November 26, 1891 Season of Firsts

1891 Michigan Football Team | bigbluefootballhistory.com
The 1891 Michigan Football season was the “Season of Firsts.” Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

November 26, 1891 was the last game of a memorable season in Michigan Football History because it was the last game of the Season of Firsts. In fact, it was a season of many, many Michigan Football “firsts.” Let’s go way, way, way back in Wolverine Football History (126 years to be exact) and see why I call 1891 the Season of Firsts.

Frank Crawford Michigan Football Team 1891 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Frank Crawford was the first “official” coach of a Michigan Football team. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

The first thing that is unique about the 1891 season is that it was the first season in Michigan Football History with paid coaches. Frank Crawford is generally credited with being the first “paid” coach, but Mike Murphy also is listed as a co-coach. Unfortunately, the first season with paid coaches did not work out very well for Michigan. The Wolverines ended the season with a final record of 4 wins and 5 losses. So, Crawford and Murphy lost their jobs at Michigan. Not a good start for this “new” way of fielding a football team.

Here are fourteen more “firsts” that are associated with the 1891 Michigan Football Season of Firsts.

·         October 10 – First game against a high school team. Yes, it happened. The Wolverines blasted the boys from Ann Arbor High School 62-0. It would be the first, and only, game against the school boys from Ann Arbor.

·         October 17 – First ever loss to Albion College (4-10) after winning the first seven games of this series.

·         October 19 – First game against Olivet College. Michigan won by a score of 18-6.

·         October 24 – First game against Oberlin College – a 26-6 win. It was the first game ever against a team from Ohio.

·         October 31 – First home game on Halloween. Also, first, and only, game against Butler. Michigan won he game by a score of 42-6.

·         November 14 – First, and only, game against the Chicago Athletic Club is a 0-10 loss.

·         November 26 – First, and only, game against the Cleveland Athletic Association is also a loss – 4-8. It is also the first ever loss to a team from Ohio. (yes, I had to mention this!)

·         November 28 – Wolverines end the season with their second loss to Cornell (0-10) in Detroit. Yes, this is the first time that a Michigan team lost to the same team twice in one season.

·         The 1891 season was the first nine-game season in Michigan Football History.

·         Unfortunately, the 1891 season was also the first five loss season in the annals of Wolverine Football.

·         Finally, this was the first season that saw games with 6 new teams.

Now, I hope you understand why I call 1891 the Season of Firsts. I have studied the history of Michigan Football extensively and I cannot find another season with 15 “firsts” in one season. So, 1891 gets my vote for the undisputed title of Season of Firsts. Have a good day today. Yesterday’s loss to OSU was painful, but our “young” team really grew up over the last twelve games. They will be a team to reckon with in 2018 – Go Blue!

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1891fbt.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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