Gary Moeller Did One Thing Better Than ANY Michigan Coach
Gary passed away Monday at the age of 81, and while his collegiate career was cut short due to an unfortunate incident, he did leave a legacy at Michigan.
Moeller Was On Track To Become A Legendary Coach
Hand picked by the legendary Bo Schembechler to succeed him as the Wolverines coach, Moeller, Bo's loyal assistant for years was off to a great start as a head coach.
Moeller went 44-13-3 in his five year stint as the Wolverines mentor, until his drinking got the better of him and he punched a police officer at a suburban Detroit restaurant, an incident school officials couldn't brush off.
And while I don't want to dwell on that one incident, it's important to note that if it had not happened, Moeller might be being eulogized today as one of the greats in college coaching, for he did one thing better than other Michigan coaches, at least in the modern era.
He won the big games.
Moeller Was 4-1 In Bowl Games, Better Than Any Other M Coach In The Modern Era
Moeller also posted a 3-1-1 record against Ohio State, Michigan's nemesis to the south. Moeller was also 3-2 against rival, Michigan State. He also won three Big Ten titles in his short stay. If you compare those stats to current coach Jim Harbaugh, Moeller wins by a wide margin. Even his successor, Lloyd Carr didn't start as fast at Michigan.
Moeller also deserves credit for opening up Bo's stodgy Michigan offense, and making it more pass friendly, a trend that would land him two great recruits out of Cleveland, Ohio, Elvis Grbac, who set many passing records at M, and Heisman Trophy winnin receiver Desmond Howard, who brought us many golden moments, including this one against Notre Dame.
While his last two seasons at M ended in less than stellar 8-4 records (especially at Michigan where the standards are high), he had just landed a recruit by the name of Tom Brady.
Brady, who wound up languishing on the bench for Carr for three season, before getting the starting nod his senior year, may have seen more playing time under Moeller, and who knows what could have been. We'll never know, because of one bad night. A night I'm sure Mo would like to have back.
Moeller would eventually get his career back on track and performed a rare Michigan double, becoming coach of the Detroit Lions, something that has never been done before or since. However, being coach of the Lions is always a precarious position, and Moeller eventually was booted out there, too, although at least it was for his poor performance ON the field, not OFF it.
Rest in peace, Gary, you left us with great memories.
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