Today’s post celebrates the happy birthday anniversary of another special Michigan Wolverine football player Tom Coyle. The talented Coyle was born on this date in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, Tom Coyle passed away on October 9, 2012 at the age of sixty-two.
Tom Coyle was an outstanding football player at Brother Rice High School in Chicago. He chose to continue his education and football career at The University of Michigan. I don’t know if he flinched when he heard that Bo Schembechler would be his new coach or whether Bo personally recruited him. It didn’t really matter because Coyle showed up in Ann Arbor in August of 1969. Coyle was one of thirty-six freshmen that would be become Bo’s first recruiting class at Michigan.
Coyle, of course, sat out his freshman year like the other thirty-five first year players. He learned the Schembechler system and did what he had to do in the classroom. Tom’s focus was getting ready for the 1970 season. He impressed his coaches enough in spring drills (1970) to earn the John F. Maulbetsch Ward for his desire, character, leadership and future success at Michigan and beyond.
Tom Coyle learned his lessons well and started eight games at right guard in 1970. He played well for Bo who expected a lot from his lineman. Michigan finished Coyle’s sophomore year with a record of 9 wins and 1 loss. The Wolverines earned a tie for second place in the Big Ten with a record of 6-1-0.
Coyle continued to play at a high level in 1971 and so did the Wolverines. He started all twelve games and Michigan finished the regular season with a perfect record of 10-0-0. The Wolverines won 8 games, lost 0 and tied 0 to win Bo’s first outright Big Ten championship. Unfortunately, the season ended on a low note with a 12-13 loss to Stanford in the 1972 Rose Bowl. Tom Coyle started all twelve games that season.
The Wolverines, and Coyle, came back strong in 1972. The hard-working Coyle was named one of the team’s co-captains along with Randy Logan. Tom Coyle started every game (11) and provided solid leadership on the field. Michigan finished the season a final record of 10 wins, 1 loss and 0 ties. The Wolverines shared the Big Ten title with OSU who beat them, again, in the last game of the 1972 season. Tom Coyle earned first-team All-Conference honors in 1972.
As a proud member of Bo’s first graduating class in 1973, Tom Coyle helped set the bar at a very high level for future Wolverine teams. During his “playing time” at Michigan (1970-1972), the Maize and Blue compiled an overall record of 30 wins and 3 losses for a winning percentage of just under ninety-one percent (.909). Coyle, and his teammates, won one league championship (1971), tied for another (1972) and finished in a tie for 2nd place in 1970. They won 21 out of 23 conference games over that three-year span. Tom Coyle left Michigan with an impressive resume that included many individual and team accomplishments. He left a great Maize and Blue legacy for those who followed him.
During his career, Tom Coyle was part of some important Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the ones that I came up with:
· Was part of Bo’s first recruiting class at Michigan.
· Was the first lineman to earn the Maulbetsch Award in the Bo Era.
· Played on Bo’s first outright Big Ten Championship team in 1971 (8-0-0).
· Played on Bo’s first eleven-win team in 1971.
· A member of Bo’s first graduation class in the spring of 1973.
So, today is a great day to honor the memory of Tom Coyle and appreciate his contributions to the history of Michigan football. May Tom Coyle always rest in peace. Go Blue!
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