The Wolverine

April 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2022 Game #33: October 1, 1938 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor BACKGROUND INFORMATION There was only one minor adjustment to the rules in 1938. The rules makers ob- served the impact of the "hash marks" and the best place to spot the ball on a play that ended near the sideline or out of bounds. In 1938 the distance from the "hash mark" to the sideline was increased from ten yards to fifteen yards. That was it, no other changes were made for the upcoming season. (Herget, Page 115) Game number thirty-three of the an- nual football "blood-letting" between Michigan and Michigan State took place, again, in Ann Arbor. This was the fourteenth consecutive time that the game was played in the Tree City and the twelfth straight game at Michigan Stadium. The Spartans had fared well in Michigan's gigantic football home. Michigan State's record in the Wolver- ines' new lair was 4 wins, 5 losses and 2 ties. Not bad, not bad at all. Coach Charlie Bachman had five straight successful seasons under his belt in East Lansing. He had engineered four consecutive victories over the Wol- verines. His five-year coaching record now stood at 32 wins, 8 losses and 4 ties. Bachman's winning percentage was just over seventy-seven percent (.773). By all measures, the Spartans had earned the title of best football team in the State of Michigan during his ten- ure. Could he keep up the great work or would things change? Speaking of change, things changed in Ann Arbor after the 1937 season. Un- fortunately, Fielding H. Yost and Michi- gan had seen enough of Harry Kipke, which meant that his contract was not renewed. Faculty Representative Ralph Aigler, a man who would become a fan "unfavorite" in East Lansing, persuaded Fritz Crisler to come to Michigan. Af- ter some negotiating, Crisler agreed to become Head Football Coach and As- sistant Athletic Director under Mr. Yost. Crisler had an impressive playing career under Alonzo Stagg at the University of Chicago. He enjoyed successful head coaching stints at Minnesota and Princ- eton. Michigan believed that Crisler was a perfect fit for the Wolverine football program. Only time would tell if he would be good enough to get Michi- gan back among the best in the Big Ten Conference and in America. Although Harry Kipke was gone, he was not totally forgotten or unap- preciated. He left several great players (Tom Harmon, Forest Evashevski, and Ralph Fritz to name a few) for Crisler to work with. The Wolverines failed to post a winning season after the National Championship year of 1933. Their re- cord from 1934-1937 was disturbing at 10 wins and 22 losses! Michigan's "win- ning rate" was only about twenty-four percent (.241). Coach Fritz Crisler had nowhere to go, but up! The question was, "How long would it take to turn things around in Ann Arbor?" The time had passed for empty speculation, let the 1938 season and the Fritz Crisler Era begin! GAME SUMMARY: MSC 0, UM 14 The Fritz Crisler Era started brilliantly at Michigan with an upset win over the favored Spartans. Crisler threw all kinds of surprises at the Spartans, starting with some crazy looking helmets. Actu- ally, they did not look that crazy since the Spartans took the field with their own Black and Gold winged helmets. Michigan, instead of wearing their tra- ditional black helmets, had a blue helmet trimmed with a maize wing and multiple stripes that pushed to the back of the BAD BLOOD Barry Gallagher's New Book Looks Back At The Entire History Of The Michigan-Michigan State Rivalry The following is an excerpt from Barry Gallagher's new book, "The Nasty Football History Of Michigan vs. Mich- igan State." It can be purchased at the M Den, Amazon and Split Mitt. See ad on page 11 for more information. This passage examines the first game of a new era for Wolverines football under head coach Fritz Crisler. Not only did the coach's tenure start against a rival, but the team also unveiled a new look they would make famous — the winged helmet.

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