~ ~

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Michigan fans are chattering non-stop about their three-year reign of basketball excellence these days. (And by "basketball", they mean "men's basketball".) Kudos to them for crawling out of the sludge in recent seasons, but what impact might this short-term run have on their so-called "All-Time Wins Record" in football? After all, it's going to be hard for them to reconcile three-year perspectives with their famous rugby teams of the 1880s and 1890s. Without those rugby games counted as "all-time wins", the UM numbers drop off considerably.

But not necessarily in 1883, when the University of Michigan Rugby Club won their only game of the year on this date in history, March 12.

Wait, March? For "football"? Who plays football games in March? Nobody does, but back in the covered-wagon days, the rugby players had an exhibition scrimmage, reportedly attended by zero spectators. And they won the game, 40-5, over the "Detroit Independents". There is no recorded information available about the "Detroit Independents", leading us to believe that they were a very independent group, indeed! So independent that they really didn't exist beyond that field on that day.

But the proto-wolverines needed a win badly, as their "all-time wins record" at that point was 2-3-1. So they lined up a group of bodies and got the win. Hail to the victors, eh?

It would be neat to say that they won one for their Coach, but there was no coach of that team. They like to keep track of the "event" as a football win, but there was no tackling below the waist allowed, and no forward passes, either. Those five points by the nobodies was probably a field-goal, which was worth more than a touchdown on that day and for two decades to come.

The rest of their season was played eight months later, with three games between November 19 and November 27. They lost to Wesleyan, got pummeled by Yale, clipped by Harvard, and finished off by Stevens Institute. So they were 1-4, with only that one memorable triumph over the motor city nobodies.

Of course, this was before there was a "Motor City", because there were no automobiles. No cars, no coach, no fans, not really football at all. But the Michigan faithful ardently believe that it was a football game, and a victory, no less. Um, okay, whatever.

But that rugby game was not played in the last three years, so it doesn't really count, right? In fact, the all-time football record of the University of Michigan is actually 26-15, as history began for the Wolverines only three years ago.

Keep this one in mind the next time you see one of those yellow shirts with the silly "all-time wins" claim.

****** Click on NO COMMENTS (or # comments) below to enter and view reader comments. ----- Remember to check Spartan Headline links, updated real time, in the left column of (Web version only). *****Note: If you are receiving this post via automated email, you need to go to the site to view headline links and embedded videos in this post: (Web version only). SIGN UP TO RECEIVE POSTS VIA EMAIL, TWITTER OR FACEBOOK IN THE RIGHT COLUMN.*****

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please sign in using the method most convenient for you. We do not receive your login information. This function is provided by Blogger.