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January 22, 2017 – Rest in Peace Neal Snow

Posted on January 22, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to honor the memory of Neal Snow who continues to rest in peace in Detroit, Michigan. Neal Worthington Snow died on this day in 1914 at the age of thirty-four. Snow is absolutely one of the greatest athletes ever to graduate from The University of Michigan – period! Please allow me to explain.

Neil Snow graduated from high school in 1897. In addition to being an outstanding football player, he was also an excellent bowling and a boxer too! Snow arrived on campus in 1898 to earn a degree and compete for the Michigan Wolverines.

Although he was a freshman, Neil Snow impressed Coach Gustave Ferbert with his athleticism and his toughness. He earned ten starts as an End on the 1898 team that won the Western Conference Championship. Snow started seven more games for Ferbert’s Wolverines in 1899.

The 1900 season was notable in that Coach Ferbert left Ann Arbor to go dig for gold in Alaska. Enter a new coach named Langdon “Bif” Lea. The popular Snow had been elected to fill the role of captain for the 1900 team so Lea must have been impressed with that. Snow started nine games on Bif Lea’s first, and only, Michigan team that finished at 7-2-1.

Neal Snow | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Neal Snow captained the 1900 Michigan football team and earned All-American honors in 1901. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

When Lea left after the 1900 season, Athletic Director hired a guy name Fielding Yost. It turned out to be the last football coach that Charles Baird would have to hire. Neal Snow made a good impression on Coach Yost, but Yost had a different plan for the seasoned Snow. Yost thought that Snow could make a bigger contribution to the Wolverines if he played fullback. So, Neal Snow started eleven games at fullback in 1901. The rest, as they say, is history!

Of course, the 1901 team is often described as the greatest team in Michigan and college football history! The first Yost team was absolutely loaded with great players and Neal Snow was one of them. Michigan rolled through eleven teams on their schedule and finished the season with perfect records overall (11-0-0) and in the conference (4-0-0). Even more amazing was the fact that they outscored their opponents by a margin of 550-0! Those numbers are almost unbelievable, but that’s what happened!

Neal Snow earned many accolades and honors for his outstanding accomplishments and contributions to Michigan football. As I already mentioned, he was the captain of the 1900 team. He earned All-Western recognition for four straight seasons (1898 to 1901) and was selected for All-American honors in 1901.

Here is a summary of the firsts that connect Neal Snow and Michigan Football:

  • Played on the first Michigan football team to win the Western Conference Championship in 1898.
  • Played on the first (and only) team coached by Langdon “Bif” Lea in 1900.
  • He played on Fielding Yost’s first Michigan team in 1901.
  • Played on the first Michigan football team to win eleven games in 1901.
  • Played on Michigan’s first national championship team in 1901.
  • He was the first “End” to earn All-American honors in 1901 and the second All-American in Michigan football history.
  • He played in the first Rose Bowl game in January 1902.
  • He is the first, and only, man to score five touchdowns in the Rose Bowl game (1902).
  • He was the first man to rush for over one-hundred yards (107) in the Rose Bowl in 1902.
  • First man to earn Player of the Game honors in a Rose Bowl (later changed to MVP) in 1902.
  • Snow was the first football player to play on championship teams in football and baseball and win an individual championship (high jump) in track and field.

So, on the one hundred-third anniversary of his passing, let us remember a distinguished Michigan Man. Again, Neal Snow was one of the greatest athletes in the history of The University of Michigan. Today, let us honor his memory and celebrate his accomplishments. Thank you Neal Snow for a life well-lived, albeit way too short. May Neal W. Snow always rest in peace. Go Blue!




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