Today’s post celebrates the memory of a Michigan Man named Alan Bovard who went to rest in peace on this day in 1983 at seventy-six years of age. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Alan J. Bovard was born on September 24, 1906 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Ithaca, New York.
(Note – Alan Bovard is shown above with the 1929 Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is standing in the third row – fourth man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Alan Bovard’s name first showed up on a Michigan Football Roster in 1926. Freshman didn’t normally start in those days. So, Bovard played on the freshman team and learned to play center in the Fielding Yost football system.
When Bovard returned to play football in the fall of 1927, he learned that he would be playing for a different coach. Tad Wieman was selected to fill the vary big shoes of Fielding H. Yost. Alan must have impressed his new coach in fall drills since he started six games at center in 1927. Year one of the Wieman Era was a mild success. Michigan finished the season with an overall record of 6 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines did not win a conference title in 1927. Instead, they finished in third place with a record of 3-2-0. The best news was that Michigan Stadium was open and the Wolverines were setting attendance records in their new home.
Alan Bovard did everything he could to make 1928 a special football season. He started six more games at center and earned his second varsity letter. Unfortunately, the Wolverine team did not perform very well on the field. Michigan ended the season with a final record of 3 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie. Wins were down in 1928, attendance was down in 1928 and Wieman was out after only two seasons.
Unfortunately for Coach Wieman, Fielding Yost had a new stadium to fill and a losing team did not help him pay the bills. Yost looked to East Lansing for a solution to fill his coaching vacancy. He lured his former All-American player, Harry Kipke, back to Ann Arbor to lead the Wolverines.
Alan Bovard’s senior year was another year of transition for him and his teammates. He was playing for his third coach in four years. He must have impressed Coach Kipke with his ability because he started all nine games of the 1929 season. Every start was at center where he earned first team All-Big Ten Conference honors. The Wolverines improved their overall record and finished the season with 5 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. They weren’t as good in the conference since a record of 1-3-1 saddled them with a tie for eighth place
Of course, we are continuing our journey to find as many “Michigan football firsts” as we can. Here are some “firsts” that connect Alan Bovard to Michigan football.
· Alan Bovard played on the first team of the Tad Wieman Era (1927), and, unfortunately the last in 1928.
· Bovard played in the first game in Michigan Stadium on October 1, 1927.
· Alan Bovard played in the first three games in Michigan Football history with crowds over 80,000 people in 1927.
· Alan Bovard went on to a successful career as a high school and college coach. I believe he is the first Michigan Man to coach a state championship team in football and basketball.
Bottom line – Alan Bovard was an excellent player at Michigan. He left Ann Arbor with twenty-one starts, three varsity letters, conference honors and a ton of great memories. Today is a great day to remember Alan Bovard and appreciate his contributions to Michigan football. May Alan J. Bovard continue to rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
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