University of Michigan Football is going through a rough phase right now, but the Michigan Wolverines are one of the storied programs in all of college football.
The Wolverine helmets are considered by many college football fans to be the best looking helmet design in the NCAA, while the OSU-Michigan Rivalry has traditionally been about as pivotal as any in football over the past hundred years.
Certainly, the Michigan Wolverines’ yearly battle with their cross-border rivals at Ohio State is as fierce as any in football.
Michigan has won the Big Ten title on 42 different occasions and has been voted into the year-end Top 10 AP Poll in 37 different years since 1936, when the AP Poll was the standard of college football. That is a record of excellence unmatched by any other college football power in that time.
University of Michigan Football Accomplishments
The Michigan Wolverines have claimed 11 national titles and 42 conference titles and have an all-time record of 877-302-36, for an amazing .737 winning percentage. Oddly, the Wolverines have a losing record in bowl games at 19-20, though it should be mentioned that Big Ten rules kept Michigan football teams from taking part in bowl games over most of a 40-50 year period, when the team was a perennial football power.
Michigan Wolverines have won 3 Heisman Trophies (Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson) and have had 77 Consensus All-Americans.
Fielding H. Yost
Fielding H. Yost was the first University of Michigan head coach to win a national title, collecting 6 throughout his Michigan career. Coaching in two stints from 1901 to 1923 and later in 1925-1926, Fielding H. Yost installed the “point-a-minute” offense and was key in the building of Michigan Stadium.
Yost was infamous during his playing career for switching universities from West Virginia to Lafayette to help Lafayette win the historic 6-4 game versus the Penn Quakers, which came to be known as the “Yost Affair”. Instead of returning to West Virginia the next year to finish his studies, as promised, Fielding “Hurry Up” Yost was coaching football.
Yost was hired by the University of Michigan football program in 1901, when he led the Wolverines to their first of 4 straight national titles (1901-1904). Yost would lead Michigan to two more championships in 1918 and 1923, along with 10 Big Ten Championships and an overall record of 197-35-12.
Though Harry Kipke had only a 46-26-4 record as the Michigan Wolverines head coach, Coach Kipke led the Michigan Wolverines football program to two back-to-back national championships in 1932 and 1933, along with 4 straight Big Ten titles.
Fritz Crisler and the Mad Magicians
Fritz Crisler would lead the Michigan Wolverines to the 1947 National Title, as his Mad Magicians squad crushed the USC Trojans 49-0 in the Rose Bowl to go undefeated. Crisler was the University of Michigan football coach from 1938 to 1947, and he went on to become Michigan’s Athletic Director. The University of Michigan basketball arena named Crisler Arena.
The University of Michigan football team won another national championship in 1948, the year after Fritz Crisler left coaching to become the Michigan AD. The team won Big Ten titles in 1948, 1949 and 1950, and the team defeated the California Golden Bears in the 1951 Rose Bowl Game. The next few years didn’t go so well, but Oosterbaan continued as Wolverines head coach until 1958, when he became AD.
With the highest winning percentage of any head football coach in the history Michigan Wolverines football, Bo Schembechler coached the Wolverines from 1969 to 1989. Schembechler’s teams were fundamentally sound, well-drilled and tough. University of Michigan football tended to involve strong defenses, big offensive lines and power running games. Bo Schembechler had a fiery approach to coaching, but he was widely regarded as a man of personal integrity.
Many consider the 1970s a golden age of Michigan Wolverines football, because it corresponded with the Ten Year War between Bo Schembechler and his former mentor, Woody Hayes, the legendary coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. These may have been the fiercest battles of all in the Michigan-Ohio State battles.
Lloyd Carr had the second highest winning percentage of a University of Michigan football coach and he led the team to its final National Championship, in 1997. Despite this success, Lloyd Carr has a mixed legacy with Michigan Wolverine fans, because he lost 6 of his last 7 games to the Ohio State Buckeyes and lost a stretch of 5 of 6 bowl games. Carr never stepped out of the shadow of Bo Schembechlar or his predecessors, though Carr won the national title that eluded Schembechler.
During his years with the Wolverines’ program, the tema won 234 games and only lost 65, along with 8 ties. One major point against the Schembechler Era was the team’s 5-12 record in bowl games, though it should be noted that the Wolverines had played in few bowl games before Bo Schembechler was installed at Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University of Michigan Football Rivalries
The Michigan Wolverines have some of the best rivalries in the history of college football. Wolverine fans and alumni will point out that their team has a winning record in these big rivalry games, too.
The Michigan Wolverines football program has an all-time winning records in separate rivalries with both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which is impressive, given the glorious history of those two programs. The Wolverines can boast a winning record against two other longtime rivals, the Michigan State Spartans and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Major Rivalry with Ohio State Buckeyes
THe Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry was voted on two separate occasions (2000, 2003) to be the greatest rivalry in all of American sports. The Wolverines lead the series 57-42-6. The teams almost always schedule the yearly contest for the final week of their regular season, so each team’s football year builds towards this major showdown.
So many times in the past, the battle between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines has decided the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. In the era of the BCS, the winner of the Michigan-OSU contest has often been in line for a BCS Championship Game appearance. In recent years, the Ohio State Buckeyes have begun to seize control of the rivalry, though.
The Buckeyes under Jim Tressel have played in the national championship game after the 2002, 2006 and 2007 seasons. The 2006 game between the two hated rivals involved a battle between unbeatens, and the first time the teams were #1 and #2 in the AP Poll.
The Buckeyes won that game, 42-39, which marks a turning point in the University of Michigan football program’s fortunes. Lloyd Carr, who went 1-6 against Jim Tressel’s OSU squad, left as Wolverines coach the next year. In 2008 and 2009, Rich Rodriguez has been the head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team (finishing 3-9 in his first season and 5-6 currently in his second year).
Rivalry With Notre Dame
The yearly game with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame is generally considered the biggest rivalry game on the schedule. Since Notre Dame is not in the Big Ten Conference, the game usually is more about pride and perhaps a better bowl berth than it is championships. Occasionally over the years, the Notre Dame-Michigan Game has involved major stakes. Michigan leads the series 21-15-1.
University of Michigan Football Players – Current NFL Players