The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 206 of 275

THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 205 Don James (Coached 1966-67) Don James is best known as the Hall of Fame head coach of the University of Wash- ington, but he also spent two years at Michi- gan under head coach Bump Elliott. The Wolverines went 10-10 in his two seasons as defensive coordinator, but he helped lay the foundation for future success with his recruiting efforts. Mr. James passed away Oct. 20, 2013, at the age of 80. James was 178-76-3 as a head coach at Kent State and Washington. From 1975-92, he went 153-57-2 at Washington and led the school to six Rose Bowl appearances, including four against Michigan. The first came in 1977 when, led by quarterback Warren Moon, the Huskies beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He went 2-2 in his four Rose Bowls versus U-M, but his biggest win came in 1992 when Washington had the most dominant defense in the country, beating the Wolverines to finish 12-0 and earn a share of a national title. James played quarterback at Miami, grad- uating in 1954 with a degree in education. He went on to serve as a commissioned sec- ond lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was as an assistant coach at Florida State and Colorado in addition to Michigan. He was an unknown when he arrived in Seattle in 1975, taking over for Jim Owens. James is survived by his wife of 61 years, Carol, their three children and 10 grand- children. Irv Wisniewski (Lettered 1947-49) Michigan has had many Ohioans on the football roster over the years, and Toledo's Wisniewski became one of the best, both on and off the field. He earned entry into the Woodward High and Toledo Halls of Fame, entered the service and then attended Michigan, becoming a two-sport, four-year letter athlete. Mr. Wisniewski, affectionately known as "Whiz," died Feb. 26, 2014, at age 89. Wisniewski served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Second Lieutenant, instructing B-29 bombardier crews. He then played end on the 1947 and 1948 teams that won the national championship, the former ending the season with a 49-0 pounding of USC. He also played basketball on the '48 team that won the Western Conference championship and was the first University of Michigan team to be invited to play in the NCAA Tournament. Wisniewski went on to serve as line coach and offensive coordinator at Delaware, as well as head coach of the basketball and golf teams. He was inducted into the Univer- sity of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame for his coaching in 2000, and to the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 2006. Wisniewski's legacy lives on in the Varsity Day Camp in Pinckney, Mich., for boys and girls ages 6-13. Tom Peterson (Lettered 1944, 1947-49) Tom Peterson came to Michigan to study architecture, but it wasn't long before he answered his calling and started studying to become a doctor. He also happened to be an outstanding football player, becoming one of the "spinning fullbacks" for Fritz Crisler's famed "Mad Magicians," a team ESPN still calls one of the 10 greatest college football teams of all time. The 1948 squad followed the 1947 team in going undefeated, finish- ing as national champions with Peterson as leading scorer. "It would be unfair to compare those teams," Peterson told The Wolverine a few years ago. "There were a lot of different people, and there was a lot of different em- phasis on things. But we were very happy to come through in '48 the way we did, because '47 was really an outstanding group." Dr. Peterson died peacefully at his home in Ann Arbor on March 27, 2014, his family by his side. In his 35-year medical career, Peterson not only gained an outstanding reputation for his work with patients, but also helped re- shape the landscape of college football with his studies on knee injuries and subsequent drive to ban the cross body block — a major culprit in serious knee traumas — spurred by a study included in the Jan. 19, 1970, edi- tion of the Journal of the American Medical Association. He was also an outstanding gentleman who remained true to the Wolverines until his death. Frank Gusich (Lettered 1969-71) Former Michigan head coach Bump El- liott, with former assistant and future Wash- ington head coach Don James at his side, recruited Frank Gusich to Michigan, but Bo Schembechler was the one who ended up coaching him. The linebacker quickly earned a starting spot and was once referred to as "Superman" in a 1971 Sports Illustrated article due to his mild-mannered demeanor off the field, and his fierce competitiveness on it. He was back in Ann Arbor every few years for reunions with the 1969 and 1971 teams. "It means I have an opportunity to get back to Ann Arbor every second or third year to see my teammates," Gusich told in 2011. "The frequency of these get-togethers is an important factor in why both of these teams remain so close after all these years." Mr. Gusich passed away April 1, 2014, at age 64. Gusich enjoyed a Hall of Fame career at Cleveland St. Ignatius before choosing Michigan, where he co-captained the 1971 Big Ten championship team, a group that was only 12 seconds away from going unde- feated. The Wolverines led Stanford, 12-10, before the Cardinal kicked a field goal to win the Rose Bowl and spoil U-M's perfect season. Success followed him after he graduated in 1972. He worked and lived in Cincinnati until 2002 before relocating to New Orleans, was the executive vice president of M/G Transport, an inland river transportation company, and overcame open-heart surgery. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and two sons, Mike and Brad. ❏ Irv Wisniewski helped the U-M football team win national titles in 1947 and 1948, and he was also a member of the first Wolverines basket- ball team to play in the NCAA Tournament. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS 204-205.Obits.indd 205 6/19/14 12:40 PM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2014 Michigan Football Preview