1969 - 74
With the removal of the two-inch Green Bay gold colored numerals on the sides of the navy blue helmets, 1969 marked a return to the traditional winged Michigan helmet with only the wing and three stripes. It also marked a return to glory and it came faster than the Wolverine faithful had hoped. Miami Of Ohio player and coach Glenn "Bo" Schembechler had done both under arch-rival Woody Hayes and installed unparalleled levels of discipline and conditioning that brought an 8-2 regular season record, victory over an undefeated and Number One ranked Ohio State team, and a visit to the Rose Bowl. Michigan was, in one year, back with a vengeance and thus it has remained as a contender for national honors for the past thirty-five years, the first twenty-one of these under Schembechler who came to define modern Michigan football. QB Don Moorhead, HB Billy Taylor, and Dan Dierdorf led a solid offense while the defense was anchored by LB Huff, and a very stingy secondary. The players as importantly, immediately took on the characteristics of their fiery coach. Schembechler had dressed the team for the first of his Ohio State games with a "50" on the front of each jersey, a reminder of the fifty points the hated Buckeyes had rung up on them the previous season and the officials had to calm the Wolverines down before the game even started as they seemed to be in a frenzy in their pre-kickoff huddle before they went to extract revenge from their inter-state rivals. Beating the so-called "Greatest Team In 100 Years Of College Football" would make Bo's inaugural and National Coach Of The Year season a tough act to follow especially after the team hung together after Bo suffered a heart attack the morning of the Rose Bowl game and still played a close 10-3 loss against USC in the Rose Bowl. 1970 was a 9-1 gem, marred only by the loss to Ohio State. The talented sophs of 1969 were now experienced and the names would become familiar nationally: end Paul Seymour, guard Reggie McKenzie, HB Billy Taylor, and DB Thom Darden. TE Jim Mandich was gone to the Miami Dolphins however, but QB Don Moorhead was back and played well, breaking a number of school passing records. All Americans Dan Diedorf, later a Hall Of Fame guard and tackle for the Cardinals, LB Marty Huff, and undersized NG Henry Hill were consistently effective. Bo had established "the tone" he wanted with his players and the rest of the conference. It was time for championships.
1971 began a four-year dash to greatness. The 11-0 season was a product of both offense and defense. Reggie McKenzie was the O-line stalwart before going onto the NFL for a dozen years, the first ten as a star guard for the Bills. On the defensive side, Sandusky High School's DB Thom Darden would be named an All American and become the Browns first draft choice, leading their secondary for ten years. Another Sandusky product, Bo Rather would move from the defensive backfield next to Darden to receiver with great results but HB Billy Taylor was the offensive dart. They pounded everyone, shutting out three of the first four opponents and gave up more than a touchdown in only two games. The 10-7 wild win against Ohio State was complete with Woody Hayes' famous destruction and heave-ho of the sideline marker. Traveling to finish the season in the Rose Bowl against Stanford, they stayed isolated at a mountaintop seminary, but still lost to the Cardinal 13-12 on a field goal with sixteen seconds left. It was an 11-1 year and a number 7 national finish. 1972 was almost a repeat, 10-0 until running into the Buckeyes who nailed them 14-11 despite the year-long heroics of Massillon, Ohio QB Dennis Franklin, rushing of HB Chuck Heater, receiving of Bo Rather (Dolphins and Bears), and blocking of Paul Seymour who was moved from TE to offensive tackle. When Seymour graduated and went to the Bills, he must have brushed up his receiving skills with older brother Jim who had been a star at Notre Dame and played with the Bears because the Bills moved him back to tight end where he played from 1973 through '77. Four shutouts and a total of thirty-two points given up going into the final game vs. Ohio State indicated that the defense was doing its job. The Ohio State victory over the Wolverines produced a tie for the Big Ten title and gave OSU the trip to Pasadena, and a 42-17 beating by USC. If anyone doubted Bo's ability to keep this juggernaut going, the 10-0-1 record of 1973 hinted at a true dynasty. Again, it was an undefeated team that went against Archie Griffin and Ohio State in the last game of the year and this time, neither team was happy with the resulting 10-10 tie. Schembechler had told his thirty seniors that he believed they could win every game and they almost did. TE Paul Seal kept the tradition of Kramer and Mandich-type tight ends alive before moving onto the NFL with the Saints and 'Niners and the new option offense was run to perfection by QB Dennis Franklin. Heater, leading rusher FB Ed Shuttlesworth, and Gordon Bell supplied Franklin's rush support and LB Don Dufek, Jr., son of 1951 U Of M Rose Bowl star Don, Sr., All Americans DT Dave Gallagher, and safety Dave Brown stifled everyone. The 6-4 vote to send State to the Rose Bowl in place of co-champion Michigan raised howls in Ann Arbor. 1974 brought an extension to the unbelievable Bo mystique, another 10-1 year, again with the Buckeyes being the roadblock to a perfect season. The rush offense was enormous, fifth in the nation, boosting the total offense into the top fifteen thanks primarily to QB Dennis Franklin, a three-time All Big 10 pick who stayed local and was a Lion receiver for two years. HBs Rob Lytle, a Big 10 track star and Gordon Bell combined for over 1800 yards to supplement Franklin's fiery leadership and option capabilities. Heater again carried the load from FB. Freshman OT Bill Dufek kept the family tradition of excellence in Michigan football alive and well. Junior DE Dan Jilek who later played for the Bills as a linebacker and "Wolf" rover Don Dufek, Jr. teamed with All American S Dave Brown to provide a nationally rated top ten defense as it had in each of Bo's seasons at Michigan. Brown went on to a fifteen-year NFL career, primarily with the Seahawks.
If interested in any of these Michigan helmets please click on the photos below.