Today’s post celebrates the day that Michigan Man Robert Brown went to rest in peace in 1985 at the age of eighty. Robert J. “Bob” Brown was born on August 23, 1904 in Toledo, Ohio. Brown became an outstanding high school football player and made his way to Ann Arbor to play for Fielding Yost and his Michigan Wolverines.
Robert Brown arrived at Michigan in 1922 and spent his first year on the freshman team. He learned the Fielding Yost football system and did his best to hit the books so that he would be ready for varsity play as a sophomore. The good news was that Brown made the varsity in 1923. However, the bad news was that he played behind a guy named Jack Blott. Mr. Blott was an All-American in 1923. So, Bob Brown spent a lot of time watching and learning how to play center, like an All-American should! Bob Brown did play enough to earn a letter in 1923 on Michigan’s National Championship team that went 8-0-0 and won a share of the Big Ten Title as well (4-0-0)
In an interesting turn of events, Fielding Yost stepped aside from coaching the Wolverines in 1924 to focus on his duties as Michigan’s Athletic Director. George Little coached the 1924 team. Robert Brown started all eight games that season. Michigan finished with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses and George Little was finished at Michigan. He couldn’t stand the meddling of his Athletic Director boss, Fielding Yost, so, he decided to move on to become the Head Coach at Wisconsin.
George Little was gone in 1925 and Yost returned to the sidelines while continuing to serve as athletic director. Captain Bob Brown was a key player on what Yost called “my greatest team.” The Wolverines dominated every team on their schedule in 1925, except when they played on muddy fields. Michigan finished with a record of 7 wins and 1 loss. As it turned out, they couldn’t beat the weather and the mud at Chicago’s Soldier Field on November 7, 1926. The Wolverines lost by a score of 2-3 to Northwestern. The good news was that the Maize and Blue footballers won the conference championship with a record of 5-1-0. Bob Brown earned All-American and All-Conference honors that season along with four other Wolverines.
Of course, I would not be talking about Robert Brown today if he wasn’t part of some Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the best ones I found for Bob Brown:
- Bobert Brown played on the first, and only, team coached by George Little in 1924.
- Brown played in the first game ever against Navy and led Michigan to a 54-0 win over the Midshipman in 1925.
- Bob played in the first and only game in Michigan football history that the Wolverines lost by a score of 2-3 (vs Northwestern) in 1925.
- The Northwestern game of 1925 was Michigan’s first, and only, game at Soldier Field. (Actually, it was more like a swamp that day as the playing surface was a muddy mess. Michigan didn’t do anything on offense except fumble and make a lot of mistakes.)
- Robert Brown helped lead the Wolverines to a victory (42-3) in Michigan’s first ever game against Oklahoma A & M in 1926.
- Robert J. Brown and his son, Bob, are the only father-son duo in Michigan Football History to captain Michigan Football Teams. Bob senior did it in 1925 and Bob Junior followed in his father’s footsteps in 1962.
So, on the thirty-second anniversary of his death, let us remember a true Michigan Man for his great contributions to the history of Michigan football. After graduation, Bob Brown went on to a successful business career in western Michigan. He also served as a regent for the University of Michigan from 1967 to 1974. May Robert J. “Bob” Brown, Sr., always rest in peace. Go Blue!