[Ed. A modified repost from January 2011 & the last time Michigan Man was tossed around..during the last coaching search]
The term Michigan Man hasn’t been this hot since Bo dropped his epic blast at outgoing coach Bill Frieder. This of course happened during the last coaching search and it prompted Hoover Street Rag, UMGoBlog and a pre-SI/pre-practicegate Rosey to serve up excellent discussions centered around the Michigan Man concept.
We know the use of the term goes way back, certainly before Bo used it so famously. Heck, we know that Bo dropped this on Mark Messner during a last ditch recruiting trip in the mid-1980s:
Bo walks over, just hands me a tape and says [Messner in perfect Bo voice]: “You’re a Michigan man and you belong at Michigan.” And got back in the car.
I don’t know if there will ever be a true “source” of Michigan Man because as I understand it, it’s piggybacking on the concept of the ‘Harvard Man’, which I believe was simply extracted from England and the ‘Oxford Man’ or ‘Cambridge Man’, for instance. The Great Gatsby, chapter 7:
“And you found he was an Oxford man,” said Jordan helpfully.
“An Oxford man!” He was incredulous. “Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit.”
“Nevertheless he’s an Oxford man.”
“Oxford, New Mexico,” snorted Tom contemptuously, “or something like that.”
Anyway, I did a quick search to find the phrase and nabbed a century-plus old source of it being used in the context of a U-M grad in a coaching position. Vanderbilt was coached by a former M player, assistant and Yost’s brother-in-law Dan McGugin. Frank “Shorty” Longman coached Notre Dame but went to Michigan and played for Yost from 1903-1905.
When Michigan scheduled Notre Dame in 1909, check out this passage from September 12, 1909 edition of the Free Press:
Flash forward to 2014, when recently reader Brian Snider found this cool article eBay in the Michigan Daily dating to 1905 concerning the construction of the Michigan Union, where the subheadline mentioned Michigan Men:
And we know the label ‘Michigan Man’ goes back further than this. Author John Kryk (Natural Enemies) told me he found its use “predates Yost” and he’s come across references from the 1890s.
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