1940 Michigan Wolverines football
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
APNo. 3
1940 record7–1 (3–1 Big Ten)
Head coachFritz Crisler (3rd season)
Offensive schemeSingle-wing formation
MVPTom Harmon
CaptainForest Evashevski
Home stadiumMichigan Stadium
← 1939
1941 →
1940 Big Ten football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#1 Minnesota 6 0 0     8 0 0
#3 Michigan 3 1 0     7 1 0
#8 Northwestern 4 2 0     6 2 0
Ohio State 3 3 0     4 4 0
Wisconsin 3 3 0     4 4 0
Iowa 2 3 0     4 4 0
Indiana 2 3 0     3 5 0
Purdue 1 4 0     2 6 0
Illinois 0 5 0     1 7 0
† – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1940 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1940 college football season. Under third-year head coach Fritz Crisler, Michigan compiled a 7–1 record and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll. The team outscored opponents 196 to 34. The team's sole setback was a 7–6 loss on the road against a Minnesota team that finished the season No. 1 in the final AP poll.

The 1940 team featured one of the greatest backfield in football history with all four principal starters going on to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as either a player or coach. Left halfback Tom Harmon was a consensus All-American and the winner of the Heisman Trophy as the best overall player in college football. Harmon became the focus of nationwide media coverage, even appearing on the cover of Life magazine in November 1940. Quarterback Forest Evashevski won the Big Ten Medal as the school's best senior student-athlete and was later referred to by Coach Crisler as "the greatest quarterback I ever had."[1] Fullback Bob Westfall, known as "Bullet Bob," was the country's fourth leading rusher in 1940, gaining 808 yards in eight games. (Harmon had 852 rushing yards.) Westfall went on to become a consensus All-American in 1941 and also won All-Pro honors for the Detroit Lions in 1945. David M. Nelson, who started the most games at right halfback, went on to a 20-year career as a college football coach and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach.

The line playing in front of Michigan's Hall of Fame backfield was also one of the best in school history with four of the seven starters going on to play in the NFL. Left tackle Al Wistert had his jersey retired at Michigan, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and was an eight-time All-Pro selection for the Philadelphia Eagles. Left guard Ralph Fritz was a first-team All-Big Nine player in 1940 and later played for the Philadelphia Eagles. Center Robert Ingalls played for the Green Bay Packers and later served for 12 years as the head football coach at Connecticut. End Ed Frutig, who was Harmon's principal receiver, was selected as a first-team member of the 1940 College Football All-America Team and later played for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

A fifth starter on the 1940 line, Milo Sukup, was the running guard and one of the principal blockers for Harmon and Westfall. Harmon in 1940 publicly praised Sukup and Fritz as "two big reasons for Harmon."[2] Sukup was reportedly on track for selection as an All-American until he suffered a career-ending injury late in the season.[3] In a November 1940 game against Illinois, Sukup suffered a blow to the head while blocking for Harmon. He was knocked unconscious, suffered from temporary amnesia and was later hospitalized for several days after suffering recurring headaches.[4][5][6] Sukup was propped up in a bed at University Hospital when the Wolverines left to play Minnesota and listened by radio from his hospital bed as the team suffered its only loss of the season.[7][8] Sukup missed the last three games of the season due to the concussion and did not compete further as a football player. Robert Kolesar, who replaced Sukup at right guard for the last two games, went on to play for the Cleveland Browns.


Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 28, 1940* at California California Memorial StadiumBerkeley, CA W 41–0   35,401
October 5, 1940* Michigan State Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI W 21–14   69,951
October 12, 1940* at Harvard Harvard StadiumAllston, MA W 26–0   26,315
October 19, 1940† Illinois Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI W 28–0   39,975
October 26, 1940* #8 Penn #3 Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI W 14–0   62,262
November 9, 1940 at #2 Minnesota #3 Memorial StadiumMinneapolis, MN L 7–6   60,481
November 16, 1940 #10 Northwestern #6 Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI W 20–13   75,099
November 23, 1940 at Ohio State #7 Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH W 40–0   73,480
*Non-Conference Game. Homecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Season summaryEdit

Week 1: at CaliforniaEdit

Week 1: Michigan at California
by Quarter1234 Total
Michigan 7 14 7 13 41
California 0 0 0 0 0

Michigan opened the 1940 season on the road playing the California Golden Bears at Berkeley, California. Michigan won the game, 41-0, as the Michigan defense did not allow California to advance past midfield during the game. The big story of the game, however, was Tom Harmon. While celebrating his 21st birthday, Harmon scored four touchdowns, kicked four points after touchdown (PAT), and threw a touchdown pass to David M. Nelson. Harmon's first touchdown came on the opening kickoff, which he returned 94 yards. His second touchdown came in the second quarter on a 72-yard punt return in which he reportedly dodged and swerved from one side of the field to the other, running about 100 yards before reaching the end zone. His third touchdown was on an 85-yard run in the second quarter. During the third touchdown run, a spectator jumped from the stands and ran onto the field trying to tackle Harmon. Even the twelfth man, who was escorted off the field by police, could not stop Harmon from reaching the endzone. The Associated Press wrote that Harmon found California's defense "about as strong as a wet paper bag," noted that Harmon was "as hard to snare as a greased pig," and opined that the only reason Michigan's point total was not higher was that "Michigan's first-string players ran themselves into a complete state of exhaustion."[9]

Michigan's starting lineup against California was Frutig (left end), Wistert (left tackle), Fritz (left guard), Ingalls (center), Sukup (right guard), Kelto (right tackle), Rogers (right end), Evashevski (quarterback), Harmon (left halfback), Call (right halfback), and Westfall (fullback).[9]

Week 8: at Ohio StateEdit

Week 8: Michigan at Ohio State
by Quarter1234 Total
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0
Ohio State 0 0 0 0 0

In the final game of the 1940 season, Michigan defeated Ohio State 40-0 in Columbus. In his final game for Michigan, Tom Harmon ran for three touchdowns, threw two touchdown passes (one to Forest Evashevski and the other to Ed Frutig, and converted four PATs. He also averaged 50 yards per punt on three punts. Harmon closed out his career with a total of 237 points in 24 games, on 33 touchdowns, 33 extra points, and two field goals. When Harmon left the field with 38 seconds remaining, the crowd game him a standing ovation. Paul Kromer also returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Michigan had 447 yards of total offense in the game, 299 rushing and 148 passing.[10]

Michigan's starting lineup against California was Frutig (left end), Wistert (left tackle), Fritz (left guard), Ingalls (center), Kolesar (right guard), Kelto (right tackle), Rogers (right end), Evashevski (quarterback), Harmon (left halfback), Call (right halfback), and Westfall (fullback).[10]


Varsity letter winnersEdit

Varsity reservesEdit

  • Harry F. Anderson, center, Chicago
  • Leo P. Cunningham, guard, Revere, MA
  • Frank S. Day, halfback, Detroit
  • Paul H. Gannatal, halfback, Detroit
  • James Grissen, fullback, Holland, MI
  • Clarence S. Hall, end, Raynham, MA
  • George H. Hildebrandt, guard, Hamburg, NY
  • John T. Laine, guard, Puritan, MI
  • Elmer Madar, halfback, Detroit
  • George S. Manalakas, halfback, Detroit
  • Michael Megregian,[20] quarterback, Detroit
  • Rudolph J. Sengel,[21] tackle, Louisville, KY
  • Phillip E. Sharpe,[22] end, Lakewood, OH
  • Rudy Smeja, end, Chicago
  • Robert B. Smith, tackle, Riverside, CA
  • Marshall C. Strenger,[23] Lake Forest, IL
  • Louis K. Woytek, center, Johnson City, NY
  • Robert Zimmerman, fullback, Chicago

Awards and honorsEdit

Team players in the NFLEdit

The following players were claimed in the 1941 NFL Draft.

Player Position Round Pick NFL Club
Tom Harmon Halfback 1 1 Chicago Bears
Forest Evashevski Back 1 10 Washington Redskins


Coaching and training staffEdit


  1. Mark Dukes & Gus Schrader, Greatest Moments In Iowa Hawkeyes Football History, p. 85. ISBN 1-57243-261-6.
  2. "Harmon-y Secret At Michigan". The Pittsburgh Press. November 4, 1940.,4734042&dq=milo+sukup&hl=en. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  3. "Inductee Biographies". Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  4. "Injured Gridder Could Remember That He Had Date". The Milwaukee Journal. November 21, 1940.,2422263&dq=milo+sukup&hl=en. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  5. "SUKUP LOST TO MICHIGAN; Ace Guard Left Behind as Team Heads for Minnesota Game". The New York Times. November 8, 1940. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  6. "Sukup In Hospital". The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin). November 6, 1940.
  7. "Mates Tell Sukup Wolves Will Win By 2 Touchdowns". The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan. November 8, 1940.
  8. "Harmon May Fall Short of Grange's Mark". The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan. November 12, 1940.("Meanwhile, Dr. George Hammond, team physician, reported that Milo Sukup, who heard the Minnesota game by radio from his hospital cot, would probably be unable to face the Wildcats. Sukup, who has suffered recurrent headaches from an injury in the Illinois game, left the hospital Sunday but yesterday was ordered back to confinement.")
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Michigan Blanks California, 41-0, Harmon Getting Four Touchdowns; All-America Back Dashes 94, 72, 86 and 8 Yards to Score and Passes to Nelson for Tally--35,000 at Berkeley". The New York Times. September 29, 1940. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "MICHIGAN BATTERS OHIO STATE, 40 TO 0; Harmon Makes 22 Points, Tops Grange's Big Ten Mark, in Buckeyes' Worst Defeat Long Drives Mark Game". The New York Times. November 24, 1940. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  11. Norman D. Call. Graduated from Norwalk High School in 1938. Served as an ensign in the Coast Guard after attending Michigan. He died in 1944 while helping rescue a navy destroyer that had been torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina. He was inducted into the Norwalk Hall of Fame in 2003.
  12. Czak graduated from Elyria High School in 1937. He died in 2008. He was inducted into the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame.
  13. Robert L. Flora, born in Muskegon, Michigan, November 23, 1915. Served in WWII from 1942 to 1945. He coached football at Washington State and the University of Iowa and wa assistant athletic director at Iowa under Forrest Evashevski. He later served as an assistant coach at Michigan State under Biggy Munn. He last worked as athletic facilities director at the University of Michigan. He died in an automobile accident on December 4, 2007, near St. Ignace, Michigan.
  14. Hugo E. "Whitey" Fraumann, born March 3, 1919, in Vincennes, Indiana. Served as a Lt. commander in U.S. Navy during WWII. Owner and publisher of Specialty Books in Ann Arbor for over 30 years. Died December 2, 2006, at his home in Clinton, Michigan.
  15. Kohl was from Dayton, Ohio. He was known as one of the smallest backs in major collegiate football, weighing 142 pounds.
  16. Krejsa was a blocking back who played college football for Western Reserve, then Michigan, then North Carolina, then back to Western Reserve. He served four years as a B-17 bombadier during World War II. In June 1947, he was signed to play with the New York Yankees Football Club. He was released by the Yankees at the end of August 1947.
  17. Harold Lockard, February 7, 1920, died February 1971, SSN issued Ohio
  18. William "Bill" Melzow, born December 6, 1919, died September 30 , 2001, buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Genesee County, Michigan.
  19. Roland Savilla, born May 13, 1916, died February 7, 2005, SSN issued Michigan, last residence Saint Albans, West Virginia
  20. Michael Megregian, born June 10, 1918. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Association Coaches Hall of Fame in 1991. He coached for 18 years, including 13 years at Fordson High School with a record of 102-38-5. He retired from Fordson in 1964. He died on March 28, 1996. Last known residence at Eastport, Antrim County, Michigan.
  21. Rudolph Jacob Sengel, born May 12, 1921. Died June 14, 2009. He was a resident of Gilbert, Arizona.
  22. Philip E. Sharpe, born July 17, 1921, died September 1, 2005, SSN issued Ohio, last address Seattle, Washington
  23. Marshall C. "Marsh" Strenger, born c. 1918. He served as a B-25 bomber pilot in WWI and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. He later served two terms as an alderman in Lake Forest, Illinois, and as mayor from 1987 to 1990. He also operated H.T. Strenger Inc., a plumbing business founded by his father. He died in December 1994 at age 76 at Lake Forest Hospital.

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