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January 23, 2017 – Rest in Peace Dan McGugin

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to honor the memory of Dan McGugin who continues to rest in peace. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Daniel Earle “Dan” McGugin died on this day in 1936 at the age of fifty-six. McGugin was born in Iowa in 1879.

Dan McGugin graduated from Drake University in 1901. He played two years of football and developed into a star lineman (guard and tackle) for the Bulldogs. After graduation, McGugin headed to Ann Arbor to continue his studies and his football.

McGugin started ten of eleven games on one of the greatest teams in Michigan Football history. Yost’s footballers won every game on their schedule and finished the season with perfect records of (11-0-0 overall) and (4-0-0 conference). 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!

Dan McGugin Michigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Dan McGugin played two years for Fielding Yost (1901 and 1902) and worked as his assistant (1903) before moving on to a very successful coaching career at Vanderbilt. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Dan McGugin’s second season at Michigan was a lot like the first. He started ten more games at left guard and continued to open holes for Willie Heston, Al Herrnstein and others to run through. The 1902 team finished with another perfect slate. In fact, the results were exactly the same (11-0-0 and 4-0-0) except the scoring margins. Michigan outscored their opponents by a margin of 644 to 12. Yes, the Wolverine defense slipped a little bit from 1901, but they were still pretty good!

Here is a summary of the firsts that connect Dan McGugin and Michigan Football:

·         Played on Fielding Yost’s first Michigan team in 1901.

·         He played on the first Michigan team to score 128 points (10/26/1901 vs Buffalo)

·         He played on the first Michigan team to score 550 points in a season (550-0).

·         Played on the first Michigan football team to win eleven games in 1901.

·         Played on Michigan’s first national championship team in 1901.

·         He played in the first Rose Bowl game in January 1902.

·         He played on the first Michigan team to score over 100 points in two games in the same season (Michigan Agricultural 119-0 and Iowa 109-0) in 1902.

·         He played on the first, and only, team in Michigan football history to score over 600 points in one season (644-12).

Dan McGugin’s two years on the Michigan football team were quite successful and actually life changing! He was not a star player just very good. After graduation, Yost asked him to stay on as an assistant coach for the 1903 season. After a year on the Michigan sidelines, Yost helped the twenty-five year-old McGugin land the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fielding Yost loved Dan McGugin like a brother, well, actually like a brother-in-law. Each man married a Fite sister. Fielding married Eunice and McGugin married Louise. They were best men at each other’s weddings.

Dan McGugin went on to a very successful coaching career at Vanderbilt. He led the Commodores for thirty seasons and compiled a record of 197-55-19. When it was all said and done – McGugin actually won more games at Vanderbilt than his mentor/brother-in-law won at Michigan. Fielding Yost finished with a record of 165-29-10 at Michigan. Interestingly, Yost’s career record of 198-35-12 was a little bit better than McGugin’s. Bottom line – both men could flat out coach!

Dan McGugin actually achieved a couple of other firsts outside of his Michigan playing career. He was the first, and still the only, man to win his first three games by a margin of sixty, or more, points. Here are the scores of his first three games in 1904:

·         Mississippi A&M 61-0

·         Georgetown (KY) 66-0

·         Ole Miss 69-0

McGugin’s 1904 team won all their games and finished with a record of 9-0. Do you think he learned a thing or two from Fielding Yost?

In addition to being the winningest coach in the history of Vanderbilt, McGugin was the first former Yost player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.

So, on the eighty-first anniversary of his passing, let us remember another distinguished Michigan Man. In three short years, Dan McGugin contributed greatly to the football history of The University of Michigan. Today, let us honor his memory and celebrate his accomplishments. Thank you, Dan McGugin for your achievements at Michigan and in a lifetime of college football. May you always rest in peace. Go Blue!

Check out the great Wikipedia articles below for more on the life of Dan McGugin.




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