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October 30, 2016 – Michigan’s First Game Against Tulane!

Posted on October 30, 2016 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post looks back at an interesting game that took place on October 30, 1920 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is one of those games that made me ask “Why did Yost agree to play a team from Tulane?” I knew there had to be a connection.

As it turned out, the “connection” was a man named Germany Schultz. Of course, Schultz was one of Yost’s All-Americans who had just been hired to be the athletic director at Tulane. So, the date was set for October 30, 1920 and it was game on.

Tulane was coached by a former Minnesota football player named Clark Shaughnessy. When Shaughnessy arrived at Tulane to begin his work he was struck by the poor facilities and run down conditions. This would be literally be a complete re-building job on and off the field. Shaughnessy stuck with it and in time, built a winning football program at Tulane.

The 1920 football season began with high expectations for Fielding Yost’s team. After suffering through his only losing season in 1919 (3 wins and 4 losses) Yost was determined to make things better. The big question was “how much better?” Yost’s Wolverines bolted out of the gate and shut out Case and Michigan Agricultural by the exact same score of 35-0. Illinois came to town and left with a narrow victory (6-7). So, Michigan had a record of 2 wins and 1 loss heading into the Tulane game.

Clark Shaughnessy’s team was off to an excellent start as well. Tulane won three of the first four games and tied another (0-0) heading into the Michigan game. They had outscored their opponents by a margin of 140-0 in the first four games. Something had to give!

I was unable to find a lot of details about the game. The final score was 21-0 in favor of Michigan. There was an interesting note in The Michigan Alumnus dated November 1920 that summarized the game. Page 126 of that document stated that “Although the southerners returned home defeated by a 21-0 score, they took with them the whole hearted respect of every Michigan student and Alumnus who witnessed the game.” As it turned out, Michigan was bigger and faster than the Tulane boys. The Wolverines just wore them out.

Michigan lost the next game against Ohio State by a score of 7-14 in Columbus. They finished strong with two straight victories over Chicago and Minnesota. Michigan’s final record for the 1920 season ended with 5 wins and 2 losses.

Tulane finished the 1920 season with 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Interestingly, they lost their last game to Detroit by a score of 0-7. The Green Wave scored one-hundred eighty-one points during the season and only allowed twenty-eight. They failed to score against Michigan and Detroit and only allowed points to the teams from Michigan. Everybody else got blanked.

Clark Shaughnessy would show up in Michigan’s football world a few years later when he replaced Amos Alonzo Stagg at the University of Chicago in 1933. He coached at Chicago from 1933 to 1939 and then went to Stanford.

Like Fielding H. Yost, Clark Shaughnessy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1968). His final record of 59 wins, 28 losses, and 7 ties still makes him the winningest coach in Tulane football history. During his career he coached at seven different colleges and finished with an overall record of 151 wins, 114 losses, and 18 ties.

So, I learned a few things about the Michigan vs Tulane game played way, way back in 1920. I hope you did too!

In case you missed it, Michigan beat MSU yesterday by a score of 32-23. It’s a great day to be a Wolverine! Go Blue!





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