[Ed. via Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis, an excellent extension of the Uniform Timeline.]
Guest post by Dr. Sap

From as early as 1968, Michigan has been a hodge-podge of shoe manufacturers until Nike changed all that staring in 1983. A recap:

Players are primarily wearing Riddell (black shoes with white & black trim around ankles) and Spot-bilt cleats, but some are adopting the “new” shoe – adidas.
Barry Pierson (#29) sporting the Riddell multi-studded Buckeye-killer cleat.
A good shot of all three shoes worn by Michigan in ‘70 (Spot-bilt on the far right).
In ‘71, a new shoe manufacturer was introduced – Puma…
…so now Michigan players were wearing four shoes: Riddell, Spot-bilt, adidas and Puma. clip_image009[1]
Another shoe manufacturer was added to the group in ‘75.  This one was from Quebec, Canada and had a very distinct design/logo on the side of the shoe.It was a multi-studded cleat that was supposed to provide superior traction on Michigan’s Tartan (not Astro) Turf playing surface.
In ‘76, a sixth manufacturer was added to the group – some new upstart company called Nike.Here’s Rick Leach is wearing Puma cleats, while Rob Lytle is opting for the new Nike shoes.
By ‘79, there was still no exclusive deal with just one shoe company, so Michigan Equipment Manager Big Jon Falk would recommend the shoe for each game depending on surface type and weather conditions.To the right here’s Stan Edwards rocking the Puma look on a dry, clear day in ‘79…
..but on a cold, dreary, slick day in 1980, #32 went with the Canadian/Quebec shoe for better traction. clip_image013
In ‘80, two new shoes could be seen on the feet of the U-M players: Converse and Pony.
When ‘82 rolled around, Nike was the predominant shoe worn by the Wolverines. The Canadian shoe company was around for inclement weather game conditions (see AC in last game in 1982), but Puma, Spot-bilt and Riddell were now out of the picture.
By ‘83, Michigan was an exclusive  Nike school [Ed. or near exclusive? Still trying to confirm] and this made Big Jon’s job a lot easier in that he didn’t have to manage 6 or 7 shoe manufacturers anymore.

For more, check out the Uniform Timeline.

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  1. Love that those shoes are all black shoes, or more specifically, at least shoes that are mostly black. I’m looking at you, adidas! Get with the program and give some old school black shoes! GO BLUE!

  2. My freshman year, 1981, many of the linemen were wearing Spot Bilt’s. They were a very heavy sturdy shoe.

  3. I believe each coach signed a deal with the supplier back then. The first school-wide Nike deal wasn’t until about 1994 or ’95.

  4. I believe the ’68’s and possibly later year studded turf shoes are Spot Builts. Long since gone, but pretty popular at the time.

  5. all black shoes and white socks are the best combo..

  6. The Barwis Effect

    In the 1970 picture, I’m pretty sure that’s a Spot-bilt in the lower right corner, not a Spalding.

    • Art, Tom & Barwis – Thanks, and after conferring with Sap the timeline is updated. Those are clearly Spot-bilt (clearly displayed in the 1970 shot as Barwis points out).