Photoshop Phriday: Fritz Crisler
Fritz Crisler may not be a household name for those outside the U-M community but if you have watched a Michigan football game in the last 77 years you have seen part of his lasting impact on the program. Crisler played under legendary coach Amos Stagg at the University of Chicago and became the head coach at Michigan after several seasons of coaching at Princeton. Among the many innovations he brought to Ann Arbor, including using separate units for offense and defense, was Michigan’s famous winged helmet. Crisler first introduced the helmet at Princeton to help quarterbacks better see receivers downfield and it became an icon at Michigan.
Crisler went out on top as a head coach, leaving the position in 1947 after winning a national title (Bennie Oosterbaan then took over). Fielding Yost had retired as athletic director so Crisler took over the job where he would remain until 1968 when Don Canham stepped in. As AD Crisler oversaw the construction of a new basketball arena (now called Crisler Center) and two renovations to Michigan Stadium. He notably wanted the Big House capacity to end with a 1 (specifically 100,001) and there has long been rumored to be a special extra seat at the stadium just for Crisler in addition to the 107,600 others. In 2011 an enterprising Michigan Daily reporter tried to track down the elusive seat. Pictured above, Crisler and star player Tom Harmon were known to share a large dish of cherry bread pudding after a win (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library).