Today is a great day to remember a true Michigan Football legend named Harry Kipke on his happy birthday anniversary. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Harry Kipke was born on this day in 1899. Kipke grew up in East Lansing, but his football destiny was lived out in Ann Arbor.
Harry Kipke arrived in Ann Arbor in 1920 to play football for Coach Fielding H. Yost. The 1920 Michigan Football Roster listed Kipke as a halfback. Harry was also a skillful punter and a defender. In short, he was capable of starring on offense, defense and special teams. Since freshman did not play in this era, Kipke would have to wait his turn before he could star for Coach Yost’s football team.
The versatile Kipke made his debut in 1921 and he played well. However, he didn’t set the world on fire. That would have to wait until 1922.
Harry Kipke was a dominant player in his junior season. His spectacular play on offense, defense, and special teams earned him first team All-Conference and All-American honors in 1922. Kipke’s outstanding season helped lead the Wolverines to an excellent record of 6-0-1. More importantly, they earned a share of the Big Ten Championship with a perfect record of 4 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties.
Expectations were high in Ann Arbor for Harry Kipke’s final season. Fortunately, Captain Kipke and the rest of the 1923 Michigan Football team exceeded them. The Wolverines won every game and posted shutout victories in five of eight games. Yost’s footballers finished the season with a perfect record of 8 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties. They won another share of the Big Ten Championship with a record of 4-0-0. More importantly, the Wolverines were named National Champions at the end of the season.
In addition to his exploits on the football field, Harry Kipke also starred on the basketball court and the baseball diamond. In fact, Kipke was the first Wolverine to earn nine varsity letters at Michigan.
Of course, Harry Kipke’s story did not end when he graduated in 1924. He started coaching at Missouri in 1924 and stayed until 1927. Then, he accepted the head coaching job at Michigan State College in 1928. Kipke led the Spartans to a record of 3-4-1 which included a narrow loss to Yost’s Wolverines (0-3). In late 1928, Fielding Yost fired Tad Wieman. Mr. Yost asked his former All-American to take the reins of the Michigan Football team. Harry Kipke could not say “No” to his former coach and mentor.
Harry Kipke led the Wolverines to a winning season in 1929 (5-3-1). Then, the Wolverines went on a Yost-like tear that saw them post a record of 31-1-3 from 1930 to 1933. This amazing run produced four Big Ten Titles and back-to-back National Championships in 1932 and 1933.
The next four years did not go as well for Harry Kipke and his Wolverines. Michigan had losing seasons and finished the next four years with a record of 10 wins and 22 losses. The Wolverines went 5-17-0 in the conference which did not set well with the Wolverine faithful.
Harry Kipke was fired in December 1937 and Ralph Aigler moved swiftly to lure Fritz Crisler from Princeton. The rest, as they say, is history.
Yes, Harry Kipke was a legendary player and coach, but even legends wear out their welcome sometimes. Kipke moved on to some successful business ventures before his retirement. He passed away on September 14, 1972 at the age of seventy-three.
Harry Kipke is the first, and only, Michigan Man to win a National Championship as a player and a coach. Please take a moment to appreciate Harry Kipke’s contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. Go Blue!
Who was the first Michigan placekicker to score 10 extra points in a single game?
On November 7, 1981 placekicker Ali Haji-Sheikh kicked 10 straight extra points in a win over Illinois. Michigan was down 21-7 in the first quarter. Athletic Director Don Canham couldn’t bear to watch the game and left the game early. Bo got his team fired up and Michigan scored the last 63 points of the game. Final score – Michigan 70 Illinois 21. Go Blue!
Which Michigan football coach holds the Wolverine record for most consecutive wins in Big Ten Conference play?