“Hurry-Up” Harbaugh? Hold ‘Yur Horses!

5 Oct

They were the days of raccoon coats and day-time donnybrooks telegraphed by wire, amplified in radio and devoutly devoured in newsprint;

Co-eds and flappers were beginning to fill the wooden stands with regularity;

The guys on gridiron wore leather helmets, metal spikes, lots o’ wool and none of those sissified ($) sticky-gloves in sight;

The forward pass was still a curiosity and the occasional ‘ringer’ was rostered by some to beat the big rival at homecoming.

College football in the days of the doughboy.

One believed ringer of the day, at least in opinion of Pennsylvania “Quakers” and press, was the young man who’d just a few years later embark on a legendary coach career at University of Michigan, “Hurry-Up” Yost (1901-23, ‘25-26).

Fielding Harris Yost, born and schooled in West Virginia, would become the man who put Wolverines football on the college map, bringing Michigan national prominence with six national titles (165-29-10 (198-35-12)) and a win in the inagural Rose Bowl in besting California’s Stanford, 49-0 (1902).

Before his halcyon days in the cherry State, Yost distinguished himself playing tackle at UWV but caused a ringer-ruckus in 1896 when he made an impromptu and temporary transfer to nationally prominent rival, Lafayette, helping them to victory over those rough & tumble Quakers, 6-4. Fielding denied any impropriety and the brouhaha blew over.

Yost then headed straight into the coaching life in a string of jobs that’d set Larry Brown’s hair on fire, taking five posts in just four seasons, beginning at Ohio Wesleyan (’97), then Nebraska (’98), Kansas (99), Stanford (’00) and San Jose (‘00) before settling down in Ann Arbor.

Other memorable coaches followed Yost, like Harry Kipke (NT ‘32-33 (“punt, pass & a prayer,” “great defense is a great offense“)), Fritz Crisler (‘47 / “platoon” system and today‘s helmet design)), Ben Oosterbaan (‘48), Bo Schembechler (194-48-5), Gary Moeller (44-13-3 / 4-1) and Lloyd Carr (’97 / 122-40).

The years after Carr was shown the door (resigned (‘07)), have seen big blue turn a shade of baby blue. Rich Rodriguez (15-22) and Brady Hoke (31-20), winners in prior coaching stints could not translate that success to the “Big House.”

.....Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.Upchurch.thmIn 2015, enter former 49ers guru and Wolverines star signal-caller (‘83-86), James Joseph Harbaugh to right the listing ship that had become Michigan football.

The UM Board of Regents voted Jim a pile o’ cash to lure him from a pretty rosy NFL life in San Francisco and the early signs are showing it to be a wise investment.

After coming up short against Utah (4-0) to open the Harbaugh era, Wolverines (4-1 (#18)) have run off four straight wins and line up against the #13 Wildcats of Northwestern (5-0) in Ann Arbor on Saturday (3:30 EST) for what should prove a classic Big Ten grinder and good test of both teams true capabilities.

Jim Harbaugh clearly brings a verve to Michigan. He had his trouble in NFL red zone (SB47 / NFCC’14) but he’s been a winning coach at both levels (Stanford), recruits with the best of ’em and should have Wolverines back in the mix quick.

And when he does it’ll likely swing a national spotlight that’s been fixated on the SEC, back onto the Big Ten. In particular, a showcase of the formerly anticipated and highly rated TV event that is the long-running UM – TOSU rivalry game.

You’ve gotta’ look for small signs when a new coach takes the reins.

One that this writer noticed was the subtle alterations made in the Wolverines uniform design and then other clothing accoutrements.

Gone is the fluorescent maize and fat ‘M’ lettering, replaced by a darker yellow hue (school bus) and a tapered, classic line.

It may read infinitesimal but speaks a volume or two on Harbaugh’s confident, focused persona in that he and his staff don’t have to scream at fans, a tack taken up in tired trend by today‘s logo & uniform Lilliputians. Jimbo, like more sport-minded people, will let the record speak for itself. And a little throwback to the good times doesn’t hurt, either.

...brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.ccaSteven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: JimHarbaugh, wc.cca, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; brass-thumbtack, wc.cca, J.Dalton.
Posted: 10.5.15 @ 2:31pm EST; Copyright ® 2015
Source reference, UM football history: Wikipedia.

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