Today’s post celebrates the contributions of another Michigan Wolverine named Ferdinand A. Rockwell who went to rest in peace on this day in 1952. He was fifty-two years old when he died. According to the Wikipedia article listed below, Ferdinand Almon “Tod” Rockwell was born in Jackson, Michigan in 1900, but no date is known. Rockwell got hooked on “football” as a young man. He came to Ann Arbor in 1920 to play football for the legendary coach named Fielding H. Yost.
After a year on the freshman team, Ferdinand A. Rockwell, left the team for two years, but came back in 1923.He began the season as the backup quarterback to Irwin Uteritz, but finished the season as the starter when Uteritz broke his ankle in a game against the Quantico Marines. Although he only started three games in 1923, Rockwell made them count. On his first play as a varsity football player, Tod Rockwell did something that very few Michigan Men have ever done. He scored a touchdown on his first play (a fake field goal) to help lead the Wolverines to a 26-6 win over the Marines.
In his next game at Wisconsin, he made another famous “play” that led to a change in the rules in 1924. Rockwell fielded a bouncing punt and took off down the field. According to Will Perry, (in his book “The Wolverines: A Story of Michigan Football, Page 100) Rockwell was hit and knocked to the ground on several occasions, but he was never in anyone’s “grasp” when he touched the ground. The whistle never blew, so he didn’t stop running until he crossed the goal line. His second quarter run turned out to be the only touchdown of the game. Even though Michigan missed the PAT kick, they won the game by a score of 6-3. The referees had to be escorted off the field because the Wisconsin fans were livid! As a result of that controversial play, the rule was changed in 1924 so that a play was terminated when any ball carrier hit the ground – period!
In the final game of the 1923 season, Rockwell caught a 31-yard touchdown pass which helped push Michigan to a 10-0 victory over Minnesota. The Wolverines finished the season with a perfect record of 8 wins and 0 losses. They ended the conference season with a record of 4-0-0. The Maize and Blue footballers earned the Big Ten championship and the National championship at the end of the season.
Tod Rockwell’s “exploits” earned him the starting quarterback job for his new coach, George Little. Rockwell started every game in 1924 (7 at quarterback and 1 at left halfback). He helped lead the Wolverines to a record of 6 wins and 2 losses. One of those losses was the Illinois game where Red Grange ran “wild” against Michigan. As it turned out, Rockwell led Michigan in scoring in 1924 with a total of 77-points. He was second in Big Ten scoring, just one point behind All-American Red Grange!
So, today is a good day to honor the memory of Michigan Man Ferdinand A. Rockwell and appreciate his contributions to Michigan Football. Tod Rockwell only played two years of varsity football for the Wolverines, but he made them count! He helped Michigan win 14 games and earned two varsity letters and a couple championships to boot! Thanks to men like Ferdinand A. Rockwell, Michigan has the winningest football program in the history of college football. May Tod Rockwell continue to rest in peace! Go Blue!
Who was the first Michigan football coach to post twenty career wins?
Gusave Ferbert became Michigan’s head coach in 1897. He posted a record of 6-1-1 in his first season at the helm. In his second season, Ferbert had a record-setting season. His 1898 team became the Wolverine team to win ten football games (10-0-0). The Wolverines also won the first Western Conference Championship in 1898. Gustave Ferbert became the first man in Michigan Football history to coach the Wolverine Football team for a third season in 1899. His team posted an overall record of 8 wins and 2 losses.
Ferbert decided to leave his beloved Wolverines after the 1899 season. He went to Alaska to search for gold. Coach Ferbert’s record of 24 wins, 3 losses, 1 tie made him the winningest coach in the early history of Michigan Football. His Wolverine victory record was surpassed by Fielding Yost in 1903.
Who was the first Michigan placekicker to attempt 30 field goals in one season?