Michigan’s 1973 Coaching Staff

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As you may have heard, forty years ago today the University of Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State University Buckeyes played to a 10-10 tie on the gridiron. Both teams entered the game undefeated and untied, with the Buckeyes ranked #1 in the country and the Wolverines #4 in the land. The game, played in Ann Arbor before a crowd of 105,223, was a landmark for several reasons, not the least of which is that it served as the catalyst to enable more than one team from the Big Ten to go to a bowl game in a given season. The juniors on that 1973 Michigan team would go 30-2-1 in their careers (as freshmen, they weren’t eligible to play, per the rules of the day), and never get a sniff of a bowl game.

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Hall of Fame Head Coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes built amazing assistant coaching staffs. On Michigan’s side, the remarkable 1973 assistant coaching group went on to have terrific careers in their own right. Of the nine assistant coaches on staff, six would go on to leave Michigan directly for Head Coaching positions elsewhere. Two others remained with Michigan as assistant coaches until they retired, and one would leave with Don Nehlen to become Nehlen’s Defensive Coordinator at West Virginia. Here’s a look at Michigan’s nine assistant coaches from that 1973 season:

Dennis Brown (Offensive Backs Coach in 1973, on Bo’s staff 1972-79): All Big Ten Quarterback for the University of Michigan in 1968. Brown went on to be an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler from 1972-79. When Don Nehlen left Michigan’s staff after the 1979 season to become Head Coach at West Virginia University, he took Brown with him, where Brown was his Defensive Coordinator from 1980-87. Among the players on his defense at WVU was Rich Rodriguez. Brown left WVU after the 1987 season to head to Arizona State, where he was Defensive Coordinator for two seasons. After coaching high school football in Detroit for a few years, Brown returned to the University of Michigan as an Assistant Athletic Director for two and a half years under Tom Goss. Brown spent several years as an Assistant Principal at Annapolis High School in Dearborn, a position from which he retired this past spring.

Tirrel Burton (Offensive Ends Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1970-1991): Burton coached for Bo at Michigan during the entire Schembechler era (except for 1969) and the first two seasons of the Moeller era. He started as the Freshman Coach in 1970-71; was Offensive Ends Coach from 1972-78; and Offensive Backfield Coach from 1979-91. Burton was a part of 14 Big Ten Championship coaching staffs and 10 Rose Bowl staffs.

Jerry Hanlon (Offensive Line Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1969-91): The legendary Hanlon was part of 15 Big Ten Championship coaching staffs and 11 Rose Bowl staffs. He is known mostly as an Offensive Line Coach, but he was the Quarterbacks Coach during the entire time that Jim Harbaugh was at Michigan (1982-86). Dennis Brown credits Hanlon with helping many people on and off the field, and had this to say, “Jerry Hanlon turned out such great offensive linemen that the pro coaches used to come and talk to him about teaching technique. Jerry used to have a saying, I’ll never forget, “level the bubble, level the bubble.” And those guys had such great technique when they got to the professional ranks they would come in and talk technique and stuff with Jerry. I know one year it was really heavy that he was going to the Green Bay Packers as the OL Coach. Jerry never left. He loved Bo, he loved being with Bo. And he loved Michigan.”

Jack Harbaugh (Defensive Backs Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1973-79): Harbaugh left Michigan after the 1979 season to take the Defensive Coordinator position with Stanford. He was with the Cardinal for two seasons before being named the Head Coach at Western Michigan, where one of his assistant coaches was Brady Hoke. In 2002 Harbaugh led Western Kentucky to the I-AA Championship and was named the American Coaches Association National Coach of the Year. Inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, he is, of course, father of former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

Frank Maloney (Defensive Line Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1968-73): A Michigan player from 1959-61, Maloney left Michigan after the 1973 season to become Head Coach at Syracuse, a position he held from 1974-80. After leaving Syracuse, he spent 29 years with the Chicago Cubs, including 27 years as Ticket Operations Director.

George Mans (Defensive Ends Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1966-1973): A teammate of Maloney’s at Michigan from 1959-61, he and Maloney were the only two assistant coaches from Bump Elliott’s regime to coach for Schembechler. Mans left Michigan after the 1973 season to become Head Coach at Eastern Michigan University, a position he held for two seasons. Mans later became Mayor of Trenton, Michigan, and also served in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Gary Moeller (Defensive Coordinator in 1973; a Michigan coach from 1969-76 and 1980-1994): Moeller left the Michigan coaching staff after the 1976 season to take the Head Coaching position at Illinois. After three seasons at Illinois, Moeller returned to Schembechler’s staff for the 1980 season. Moeller was Michigan’s first ever Offensive Coordinator (1987-89). He of course succeeded Schembechler as Michigan’s Head Coach after Bo’s 1989 retirement.

Chuck Stobart (Offensive Backfield Coach for Michigan from 1969-76): Stobart left the Wolverines to take over as Head Coach of the Toledo Rockets in 1977. He would later be Head Coach of both Utah (1982-84) and Memphis (1989-94).

Elliot Uzelac (Offensive Line Coach in 1973, a Michigan coach in 1973-74 and again from 1982-86): Left Michigan’s staff twice for Head Coaching jobs. He was Head Coach for Western Michigan from 1975-81 (and the MAC Coach of the Year in 1976), and Head Coach of Navy from 1987-89.

Note there was no Offensive Coordinator – Schembechler would not have one until 1987, when Gary Moeller took on the role.

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Siena Heights 2012 Season Preview with Jim Lyall, Team 94

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Jim Lyall, University of Michigan defensive lineman under Bo Schembechler from 1970-73, is currently the Head Coach of the Siena Heights University Saints, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program in Adrian, Michigan. Also on staff at Siena Heights is Rob Thornbladh, a player on the 2006 Michigan squad. Fergodsakes.com spoke with Coach Lyall regarding his team and his time at Michigan.

The first season of Siena Heights Saints football was 2011, and Michigan Man Jim Lyall led the way. Lyall, who spent 20 years as Head Coach at Adrian College, was tapped to bring the Siena Heights program to fruition. The only Catholic University in the state of Michigan to offer football, the Saints in 2011 went 8-1 against a mixture of varsity, junior varisty and club football teams. The new 2012 season will mark Siena Heights’ first full year of varsity status, and the schedule is certainly a few steps up in competition from 2011. Playing in the top NAIA conference in the nation (The Mid States Football Assocation), the Saints are slated to face the NAIA number 1, 3, 6, and 11 teams in the country.

“There was never a more intense man than Bo Schembechler, and there will never be another Bo Schembechler.” Coach Lyall calls Schembechler and his position coach at Michigan, Frank Maloney, “the two biggest influences on me.” Those influences permeate his Siena Heights program. “We are building the program based on what Bo taught us – Character and Integrity. We have recruited as many high school captains as we could. We provide an education and a chance to be a part of history. We sell kids on the fact that it’s ‘our’ team. Everything we do adds or subtracts to our tradition. Hopefully that transcends sport and permeates their lives.”

Coach Lyall says, “I have a great coaching staff, which allows me to develop relationships with young men and develop something special with these kids.” As for style and playcalling, the Saints use aspects of the spread offense. “We think in terms of players first, formations second, and then we call plays.” As an NAIA program, Siena Heights is able to combine athletic and academic scholarships, and the Saints recruit to the system. “We want the best linemen we can find, the best quarterback we can find, and the most speed at every position that we can find.”

In talking about the 1973 Michigan team, Team 94, the team on which he was a senior, the pride in Lyall is evident. The Wolverines went 10-0-1, with the one tie of course being the 10-10 game against the Buckeyes. The next day the Big Ten Athletic Directors voted to send the Buckeyes to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl, even though they were Big 10 representatives in Pasadena the year before. Big Ten rules at that time prevented Michigan from going to a bowl game. How did Lyall find out about the vote? “I was pulling into the library, and was listening to CKLW. Ewan McGregor said that Michigan’s season was over. It was just a shock. Very difficult to put into words the emotions that were felt. For me personally, my career was over. I wasn’t going to play in the pros.” How big of a shock was it? “As we walked off the field after the game, the players from OSU congratulated us, wished us luck in Pasadena. Our entire feeling in the locker room after the game was celebration – we were going to California. I was sitting on Bo’s lap!”

“Bo talked to us at every reunion about how he never forgot what happened.” In large part because of that 1973 team, and Schembechler’s lobbying, the rules were changed to allow more than one Big Ten team to go to a bowl game in a given season. The 1975 team was the first Michigan team to benefit from the change, playing in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma at the conclusion of the season. But for Lyall, part of what would end up the number 6 team in the country according to UPI, he sat home on New Years Day, 1974.

The Siena Heights University Saints open their season this Saturday, August 25 with a home game at 7:00pm against Robert Morris at O’Laughlin Stadium in Adrian, Michigan. Other home games are September 8 against Marian, September 29 against Taylor, October 6 against Olivet Nazarene, and on October 13 Siena Heights will host the preseason number 1 NAIA team in the country, St. Xavier. Road games are September 1 at Iowa Wesleyan, September 15 at Concordia (in Ann Arbor), October 20 at Grand View, October 27 at Saint Francis, and November 3 at Waldorf.

The Siena Heights Saints football website can be found here. Follow the Saints on twitter @SienaHeightsFB.

Where are former Michigan players and coaches coaching today? Fergodsakes.com will have 2012 season previews on some of the teams that have a former Wolverine player or coach as part of their staff.

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