Winged Helmet Tradition

This simple idea of listing and classifying Michigan football traditions was originally developed in 2013.  Thanks for all the input from Craig of The Hoover Street Rag, David of @mgoshoe and the readers of this site.


  • Individual game or career accomplishments are verboten beyond events that transcend the field.  Heisman Trophies count.  The Desmond Heisman pose counts.  #Braylonfest” does not.   Tom Harmon’s exploits at Cal and Columbus in 1940 do not.
  • A tradition must take on a particular facet unique to the Michigan football experience or history.  “Tailgating”, for instance, is certainly a Michigan tradition won’t be listed below.
  • I put the traditions in the classifications below.  Traditions can move up or down over time.  [I recently dropped the ‘Legends’ program to the Bump Class.]
  • Traditions we don’t all like or are viewed as distasteful or uncreative (see the 4th down “You Suck” chant) are still traditions.

Winged Helmet Debut October 1, 1938 – The winged helmet appear for the first time vs. Michigan State

Yost Class:

Schembechler Class:

Crisler Class:

Oosterbaan Class:

  • Moe Sport Shops (Originator of Collegiate Apparel) (1915)
  • Announcing Slippery Rock Score/Game (1959)
  • Equipment Management (Henry Hatch / Jon Falk)
  • Founding membership in Western/Big Ten Conference (1896)
  • The Ghosts of Michigan Stadium (2000?)
  • Aerial objects:  Marshmallows (R.I.P.) / Toilet paper (R.I.P) / M flags on extendable flagpoles (R.I.P.)
  • Hawaiian War Chant/Temptation (mid 1950s) 
  • Whiskey & Brandy / Dogs running with ball on the field (1968) (R.I.P)
  • Chicago/A.A. Stagg Rivalry (1892)
  • Slippery Rock score/game PA announcement (1959)
  • Band Takes the Field / Tri-Service Color Guard / National Anthem Presentation
  • “It’s Great to Be..a Michigan Wolverine” chant (circa ? early 1980s)
  • The Mudbowl (1933)
  • Cowbell with ‘Go Blue’

Bump Class:

  • Fourth Down / “You Suck”
  • Michigan Football Legends Program – Numbers, Patch, Locker (2011=2014 – R.I.P)
  • MMB “Cake” Formation (1985)
  • Blue Brothers Dance (2008 Yost, 2011 M Stadium?)
  • Cheerleaders backflipping off the wall (R.I.P.)
  • Cheerleaders spelling Michigan in end zone
  • North / South Go Blue chant
  • Michigan Replay & the ‘Across 110th Street’ theme (R.I.P.)

Under Further Review/Bull Pen:

  • Roller Coaster (2015)
  • Honoring a Military Veteran during the game (2015)


Post feedback in the comments or via MVictors on Twitter (use #Traditions)


  1. Cool list!

    FYI, the drum major’s move is called “the backbend” and he carries a mace, not a baton. And you could throw an 1898 on the MMB as well (they organized earlier, but 1898 was their first season on the gridiron).


  2. Do you have any information of the origins of the varsity awards? Do second letter earners receive a watch; Do third letter earners receive an M blanket? I don’t know much about these traditions, but I have heard references to them.


  3. I think you’ve got a great thing going here, but maybe some adjustments could be made.
    How about re-classifying based on the originator (Yost/Crisler/Bo/Revelli/Canham/etc.) or the era the tradition originated in? And I suggest the MMB alone is worthy of both Revelli and Cavender groupings. To wit: IMO, the backbend and catching the baton (or mace) after it’s tossed over the goal post are two distinct “traditions.”


  4. Script OHIO since the MMB was the first to perform it and taught it to OSU.


  5. Big House moniker; Carl Grapentine, “Ladies and Gentlemen…”; Cheerleaders handstand race across endzone*
    * do they still do this?


  6. Bull winkle (= to 7 nation army)
    Ron Kramer bringing apples


  7. This may be lumped in with other MMB traditions, but after wins, the MMB plays the “Victors Waltz” and does the entire post-show with their hats on backwards.


  8. How about Keith Jackson and the “ghosts of Michigan Stadium”. I believe Lloyd started the tradition of taking the team inside a dark empty Michigan Stadium on Friday night before fall camp ended.


  9. How about adding the Slippery Rock University scores. This must date back to at least the ’50s as our high school band director (UM grad under Revelli) introduced us to it in the late ’50s. Great that Brandon or others restored the tradition during the past couple of years.


  10. I love this, Greg. Definitely agree that you need to add the Slippery Rock scores. These are way down the list (maybe Kipke Class?), but how about the talking traffic-lady cop at the corner of Stadium and Main entertaining the crowd as they’re waiting to cross; and the MMB drumline pregame show on the steps of Revelli Hall?


  11. love the list, its absolutely brilliant.

    my only comment is to say that I think winning the Big Ten should be the Yost Class. I think beating Ohio and winning the Big Ten go hand in hand (because usually they do!)

    besides that, I think its pretty spot on!


  12. I think the Blues Brothers dance moved over to the Big House in 2010. The MMB did a Blues Brothers halftime show for the opener against UConn, and part of it was teaching the student section/entire crowd how to do the dance.


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  17. Hey, Greg, great list. Suggestion or two: a portion of the MMB (pep band?) would walk around to different sections of the stadium and play a few themes: Dudley Do-Right; The Flintstones, I believe; and the one for which everyone yelled, Bullwinkle. When they played the latter, fans would put their hands up to the sides of their heads to make “antlers” and cheerleaders or band members would run around crazily.
    Here’s a clip:
    I thought doing this at games was hilarious and should be listed, at least in the Oosterbaan or Crisler class.

    Also, “Popcorn”: jumping up and sitting down at random. Do they still do that? Maybe Bump class.

    Do you have a Yost Ice Arena hockey game tradition list? (e.g. “Two minutes remaining… THANK YOU!”, “Goalie! Sieve!”, “Phone!!!”, “We want mooooore goals!!!”) That’d be fun to compile.

    Cheers and Go Blue from a ’94 alum.


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  19. Throwing the ball out of the end zone with crowd cheering “OVER!!!”. Passing coeds up in the student sections.


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