Fielding H. Yost

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Fielding H. Yost
Fielding Yost sitting side.jpg
Yost in 1902
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1871-04-30)April 30, 1871
Fairview, West Virginia, U.S.
Died August 20, 1946(1946-08-20) (aged 75)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Playing career
West Virginia
Position(s) Tackle
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Ohio Wesleyan
San Jose State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1921–1940 Michigan
Head coaching record
Overall 198–35–12
Bowls 1–0
Accomplishments and honors
6 National (1901–1904, 1918, 1923)
10 Big Ten (1901–1904, 1906, 1918, 1922–1923, 1925–1926)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

Fielding Harris Yost (April 30, 1871 – August 20, 1946) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Ohio Wesleyan University (1897), the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (1898), the University of Kansas (1899), Stanford University (1900), San Jose State University (1900), and the University of Michigan (1901–1923, 1925–1926), compiling a career college football record of 198–35–12. During his 25 seasons as the head football coach in Ann Arbor, Yost's Michigan Wolverines won six national championships, captured ten Big Ten Conference titles, and amassed a record of 165–29–10.

From 1901 to 1905, his "Point-a-Minute" squads went 55–1–1, outscoring their opponents by a margin of 2,821 to 42. The 1901 team beat Stanford, 49–0, in the 1902 Rose Bowl, the first college football bowl game ever played. In 1921, Yost became Michigan's athletic director and served in that capacity until 1940. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.[citation needed]

Early life and playing career[edit]

Yost was born in Fairview, West Virginia. He enrolled at Ohio Normal School (now known as Ohio Northern University) in 1889. Yost played for the Ohio Normal baseball team.[1] He later enrolled at West Virginia University where he began playing football in 1894 at the age of 23.[2] A 6-foot 200 pounder, Yost was a standout at tackle at West Virginia into the 1896 season.

"The Yost affair"[edit]

In October 1896, after his team lost three times to Lafayette in home games played on three different fields over the course of three days,[3][4] Yost became a remarkable personification of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." He transferred in mid-season to join Coach Parke H. Davis's national championship team at Lafayette. Just a week after playing against Davis in West Virginia, Yost was playing for Davis in Lafayette's historic 6–4 win over the Penn Quakers.[4]

The fortuitous timing of Yost's appearance on the Lafayette roster did not go unnoticed by Penn officials. They called it "the Yost affair." The Philadelphia Ledger quoted Yost as saying that he came to Lafayette only to play football. The fact that Yost appeared in a Lafayette uniform only once, in the Penn game,[5] and that he returned to West Virginia within two weeks of the contest did not help appearances. He assured all concerned that he would return to Lafayette for at least three years of study.[6] But 1897 found him no longer a student or a player, but a coach.

Coaching career[edit]

Yost (on the sideline at right) coaching Michigan against Minnesota in 1902

After four single-season stints at Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Kansas, Stanford and San Jose State (as interim coach), Yost was hired in 1901 by Charles A. Baird as the head football coach for the Michigan Wolverines football team.[citation needed]

Yost coached at Michigan from 1901 through 1923, and again in 1925 and 1926. He was highly successful at Michigan, winning 165 games, losing only 29, and tying 10 for a winning percentage of .833. Under Yost, Michigan won four straight national championships from 1901 to 1904 and two more in 1918 and 1923. Yost's first Michigan team in 1901 outscored its opposition by a margin of 550–0 en route to a perfect season and victory in the inaugural Rose Bowl on January 1, 1902 over Stanford, the team Yost had coached the year before. From 1901 to 1904, Michigan did not lose a game, and was tied only once in a legendary game with the Minnesota Golden Gophers that led to the establishment of the Little Brown Jug, college football's oldest trophy.

Before Michigan finally lost a game to Amos Alonzo Stagg's Chicago Maroons squad at the end of the 1905 season, they had gone 56 straight games without a defeat, the second longest such streak in college football history. During their first five seasons under Yost, Michigan outscored its opponents 2,821 to 42,[7] earning the Michigan team the nickname "Point-a-Minute."[8]


After retiring from coaching, Yost remained at Michigan as the school's athletic director, a position he held until 1940, thereafter holding the title of athletic director emeritus. Under his leadership, Michigan Stadium, Yost Fieldhouse, now Yost Ice Arena, and the university's golf course were constructed.

Yost from the 1928 Michiganensian

Yost invented the position of linebacker; co-created the first ever bowl game, the 1902 Rose Bowl, with then legendary UM athletic director Charles Baird; invented the fieldhouse concept that bears his name; and supervised the building of the first on-campus building dedicated to intramural sports.[citation needed]

Arguably, no one has left a larger mark on University of Michigan athletics and varsity football than Fielding Yost. A longtime football coach and athletic director, his career was marked with great achievements both on and off the field. Yost was also a successful business person, lawyer, author, and a leading figure in pioneering the explosion of college football into a national phenomenon. A devout Christian, he nevertheless was among the first coaches to allow Jewish players on his teams, including Joe Magidsohn and Benny Friedman. However, Murray Sperber's book Shake Down the Thunder places principal responsibility for the Big Ten blackballing and boycotting of Notre Dame on Yost, as well as the charge that this was motivated by anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant prejudice common in the early 20th century. Although John Kyrk's book Natural Enemies points out that there was a bitter feud between Yost and Knute Rockne, head coach of the Notre Dame football team.

A football signed by Fielding H. Yost and numerous other Michigan Wolverines football coaches and players, including Tom Harmon.

Yost initiated the concept of coaching as an actual profession near the turn of the century when he was paid as much as a UM professor. The professionalization of coaches that started with Yost and earlier, Walter Camp at Yale University, symbolized how serious college football was becoming, and Yost symbolized this more so than any of his peers. It was Yost who first articulated the now accepted premise about student-athletes in the sport that: "Football builds character." Yost was also known for a series of admonitions to his players beginning with the words, "Hurry up," for example, "Hurry up and be the first man down the field on a punt or kick-off." This inclination earned him the nickname, "Hurry up" Yost. A native of West Virginia, Yost's unusual pronunciation of the school's name, "MEE-she-gan," copied by long-time Michigan football broadcaster Bob Ufer, is affectionately carried on by many Michigan football fans and often referenced by ESPN sportscaster Chris Fowler.

Yost was among the inaugural class of inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Coaching tree[edit]

No fewer than 69 men who either played for Yost or coached under him as an assistant went on to become head coaches in college football. Two, Benny Friedman and Tommy Hughitt, helmed teams in the National Football League (NFL). Yost's disciples include:

Later years and death[edit]

Yost's grave

Yost was in poor health for several years before his death and was hospitalized at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in May 1946.[10] He reportedly suffered from a stroke, but was released after two weeks and returned to his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[11] In August 1946, Yost died of a gall bladder attack at his home. He was survived by his wife, whom he married in 1906, a son, Fielding H. Yost, Jr., two brothers, Ellis and Nichola, and a sister, Mrs. Charles Barry.[12] Yost was buried at Ann Arbor's Forest Hill Cemetery near the University of Michigan campus.[13]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops (Independent) (1897)
1897 Ohio Wesleyan 7–1–1
Ohio Wesleyan: 7–1–1
Nebraska Bugeaters (Independent) (1898)
1898 Nebraska 8–3[n 1]
Nebraska: 8–3
Kansas Jayhawks (Independent) (1899)
1899 Kansas 10–0
Kansas: 10–0
Stanford (Independent) (1900)
1900 Stanford 7–2–1
Stanford: 7–2–1
(San Jose) State Normal (Independent) (1900)
1900 State Normal 1–0[n 1]
San Jose State: 1–0
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (1901–1906)
1901 Michigan 11–0 4–0 T–1st W Rose
1902 Michigan 11–0 5–0 T–1st
1903 Michigan 11–0–1 3–0–1 1st
1904 Michigan 10–0 2–0 T–1st
1905 Michigan 12–1 2–1 T–2nd
1906 Michigan 4–1 1–0 T–1st
Michigan Wolverines (Independent) (1907–1916)
1907 Michigan 5–1
1908 Michigan 5–2–1
1909 Michigan 6–1
1910 Michigan 3–0–3
1911 Michigan 5–1–2
1912 Michigan 5–2
1913 Michigan 6–1
1914 Michigan 6–3
1915 Michigan 4–3–1
1916 Michigan 7–2
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (1917–1923)
1917 Michigan 8–2 0–1 T–8th
1918 Michigan 5–0 2–0 T–1st
1919 Michigan 3–4 1–4 T–7th
1920 Michigan 5–2 2–2 6th
1921 Michigan 5–1–1 2–1–1 5th
1922 Michigan 6–0–1 4–0 T–1st
1923 Michigan 8–0 4–0 T–1st
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (1925–1926)
1925 Michigan 7–1 5–1 1st
1926 Michigan 7–1 5–0 T–1st
Michigan: 165–29–10 42–10–2
Total: 198–35–12[n 1]
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The NCAA football record book credits Yost with a 7–4 record coaching Nebraska in the 1898 season, incorrectly noting a 24–0 loss to William Jewell. Nebraska's records show a 38–0 victory over William Jewell on October 22, 1898 in Kansas City, Missouri and credit Yost with an 8–3 record for the season; see 1898 Nebraska Bugeaters football team. Additionally, the NCAA does not officially credit Yost for serving as interim head coach in 1900 at State Normal School (now San Jose State University), whereas San Jose State records and numerous other sources credit Yost with a 12–0 victory over Chico State and a 1–0 record at the school. The NCAA, thus, lists Yost with a record of 196–36–12, two fewer wins and one more loss than indicated in the table above.[14]


  1. ^ "Fielding Yost Will Write On Football For The Gazette Sports Page Readers". Charleston Gazette. 1931-09-27. 
  2. ^ Maramba, Kris Wise, "Fielding Yost, another son of Marion County, excelled with Wolverines", Charleston Daily Mail, December 18, 2007
  3. ^ "Lafayette vs. University of West Virginia", The Lafayette, page 36, October 23, 1896
  4. ^ a b Lafayette Yearly Results, College Football Data Warehouse
  5. ^ "Lafayette College Foot-Ball.", The Lafayette, page 100, January 15, 1897 (misprinted as 1896)
  6. ^ "Editorial Department" and "Yost a Bona-fide Student", The Lafayette, pages 66–68, November 20, 1896
  7. ^ "All-Time University of Michigan Football Record". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  8. ^ Gruver, 2002 pg. 49
  9. ^ "Michigan Athlete Is Denison Coach". The Zanesville Signal. February 6, 1931. p. 1. 
  11. ^ "Fielding Yost Said To Be Seriously Ill". Ironwood Daily Globe (AP story). 1946-05-31. 
  12. ^ "'Hurry Up' Yost Dean Of Michigan Football Coaches, Dies At His Home: Michigan's Grand Old Man of Football Dies of Gall Bladder Attack". THE MORNING HERALD, HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND (AP story). 1946-08-21. 
  13. ^ "Fielding Yost Laid To Rest Near Campus". THE ABILENE, TEXAS, REPORTER-NEWS. 1946-08-23. 
  14. ^ "2010 NCAA Division I Football Records: Coaching Records" (PDF). NCAA. p. 2. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 


Gruver, Edward (2002), Nitschke. Lanham:Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 1-58979-127-4

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