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April 19, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Germany Schulz!

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to remember a Michigan Legend named Germany Schulz on his birthday anniversary.  Adolph “Germany” Schulz was born on this day in 1883 at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Germany Schulz grew up in Indiana, but he chose to become a Michigan Man when he arrived on campus in 1904. Germany Schulz was a giant of a man, especially for his time. He was listed between 75 to 77 inches tall and weighed in around 230 pounds. However, he was also athletic and agile for his size. He was definitely a man that Fielding Yost wanted on his football team!

Germany Schulz started five of Michigan’s ten games at center in 1904. He helped the Wolverines post a perfect record of 10-0-0. Michigan won the National Championship (4th straight) along with another Big Nine Conference championship. Germany’s Michigan football career was off to a very good start.

Schulz’s second year was similar to his first. He started nine games at center and helped the Maize and Blue footballers win twelve of thirteen games. Unfortunately, they lost the last game of the 1905 season to Chicago by a score of 2-0. After five years, a Fielding Yost team finally lost a game. Yost’s record from 1901 to 1905 was an incredible 55 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie! Amazing, simply amazing.

Adolph "Germany" Schulz Michigan Captain 1908 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Germany Schulz was elected Captain of the 1908 Michigan Football Team. Western Conference officials said that he would not be eligible in 1908 because he already played for three years at Michigan. Fielding Yost opted to remain out of the conference because of the dispute. Michigan played as an independent until 1917. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Germany Schulz had an easier time on the football compared to the hours he spent in the classroom. Schulz was enrolled in Michigan’s engineering program and it was challenging for him. According to some reports, Schulz did not play for the Wolverines in 1906 because he wasn’t academically eligible. Other reports claim he didn’t have the money. Regardless of the real reason, Germany Schulz did not play  football for Michigan in 1906.

The good news was that Germany returned to Ann Arbor in 1907. He started six more games at center and helped lead the Wolverines to a record of five wins in six games. Michigan was no longer playing in the Big Nine Conference because of differences in eligibility rules and other issues. It was hoped that Michigan would return to the conference in 1908, but that did not happen because of Schulz.

After the end of the 1907 season, Germany Schulz was elected captain for the 1908 Michigan football team. However, according to new conference rules, players could only have three years of eligibility. Yost argued that his future captain should be allowed to play a fourth year because the new rules were instituted after he already started his college career. When the conference would not budge on their position, Yost chose in favor of his captain, not the Western Conference. Michigan remained out of the conference until 1917.

Captain Adolph Schulz got a late start on the 1908 season because of some academic issues. He actually missed Michigan’s first three games until he regained his eligibility. He returned in time to lead the Wolverines to a record of 5 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.

Germany Schulz ended his career as one of the most important players in Michigan Football history. He helped Yost’s Wolverines post an overall record of 32 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie in the “Schulz Years.” He earned four varsity letters as well as a National Championship and a Western Conference Championship. More importantly, he is credited with inventing the “spiral snap” and the position of “linebacker.” According to the Wikipedia Article linked below, Germany Schulz was named the “greatest center” in college football history in 1951 by the College Football Foundation. He was inducted into the first class of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

As much as I like his story, Germany Schulz would not be the subject of today’s post if he was not connected to some Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are the best ones I could find for Mr. Schulz:

  • Germany Schulz played on the first two Michigan teams to play out of the Western Conference from 1907-1908.
  • Schulz played in the first game against Wabash College in 1907.
  • Germany Schulz also played in the first games in Michigan Football history against Kentucky State and Syracuse in 1908.
  • Adolph Schulz was the first man to play off the line on defense, much to Fielding Yost’s surprise. By playing “up and off the line” the massive Schulz was able to cover most of the field and stop opposing runners in their tracks. He was the prototype athlete for the “roving center” position that is the “linebacker” of modern football. Germany Schulz was an impressive football player!

Sadly, Germany Schulz left his family, friends and Michigan teammates on April 14, 1951 at the age of sixty-seven. So, on the one hundred-thirty-fifth anniversary of his birth, let us remember Adolph “Germany” Schulz.  He played on some of Michigan’s greatest and made significant contributions to the great history that is Michigan Wolverine Football. May Germany Schulz always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!




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