Today’s post celebrates the life of a Wolverine great named James M. Mandich who went to rest in peace on this day in 2011 at the age of sixty-two. James Michael “Jim” Mandich was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 30, 1948. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, he grew up in Solon, Ohio where he became an outstanding athlete at Solon High School. Jim earned twelve varsity letters in high school, but football was his best sport. He was an All-Ohio and All-American football player in Solon. Somehow, Bump Elliott convinced him to come to Ann Arbor to play football for the Michigan Wolverines.
Note-Today marks the 600th straight post on our website. This article was one of the most popular posts from 2017 because it was about “Mad Dog” Mandich. It’s always good to remember Mr. Mandich! We haven’t missed a day since we started on August 26, 2016. Actually, there were some game days in 2016 that saw two posts a day. I’ll update you when we hit 750 towards the start of the 2018 college football season. Thank you for reading our articles. We hope you are learning a thing or two about our beloved Wolverines and the winningest program in all of college football. Go Blue!
Of course, freshman didn’t play when James M. Mandich arrived at Michigan in 1966, so, he went to practice, learned Michigan’s offensive schemes and became the best student he could be. He came back ready to play in 1967 and earned his first varsity letter as a sophomore. Mandich started six games at left end and Jim caught 25 passes for a total of 248-yards. He also earned the John Maulbetsch Award for his outstanding work in Spring Practice. The Wolverines finished with a record of 4 wins and 6 losses that year. They ended up in fifth place in the conference with a record of 3 wins and 4 losses.
James M. Mandich came back in 1968 ready to play more and help Michigan win more games. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened! Jim started eight games as a Junior and almost doubled his productivity. He snagged 42-passes for 565-yards and scored 3 touchdowns. He earned first team All-Conference honors too! The best news was that Michigan finished the season with a final record of 8 wins and 2 losses. They went 6-1-0 in the conference and finished in second place. Unfortunately, the 1968 season ended with a “thud” when top-ranked Ohio State blew out Michigan (50-14) and even tried to score a two-point conversions when the game was already out-of-hand!
I am sure that Jim Mandich loved playing for the likeable Bump Elliott, but new Michigan’s new Athletic Director, Don Canham, was looking to the future. Unfortunately, Bump Elliott was not going to be coaching at Michigan after the 1968 season. Elliott was “bumped” (pun intended) into an assistant athletic director’s job to make way for a Buckeye named Schembechler.
Spring football in April 1969 was pure torture for the Michigan Football team. Coach Bo Schembechler scared them all and ran off the ones who were not ready to commit to his system. James M. Mandich was called “Mad Dog” by his teammates. He was a ferocious competitor who could get himself and his teammates “fired-up” to play football. That’s probably one of the reasons that he ended up being Bo’s first captain in 1969.
So, “Mad Dog” Mandich served Bo and Michigan well as a Wolverine captain. He had a record setting with 50 catches for 676-yards and four touchdowns. He helped avenge the ugly loss to OSU in 1968 and became a champion when the Wolverines upset the hated Buckeyes (24-12) in November 1969. Michigan finished the 1969 season with a final record of 8 wins and 3 defeats. More importantly, they ended the season with a Big Ten record of 6-1-0 and shared the conference championship with the hated Buckeyes.
Jim Mandich was named the Most Valuable Player on Bo’s first football team. He also earned All-Conference honors for the second straight season. Mandich was named a first-team All-American in 1969 and, along with Tom Curtis, became one of Bo’s first All-American players. Jim went on to a successful NFL career after graduating from Michigan.
Speaking of firsts, let’s look at the “firsts” that connect Jim Mandich and Michigan football.
James M. Mandich finished his Michigan career with twenty-two starts, three varsity letters, a Big Ten Co-Championship and enough individual “honors” to fill a large room. Jim Mandich, and his teammates on the 1969 team, helped raised the bar for all Michigan Men who followed. Jim’s teams earned twenty victories for the Maize and Blue which included fifteen Big Ten wins in twenty-one games.
Today is a wonderful day to celebrate the legacy of James M. Mandich and appreciate his contributions to the great tradition of Michigan Football. May Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
To learn more about Jim Mandich check out the links below:
Who was the first man to “Captain” a Harry Kipke team at Michigan?
Joe Truskowski earned three football letters at Michigan and served as Harry Kipke’s first captain in 1929. Truskowski played end on offense and defense for the Wolverines. Joe was an outstanding athlete who also lettered on the basketball and baseball teams.
What number did Bo have everyone wear during practice the week before the 1969 Ohio State game?