tweets and Facebook blasts.  (P.S. The comedy relief on Twitter during the Alabama game saved me and others I’m certain.)

    8. Keys. While most the folks in my section have keyless entry to their luxury sleds, you still don’t want to forget your keys. Keep them in your pocket.  And P.S. — It is no longer cool to shake your keys during a “key play”.

    9. Seeds. A personal preference of the but I always enjoy a few seeds to help cut the tension.

    10. Shades. Similar reason as the hat. If you’re in the North or East sides of the field they are mandatory. Wear them for no other reason than to hide your pickled bloodshot peepers.

    Optional #1:  the handheld Fan Vision unit.  I haven’t heard them promote the device this year, interested to see if they’ve added some features or views or improved the quality.

    Optional #2:  Especially this year – invest $5 in a game program!  Check out the history features (hint, hint).

     

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    07. October 2011 · Comments Off on TWIMFBH – Crushing The Cadets and “Kramer of Michigan” (1955 – audio) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , ,

    This Week in Michigan Football takes a look back to Saturday October 8, 1955, when Michigan took on Army in front of 97,000 at the Big House.

    Michigan prevailed that day 26-2 for its first win over Army.  I touch on the game but talk a bit about the legend Ron Kramer who passed away last fall.

    As always, you can listen to it out before the KeyBank Countdown to Kick-off on WTKA 1050AM tomorrow, or click play now:

     

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

    image For more on Kramer’s life, check out his book, co-written with Dan Ewald, That’s Just Kramer!

    As discussed this weekend, Dave Brandon said he planned to extend an offer to the families of U-M players who’ve had their jersey number retired to be honored as Michigan Football Legends.

    bennie_oosterbaan

    If those families signed off, that would mean U-M would effectively “un-retire” those numbers and have them join #21 in the Legends program with a dedicated locker, a special patch on the jersey along with some prime, dedicated real estate in Victors Valhalla* inside Schembechler Hall.  

    As mentioned I’d like to see this happen and I hope those families eventually agree to do this. 

    Of course we won’t ever see a timetable from State Street for this to happen, so I sought out Ben McCready, the godson of Bennie Oosterbaan, to get his thoughts. 

    "I would love to see #47 on the field again," McCready told me.  "It would remind players and fans, old and new, about the incredible playing and coaching legacy of the greatest athlete in the history of the University of Michigan."

    McCready also recently contacted a couple of Oosterbaan’s closer living relatives and found that they were also supportive of the Legends concept.  "They loved the idea," he shared.

    So—this is far from official and we’ll see where this goes from here, but I see this as excellent news.  If the Oosterbaan family steps up and supports the program, perhaps it’ll set a precedent for families of the other M men with retired numbers to climb aboard.

    Photo via U-M Bentley Historical Library

    * ok, I made up that name but I like it.

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    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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    01. October 2010 · Comments Off on This Week in Michigan Football History: Yost, President Coolidge and the 1926 Wolverines · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , , , ,

    The Mighty Wolverine Pack (from this eBay Watch post)

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

    This time we head way back to October 2, 1926 for the season opener in Fielding H. Yost’s final year as head coach, and the last season the Wolverines would play at Ferry Field.  You get a little history on Yost, on the state affairs on the construction of the new stadium (it was a mess), and on a special trip out east where Yost and the boys met President Calvin Coolidge:

    The sponsor is Wolverine Beer so here’s where you can find it, or check out the Beer Wench’s Blog.  I’m still waiting to have my first Wolverine beer, perhaps some day soon.

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

    Check out these videos of Yost and the players from the U-M Bentley Historical Library: