Today is a great day to remember a man named Ebin Wilson. This “pigskin pioneer” died on this date in 1948 at the age of seventy-nine.
Ebin “Tug” Wilson grew up in Merrill, Michigan, but came to Ann Arbor from neighboring Ypsilanti. Back in the day, when the eligibility rules were much different, players could play a lot of football. Apparently, Wilson played at least one season (maybe more) at Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University). According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Ebin Wilson captained the Huron team in 1898. Upon graduation, he was admitted to the University of Michigan Law School. Wilson still had football in his blood and the rules said it was okay so, he was on the field for Gustave Ferbert’s last year in 1899.
Ebin Wilson is credited with four starts (3 at left tackle and 1 at right guard) during the 1899 season. Ferbert’s last team posted a record of 8 wins, 2 losses and 0 ties. The Wolverines finished third in the Western Conference that year. Even though Wilson is pictured with the letter winners in the 1899 team photo, he is not listed as a letter winner for the 1899 season.
Langdon “Bif” Lea took charge of the Michigan football team in 1900. Michigan posted a very good record of 7-2-1 in Lea’s first and only season. However, the Wolverines dropped to fifth place in the conference with a 3-2-0 record. According to the Bentley Historical Library, Ebin Wilson started seven games at center in 1900. Interestingly, he is not pictured with the letter winners in the 1900 team photo. Wilson is not listed as a letter winner in the Michigan Athletic Department football records data base for 1900 either. How does a guy start seven games on one of the most important positions on the team and not earn a letter? I’m scratching my head on that one!
Regardless, Ebin Wilson was back on the field in 1901 to play for his third coach in three years. He is one of a very few men who can claim that bit of Michigan football history!
As it turned out, Fielding Yost liked Ebin Wilson enough to start him in all eleven games of the famous “Point-a-Minute” team of 1901. Michigan finished that record setting season with the most wins in the young history of the Wolverine football program. They posted a perfect record of 11-0-0 overall and went 4-0-0 in conference play. The Wolverines won the Western Conference championship for the second time in their history. Michigan won the National Championship for the first time in 1901. Ebin Wilson and his teammates also played in, and won, the first Rose Bowl game in history. The Wolverines blasted Stanford (Yost’s previous employer in 1900) by a score of 49-0 even though the game ended early!
The good news for Ebin Wilson is that he is pictured with the 1901 Michigan football team and he is listed as a letter winner in the Michigan Athletic Department records! Finally, the man got his due for three years of hard work on the Michigan football team.
So, today is a good day to honor the memory of a Michigan Man and appreciate his contributions to Michigan football. Ebin Wilson was a versatile lineman who played a lot of football at Michigan. He helped the Wolverines win twenty-six games during his Michigan career. Let’s remember Ebin Wilson on the sixty-ninth anniversary of his passing. May he always rest in peace. Go Blue!
To read more about Ebin Wilson and the amazing 1901 Michigan Football team check out the links below. (Note – the Wikipedia article spells Wilson’s first name differently (Eben) than the Michigan data bases and files I used for my research (Ebin) so I stuck with “Ebin.”)