1934 Michigan Wolverines football team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1934 Michigan Wolverines football
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
1934 record1–7 (0–6 Big Ten)
Head coachHarry Kipke (6th season)
MVPGerald Ford
CaptainThomas Austin
Home stadiumMichigan Stadium
← 1933
1935 →
1934 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#1 Minnesota $ 5 0 0     8 0 0
#8 Ohio State 5 1 0     7 1 0
#4 Illinois 4 1 0     7 1 0
Purdue 3 1 0     5 3 0
Wisconsin 2 3 0     4 4 0
Northwestern 2 3 0     3 5 0
Chicago 2 4 0     4 4 0
Indiana 1 3 1     3 3 2
Iowa 1 3 1     2 5 1
Michigan 0 6 0     1 7 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from Dickinson System

The 1934 Michigan Wolverines football team was an American football team that represented the University of Michigan in the 1934 Big Ten Conference football season. In their sixth season under head coach Harry Kipke, the Wolverines compiled a 1–7 record (0–6 against Big Ten opponents) and finished last in the Big Ten. Prior to the 1934 season, the Wolverines had compiled a 22-game undefeated streak dating back to October 1931.

Right tackle Thomas Austin was the team captain, and center Gerald Ford was selected as the most valuable player. Ford later became the 38th President of the United States. End Willis Ward was the team's leading scorer and received second-team honors from the College Sports Writers on the 1934 College Football All-America Team.


October 6Michigan State*L 0–1625,644
October 13at ChicagoL 0–2718,013
October 20Georgia Tech*
  • Michigan Stadium
  • Ann Arbor, MI
W 9–220,901
October 27Illinoisdagger
  • Michigan Stadium
  • Ann Arbor, MI (series)
L 6–734,822
November 3at MinnesotaL 0–3459,362
November 10Wisconsin
  • Michigan Stadium
  • Ann Arbor, MI
L 0–1021,963
November 17at Ohio StateL 0–3468,678
November 24Northwestern
  • Michigan Stadium
  • Ann Arbor, MI
L 6–1319,196
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming

Season summary[edit]


Prior to the 1934 season, the Wolverines had won Big Ten championships in 1932 and 1933 while compiling a 22-game unbeaten streak. However, the team lost its leading players, including Whitey Wistert, Chuck Bernard, Ted Petoskey, Herman Everhardus, and Stanley Fay, to graduation in the spring of 1934.

Week 1: Michigan State[edit]

Week 1: Michigan State at Michigan
1 234Total
Michigan State 0 0313 16
Michigan 0 000 0

On October 6, 1934, Michigan lost, 16–0, at Michigan Stadium in its annual rivalry game with Michigan State. The Detroit Free Press reported that the opening day crowd was 30,000 persons. After a scoreless first half, Kurt Warmbein ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Michigan State. Michigan State dominated the game statistically with 182 yards from scrimmage to 72 for Michigan, and with 15 first downs to three for Michigan.[1]

The loss broke Michigan's 22-game unbeaten streak dating back to October 1931. It was also the Spartans' first victory over the Wolverines since 1915 and only the third in 29 games. After the game, a group of Michigan State supporters rushed the field and attempted to tear down the goal posts at the north end of the field. Michigan fans then charged the field to protect the goal posts. Fist fights ensued, and the "rioting" continued for 20 minutes.[1]

Week 2: at Chicago[edit]

Week 2: Michigan at Chicago
1 234Total
Michigan 0 000 0
Chicago 0 6714 27

On October 13, 1934, Michigan lost, 27–0, to the Chicago Maroons at Stagg Field in Chicago. The loss was the most decisive for the Wolverines in the history of the Chicago–Michigan football rivalry dating back to the 1890s. Quarterback Tommy Flinn and halfbacks Jay Berwanger (the first player to win the Heisman Trophy) and Ned Bartlett starred for Chicago. Berwanger and Bartlett each scored two touchdowns. Statistically, the game was closer than on the scoreboard, as the Maroons out-gained the Wolverines by 174 yards for scrimmage to 159 for Michigan.[2]

Week 3: Georgia Tech[edit]

Week 3: Georgia Tech at Michigan
1 234Total
Georgia Tech 0 002 2
• Michigan 0 090 9

On October 20, 1934, Michigan defeated Georgia Tech by a 9–2 score before a crowd of 20,000 at Michigan Stadium. After a scoreless first half, Michigan quarterback Ferris Jennings returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Vincent Aug kicked the extra point. On the final play of the quarter, Michigan blocked an attempted Georgia Tech pass from the end zone, and William F. Borgmann fell on the ball for a safety.[3]

The Georgia Tech game is best known for a racial incident involving Michigan's African-American end Willis Ward. Georgia Tech football coach and athletic director W. A. "Bill" Alexander refused to allow his team to take the field if Ward played.[4] As early as the fall of 1933, Alexander wrote to athletic director Fielding Yost asking what was going to be done about Ward, asserting that his team would not take the field if Ward played.[5]

As the game approached, word spread that Georgia Tech was insisting that Ward not play, and that the administration might capitulate to the demand. Ward's right to play became a major controversy on the campus. Mass meetings and demonstrations were held.[5] Some students and faculty demanded that either Ward must play or the game should be canceled.[5] Petitions were circulated, and formal protests were lodged with the university by the Ann Arbor Ministerial Association, the NAACP, the National Student League and many other groups.[6][4] The student newspaper, the Michigan Daily opined: "If the athletic department forgot it had Ward on its football team when it scheduled a game with Georgia Tech, it was astonishingly forgetful; ... if it was conscious of Ward's being on the team but scheduled the game anyway, it was extraordinarily stupid."[6]

Time magazine ran a story about the uproar on Michigan's campus: "Fifteen hundred Michigan students and faculty members signed a petition asking that the team's star end, Negro Willis Ward, be allowed to play against Georgia Tech."[6] According to Time, 200 "campus radicals" threatened to prevent the game from being played by standing in the middle of the field.[6] Rumors of a sit-down protest on the 50-yard line during the game spread across campus in the week before the game.[4] One alumnus recalled that, the night before the game, "bonfires lit all over the campus echoed with screams of student anger, and 'Kill Georgia Tech' was heard throughout Ann Arbor."[7] In an attempt to thwart any attempt to disrupt the game, Yost hired a Pinkerton agent to infiltrate "The United Front Committee on Ward", a conglomerate of student organizations that supported Ward's right to play.[4]

Athletic authorities argued that Ward should not play because it would be discourteous to Georgia Tech, and he might be injured.[6] There was fear that if Ward played, he would be injured by malicious blows after the play had ended.[4] Playwright Arthur Miller, then a writer for Michigan’s student newspaper, learned first-hand about the strong resistance among the Georgia Tech team to playing on the same field with an African-American athlete. In his biography of Miller, Enoch Brater noted that Miller had friends from Arkansas who knew one of the Georgia Tech players. Brater described Miller’s involvement this way: "Remmel [Miller’s friend from Arkansas] took Miller with them to meet with members of the team, to protest but also to appeal to the athletes' sense of fair play. 'Miller was right in the middle of this', Remmel recalls. Not only did the visiting team rebuff 'the Yankee' Miller 'in salty language', but they told him they would actually kill Ward if he set one foot on the Michigan gridiron. 'The Georgia Tech team was wild.' Miller was furious. He ‘went immediately to the office of the Michigan Daily and wrote an article about it, but it was not published.' . . . Remmel said that Miller 'could not believe that the Georgia Tech team would have tried to destroy Willis Ward—but, I am sure they would have.'"[8]

In the end, Ward was not allowed to play. As his teammates faced Georgia Tech, there are conflicting reports as to Ward’s whereabouts. According to Time, Ward "sat calmly in a radio booth, watched his teammates defeat the Southerners, 9-to-2."[6] According to Behee, Ward was not even allowed to watch the game from the press box, or even from the bench of his own stadium. Instead, he spent the afternoon in a fraternity house.[4] A third account states that Kipke "quietly sent Willis Ward off to scout another Michigan game in Wisconsin."[8] The day after the Georgia Tech game was played, an editorial ran in The Michigan Daily stating "that everyone who touched (the Ward affair) did so only to lose in respect and esteem."[4]

Week 4: Illinois[edit]

Week 4: Illinois at Michigan
1 234Total
Illinois 0 700 7
Michigan 0 060 6

On October 27, 1934, Michigan lost to Illinois by a 7–6 score at Michigan Stadium. Illinois took a 7–0 lead in the second quarter on a short touchdown run by John Theodore and successful extra point kick by Lester Lindberg. In the third quarter, fullback John Regeczi passed to end Michael Savage who then tossed a forward lateral to Willis Ward; Ward then ran 24 yards for a touchdown. Ward's kick for extra point went wide, and Illinois maintained a one-point lead. Michigan was held to 28 rushing yards and 34 passing yards in the game. The Illini gained 100 rushing yards and 72 passing yards.[9]

Week 5: at Minnesota[edit]

Week 5: Michigan at Minnesota
1 234Total
Michigan 0 000 0
Minnesota 0 02014 34

On November 3, 1934, Michigan lost to Minnesota by a 34–0 score before a crowd of 59,362 in Minneapolis. Minnesota's victory returned the Little Brown Jug to Golden Gophers for the first time since 1927. After a scoreless first half, Minnesota scored 20 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth. Pug Lund starred for Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers out-gained the Wolverines by 307 yards from scrimmage to 76. Minnesota went on to an undefeated season and was recognized as the 1934 national championship.[10]

Week 6: Wisconsin[edit]

Week 6: Wisconsin at Michigan
1 234Total
Wisconsin 0 703 10
Michigan 0 000 0

On November 10, 1934, Michigan lost to Wisconsin by a 10–0 score before a crowd of estimated at 25,000 at Michigan Stadium. Michigan out-gained Wisconsin by 120 rushing yards to 48 and 36 passing yards to 19. Despite mustering only 67 yards from scrimmage, Wisconsin managed to score twice. Halfback Lynn Jordan returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The second Wisconsin score was set up by what the Detroit Free Press called "the most ridiculous play" of the season. John Regeczi took the snap in Michigan's end zone for a punt, then decided to run, ran three yards, changed his mind again, and finally kicked with three Badgers in front of him. The kick was blocked, Wisconsin recovered, and a field goal extended the Badgers' lead to 10 points.[11]

Week 7: at Ohio State[edit]

Week 7: Michigan at Ohio State
1 234Total
Michigan 0 000 0
Ohio State 7 6021 34

On November 17, 1934, Michigan lost its annual rivalry game with Ohio State by a 34–0 score at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The crowd of 68,000 was the largest in the Western Conference during the 1934 season. The game was Francis Schmidt's first against Michigan as Ohio State's head coach; he went on to win his first four games against Michigan. The Buckeyes scored five touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter, and totaled 310 rushing yards and 141 passing yards. The Wolverines were held to only six net rushing yards and 34 passing yards. Ohio State touchdowns were scored by Dick Heekin (one-yard run in first quarter), Damon Wetzel, Frank Antenucci (recovered a Michigan fumble in the end zone), Merle Wendt (long pass from Frank Fisch), and Frank Comiskey (long pass from Tippy Dye).[12]

Week 8: Northwestern[edit]

Week 8: Northwestern at Michigan
1 234Total
Northwestern 0 067 13
Michigan 0 330 6

On November 24, 1934, the Wolverines lost, 13–6, to Northwestern at Michigan Stadium. Willis Ward, playing his last game for Michigan, kicked two field goals for Michigan. Michigan led, 3-0, at halftime. The score was tied at 6-6 at the end of the third quarter. Northwestern took the lead in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Hugh Duvall. The defeat brought an end to the worst season in Michigan football history up to that time.[13]


Varsity letter winners[edit]

The following 25 players received varsity letters for their participation on the 1934 Michigan football team.[14] For players who were starters, the list also includes the number of games started by position. Players who started at least half of Michigan's games are displayed in bold.[15]

  • Robert Amrine, halfback, sophomore, London, Ohio[16] - started 1 game at right guard
  • Vincent J. Aug, halfback, junior[17] - started 5 games at left halfback
  • Thomas D. Austin, tackle, senior, Columbus, Ohio - started 7 games at right tackle
  • Chester C. Beard, guard, senior, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Frank S. Bissell, guard, sophomore, Hyannisport, Massachusetts
  • George A. Bolas, quarterback, junior, Chicago, Illinois
  • William F. Borgmann, guard, senior, Fort Wayne, Indiana - started 8 games at right tackle
  • Joseph O. Ellis, quarterback/halfback, sophomore, Eagle River, Wisconsin - started 1 game at right halfback
  • Chris Everhardus, halfback, sophomore, Kalamazoo, Michigan[18] - started 1 game at right halfback
  • Gerald Ford, center, senior, Grand Rapids, Michigan - started 8 games at center
  • Russell J. Fuog, center, senior, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cloyce E. Hanshue, guard, sophomore, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Willard H. Hildebrand, guard/tackle, senior, Saginaw, Michigan[19] - started 8 games at left guard
  • Tage Jacobson, tackle, senior, Detroit, Michigan[20] - started 1 game at right tackle
  • Ferris Jennings, quarterback, sophomore, Ann Arbor, Michigan - started 7 games at quarterback
  • Russ Oliver, fullback, senior, Pontiac, Michigan - started 1 game at quarterback
  • Matt Patanelli, end, sophomore, Elkhart, Indiana - started 6 games at left end, 1 game at right end, 1 game at right halfback
  • John Regeczi, fullback, senior, Muskegon Heights, Michigan - started 4 games at right halfback, 2 games at fullback, 1 game at left halfback
  • Steve Remias, fullback, junior, Chicago, Illinois - started 1 game at fullback
  • Michael Savage, end, junior, Dearborn, Michigan - started 2 games at left end, 2 games at right end
  • Harold W. Sears, Jr., guard, sophomore, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Cedric C. Sweet, fullback, sophomore, Fremont, Michigan[21] - started 5 games at fullback
  • Howard Triplehorn, halfback, junior, Bluffton, Ohio - started 1 game at left halfback
  • John Viergever, tackle, junior, Algonac, Michigan[22] - started 8 games at left tackle
  • Willis Ward, end, senior, Detroit, Michigan - started 5 games at right end, 1 game at left halfback, 1 game at right halfback

Varsity reserves[edit]

The following six players were identified as varsity reserves on the roster of the 1934 Michigan football team.[14]

  • David G. Barnett, halfback, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan
  • Ernest C. Johnson, end, junior, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Winfred Nelson, halfback, Greenville, Michigan
  • Harry J. Pillinger, quarterback, Whitehall, Michigan
  • John A. Rieck, end, sophomore, Detroit, Michigan
  • Harry T. Wright, tackle, sophomore, Mount Clemens, Michigan


The following players were also included on the roster of the 1934 Michigan football team.[14]

Awards and honors[edit]

Coaching staff[edit]

Scoring leaders[edit]

Player Touchdowns Extra points Field goals Safeties Total
Willis Ward 1 0 2 0 12
Ferris Jennings 1 0 0 0 6
Vincent Aug 0 1 0 0 1
Defense 0 0 0 1 2
Total 2 1 2 1 21


  1. ^ a b M. F. Drukenbrod (October 7, 1934). "State Beats U. of M., 16-0, for First Time Since 1915 to End 3-Year Record: One Hurt as Fans' Fists Fly in Riot at Goalposts". Detroit Free Press. p. 15 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Tod Rockwell (October 14, 1934). "Chicago Beats Michigan, 27 to 0, in First Big Ten Game: Berwanger Goes Over for Two Maroon Scores". Detroit Free Press. p. 15 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Tod Rockwell (October 21, 1934). "Jennings' Run Gives Michigan Victory Over Tech, 9 to 2: Quarterback Sprints 70 Yards to Touchdown". Detroit Free Press. p. Sports 1, 3 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Zemke, Jon (April 9, 1999). "Black athlete not allowed to compete against Georgia Tech". The Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c "Michigan in the Olympics: 1936 Berlin". The Regents of the University of Michigan.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Football". TIME. October 29, 1934.
  7. ^ Manson, Phyllis (June 1995). "Letters to Michigan Today". Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  8. ^ a b Brater, Enoch, ed. (1004). Arthur Miller’s America, p. 6. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11410-7.
  9. ^ Tod Rockwell (October 28, 1934). "Illinois Defeats Michigan, 7-6, on Miss of Extra Point: Ward Scores on Pass but Fails to Kick Goal". Detroit Free Press. pp. Sports 1, 2 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Tod Rockwell (November 4, 1934). "Lund Rallies Gophers and They Down Michigan, 34 to 0: Herd Is Held Scoreless at Half, Then Gallops". Detroit Free Press. pp. Sports 1, 4 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Tod Rockwell (November 11, 1934). "Michigan Beaten, 10-0, as Badger Back Runs 100 Yards: Jordan Races to Touchdown on First Play". Detroit Free Press. p. Sports 1, 4 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Tod Rockwell (November 18, 1934). "Versatile Ohio State Team Outclasses Michigan, 34 to 0: Tricky Attack Makes Game Rout at Close". Detroit Free Press. pp. Sports 1, 3 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ M. F. Drukenbrod (November 25, 1934). "Michigan Ends Worst Season, Losing to Northwestern, 13-6: U. of M. Tallies on Two Field Goals by Ward". Detroit Free Press. pp. Sports 1, 4 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ a b c "University of Michigan Football Rosters: 1934". Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 2012-02-11.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "1934 Football Team". Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
  16. ^ Robert Y. Amrine, born March 14, 1914, died October 3, 1993, SSN issued Ohio, last address Polson, Montana
  17. ^ J. Vincent Aug, born September 4, 1914, died July 5, 2007, last address Cincinnati, Ohio
  18. ^ Chris Everhardus, born April 12, 1915, died March 1982, last address in Ann Arbor, Michigan
  19. ^ Willard H. Hildebrand, born October 18, 1913, died August 23, 2005, last address Venice, Florida
  20. ^ Tage Jacobson, August 29, 1913, died June 1940, SSN issued in Michigan
  21. ^ Cedric Sweet, born July 16, 1914, died October 1984, last address Southfield, Michigan
  22. ^ John D. Viergever, born July 16, 1913, died November 30, 1989, last address Fremont, Michigan

External links[edit]