Eben Wilson
File:Ebin Wilson.jpg
Wilson cropped from 1901 Michigan team photograph
Biographical details
BornAugust 1869
DiedDecember 18, 1948(1948-12-18) (aged 79)
Saginaw, Michigan
Playing career
Position(s)Center, guard
Head coaching record

Eben "Tug" Wilson (August 1869 – December 18, 1948) was an American football player and coach. He was a starter on the 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team that outscored its opponents 550–0 and later coached football at Wabash College and Alma College.

Early life and playing careerEdit

File:Ebin Wilson 1899.jpg

Wilson was born in August 1869. He grew up in Merrill, Michigan and began his college football career playing for Michigan State Normal College—now known as Eastern Michigan University–at Ypsilanti, Michigan. During his senior year in 1898, Wilson was captain of Normal's football team.[1]

After graduating from the State Normal school, Wilson enrolled at the University of Michigan as a law student. He played for the University of Michigan football team as a reserve in 1899 and as the starting center in 1900. He was the starting right guard on the 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team that won the national championship and outscored its opponents by a combined score of 550 to 0. After the 1901 season, the Michigan Daily-News wrote of Wilson: "He has a great many qualities which combine to make a good guard, but there is one that stands out above all the rest and that is -- strength."[1] He was also the University of Michigan's champion heavyweight wrestler and an expert boxer.[1] At the end of the 1901 season, Wilson was selected as an All-Western player by Rhinehart.[1]

Coaching careerEdit

After playing in the 1902 Rose Bowl and graduating from Michigan, Wilson became the 15th head football coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. When the hiring of Wilson was announced, the college newspaper at Wabash reported:

Wabash college students believe that they have this year a coach who will do more toward strengthening the team and promoting interests of football in general than has been done in many years in the past. Coach Wilson is the man in whom we place this confidence. Through many years of experience on college elevens, he has certainly gained no mean knowledge of the find points of the game and what is more he has the ability of imparting this knowledge to the players. He states that in drilling the team he expects to follow closely the tactics which he learned in Michigan under Coach Fielding H. Yost, and, in addition, to teach some new plays of his own invention which he is sure are winners.[2]

After Wilson took over as coach in the fall of 1902, the Wabash team compiled a 2–4–2 record that season. In 1903, Wilson led the team to a record of 9–3, including shutout victories over Indiana (5–0), Butler (46–0), Hanover (51–0), and DePauw (10–0), and an 87–5 win over Franklin. The 1903 Wabash team outscored its opponents by a combined score of 274 to 74. In the final game of the 1903 season, Wabash was beaten by Notre Dame, 34–0.[3] His career coaching record at Wabash was 11–7–2.[4]

Wilson became the football coach at Alma College in 1904. In addition to coaching football, Wilson was the school's physical director and instructor of physical training for men.[5][6]

Family and deathEdit

Wilson was married to Grace Coy in 1897. At the time of the 1900 United States Census, Wilson and his wife lived in Columbia Township in The Thumb region of Michigan. He worked at a planing mill.[7] In 1910, Wilson remained in Columbia with his wife. By that time, they had a son, Wayne M. Wilson. Wilson's occupation in 1910 was listed as a farmer.[8] At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Wilson was still living in Columbia and working as a farmer. His son, Wayne M. Wilson, was living with him and working as a fireman for the Michigan Central Railroad.[9]

In 1940, Wilson was living in Saginaw, Michigan, and working as a watchman.[10]

Wilson died in 1948 at the Saginaw County Infirmary.[11] He was 78 years old at the time of his death.[12][13]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Wabash Little Giants (Independent) (1902–1903)
1902 Wabash 2–4–2
1903 Wabash 9–3
Wabash: 11–7–2
Alma Scots (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1904–1905)
1904 Alma 4–3
1905 Alma 6–3
Alma: 10–6
Total: 21–13–2
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jesse Ricks (1901). The Michigan Daily-News Football Year-Book. Ann Arbor printing company.
  2. Hopwood, Avery (October 1902). "A Good Word for 'Tug' Wilson". The Inlander, Vol. 13. p. 100.
  3. "2009 Wabash College Football". Wabash College. p. 95.
  4. Wabash College coaching records Script error
  5. Catalogue of Alma College, pp. 6 and 28.
  6. Michigan Alumnus 1904, p. 299.
  7. Census entry for Florence Coy and family. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Columbia, Tuscola, Michigan; Roll: T623_744; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 106.
  8. Census entry for Eben I. Wilson and family. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Columbia, Tuscola, Michigan; Roll: T624_676; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0107; Image: 124; FHL Number: 1374689.
  9. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Columbia, Tuscola, Michigan; Roll: 1027; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 7; Image: 310.0.
  10. Polk's Saginaw City Directory, 1940, p. 246.
  11. "Michigan Tackle In First Bowl Tilt Dies". The Fresno Bee: p. 27. December 19, 1948.
  12. "Ebin (Tug) Wilson". The New York Times. December 19, 1948.
  13. "Tug Wilson Is Dead". The Berkshire Evening Eagle. Associated Press. December 19, 1948.

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