1903 : History of the Little Brown Jug

October 31, 2018 all-day

Oscar Munson, University of Minnesota Janitor, Makes A Name for Himself in the History of College Football

On this day, Minnesota custodian Oscar Munson found Michigan’s discarded water jug in the visitors’ locker room. The discovery came after a bitter contest in which Minnesota dominated the Wolverines in almost every statistical category except one: points. The game ended in a tie after Minnesota scored a touchdown with two minutes left on the clock. Exuberant fans stormed the field, forcing an early end to the game, which many football pundits considered a major upset over the Wolverines. It was Fielding Yost’s first “defeat” as head coach at Michigan. It was also the first live “broadcast” of a college football game.

Source : Deborah Holdship, “Trophy life: The Little Brown Jug”, Michigan Today, September 17, 2014.

Another interesting sidelight of the game:

Gridgraph photo

Gridgraph used to “broadcast” football games to Hill Auditorium

Long before Hill Auditorium hosted a signing day extravaganza, the venerable hall was regularly filled with U-M fans for away football games, following their team’s fates on an elaborate “gridgraph.” Before there was radio, the first “broadcasts” of away games were the work of The Michigan Daily, which received telegraphic updates on the game and posted them on a scoreboard on campus. For the 1903 Minnesota game (the “Brown Jug game”), U-M student David Mattice sat perched in a telephone booth atop a 40-foot pole at Northrup Field. He called the action over the telephone wire to a bank of 10 phones in University Hall Auditorium where students, each in turn, took in as much of Mattice’s commentary as they could repeat and relayed it to the crowd with a megaphone. The progress of the ball was marked on a large gridiron diagram. With the development of loudspeakers and amplifiers, the “broadcaster’s” voice could be sent directly to the crowd, and evermore elaborate gridgraphs were devised to chart the game. The model pictured was purchased by the Alumni Association in about 1921. The first radio broadcasts of U-M football came in 1924, but the gridgraph at Hill continued through the 1929 season. The Alumni Association and The Michigan Daily combined to sponsor gridgraphs at the Michigan Union for some games through 1933.

“The First “Broadcast” of a UM Football Game”

The First 150 Years of Michigan Athletics.

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