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February 20, 2018 Happy Birthday Anniversary John J. Molenda

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the birthday anniversary of John J. Molenda. According to the Wikiedia article linked below, John Joseph “Bo” Molenda was born on this day in 1905 in Oglesby, Illinois. Molenda’s family moved to Detroit when he was in his teens and he attended Northeastern High School in Detroit. Bo Molenda became an outstanding athlete. He starred in football, basketball, baseball and track.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day - John J. Molenda

John J. Molenda arrived at Michigan in 1924 and spent his first year on the freshman team. He learned the George Little football system and did his best to hit the books so that he would be ready for varsity play in 1925.

As it turned out, Bo Molenda never played a down for George Little because he left for a job at Wisconsin. Instead, Molenda would play for the legendary Fielding Yost who opted to return to the sidelines after Michigan’s disappointing season in 1924. Little’s Wolverines finished with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses, but only finished fourth in the conference. That record would be good for a lot of colleges, but not Michigan.  And, definitely not good enough for the demanding Yost!

Sophomore Bo Molenda impressed Coach Yost enough to start all eight games of the 1925 season. Things turned out much better for the Wolverines as they ended the season with a final record of 7 wins and only 1 loss. More importantly, they posted a record of 5-1-0 in the conference and won the championship. They came within two points of a perfect season and possible a national championship. Yost publicly stated that the 1925 football team may have been his best team ever!

John J. Molenda was a hard-runnig fullback who could also block and play defense. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Molenda, and his teammates, came back strong in 1926 and finished the season with another 7-1-0 record. However, they went undefeated in the conference (5-0-0) and won another championship for Fielding Yost.

Things changed dramatically for Molenda, and Michigan, after the 1926 season. Fielding Yost retired at the end of the season and Michigan would have a new coach in 1927 (and a BIG stadium to fill!). Bo Molenda, who also played basketball for the Wolverines, was having difficulty in school. In February 1927, he was declared ineligible for the second time which essentially banned him from attending Michigan for one year. Sports had always come easy for Molenda, but not the academics. He opted to turn sign a professional contract to play basketball. That was it for the amateur part of Bo Molenda’s life. He went on to play professional basketball, football and baseball. Later, he coached for the Green Bay Packers and later worked as an athletic director at Menlo College in California.

Of course, John J. Molenda was the first “Bo” to play at Michigan. And, yes, there would be more. One of them became very famous at Michigan!

So, on the one-hundred thirteenth anniversary of his birth, let us remember John J. Molenda for his contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. You can read more about the life and times of Bo Molenda at the Wikipedia link below. John J. Molenda died on July 20, 1986 at the age of eighty-one. May Bo Molenda always rest in peace. Go Blue!




Part II. Trivia Question of the Day – February 19, 2018

Who was Fielding Yost’s first All-American player?

Part II. Trivia Question Answer for February 19, 2018 –  Neil Snow

Yes, Neil W. Snow, who played end, was Fielding Yost’s first All-American in 1901. Snow was a dominating player on both sides of the ball. He definitely played a lot of good football in Michigan’s record breaking season in 1901.

The Wolverines set a school record with 11 wins (11-0-0) that year. They also played in, and won (49-0), the first Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California. Michigan also won the Big Ten Conference title and were eventually named National Champions for the season. It was an amazing start to Fielding Yost’s Michigan coaching career.

Part III. Trivia Question of the Day – February 20, 2018

In what year did Michigan play a Big Ten opponent twice in the same season?


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