July 26, 2010

TMI: the Michigan edition

It's Monday so that means it's time for our weekly installment of TMI, a look at the school behind the football program. Last week we covered Minnesota who appear on Week 7 of Penn State's schedule. Following a trip to Minneapolis, the Nittany Lions are home to take on an arch nemesis at primetime. It will be a big game with a big opponent which means we have to know our stuff and knowing starts with Too Much Information: the Michigan edition.

About the University

Everyone knows that the University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor (if you don't well, now you do), but few know that the city of Ann Arbor was once hoping to become the capital of Michigan. In 1817 the university was established, then called the University of Michigania, not in Ann Arbor but in Detroit. At the time Michigan wasn't even a state in the union and Ann Arbor was hoping to become the state capital when it joined. Unfortunately, Lansing was selected over Ann Arbor.

Its ok Ann Arbor, I'm not a capital either

When Lansing was chosen as the capital, Ann Arbor offered the original 40 acres set aside for the capital to Michigania (I like that I think I'll use that name for the rest of this post). In 1837 the university moved to Ann Arbor and it's been a beautiful marriage ever since.

In the 1920's and 30's UM gained the nickname "Harvard of the West," when Ivy League schools applied a quota to the number of Jews to be admitted. As a result Jewish students from New York that were turned away because of the admission limits, flocked to Michigania. In a speech on the UM campus John F. Kennedy referred to himself as "a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University," which resulted in many parodies of the "Harvard of the West" moniker.


Of course the athletic teams of the University of Michigania are called 'Wolverines' but there is not one single story behind the nickname. At one time it was believed that the state of Michigan was home to an abundance of the ferocious skunk-bears but there has never been a verified trapping of a wolverine inside the state's borders, nor have the skeletal remains of a wolverine been found. Former Michigania coaching great Fielding Yost suggested that the nickname came from the trading of wolverine pelts which occurred at Sault Ste. Marie for many years. Another theory involves the French who first settled in Michigan. The Frechies had a gluttonous or "wolverine-like" appetite and were given the moniker but that just sounds silly.

As far as the mascot goes, it's been widely accepted that the Wolverines have none, you won't see any plush Wolverine-like character roaming the sidelines on Saturdays, but we don't buy it. In fact, we at Linebacker-U have done some extensive research and found that the University of Michigania once had a mascot and it had nothing to do with Wolverines. No the long lost and forgotten mascot of Michigan was Stickman.

The reason this information has been lost was because of the antics of Stickman. The University wants us all to forget because the history of Stickman is disturbing. At first he was your normal mascot, showing up at athletic events and revving up the crowd.

But things didn't work out well for Stickman, he got himself into a lot of trouble. Stickman had a very serious drinking problem. He would drink way too much and do unspeakable things.

He would get sick at the most inopportune times.

As bad as his relationship with family members was Stickman's relationship with animals was even worse.

In his drunken stupor he would often taunt them:

Causing attack from alligators:

And giant mosquitoes:

It got so bad that the Michigan board of regents unanimously voted to remove Stickman as mascot and go without one:

So the next time you run across a Michigan fan and they try to tell you that Michigan has no mascot don't fall for it, we know better.

Football related data

Last Season: 5-7

The Wolverines started competing in football in 1879 and have won or shared 42 league titles, more than any other football program in any conference. Michigan claims 11 national titles although only one (1997) occurred after 1950. The aforementioned Fielding Yost collected 6 national titles including 4 in a row from 1901-1904. Michigan played in 39 bowl games compiling a record of 19–20. Michigan has had 3 Heisman Trophy award winners and 25 Heisman candidates total. Since 1898, there have been 126 Michigan players that earned first-team All-American honors. Michigan has 35 members selected to the College Football Hall of fame and 8 members selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Famous Alumni

There are currently 70 Michigan Alumni on NFL rosters. There were 26 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Nobel Prize winners and 116 Olympic medalists that attended the University of Michigania. 8 former Wolverines were astronauts including several that landed on the moon.

Michael Phelps attended the University Michigan and swam competitively for Club Wolverine, a swimming club associated with the university.

Yeah, but he still couldn't beat Mark Rubin

U.S. president Gerald Ford was a Wolverine. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, attended law school at UM and so did former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. Dr. Death himself Jack Kevorkian attended Michigan and so did "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.

Some famous Michigan Alumni in Hollywood include actors James Earl Jones, David Alan Grier and actress Lucy Liu.

Darth Vader: Luke, Obi-wan never told you I was a Wolverine


Like I'm gonna mention Lucy Liu without a pic

Madonna, Derek Jeter, and rock legend Iggy Pop attended Michigan but did not graduate.

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  1. The origin of the "Wolverines" nickname is actually known. It stems from the Toledo War (which essentially boiled down to a bar fight), and which an Ohio newspaper referred to the combatants of the territory up North as fighting "with the ferocity of Wolverines."

  2. I didn't see that one. Actually I saw quite a few more than what I mentioned, there are a lot of stories about the nickname.

  3. A few years ago, a wolverine was actually photographed in Michigan- but way, way up in the UP.

  4. Actually, they found a wolverine in the lower peninsula as well. It died this spring, and was found in the thumb area. It was the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in the lower peninsula in 200 years

  5. Also, Michigan did have live mascots in the late '20s, one of which was "Biff the Wolverine." Obviously, a live wolverine is a bit of a handful, so the mascots were dumped after a few seasons.

  6. Great post, incredibly funny. I would add Larry Page to the famous alumni. Also Sam Zell and Mr. Ross.

    I had heard that back in the day they used to bring a wolverine (in a cage) to football games.

  7. Yeah I was going to include the fact that Fielding Yost had two live Wolverines at games, I actually had that in my original post, but when I read over it again it just kinda seemed out of place. Yost had two baby wolverines and it worked for one season until they grew up and if you don't know Wolverines are very mean animals so he donated one to the zoo and kept the other on campus but no longer brought him to games.

    Brian & Joseph,
    Thanks for the info, when I did my research I couldn't find any articles that proved that Wolverine remains were found in Michigan and I used info straight from the official Michigan homepage, so I assumed it was as true as it's gonna get.

  8. I have to give props to oddlyspecific.com, they have a series called "stickman in peril" that's really funny and where I got most of those pictures.