Michigan Football Traditions

Wolverine Football Excellence
• More all-time wins than any other Division I-A school (935)
• Leads the Big Ten with 42 league championships
• Named national champion 11 times, including 1997
• 273 consecutive Michigan Stadium home games with crowds in excess of 100,000
• First college-owned football stadium to seat more than 100,000

U-M Leads Nation in Wins
• Michigan leads the nation in wins (935) and is followed by Notre Dame (896) and Texas (891).
• The Wolverines (.7314) overtook the Irish (.7289) in all-time winning percentage after beating Penn State this season.

Top 5 FBS Schools by Wins
Through 2016 Season

1. Michigan935-333-36.7308
2. Notre Dame896-321-42.7289
3. Texas891-356-33.7090
4. Nebraska888-369-40.7000
5. Ohio State884-320-53.7243

Top 5 FBS Schools by Winning Percentage
Through 2016 Season

1. Michigan935-333-36.7308
2. Notre Dame896-320-42.7289
3. Boise State426-159-2.7274
4. Ohio State884-320-53.7243
5. Oklahoma868-321-53.7202

Go Blue Banner
One of the most recognizable and exciting game day entrances in college football, the GO BLUE banner has been a staple at Michigan football games since 1962. This tradition has been performed by the Wolverines for nearly 50 years prior to the kickoff of every game at the Big House. After exiting the locker room, the team comes down the tunnel in unison. From that small hole at midfield, all the players can view is the large 30 by five foot banner that extends across midfield. On the directive, the players and staff run toward the banner that reads:


How did this tradition come about? Though the Graduate "M" Club made the permanent banner, it was the Undergraduate Club that started the tradition with a simple yellow block "M" on a six-foot wide strip of fabric. On the Friday practice before the 1962 team's homecoming game against Illinois, the "M" Club assembled all the non-football letterwinners to form two lines as the players ran off the field toward the locker rooms in Yost Field House. The club was given permission by then coach Bump Elliott to form the flag tunnel before the game the next day, and the rest is history.

The banner has proved not only desirable to the Wolverines, but also to opposing teams. On two occasions the banner has been stolen, however, no one has been able to take away the fighting spirit of the club or the Wolverines.

Those Who Stay Will Be Champions
This championship statement coined by legendary coach Bo Schembechler has been the rallying cry of Michigan football since 1969. When many players left the program prior to the start of the 1969 season Schembechler stated the famous phrase 'Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.' The statement was realized and fulfilled as the Wolverines upset No. 1 Ohio State by a 24-12 score to capture the Big Ten Championship. The signature victory ended a 22-game unbeaten streak for the Buckeyes and became the hallmark phrase for the Schembechler era and now Michigan football.

Champions of the West
The Wolverines first took to the football field in Chicago to play Racine (May 30, 1879), coming away with a 1-0 win. That victory began the tradition of success that has led University of Michigan football to be the most decorated program in collegiate football history.

The rich Michigan football tradition includes 910 victories and a .732 all-time winning percentage, three Heisman Trophy winners and 407 All-Big Ten Conference first-team citations.

Since 1896, Michigan has won more Big Ten Conference football titles (42) than any other conference school. And the Wolverines are the most-televised team in NCAA history.

From Fielding Yost's "Point-A-Minute" teams to the 1997 national champion team to this year's 2014 squad, Michigan's continual success on the collegiate gridiron has given the Wolverines the undisputed right to be called "Champions of the West."

"The Victors"
Michigan's famous fight song, The Victors, was written in November of 1898. Louis Elbel, a music student at the University, wrote the words and the music in celebration of a last minute 12-11 Michigan victory over rival Chicago, giving U-M its first Western Conference football championship. The Victors was first played in public by John Philip Sousa's band in May of 1899 in Ann Arbor. Sousa later called it the "best college march ever written."

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
   the leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
   the champions of the West.

Academic Excellence
The University of Michigan is consistently ranked among the nation's top academic institutions, achieving a balance of excellence in both academics and athletics. Twenty-nine Wolverine football players have been named to Academic All-America teams since the award's inception. Numerous Michigan players are among Academic All-Big Ten Conference, university academic departmental and coaching association academic honorees. Two former players -- Chris Hutchinson and Marc Milia -- were NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners, while 1997 quarterback Brian Griese was an NCAA Top Eight Award recipient.

The Winged Helmet
College football's most well-known helmet dates back to 1938 when Fritz Crisler arrived from Princeton University with a penchant for detail and style.

"Michigan had a plain black helmet and we wanted to dress it up a little," Fritz recalled. "We added some color (maize and blue) and used the same basic helmet I had designed at Princeton."

There was also strategic reasoning involved in the winged helmet. Fritz thought this unique design would be helpful to his passers when they tried to spot their receivers down field.

"There was a tendency to use different-colored helmets just for receivers in those days, but I always thought that would be as helpful for the defense as for the offense," offered the former Wolverine football coach and athletic director.

Indeed, Crisler was right on target in his assumptions. From the 1937 to 1938 seasons, Michigan nearly doubled its passing yards, cut its interceptions almost in half and improved its completion percentage.

Rivalry Games
NCAA Division I-A football teams annually compete in more than 65 regular-season trophy games, and each of those games owes its beginning to the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, some misgivings about water and a 30-cent jug. Dating back to 1909, the battle for the Little Brown Jug is the oldest trophy game in NCAA Division I-A. Sixteen years passed before the next trophy game was created. In 1925, the Illibuck (Illinois-Ohio State), the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue) and the Beer Barrel (Kentucky-Tennessee) trophies were first played for, the last of which was created, "to rival Michigan's Brown Jug."

Michigan-Michigan State: Paul Bunyan -- Governor of Michigan Trophy
Michigan-Minnesota: The Little Brown Jug Series
Michigan-Ohio State Rivalry Online Library Exhibit

0 n e
Or more exactly 01, which is what Michigan Stadium's capacity has ended in since the facility was expanded to seat 101,001 in 1956. The "1" in the capacity is an extra seat in honor of Fritz Crisler, the director of athletics at the time.

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