While investigating how the current Big Ten Conference came to include Michigan State and not other suitors including Pittsburgh and Nebraska, this work traces the sometimes shadowy history of college football. It's a story of intrigue, lying, timing, friendships made and broken along with costly arousing outbursts, all based on extensive and detailed research.
David Young is a practicing physician in Holland, Michigan. He grew up in East Lansing. While attending Notre Dame in the mid 1970s, his next door neighbor, Jack Breslin, shared a story with him about the special relationship between Michigan State and the University of Notre Dame. The 1946 Spartan graduate and executive vice president of MSU noted that the Irish administration had played a prominent role in Michigan State College's evolution into a major land-grant research institution. It all had to do with aiding a Spartan application for membership in the "Western Conference" during the late 1940s. Mr. Breslin also offered comment on the University of Michigan's role in that transition. Unfortunately, while walking back to the Yardboy to finish mowing his lawn, those words were muffled by the idling engine. "And if Michigan had its way...."
Three decades later, Dr. Young decided to investigate what his alma mater did to assist Michigan State's grand vision as crafted by a far-sighted president. He also wanted to find out what Breslin intended to say about the Wolverine's involvement in the application process. What he discovered, hidden within the stacks of 13 university archives, has now dispelled a popular myth. In its place, the amateur historian reveals the true story--an extensively cited account of John Hannah's quest for membership in the Big Nine and Michigan Law Professor Ralph Aigler's obsession with impeding that relentless pursuit. Intertwined in the complex tale are the fascinating roles played by two commissioners as well as various leaders at Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago.
Though this account focuses on a unique intrastate rivalry, the book remains a must read for anyone interested in the evolution of the modern game of college football. And for alumni/fans of the many schools involved with either aiding or hindering Hannah's quest, the story will explore what now appears to be a very controversial decision in May of 1949 to accept Michigan State College into the Western Conference.