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May 11 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Langdon Lea!

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Langdon Lea – the sixth coach in Michigan Football history. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Langdon “Biffy” or “Biff” Lea was born on May 11, 1874 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He was an All-American tackle at Princeton in 1893, 1894, and 1895. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Lea was the “unofficial” coach of the 1899 Princeton Football team.

Michigan Football had a problem in early 1900 because Gustave Ferbert decided to leave coaching and go digging for gold in Alaska. So, Michigan Athletic Director Charles Bair decided to look “east” to find his next football coach. In the early years of football, former “eastern” players were in great demand as western schools sought to start and improve their own football programs. Baird was able to lure Langdon Lea away from Princeton to coach the Michigan Wolverines in 1900.

Coach Langdon Lea 1900 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Langdon Lea was the first man to coach Michigan in the 20th Century. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Langdon Lea only coached one season in Ann Arbor, but it was a pretty good one. Michigan played a ten game season and finished with a final record of 7 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. However, their record of 3 wins and 2 loses in conference was disappointing. Their fifth-place finish was the worst in Michigan’s five years of conference play.

Biff Lea would not be the subject of today’s post if he wasn’t associated with some Michigan “football firsts.” Here are the ones that I could find:

  • Langdon Lea was the first “All-American” player to coach football at Michigan in 1900.
  • Lea coached the first Michigan football team of the twentieth century in 1900.
  • Langdon Lea coached Michigan in the first games ever against Indiana and Iowa in 1900.
  • Lea coached Michigan to victory in the first Homecoming game against a “real” team (Purdue) instead of an alumni team. Michigan won the game by a score of 11-6.

So, today is a good day to remember Langdon “Biff” Lea for his contributions to Michigan football. Although he only coached for one season, he won seven games and left some good talent for a guy named Yost to work with. Lea returned to Princeton to be their first “official” coach in 1901. Eventually, Langdon Lea was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1964 for his outstanding playing career at Princeton. Thanks to Langdon Lea for one very good year in Michigan Football History. May he always rest in peace. Go Blue!





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