After all the recent talk about Kansas University football coaches and their records, good and bad, several have written wondering why I’ve never done anything about a legend who never lost a game here, leaving with a 10-0 mark in 1899.
If you’re a relative or a diehard fan of Fielding H. Yost, you might not prefer some of the local material that surfaced about the Michigan hall-of-famer. His foundation for success, which Kansas helped create, apparently involved more than a little skullduggery.
Talk about a job-jumper! Yost was at Ohio Wesleyan (7-1-1) in 1897, Nebraska (8-3) in ’98, Kansas (10-0) in ’99, Stanford (7-2-1) in 1900. He went to Michigan in 1901, and in his first five seasons, Yost had records of 11-0, 11-0, 11-0-1, 10-0 and 12-1. The figure for that span is 55-1-1; the Woofies outscored their opponents 2,821-42. The lone loss — Chicago; the tie — Minnesota.
Michigan and Stanford met in the first Rose Bowl in 1901. UM won 49-0 against the team Yost had coached the year before. In ’01, Michigan scored 550 points, opponents zip.
Michigan gained fame as a point-a-minute juggernaut that created the nickname of “Hurry Up” Yost. He was head coach from 1901 through 1923, again in ’25 and ’26. His teams in those 25 seasons were 165-29-10; there were national titles 1901-02-03-04, then in ’18 and ’23.
The career record for the onetime West Virginia tackle was 197-35-12. Michigan boasted 56 consecutive games without a loss from 1901-05.
From 1921 through 1941, Yost was Michigan athletic director. As the Lew Perkins of his era, Yost conceived and engineered today’s athletic campus in Ann Arbor. His projects included massive Michigan Stadium, the university’s 18-hole golf course, the nation’s first intramural sports building and the nation’s first multi-purpose fieldhouse, now the Yost ice arena. He died in 1946 at age 75.
One Michigan sports historian says Yost as AD “continued Michigan’s tradition of accepting only the highest personal, academic and athletic standards while spreading that ideal to the facilities which support Michigan’s athletic pursuits.”
Well, maybe not totally.
Apparently, Fielding Yost got squeaky clean in later life, but he began his career with a reputation for winning teams at any cost. From the Dec. 29, 1909, Lawrence Daily World:
“Recent disclosures at Michigan showing that some of the football players at the big western school were not even enrolled call to mind the golden days of coach Fielding Yost at Kansas. Yost came in 1899 and had the reputation of turning out winning teams at any cost. ... The merchants and the alumni of the university wanted a winning team. ... Kansas had never had an ever-victorious aggregation. The merchants here raised money to further the team. Under the careful manipulation of coach Yost, an ever-victorious team was collected ... though it cost considerable money they were all satisfied.
“Yost was always a winner ... Michigan was wise to the fact that Yost’s coaching ability was not alone responsible for his success. ... Yost could always get a good team at least as long as the cash held out.”
In 1900, KU reverted to 2-5-2 under Charles Boynton.
Anybody ready to kick in a few extra bucks to help Turner Gill buy some KU superstars?