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The Glory Years of the Green and White Michigan State University Football Teams – Part 1
Time has a way of evaporating history. I was told that much of history would never have been recorded in the Dark Ages without the painstaking efforts of Catholic monks who recorded what others would not have done.
Fortunately, Michigan State University has done a remarkable job of recording its rich football history since 1896, over 110 seasons with outstanding performances among its many coaches and players.
Here are the Spartan trainers who rank among the best:
Chester Brewer 1903 to 1910 – The defensive genius
Brewer, a 4-sport star at Wisconsin, knew a thing or two about playing defense. In 8 years he went 54-10-6, eliminated ties and his winning record of 54-10 was an incredible 84%. That’s pretty impressive, even more impressive was the fact that among his 54 wins, there were 43 shutouts, or 79% of his wins.
In 1904, he won 6 straight shutouts while going 8-1. Among his 6 draws, 4 games without a goal (0-0). Two other facts about Brewer shine brightly, 1) He has NEVER lost a home game in 8 years, and 2) He has only lost 10 games in 8 years. In 1904 he beat Hillsdale 104-0, but his greatest moments were a 0-0 draw against Fielding Yost’s Michigan team in 1908 and a 17-0 shutout against Notre Dame in 1910.
John Macklin 1911 to 1915 – The Pacesetter with a series of firsts
Macklin, an outstanding athlete in Pennsylvania, succeeded Chester Brewer. He went 29-5 in 5 seasons for an 85% winning percentage and ran the board in 1913 with a 7-0 mark that included Michigan State’s first win over Michigan, a 12 win. -7 in Michigan.
Other Macklin’s greatest moments include a 6-3 loss to Penn State in 1914; another 24-0 road win over Michigan in 1915; and a 35-20 victory over Ohio State in 1912, the first won by a MAC team against a Big Ten team.
Jim Crowley 1929 to 1932 – One of the Four Immortal Horsemen of Notre Dame
After several years of mediocrity, Crowley restored Michigan State to national prominence by going 22-8-3 (a 73% win-loss percentage) with 4 winning seasons and one win short of a season. perfect with a 7-1 record his senior year. . Crowley’s teams had a pair of 0–0 draws against Michigan in 1930 and 1931, which broke Michigan State’s 14-game losing streak against Michigan.
Crowley was one of Knute Rockne’s Four Horsemen during the Notre Dame glory years made famous by legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice. Crowley would become head coach at Fordham in 1933 and create the “Seven Blocks of Granite” which included legendary Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi.
From Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen to Michigan State to Fordham’s Seven Blocks of Granite and Green Bay Packer’s Vince Lombardi, it’s a great legacy created by the man known as “Sleepy Jim “Crowley.
Charlie Bachman 1933 to 1946 – He brought Notre Dame’s winning system
Bachman followed Jim Crowley and brought the Notre Dame system with him and managed to record 10 winning seasons in 13 years with a record of 70-34-10 (a 67% win-loss percentage). There was no football in 1943 due to World War II.
Bachman was a teammate of Knute Rockne and a Notre Dame alumnus like Crowley. He led the Spartans to an 8–1 mark in his sophomore season, including a 16–0 victory over Michigan, the school’s first outright victory in 19 years; it would be the first of 4 straight wins over Michigan that Bachman’s teams would accomplish. After posting another 8–1 season in 1937, Michigan State received its first offer for a postseason bowl game, the 1938 Orange Bowl.
(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.)
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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