Living the 1926 Big Ten Season

Tater_Schroeder's picture
August 5, 2014 at 12:39p

About a week ago, myself and other Trustees from the Miller City Sportsman's Club were tearing down a wall for renovation. We ultimately tore all the way down to the original native-wood barn beams, to which many many years worth of renovations had previously been completed. In the wall, we discovered some newspaper fragments which appeared to have been added as insulation, as they were crumpled and did not look as though preservation was the builder's intent.

After perusing through the fragments, the date we found several times was the year 1926. Here is one example:


Also found, were what appears to be stock tickers at the time (three years before Black Tuesday and the Great Depression):

Stock Tickers?

Upon further inspection of the fragments, we happened upon this gem, an article entitled "Dull Day Is on Card for Big 10 Grid", dated November 6th, 1926.

Dull Day Dull Day Second Photo

The article happened to be towards the top of the page, so I could somewhat make out the name of the newspaper.

Toledo News?

It was apparent now that the newspaper was the now obsolete Toledo News-Bee, formed from the 1903 merger of The Toledo News and The Toledo Bee, and published until August 2, 1938 (thank you Wikipedia).

Fortunately, Google has that newspaper archived and I was able to find the article here. Below is the article:

Dull Day Is on Card for Big 10 Grid

By Clark B. Kelsey


CHICAGO. Nov. 6 - Football will mark time in the middle west today with a pale program of games between Western conference leaders and team which have been drubbed consistently.

Only one game in the schedule should mean much in deciding of the championship of the Big Ten. That game is the Purdue-Northwestern contest at Evanston, when one of the teams should eliminate itself form the rank of teams undefeated in the conference. Barring an upset, Northwestern should win, altho both teams are considerably stronger this season than in any recent year, and there are chances that Coach Jimmy Phelan has not shown all the tricks in the bag since the Navy game.

At Ann Arbor, Wisconsin, tied by Purdue and beaten by Minnesota, will face the University of Michigan team, which has been shuffled and dealt out again both as to plays and players since meeting defeat at the Navy's hands last week.

At Chicago, the University of Illinois, fresh from its great battle against Pennsylvania last week, will attempt to subdue Coach A. A. Stagg's Maroons. The Maroons have taken three beatings in the row, and is the weakest team at the Midway in a decade, but the Chicago team always plays well against Illinois. Two years ago the maroons surprised the great Illinois team at Stagg field by tying the game at 21-all, when they were given no chance by their closest followers.

Ohio State takes the day off, and many Buckeye players will watch the Michigan team at Ann Arbor, in hope of seeing what they are up against on the following week-end when they play the Wolverines at Columbus, in what should be one of the decisive games of the year.

At Iowa City, Iowa entertains Minnesota. Both schools have strong teams, but both have been beaten, and the contest will be one to see which can stay in the first division of the Big Ten.

The Western conference was first referenced as the Big Ten in 1917 when Michigan rejoined after a nine-year absence (and thanks again Wikipedia).  It's interesting to see an example of it being referred to as both in the article. My curiosity piqued,  and I went back to find what the Big Ten standings would have been during the time this article was printed. I've compiled the standings and records below:

School Record (Conference)
Ohio State 5-0 (2-0)
Michigan 4-1 (2-0)
Northwestern 4-1 (2-0)
Purdue 3-1-1 (1-0-1)
Wisconsin 3-1-1 (1-1-1)
Illinois 4-1 (1-1)
Minnesota 3-2 (1-1)
Iowa 3-2 (1-1)
Chicago 2-3 (0-2)
Indiana 2-3 (0-3)

This, leading up to final weeks of the season, shows that it was a conference to be decided between Ohio State and Michigan, and likely shared with Northwestern if they were to win against Purdue. The writer of the article was correct, and Northwestern did end up winning the game. And as has occurred often in the rivalry, Michigan was the lone loss suffered by the Buckeyes. Below are the final standings of the 1926 campaign.

School Record (CONFERence)
Michigan* 7-1 (5-0)
Northwestern* 7-1 (5-0)
Ohio State 7-1 (3-1)
Purdue 5-2-1 (2-1-1)
Wisconsin 5-2-1 (3-2-1)
Illinois 6-2 (2-2)
Minnesota 5-3 (2-2)
Indiana 3-5 (0-4)
Iowa 3-5 (0-5)
Chicago 2-6 (0-5)

* Conference co-champions

Michigan did thoroughly dominate the Western conference that year. It's five conference wins came against Minnesota twice, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, for an opponent's overall win-loss record of 28-11-1.

Northwestern's schedule, however, was much weaker. It's five conference wins came against Indiana twice, Purdue, Chicago, and Iowa, for an opponent's overall win-loss record of 16-23-1.

For those curious, Ohio State's conference games were against Iowa, Chicago, Michigan, and Illinois, for an opponent's overall win-loss record of 13-14. This 1926 season contributed to a lengthy absence of Buckeye Big Ten championships that lasted from 1921-1934.

As a non-football note, a brand new product being advertised at the time was called Newtile:


As the article states:

Newtile, in white sparkling color tones, is the modern permanent wall-surface that is reducing costs for thousands of home-owners.

Newtile is the epoch-making achievement among building materials. By a new process, Asbestos is compressed into large rigid sheets of tile - glazed with a permanent glossy white lustre - ready for the carpenter to attach to any wall.

Newtile, fireproof and waterproof, costs only one-fourth as much as ordinary tile, and will not crack or chip.

Thankfully, two things presented in this blog do not happen anymore:

  • Asbestos is no longer used in construction, and
  • Ohio State no longer loses to Michigan with any regularity. 
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