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April 11, 1968 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-04-11

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Page Nine

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...,...... w. , .

ferent situations at Chicago, Min- too strongly in the opinion of
nesota, Princeton, and Michigan, many sportswriters. One news-
He proved adept at managing paper tabbed him dictator of the
Board finances, and completed 10 Big Ten; another expanded it to
of 11 items on the Board's prior- dictator of the NCAA. Fritz was
ity list out of Athletic Department winning in another field, and true
surpluses, a feat of unique pro- to the advice of Granny Rice, the
portions. scribes were writing about him.
Among the major accomplish- but the words weren't always;
ments of the grandiose building kind. ,
program initiated by Crisler were A slight grin breaks out on
two expansions of Michigan Sta- Fritz's face when he thinks of the
dium to its present capacity of vilification that has been heaped
101,001 (the largest college-own- upon him. "The criticisms that the
ed stadium in the country); the press has levelled never really bo-
completion of the Stadium's thered me, although I think they
roomy Communication's Center gave me undue credit. There
for press, radio, and television; a would have been a lot of things
million dollar women's swimming different if they had enacted all
pool; the Matt Mann men's var- my proposals and suggestions."
sity p01; a modern steel baseball Charges came from other quar-
pavilion; the Golf Course Club- ters, too. One alumnus from the
house; the Athletic Administra- Chicago area has made a hobby-
tion Building; and enlargement of criticizing Crisler for his ag-
and modernization of the Michi- gressive policies. Members of the
gan ice rink. University faculty have claimed
that the athletic department has
THE MOST RECENT project beendhis personal fief, and the
which Crisler undertook was the Board his rubber stamp.







Year b Year with Crisler

"We can't get much more professional than
we are today.' We are on a paid-player basis.
Basic subsidies are a way of life in this coun-
try . . . . to the peanut grower, the dairy
farmer, the athlete."

"You need a combination of both size and
muscular control in football, but the big in-
tangible is what you've got down under your

(Continued from Page 8)
ped me, and of course, I didn't
have the car registration."
The police were determined to
haul in Crisler as a suspect, but
he managed to persuade them to
call McGraw, who colfirmed that
he was Princeton's new head
football coach.
F6ILOWiNG THE trial very
closely after he arrived at Prince-
ton that spring and attendig
almost every day, Fritz became a
veritable expert on the case. He
can still recite the facts with ease.
Yet another freak occurrence was
in store for Crisler
One clay in May, he and his
assistant oaches decided to drive
Mover to an eating place in Hop-
well, N.J. IIn route, they passed
what Fritz terms "one of th
mountain people" driving a mule
cart filled with ;hay. Soon after
the Crisler car passed him, th
mule driver stopped and walked
into the woods, finding the body
of the Lindberg h baby.
A short time later, Criser was
riding in a car with New Jersey
Governor Hoffman when an as-
sassin fired two shotgun blasts
at the car. By this time, Fritz
was probably ready to get back
to the normalcy of the football
Crisler also had the opportu-
nity at Princeton to become
acquainted with one of the great
Anerican writers of the twentieth
century, F. Scott Fitzgerald. He
made it a practice to call Crisler
the night before each Princeton
game, although Fitzgerald some-
times waited until as late as 3:00
a.m. on the day of the contest, to
offer him strategic suggestions
about the upcoming game.
"ONCE, HE TOLD me that the
way to beat Harvard was by
drawing a parallel between black
ants and red ants," Fritz remem-
bers. 'te said to open the game
by playin the big, strong black
ants to wear Harvard down, and
then to substitute the fast, little
red ants to run around them."
For one of the Yale struggles,
Fitzgerald asserted that thekey
to the contest was the Yale bull-
dog. If Princeton. could capture
the' billdog immediately before
the game, the Yale eleven would
speid the rest of the afternoon
wormg about their canine in-
sh~ad ,of the gamne.,
Cisleri was well established at'
lPrinceton when Michigan re-
leased grid coach Harry Kipke
after the 1937 season. When Ralph
Aigler, then. Michigan's faculty
representative in intercollegiate
conference, called Fritz and ask-
e4 him to come to New York, he
assumed Michigan was interested,
in Ta, Wienman, his line coach
at both Minnesota and Princeton.
Crisler was surprised when Aigler
offered. him the job instead, but
replied that he was happy at
It wasn't long before Aigler ar-
ranged ..another meetng with
Orisler, this time to discern
whether he was interested in the
dual position of coach and ath-
letic director, as Fielding H. Yost
was soon slated to retire. Fritz,
did admit that this second offer
was more tempting than the first,
but that he \would again have to
return to his previous reply, that
he was happy where he was.
AIGLER WASN'T through yet,
though. He requested that Fritz
set down in writing the condi-
tions under which he would
accept the job. Crisler complied,
nutting forth what he considered

1107. Those numbers sure paidf
off for me," Fritz says. "Coming
to Michigan was the best thing
that ever happened. to me."
ler set down In the winter of 1938
chiefly concerned to whom he
would be administratively respon-
sible. At that -time, =the Board in
Control of Intercollegiate Athletics
was above intramurals and phy-
sical education in addition to ath-
letics. "I could see what problems
that might lead to," Crisler em-
phasizes. The Regents' Bylaws
were revised to suit his thinking.
Crisler also was made Chair-
man of the Board in the Bylaws
change, although that function
had previously been fulfilled by
Michigan's faculty representative.
This was not- a request from
Fritz, however. "I didn't want it,
'because I thought my opinions
could be expressed to the 'Board
more freely if I wasn't Chair-
The situation that Fritz step- -
ped into at Michigan was about
as rosy as a field of dandelions.
Yost personally had supported
George Veenker, head coach at

shirt ..,. the heart."
,strenuous conditioning program,
he also earned the reputation of
a taskmaster.
Fritz is not ashamed -of his
notoriety on that count in the
least. "I believed in discipline,"
he affirms. "Self-discipline is
terribly important even today.
and it's going to be important 50
years from now. The player has
to submerge his personal feeling
and desire for aggrandizement,
and I think this holds true in any
"A man should want to make
his contribution as part of a unit,
a team," Fritz adds. "I never really
said it, but I made it pretty plain
that a player who didn't agree
with me on these things wouldn't
be welcome on my squad."
tic philosophy logically included
sportsmanship as one of its ma-
jor tenets. "I'll always remember
what Stagg used to say onthat
subject," Fritz claims. "He always
told his teams to play within the
rules, ,don't try to take unfair ad-
vantage, and don't get in the gut-
ter with your opponent. If you
forget about sportsmanship, you

"The athletic director, in my eyes, should
definitely be aggressive in. the Big Ten and
NCA A; rather than pull himself into' his little
shell down here at the athletic building.
Otherwise, we could just hire an office boy

to sit down here and

order jock straps and

v r5:' .: ,';,v,:. . ..o;.;".pt^; .f , r i, : ;:N Sa ::'s:is : 1 {r a ' is :{:{i rasr.;.

Iowa State, as Kipke's successor.
The Athletic Board and the Uni-
versity R e g e n.ts had divided
sharply over t ree ,candidates for
the position, ,.nd factions had
formed. Some of the "old Blues"
were miffed at Crisler's selection
because he was an alumnus of
Chicago, once Michigan's greatest
rival. As if there'-weren't enough
weeds in the garden already, the
Wolverine football squads of the
previous four years had won only
10 games, wbile dropping 22.
And they say Brer Rabbit
loved briar patches?
FRITZ"' TAKES contrasting
view to the difficult situation
that confronted him. 'That's one
coincidence about the three moves
I made," he points out. "I had
good fortune 'in each case. The
only way to go was up." A coin-
cidence, perhaps, but it is moke
likely that the shrewd Crisler,
who figures angles better than
Minnesota Fats, had calculated
this advantage before each move.
Still, there are different degrees
of up, and a aturn booster
couldn't have heped Michigan
football soar higher in the period
from 1938-1947, the reign of King
Crisler. Michigan won 11 games,
lost 16, an'd tied three over that'
span. Over a decade, Crisler's
Wolverines gathered in two con-
ference championships, p 1 a c e d
second six times, finished third
once, and tiedfor thirdi once, and
were ranked by the national polls
in the top ten for nine consecu-
tive years.
He coached 11 All-America
selections, including such greats
as Bob We s t f all, Chalmers
(Bump) Elliott, and Tom Harmon.
The perfect culmination of Cris-
ler's coaching career came in 1947
when Michigan bulldozed its way
to a perfect 10-0-0 record, first
since 1932. Fritz was named Coach
of the Year, and Michigan
smashed Southern California in

will forget about timing, and ev-
ery other skill essential to the
Fritz shakes his head regretful-
ly. "You never hear much about
sportsmanship any more. It is un-
fortunate.tThere is.not a cup or
trophy awarded for it, no empha-
sis placed upon it. Sportsmanship
used to be a common cause. It
made :a football team more of a
Perhaps because of the strong
psychological bent in Crisler's un-
dergraduate academic curriculum,
he was led to focus on the mental
problems and traits of both
coaches and players. Self-analy-1
sis of his own personality was al-
ways aCrislercharacteristic, and
he admits that 'he often selected
staff members who could compen-
sate for his own weaknesses.
He sought out those nebulous
mental strengths in his players,
too; "You need a combination of
both size and muscular control in
football, -but the big intangible is
what you've got down under your
shirt . . . the heart," Fritz de-
THE OPPOSING coaches didn't
escape Crisler's psychiatric couch
either, although he gives credit
ion this count to one of his favor-
ite historical figures, Confederate
General Robert E. Lee. "Feinting
at one point and attacking at ano-
ther, leaving part of his defenses
open so that they could be con-
centrated somewhere else, stu-
dying the personal characteristics
of his opposing generals-these
were all 'principles I picked up
from examining his battle strate-
gies and applying them to foot-
ball," Crisler reveals.
For instance, Fritz tells of how
Minnesota's Bennie Bierman al-
ways revealed his game strategy
on the first series of downs, and
no matter what happened, the
Gophers would do the same thing
for the remainder of the after-,
noon. Bob Zupke of Illinois was
the thorn in 6risler's side, though.
"He would gamble more than any-
one I've ever seen," Fritz muses.
"Zupke was like Lee, always an
innovator." (Innovator or not, Il-
linois managed to-defeat the Wol-

verines only twice in ten outings
during Crisler's Michigan stint.)
Crisler's scholarly affection for.
General Lee and the Civil War is
another example of his wide-
ranging interest. Fritz has accum-
ulated a mass of printed matter
on the subject, and has toured the
major battlefields four times.
When talking of people that he
has admired greatly, or learned
extensively from, and the two are
almost synonymous, the words he
uses most frequently include "cre-
ative, imaginative, and innova-
tive." All three terms can be rea-
dily applied to his football think-
In 1947; his offensive line aver-
aged a meager 182 pounds, but
Crisler piled up the fantastic
point totals of that year using-
what one national journal called
an amazing combination of "dou-
ble reverses, buck reverse laterals,
criss-crosses, quick hits, and spins
from seven different formations"
The total array of play variations
employed by . that club totalled
somewhere near 170.
HIS MANY RULE innovations
arel still more examples of the
creative impact Crisler's presence
has had on football. He is known
as the "father of platoon foot-
ball." A virtual free substitution
rule was enacted on his sugges-
tion in 1941, at a time when he
was a member of the National
Collegiate .Athletic Association's
powerful Football Rules Commit-
tee, and President of the Ameri-
can Football Coaches' Association.
It was regarded solely as an emer-
gency wartime measure when it
was enacted, and no use was made
of the rule in the present-day
sense of offensive and defensive
It was the Michigan-Army
game of 1945 that brought about
the Crisler creation of platoon
football. Against the powerful Ca-
det eleven led by Doc Blanchard
and Glenn Davis, he was faced
with the prospect of starting nine
freshmen. Crisler divined that the
only way a massacre could be
prevented was by keeping his per-
sonnel fresh, and caused a major
sensation by dividing the Wolver-
ine squad into offensive and de-
fensive specialists. Michigan lost
the game, 28-7, but playedres-
pectably in staving off the Army
assault, the- score knotted at 7-7
at the end of the third quarter.
Since its inception during that
game in 1945, the platoon system
has had its ups and downs, with
the Rules Committee edminating
it altogether in 1951 because of
numerous complaints about rising
costs, but the period of its great-
est heyday is the here and now.
The two-way football player is as
rare as the single-wing formation
in today's game. Professional and
high school teams have also adop-
ted the system.
Crisler was sitting on the pin-
nacle of coaching success at the
end of the stupendous 1947 season
when he shocked the athletic
world by announcing his retire-
ment as coach. He reflects on that
decision today: "I decided to step
down as football coach for two
major reasons. First, the Univer-
sity was embarking on a big ex-
pansion program after the war,
and the Board placed 11 items on
its construction list for the future.
I knew it was going to be very
dificult to do full justice to both
coaching and the athletic direc-
"MY OTHER consideration,":
Crisler adds, "involved my coach-
ing record at Michigan. I thought
it would be difficult to improve
on, it," he grins
Crisler, the coach, had little
trouble shifting to the role of
Crisler, the administrator, exhibi-
ting the same versatility which
had enabled him to adopt to dif-

$7.2 million University Events
Building, which will serve as a
home for basketball in addition
to other University functions. The
lavish structure contains 13,500
theatre-type seats, and again, was
financed entirely out of Board
Crisler accomplished this ex-
pansion in addition to heading up
an intercollegiate program whose
expenditures rapidly are ap-
proachjng the $2 million-a-year
level. .
Speaking of the building ac-
complishments, Crisler modestly
asserts, "I don't think you can
term it a success. It's something
we set out to do and we did it.
It's part of our job." He compares
the administrative duties t o
coaching. "You are supposed to
win, and when one game is gone,
the next one is important. You
may have won, but that is your
responsibility," Fritz concludes.
Never the type to sit on the
sidelines, Crisler was always ac-
tively engaged in what may ap-
pear to be the more innocuous
functions of the NCAA commit-
tees and various Big Ten coun-
cils. He immersed himself in these
organizations that hammer out
nationalathletic policy with the
same enthusiasm that character-
ized his coaching career.,
HE STRONGLY influenced re-
gulatory policy in many areas-

Fritz vigorously defends the
way he performed his duties,
though. "I had thought-out, firm
convictions both conference-wise
and nationally, and I was free to
express my views. The athletic di-
rector, in my eyes, should defin-
itely be aggressive on these bod-
ies, rather than pull himself into
his little shell down here at the
athletic building. Otherwise, we
could just hire an office boy to
sit down 'here and order jock
straps and T-shirts," he declares.
changes on more than one -occa-
sion. The two-point conversion
rule was his idea; the goalposts
were widened from 20' to 24' at
his suggestion; the controversial
punt rule of the 1967 season em-
bodied Fritz's general principle
although not his specific wording.
The influence which television
has hadi on football has also been
deplored by Crisler. Michigan re-
mains one of the last schools in
the country which will not allow
sideline cameras on the playing
field, out of concern for the play-
ers' i protection and spectators'
vision. And every year, dris-
lerthrows. the legal department of
major television networks into: a
quandry because he refuses to
sign a contract for games televis-
ed in Ann Arbor.
He has attempted to enact
measures protecting gridders from

brutality and injury. On this
count, he has cooperated exten-
sively with Dr. Richard Schnei-
der, a University neurosurgeon, in
his extensive research work on
fatal football injuries. That Cris-
ler feels strongly about such mat-
ters, there can be little doubt.
When shown a picture of the la-
test in football helmets, he was
once moved to make the state-
ment that "if a player needs that
kind of armor to play the game
safely, then perhaps it shouldn't
be played at 'all."
Crisler realizes the infringe-
ments that have been made on
amateurism for better or for
worse, in collegiate athletics. "We
can't get much more professional
than we are today. We are on a
paid-player basis. Basic subsidies
are a way of life in this country
. to the peanut grower, the
dairy farmer, the athlete."
Crisler still attempts to contain
professionalism in small ways,
however. He opposed the intro-
duction -of freshmen competition
in the Big Ten during 1966. He
was the sole conference athletic
director disapproving of a recent
expansion of Rose Bowl squads
from 44 to 50 players
leadership has not been reticent
to take individual stands, as the
preceding fact points out. The
only University voting against
levying the ultimate penalty
against the Illinois coaches in the
slush fund scandal of 1967 was
He deplores recruiting extremes
on all counts. "There should be
some concern for what happetls
to high school boys who are sub-
jected to high-pressure tactics,"
he declared. "It used to be that,
the boy would choose the institu-
tion rather than the institution
choose the boy."
lFritz reports that a personal
aversion to recruiting in the man-
ner of some major fdotball pow-
ers, when the trend was just be-
ginning in the late 1940's, led to.
his decision to step down as
coach, -
That his colleagues admired his

efforts on behalf of football and
intercollegiate athletics is borne
out by his election to a lifetime
membership on the NCAA Foot-
ball Rules Committee, an honor
previously accorded only to Stagg.
Fritz is uncertain how he will
fill his time after retirement.
Crisler seems to have adopted
another of Stagg's characteristics
.-long activity, though. Still fit
and trim as he approaches the 70-
year mark (one Board member
recently suggested he don a foot-
ball uniform on a Saturday when
Michigan fortunes looked bleak),
Fritz gives the appearance of be-
ing able to continue indefinitely
at his present position, if it was-
n't for Michigan's mandatory re-
tirement age.
HE KNOWS one of the things
he should do when he leaves his
current post. "It will be a tragedy
if Stagg's life story is never writ-
ten, and I am about the last one
left who can do it," he says.
Friends have,-urged him to do
an autobiography, but his innate
modesty prevents him from ad-
mitting the book's possible worth.
He has received some other of-
fers, one in public relations and
a couple in television. Fritz admits
that the latter proposition is bas-
ed "not only on my histronic cap-
abilities, but more. on the o-
mentary line."
He has conquered new fields be-
fore, be it at Chicago, or Minne-
sota, or Princeton, or Michigan,
or the Football Rules Committee.
He appears destined to win a few
more as a matter of course.
will come, perhaps, when a violin
teacher, with a - pupil named
Kreisler, s t a r t s calling him
"Fritz," after the football coach.
It will be deserved. A writer
once said, referring to Crisler's
successes, that seldom had an oc-
cupation been launched so- per-
fectly in the image of another
man. This reporter may have be-
lieved that there would only be
one Stagg. What he -may not have
realized is that there would only
be one Crisler.

How many times have l told you to take cage of your
books so you'll get more for them from Follett's?
Oh, my son, is.;this a way
to treat your father?

-Daily-Thomas R. Copi
CRISLER SPEAKS AT the dedication of the new University
Events Building in March, the last phase of a mammoth building
program undertaken while-he was director.

-1 t
Our new shirting is an improved blend of 65%
Dacron@ polyester and 35% cotton with the finest
permanent press finish available. Your shirt really
looks good enough to wear straight from the dryer.
And it stays neat and smooth all day. Our batiste,
a nerfcri+lih+r waih+ for nrinca and summer, is

to be such extreme terms that the Rose Bowl, 49-0. That squad
he thought the negotiations had racked up 394 points over the sea-
reached their unfruitful end, son, the highest Wolverine total
even telling his friend McGraw since Yost's point-a-minute-team
that Aigler wouldn't be back. of 1905.
"It never occurred to me that ' '

Follett's 'pays you
more cask for
your usedbooks
Comes the end of the semester, you really
appreciate extra money. Follett's can give you
more hard cash for your used books because
we're part of a big operation and can afford to
share our volume-buying savings with you. We
buy all kinds of textbooks, even those not
currently being used on the campus or being
used next semester.
So, as soon as your exams are over, bring in your
books and get good pick-up cash for that after-
exam let down. And, next semester buy your books
at Follett's (we sell them-for less, too) and take
good care of them so you'll get a good buck for
them come next semester's end.

Michigan would accept my con-
ditions;" Crisler now admits.'
"Aigler was a smart man. Where
was I whenthey accepted every-
thing? I had to come: to Ann
* Arbor."
To some, it still might seem
that the Ann Arbor phase of
Crisler's career was a personal
-disappointment after the glamour

coach of the early 1930's hadl
metamorphasized into the grey-
flannelled low-key mentor of the
Michigan years. He won- by de-
manding discipline and self-sac-
rifice, emphasing techniques, and
using his innovative faculties to
theirsgreatest degree.
Crisler's players nicknamed him;

f ij
I it

FINAL DAY for Co' and Gown orders

For generations
the name Folleltt
has been
synonomous with
student saving.




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