August 10, 2017 Happy Birthday Chris Zurbrugg!

1986 Michgian Football Team |
Chris Zurbrugg (#12) is shown above with the 1986 Big Ten Co-Champion Michigan Wolverines. He is seated in the second row – second man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a good day to wish Happy Birthday to a Wolverine football player named Chris Zurbrugg. According to the 1987 Michigan Football Media Guide, Christopher M. “Chris” Zurbrugg was born a “Buckeye” on this day in 1964. Chris grew up in Alliance, Ohio and attended Alliance High School. He grew up to be an excellent athlete and lettered in football, basketball and track. However, his best sport was football. He was the MVP in 1982 and also earned All-Ohio and all-county honors as a senior. Bo Schembechler liked his versatility and his athleticism. Schembechler offered Zurbrugg a scholarship to play at Michigan and Chris agreed to play his college football in “enemy territory.”  

Chris Zurbrugg’s name showed up on the Michigan Football Roster in 1983. He was listed as a freshman quarterback. Chris did not earn any starts, or playing time, in 1983. So, he burned his redshirt and did everything he could to earn some playing time for Bo in 1984.

The 1984 season started off with a battle between Chris, Russ Rein and a guy named Harbaugh. As it turned out, Jim Harbaugh won the starting quarterback job. He started the first five games of the season before he was injured against Michigan State. The Wolverines had a record of 3 wins and 2 losses when his season ended.  

Chris Zurbrugg Michigan Football |

Chris Zurbrugg runs for a six-yard gain against Illinois in 1984. He set a passing record in the game, but Michigan lost 29-31. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Although he was nursing some injuries, Chris Zurbrugg started the last five games of the 1984 season. He showed a lot of courage and led Michigan to a record of 2 wins and 3 losses. Chris set a Michigan passing record in his second start. He became the first Michigan quarterback to throw for 259-yards in a single game. He also tied a Michigan record with 4 touchdown passes in one game. Unfortunately, the defense allowed too many points and the Wolverines lost at Purdue (29-31). Michigan finished the 1984 season with a final record of 6 wins and 6 losses.

A healthy Jim Harbaugh was bad news for Zurbrugg in 1985. Harbaugh started every game that season. Chris Zurbrugg played in seven games in 1985, but all were in a back-up role. He earned his second letter while playing second fiddle to Harbaugh. Michigan turned things around in 1985 and finished with a final record of 10 wins, 1 losses and 1 tie.

The 1986 season was a lot like 1985 for Chris Zurbrugg. He was the second-string quarterback and saw action, late, in eight games. Michigan posted a record of 11 wins and 2 losses. They won a share of the Big Ten Championship with a final record of 7 wins and 1 loss.

Although he only started five games, Chris Zurbrugg earned three varsity letters and a championship ring during his playing days. Although he had one year of eligibility remaining in 1987, Zurbrugg opted to move on. The quarterback position was wide open in 1987. It would have been interesting to see how Chris would have competed against Demetrious Brown and Michael Taylor. However, He finished his degree and went into teaching and coaching back in Ohio.

Chris Zurbrugg is also connected to some interesting Michigan Football firsts:

·         Chris Zurbrugg was the first Michigan quarterback to throw for 259-yards in one game. His record lasted until 1985 when a healthy Jim Harbaugh broke it.

·         Zurbrugg was on the first Michigan football team to play games against against Miami of Florida and Brigham Young University in 1984.

·         Chris Zurbrugg was also on the first Michigan football team to play Maryland in September 1985.

So, today is a good day to remember the contributions of Chris Zurbrugg to the long history of Michigan Football. He is one more reason that Michigan football is the winningest program in college football history. Happy Birthday Chris Zurbrugg and Go Blue!

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: You can also follow him on Social Media.
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