The new Schembechler Hall museum is quite a sight – definitely check it out next time you have the means.   According to #1000SSS “the Towsley Family Museum inside Schembechler Hall will be open to the public on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays throughout the year. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on those days and is free to the public.”

The best stuff (to me) is the memorabilia, the vast majority of it is on loan from the personal collection of Ken Magee, the owner of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.   A couple items of note.  Ticket to the 1898 Chicago game that inspired Louis Elbel to compose ‘The Victors’:

1898 Michigan Chicago - Ticket Stub - Louis Elbel the Victors They also have a press “ribbon” to The Victors game in the display case.

This made my jaw drop – a custom-engraved badge presented to the U-M team from the epic 1909 Penn game (held in Philadelphia), when the crew of the U.S.S. Michigan came to the game and helped rally Michigan to an epic victory:

1909 U.S.S. Michigan - Penn - Michigan game

Elsewhere – one downside is that despite being a (very) spacious facility, they decided (at least for now) to not include the Little Brown Jug— not even the replica that has been on display in the museum for years. 

That said, consider #1000SSS forgiven for including this note inside the display dedicated to the LBJ rivalry:

ActuallyThat’s probably not very interesting or significant to most fans, but I was thrilled when I saw it.   The myth of Yost asking for the jug’s return really came to light as a part of the Little Brown Jug Lore series on these pages, and specifically in Chapter 8: The (True) Origins of The Little Brown Jug Rivalry

P.S. I would have tied the ‘myth’ term in the sentence with Fielding Yost but I will leave well enough alone :)

P.P.S. Speaking of 1909, one ball on the Righteous Tower of Victory Pigkins (#RTVP) is of course from the Syracuse game that year.  The score on that particular righteous pigskin?  44-0.  /wink.

 

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Bo Statue

A few quick hitters on the Bo Schembechler statue.  I spoke to the artist, Brett Grill, a few hours before the unveiling tonight – a few nuggets:

  • Grill was identified by a art consultant that the athletic dept hired, and selected after a review of 3-4 other candidates.
  • The only guidelines for the design were that Bo would be wearing an ‘M’ hat and no headset (on his head that is).
  • He created 20-30 models, with different ideas on the pose, etc.  He eventually created a scale model of the design selected.
  • He interviewed family, friends and former players (including Jim Brandstatter & Fritz Seyferth) to understand as much about Bo as he could.
  • His parents are Michigan alums – before the project his knowledge of Bo centered around watching him on TV as a child.  Before the project Bo was more of a caricature (the guy Grill recalled yelling on the sidelines).
  • Statue is 7 1/2 feet tall, made of bronze.
  • He used actual Bo era artifacts for the project – including the headset and the Rose Bowl watch.
  • One challenge was getting the contours of the jacket correct—he actually used a vintage jacket found on eBay to help get it right.
  • Grill is an associate professor at the University of Missouri. 

Dave Brandon’s blog has more here.

 

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The Brotherhood of Jugsmen—those who have built replicas of the coveted Little Brown Jug— is becoming long and distinguished.  By my count we’re at 7.  And as an aside I know someone else sent me some photos last year but I lost track. If you feel worthy of membership by all means, send me your story and some photos.  I know there are a few Minnesota fans out that that are rocking replicas in their boat houses—let’s see ‘em.  Here’s the current list:

One of the earliest members of Local 1903 is Mark Foster and over the years he’s gradually stepped up his game.   Since creating a replica in 2010, Foster built a custom case for the jug and went onto to create subsequent replica jugs.   That brings us to reason for this post: Over the past year he decided to take this passion to the next level—building a replica of the chest that has encased the crock since the mid-1930s:

1935 Little Brown Jug Case

Here is Foster’s story in his words and photos:
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This project all started after I painted my second Little Brown Jug and I was going to make another wooden case to keep it in and my dad said, “No, this time you have to do it right.”  So we embarked on a LONG journey to completion and it couldn’t have turned out any better.

I scheduled a visit to Schembechler Hall on July 18, 2012, as Jon Falk was kind enough to let us come in and take photos of the real trunk that holds the Little Brown Jug, which was more than a treat in itself.  I sent him photos of the one I had just painted and told him we were interested in creating a replica trunk, so I assumed he knew we meant business! 

In the meantime, my dad went to Steinke-Fenton Fabricators in Jackson, MI to search out someone who would be knowledgeable in working with metal. They said there’s only one guy, Dave Freese of Jackson, MI.  He’s a master working with metal.  After the work he did for us with this product, he’s by far in my mind a “Magician of Metal” and he joined us in the visit with Falk.  My brother’s father-in-law, Brian Meredith, a highly skilled wood worker, also joined us as he would play a large part in the project as well.  My dad, Dave Freese, Brian Meredith and myself all went to Schembechler Hall for research/photos before starting the project.

Little Brown Jug Chest The official Brown Jug case at Schembechler Hall

Once the photos were taken and the research was done, Dave set off to construct the sheet metal for the sides, top and bottom of the box while Brian created the wooden box for the interior along with the interior velvet pillow/padding for the jug to rest in securely.  While that was being done, my dad and I began our search for the hardware.  Finding these pieces was next to impossible, even to the point of Dave stepping up and creating some identical replica pieces to the ones on the real trunk. Like I said, a magician of metal.  Others were found at various online stores and also Caslers Hardware in Jackson, MI came through big time for us.  One huge issue is that we could not find much of the hardware in brass. My dad called around to at least 15 shops across the US and only one would do brass plating for us, Acme Brass in Kansas City, MO.  Crazy right?

Once the hardware was all accounted for, the metal was complete and the wooden box finished, I set out to find a professional to paint the metal for us.  I was confident in my abilities to paint the jug, but painting something like this is well above my skill level.  I wanted to keep it local, so I checked around a few places in Chelsea, MI and came across Chelsea Restoration. I emailed them some photos of the box from our visit to Schembechler Hall and they accepted the project. I helped them pick out the colors and left them to it.

1 - pieces Fantastic job they did.  Once they were finished, we took the box and metal sides back to Dave’s house to put it all together.

1 - assemblingThese guys clearly mean business.  Guessing that tape measure only leaves his side at weddings and funerals.  Love that they have the photos of the original handy to cross check as they move along.

What a great project, we couldn’t be more excited to bring this to the Minnesota tailgates with us. In the meantime of the year it took us to make this project, I painted yet another brown jug and that’s going to be the one I house in the trunk, lucky number 3 I guess.  I can’t thank everyone enough for the hard work they put into this project.  Everything on the trunk is as identical as we could make it to the real thing, down to the number of brass round tacks bordering the sides. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Mark Foster - Little Brown Jug Case That’s Foster on the right in his epic man cave and the fresh 2003 Ohio State game jersey.  Love the authentic Schembechler Hall locker in the back, and the Yost signage.  True fan.

 

[Ed. Thanks Mark and congrats.  We’ll have to do Minnesota “radio row” next year with the full LBJ replica package.]

Get all of your Little Brown Jug Lore here and check out GBW Mag next month for some more Lore.

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Most people know the basics (or if you read this site, about everything you’d ever want to know) about the story of the Little Brown Jug.  To recap, back in 1903, Michigan and Minnesota’s powerful teams played in Minneapolis to a fiercely fought 6-6 tie.

jugoriginal

After the game the Wolverines left behind a five gallon stoneware water jug, purchased at a local store before the game.  Minnesota equipment manager Oscar Munson found it the following day or two and brought it to Director of Athletics L.J. Cooke.  In remembrance of their mighty tie they decided to give the jug its first paint job, scribing, “Michigan Jug – ‘Captured’ by Oscar, October 31, 1903,” on one side. On the opposite face they spelled out, SCORE, “Minnesota 6, Michigan 6,” making the Minnesota “6” three times larger than the Wolverines’ score.  Six years later Cooke and Michigan coach Fielding Yost agreed to play for the righteous crockery, something they’ve done 92 times now (if you count that 1903 game).

While the playing for the jug is of course one of the deepest and most replicated college football traditions, painting the jug actually is a practice that started before the teams even agreed to play for the pottery. After Cooke and Munson’s initial handicraft, the scores of the game have been painted on sometime after the game to this day.

The jug was split with two sides (Michigan on one, and Minnesota on the other) sometime after the 1919 contest.  The columns of scores were added in the 1920s, and it received a new design in the 1930s including a reformulated Minnesota block ‘M’ that we see today.  Eventually the four columns were inserted (two on each side) to hold all the scores of the games.

The Wolverines of course retained the jug this year after the dominant 58-0 triumph over the Gophers in Ann Arbor back in October.   As the final seconds ticked off, equipment manager Jon Falk handed the jug to the players who paraded the trophy around the field and over to the student section in the northwest corner of the Big House.

1 - molk and jug

After the game there was still one more bit of work to do before tucking the jug away for another season: the 58-0 score needed to be painted on.  For the past several decades, when the Wolverines win the crock, the primary owner of the honor of painting the score on the crock has been Jil Gordon, a local artist.

1 - gordon 1

Gordon was first involved with the football team back when her former husband Larry was a graduate assistant for Bo in the early 1970s.     Larry noticed that the team meeting room was bland and suggested to Bo and the other coaches that he had the solution—they agreed to let Jil spice it up.

“In the main meeting room, where they had the 8MM projector, right behind it, always was a theme for the season,” Gordon told me.  They asked Gordon to use her skills to decorate a wall each year, but she didn’t stop there.

“I’d do signs, all kinds of motivational posters,” she shared.   Gordon was even asked, on occasion, to do a few touch-ups around campus including the block ‘M’ above the tunnel in the Big House.

When it came to updating the score on the Little Brown Jug each season she was the natural choice, and she started after Falk’s first season in Ann Arbor in 1974.   After she moved out to California for a few years, Falk quickly restored her old duty she returned to live in Ann Arbor for good.

On the Monday morning following the big win over Minnesota this season Gordon was back at it.  In the Schembechler Hall equipment room, Falk placed the jug on a large, well-lit table. Jil carefully etched this year’s score first in a pencil outline.

1 - jil gordon 2

After an initial coat in black paint was allowed to dry for five minutes, Gordon went over the numbers one last time. Once it was done, Jon Falk tucked it away in a secret location in its specially-designed case for another year.

And for the most part, that’s it. There is the matter of the replica (often mistaken as the real trophy) that’s on display in the museum just inside Schembechler Hall. Gordon also typically paints that jug but this year when she was in doing the job on the official trophy, didn’t have the keys handy to open the display case.

She still does various touch-up jobs around the athletic campus and even paints the occasional honorary game ball for not only Coach Hoke (she did one with the ‘Under the Lights’ logo after the Notre Dame game), but also for Coach Beilein.

There are 92 scores painted on the jug dating back to 1903, including 67 Michigan wins, 22 for the Gophers, three ties (1903, 1933, and 1950) with just one slot remaining in the current four column configuration. So the big question remains: What will happen when we run out of space?

To steal Sam Webb’s phrase, my gut feeling is that if Michigan makes that call, Gordon and Falk will add some scores in the empty space above (and eventually below) the M logos for each team.   If anyone deserves to make that call it’s Falk and after all, it is technically Michigan’s jug—I’m sure there’s a receipt from 1903 somewhere.  This will cover us for many games to come and push off the big decision for a few decades.   We’ll find out what happens soon enough.

———————————————————————

Check out Jil’s website here (jilgordon.com).  Love the logos!  Gordon also designed the official Michigan M Vase and the Official M Carrier…because everything is better with the block M:

image

 

A few random notes, pics and takes in the aftermath a solid trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.    A few quick hitters:

New Orleans-20120102-00127

>> Hospitality.  File under you probably don’t care, but I’ll say it.  The media was treated first class by the Sugar Bowl folks.  Beyond being ridiculously courteous,  they provided excellent communication, were quick with the transcription of the press conferences, offered good food/coffee/drinks, workspace, logistics, etc.

They offered a couple nice gifts as well—a Sugar Bowl jacket and luggage tags.  It was very cool to be a part of it all. 

They also arranged for a 30 foot Po Man Boy (left).

>> Dome View.  The press box in the Dome is all the way at the top, here’s a fairly accurate look at the view from up top:

X - Press Box View

They did have video monitors rolling everywhere, along with a screen of live stat updates.  The ESPN feed appeared to be about 6-7 seconds behind the live action.

>> Fans.  I was surprised by the number of Virginia Tech fans that showed up for the game.  I thought Wolverine fans would overwhelm the joint but that didn’t happen.   There was still more Maize and Blue out there but to me, it was only a slight majority. 

One thing I noticed wandering around town—Michigan definitely had more students just in general, just a younger fan base in New Orleans.  The average Tech fan seemed to be a 60-ish year old man.

One fan in town was Ricky Leach:

New Orleans-20120102-00098

If this photo is crystal clear to you, you are probably on Bourbon Street right now.   (Polaroid seems appropriate, maybe I’ll give it to Moe’s).

>> Headlines.  The Times-Picayune from Wednesday morning:

New Orleans-20120104-00154

>> Locker Room.  A few folks asked about being in the locker room postgame.  Definitely a unique experience, the players seemed unfazed by having the media around and you truly got a chance to talk to these guys in relaxed setting.   Chatting with Molk was memorable—the guy was beaten & battered but giddy at the same time and gave some great lines.

IMG-20120103-00146

Many of the guys were clowning around, singing and joking as you’d expect.  I spotted one younger player getting his Sugar Bowl hat signed by the seniors.

>> I Can Confirm…that indeed Gibbons final kick never touched the Super Dome turf and I didn’t have to fight off Holly Rowe to make the grab. [video clip if you need it]

>> When it Works.  Here’s Fowler coming off the backside of the podium laughing basically because that whole scene with Hemingway and the Michigan alum from All-State was so perfect.   (And you know those podium presentations are typically horrific):

fowler

>> Vintage Michigan Since ‘74.  What?  You didn’t think legendary equipment manager Jon Falk would don the Pour Some Sugar on Me T?  Think again—here he is thanking and shaking hands with a police officer after the game as the confetti pours down:

falk

>> Museum Addition.  This will look good in Schembechler Hall.  Don’t forget they have visiting hours now for the public, so make sure you stop by to give it a look:

 

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Mo

gary moeller

Coach Gary Moeller was at Schembechler Hall this afternoon.  Don’t know the circumstances for the visit, but the no doubt the he had a few words for the coaches and team about Ohio State.  Moeller is a Buckeye grad and captained Woody Hayes’s squad in 1963. 

Moeller went 3-1-1 against Ohio State.

Looks pretty good, don’t you think?