Today is a great day to wish a very Happy Birthday to Michigan Man Bruce Elliott (#21 pictured above with his younger brother Dave #45 in 1971). According to the 1969 Michigan Football Guide, Bruce N. Elliott was born on this day in 1949. Bruce is the oldest son of former Wolverine great Pete Elliott. Yes, he moved around a lot as a child because his dad was a coach. However, Bruce spent his high years in Champaign, Illinois. Of course, he grew up to be a very good football player. In fact, he was quarterback, just like his dad. As it turned out, he got a scholarship offer to play for his uncle (Bump Elliott) at Michigan.
Bruce arrived in Ann Arbor in 1968 and spent his freshman year learning the Elliott way to play football at Michigan. He hit the books and the practice field and worked hard to get ready for the 1969 football season. However, everything changed when Uncle Bump resigned his coaching job to become an Assistant Athletic Director to Don Canham in November 1968. Bruce’s life changed forever with the hiring of a guy named Bo Schembechler in December 1968.
Spring Football practice in 1969 was like Marine basic training! It was the hardest thing that these future “Michigan Men” had ever done in their young sports life – period! Players were quitting left and right and when the dust finally settled, about seventy-men were ready for Schembechler football! Bruce Elliott was one of them!
By the time Bruce was playing on Michigan’s varsity, he had switched from quarterback to defensive back. He only earned one start in 1969, but he played well enough, and often enough, to earn a letter on Bo’s first team. Other than beating Ohio State, the highlight of his season was his first interception which took place in Champaign – his hometown and the home of the Fighting Illini. Actually, the game wasn’t much of a fight for Illinois. Michigan was winning big and Bruce got to play late in the game. He picked off an Illinois pass and dashed forty-yards into the end zone. Wow, a pick six in his hometown! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Elliott returned in 1970 and started seven games in Bo’s defensive backfield. Bruce played well and the Wolverines won nine straight games before losing the last game of the year to the Buckeyes. Elliott earned his second varsity letter and helped Michigan post a conference record of 6-1-0 which was good enough for second place. Bruce’s efforts were recognized at the end of the season when he won the Frederick Matthei Award for his leadership and drive on the field and in the classroom.
Bruce Elliott returned in 1971 for his senior year. He started twelve games and played at a high level all season. He helped the Wolverines post a perfect regular season record of 11-0-0. Unfortunately, Bruce Elliott’s career ended on a down note as the Wolverines lost a heartbreaker to Stanford (12-13) in the 1972 Rose Bowl. Bruce Elliott did earn one other important award at Michigan – the Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award for being the top senior scholar in 1971.
When his career was over, Bruce Elliott and his teammates had accomplished an outstanding body of work. Michigan’s record during the “Bruce Elliott Years” was 28 wins and 5 losses. Those impressive numbers produced two Big Ten Championships and a second-place finish. Bruce Elliott, and many other outstanding players, raised the football standards at Michigan and they stayed there for a long, long time!
I think Bruce Elliott’s career is memorable for all the reasons stated above, but also because he may be the only Michigan Man to earn a football scholarship at Michigan from his uncle. I think he might also be the only Michigan defender to return his first interception for a touchdown. Finally, he was also very fortunate to play one season with his younger brother Dave in 1971,
Bruce Elliott almost followed his dad/uncle in coaching, but opted for a law career instead. Today is an excellent day to appreciate his contributions, and that of the Elliott Family, to Michigan Football. I hope that Bruce Elliott has a very Happy Birthday today!
Part II. September 12, 2018 – Trivia Question of the Day:
Once again, we are focused on the great state of Texas because the Wolverines host SMU on Saturday. Surprisingly, Michigan has only played the Mustangs once. Overall, Michigan has only played twelve games against Texas teams in 138-years. Fortunately, the Wolverines have done very well against teams from the Lone Star State. What is the largest margin of victory that Michigan has ever posted over a team from Texas?
Part II. September 12, 2018 – Trivia Answer of the Day:
Coach Gary Moeller’s 1992 team owns the biggest Michigan win over a team from Texas. The Wolverines destroyed Houston in the Big House by a score of 61-7. Yes, fifty-four points is a really BIG margin of victory. I honestly believe that Harbaugh’s Maize and Blue Footballers could exceed that victory margin this weekend. Go Blue!
Part III. September 12, 2018 – Trivia Question of the Day:
What Texas team came very close to luring Bo Schembechler away from Michigan in the early 1980s?