Today’s post celebrates the Happy Birthday Anniversary of another Michigan quarterback named Tom Slade. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Thomas A. “Tom” Slade was born in Manotick, Michigan. He grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and become an excellent athlete at Saginaw High School. Tom was an All-State quarterback and also excelled in basketball and tennis.
(Note-Tom Slade (#17) is shown above with the 1973 Big Ten Co-Champion Michigan Football Team. Slade is seated in the first row – sixth man from the left! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Tom Slade came to Michigan in 1970. Freshman did not play during this time so his job was to learn how to be a good student and learn how Bo’s Michigan Football System worked. Young Slade learned both lessons very well. He was the starting quarterback on the 1971 Michigan Football team. He was a triple threat quarterback who could run, pass and block. That’s what Bo expected his quarterback to do and Tom did his job extremely well in 1971.
According to the Bentley Historical Library, Tom Slade started eight games at Michigan. All of those starts came in 1971. Michigan went undefeated in the regular season in 1971. The Wolverines posted a perfect 8-0-0 record in the Big Ten Conference. Michigan averaged just over forty-points per game (40.9) and only allowed an average of seven points per game. They were tough to beat, but Stanford figured out a way to defeat the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl by a score of 13-12. So, Sophomore Tom Slade had a pretty good year in 1971 and he was looking to improving on his performance in 1972.
Unfortunately for Tom Slade, there was a young quarterback coming up named Dennis Franklin. Bo liked Tom Slade, but, man, he really liked what he saw in Dennis Franklin. As it turned out, Bo decided to go with Franklin over Slade in 1972. Tom Slade slipped to number two on the depth chart. Michigan did fine with Franklin at quarterback and Slade did okay holding a clipboard. Tom’s senior season was more of the same. He actually slipped to third on the depth chart behind Franklin and Larry Cipa.
Tom Slade never complained, at least not in public. He stayed with the team and did everything that Bo and the other coaches asked him to do. He graduated in 1974 and went on to earn his dental degree from Michigan.
Tom Slade was a member of some outstanding teams during his time at Michigan. From 1970 to 1973 the Wolverines posted a record of 40 wins, 3 losses and 1 famous tie. Their body of work in the Big Ten Conference was exceptional (28-2-1). Slade and his Wolverine teammates stayed and became champions, just like Bo promised! (Michigan won one big ten championship, shared two more and finished in a tie for second from 1970 to 1973.) Looking back, it was one of the best four year records in modern Michigan Football history
Eventually, he became Bo’s dentist. Bo and Tom Slade became very close later in life. When Tom Slade starting battling leukemia, Bo was there a lot to support his former quarterback and friend! Tom Slade was buried a few days before Bo died in November 2006. Bo was asked to speak to the Michigan football team on the Thursday before the OSU game in 2006. Bo did not talk about the great games that he coached against OSU or Woody, or anything else. Instead, he talked about Tom Slade and how he epitomized what Bo defined as a “Michigan Man.” Bo challenged every player on the field that day to become a Michigan Man like Tom Slade. The next day, Bo was dead.
Tom Slade is not famous for a lot of great plays or a lot of great games. He is known as the guy who lost his job to Dennis Franklin. However, Bo wanted people to remember Tom Slade for the kind of person he was. According to Bo, Tom Slade was a great Michigan Man. So, that sums it up for today’s post. May Dr. Tom Slade always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
You can read more about the life of Dr. Tom Slade by going to the Wikipedia links below.
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