November 12, 2017 Rest in Peace Dr. Tom Slade!

1971 Michigan FOotball Team | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Dr. Tom Slade led Michigan to the first 8 game/8 win season in Michigan and Big Ten History in 1971. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Today’s post is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Tom Slade who went to rest in peace on this date in 2006.  Thomas A. “Tom” Slade was born in Manotick, Michigan. He grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and become an excellent athlete at Saginaw High School Tome was an All-State quarterback and also excelled in basketball and tennis.

Tom Slade came to Michigan in 1970. Freshman did not play during this so his job was to learn how to be a good student and learn how Bo’s Michigan Football System worked. Apparently, Slade learned both lessons very well. He was the starting quarterback on the 1971 Michigan Football team. Tom was a triple threat quarterback who could run, pass and block. That’s what Bo expected his quarterback to do and Tom did his job extremely well in 1971.

Tom Slade Michigan Football 1971 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Tom Slade led Michigan to an undefeated Big Ten season in 1971. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan/

According to the Bentley Historical Library, Tom Slade started eight games at Michigan. All of those starts came in 1971. Michigan went undefeated in the regular season in 1971. The Wolverines posted a perfect 8-0-0 record in the Big Ten Conference. Michigan averaged just over forty-points per game (40.9) and only allowed an average of seven points per game. They were tough to beat, but Stanford figured out a way to defeat the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl by a score of 13-12. So, Sophomore Tom Slade had a pretty good year in 1971 and he was looking to improving on his performance in 1972.

Unfortunately for Tom Slade, there was a young quarterback coming up named Dennis Franklin. Bo liked Tom Slade, but, man, he really liked what he saw in Dennis Franklin. As it turned out, Bo decided to go with Franklin over Slade in 1972. So, Tom Slade slipped to number two on the depth chart. Michigan did fine with Franklin at quarterback and Slade did okay holding a clipboard. Tom’s senior season was more of the same. He actually slipped to third on the depth chart behind Franklin and Larry Cipa.

No, Tom Slade never complained, at least not in public. He stayed with the team and did everything that Bo and the other coaches asked him to do. He graduated in 1974 and went on to earn his dental degree from Michigan. Eventually, he became Bo’s dentist.

Bo and Tom Slade became very close later in life. When Tom Slade starting battling leukemia, Bo was there – a lot! Tom Slade was buried a few days before Bo died in November 2006. Bo was asked to speak to the Michigan football team on the Thursday before the OSU game in 2006. No, Bo did not talk about the great games that he coached against OSU or Woody, or anything else. Instead, he talked about Tom Slade and how he epitomized what Bo defined as a “Michigan Man.” Bo challenged every player on the field that day to become a Michigan Man like Tom Slade. The next day, Bo was dead.

Dr. Tom Slade was a member of some outstanding teams during his time at Michigan. From 1970 to 1973 the Wolverines posted a record of 40 wins, 3 losses and 1 famous tie. Their body of work in the Big Ten Conference was exceptional (28-2-1). Slade and his Wolverine teammates stayed and became champions, just like Bo promised! (Michigan won one big ten championship, shared two more and finished in a tie for second from 1970 to 1973.) Looking back, it was one of the best four-year records in modern Michigan Football history!

Dr. Tom Slade Michigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Tom Slade’s performance came under close scrutiny from Bo Schembechler, that’s for sure. Bo took nothing for granted on the football field. That’s probably a BIG lesson that Dr. Tom Slade carried into his dental career. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Tom Slade was also a part of some Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are some of the best that connect Dr. Tom Slade to Michigan Football:

  • Tom Slade played in the first eight game Big Ten season in conference history. He helped lead the Wolverines to a perfect record of 8-0-0 in conference play in 1971.
  • Slade helped Michigan become the first, and only, Big Ten team to win at least one Conference Championship in nine decades of conference play dating back to the 1890s.
  • Tom Slade was on the first Bo Schembechler team to win eleven games in 1971.

Tom Slade is not famous for a lot of great plays or a lot of great games. Instead, he became the guy that lost his job to Dennis Franklin. However, Bo wanted people to remember Tom Slade for the kind of person he was. According to Bo, Dr. Tom Slade was a great Michigan Man. So, that sums it up for today’s post. May Dr. Tom Slade continue to rest in eternal peace.

You can read more about the life of Dr. Tom Slade by going to the Wikipedia links below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Slade

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1973fbt.htm

 

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: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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