Rocket Football Timeline
Dean Brandeberry is "selected" coach when he begins conversing with some students on the gravel field near the 11th Street UT campus. Team member Charles Morgan later says, "Nobody else wanted the job." Each of the team's 13 members purchases his own uniform. The team has no practice scrimmages prior to playing the first game in school history, a contest at powerful Detroit. UT not only loses the game, 145-0, it loses four players to injury. Toledo finishes the season 0-3, outscored 262-0 by its opponents.
The first win in school history comes over Defiance, 19-12. UT finishes the season with a 1-1 record.
Toledo meets Bowling Green for the first time, and wins, 6-0.
Varsity "T" Club members organize and select blue and gold colors for the team and school.
The Blade newspaper refers to the team as "Munies," short for Municipal University, and also as the "Fighters."
The first football field is built at Scott Park. Seating, consisting of seven rows of wooden bleachers, is added in 1923. From 1918-1936 games are also played at Armory Park, and Waite, Scott, Libbey and St. John's high schools.
Lee McKinnon, a UT professor, acts as the first team statistician.
The first "big" win is a 3-0 decision over Ohio Conference power Muskingum, played at Scott Park.
Gib Stick becomes the first "superstar" in school history. Over four years, Stick scores 24 touchdowns, including five in one game. He later plays professionally with the Detroit Panthers.
Toledo acquires its current nickname following a game with powerful Carnegie Tech. Surprised to learn that Toledo has no nickname, Pittsburgh sports writers pressure James Neal, a UT student working in the press box, to come up with one. Neal, impressed with his team's flashy performance against a superior Carnegie Tech team, labels UT the "Skyrockets," which the writers shorten to "Rockets."
Toledo wins its first football championship, also the school's first in any sport. The Rockets win the Northwest Ohio Conference, which also includes Bowling Green, Bluffton, Findlay, Heidelberg and Defiance. Toledo finishes the season at 6-4, the first winning campaign in the program's seven-year history.
Jim Pierce is the first black team captain, and becomes a professor upon graduation.
The first homecoming game is played, a 27-0 win over Bowling Green.
After Toledo defeats Bowling Green, 12-7, controversy erupts when BGSU alleges that the Rockets used an illegal player. Athletic competition between the two schools is suspended from 1925-27.
Numbers are worn on jerseys for the first time.
Toledo wins its second league championship, taking the NWO title and posting a 5-2 record.
The UT marching band, 30 members strong, appears for the first time at a home football game. Toledo and Bowling Green tie, 0-0, and share the league title.
The football budget has grown to $2,000.
The first game programs are featured at a game against Heidelberg in the Waite Bowl. Printed by Franklin Hawkins, they sell for five cents each.
The first spring practice is conducted by athletic director Dave Connelly. Jim Nicholson is named the first full-time coach and takes over for the 1930 season.
Amid the Great Depression, football is cancelled due to a lack of funds.
Plans are drawn for a 5,000-seat steel and concrete stadium.
The fight song is written by Athletic Director Connelly.
Jerry Welling, a halfback, is the first Rocket voted All-Ohio (by AP). He leads Ohio college scorers with 66 points.
The first night game is played, a 20-0 victory over Capital, at Swayne Field.
A Toledo game is broadcast on radio for the first time, as the Rockets defeat Dennison, 13-0.
Toledo defeats Bowling Green, 63-0. BGSU drops UT from its schedule until the 1948 season.
Glass Bowl Stadium is built on the present-day UT campus. A Works Progress Administration project, it is paid for with a $272,000 grant from the federal government and $41,558 from the city of Toledo and the university.
Marty Slovak becomes the first Rocket to play in the National Football League, signing with the Cleveland Rams.
The Glass Bowl is dedicated in a game versus Akron.
Don Bukovich is named a "Little" All-American.
Players use the towers in the Glass Bowl as living quarters.
UT hosts and defeats 12th-ranked Marshall, 13-7, in front of 9,500 fans.
Toledo participates in its first post-season game, a 13-7 win over St. Mary's of San Antonio, Texas.
Emlen Tunnell stars for Toledo, and is later voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
With the country at war, football is suspended from 1943-45.
Toledo hosts the first of four post-season contests known as the Glass Bowl Game. A record crowd of 13,500 watches UT defeat Bates College, 21-12.
The first Toledo football game is televised by WSPD-TV13.
Chuck Hardy returns a kickoff for a 101-yard touchdown, to this day a UT record.
All home games are televised by Channel 13.
UT sets the school's single-game scoring record in an 88-0 rout of Davis and Elkins.
Toledo plays its first season in the Mid-American Conference, which at the time also includes Cincinnati, Miami, Ohio, Bowling Green, Kent, Western Michigan and Western Reserve.
Mel Triplett is the starting fullback, and later plays eight seasons in the NFL where he stars on the 1956 world champion New York Giants.
Toledo wins its first MAC title. After a season-opening loss to Ohio, the Rockets reel off nine straight wins.
A 45-18 win over Villanova marks the beginning of Toledo's famed 35-game winning streak, second only in NCAA history to Oklahoma's 49 straight.
Ken Crots makes a record-setting 77th consecutive point after touchdown in a 34-9 win over Ohio.
The Rockets win their second MAC title and end an 11-0 season by defeating Davidson, 56-33, in the Tangerine Bowl.
Toledo thrashes William and Mary, 40-12, in the Tangerine Bowl, finishes 12-0 and is ranked 12th in the final AP poll.
Toledo leads the nation in total defense for the third consecutive year.
Mel Long becomes the first and only consensus All-American in MAC history. Long later plays with the Cleveland Browns.
The Rockets win a third-consecutive MAC title and their fourth in five years.
Toledo is 12-0 and ranked 14th in the final AP poll following a 28-3 victory over Richmond in the Tangerine Bowl.
Rocket quarterback Chuck Ealey is named MAC Player of the Year for the third time, and finishes eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He later stars in the CFL.
UT quarterback Gene Swick becomes the first player in NCAA history to reach 8,000 yards in career total offense.
Swick leads the nation in total offense and finishes 10th in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
The annual Peace Pipe trophy, given to the winner of the Toledo-Bowling Green game, is awarded for the first time.
Toledo wins its fifth MAC title and stuns 20th-ranked San Jose, 27-25, in the inaugural California Bowl.
A Glass Bowl record crowd of 31,369 watches Toledo defeat Bowling Green, 24-10.
Toledo wins its sixth MAC title, and makes a second appearance in the California Bowl.
Toledo ties Central Michigan for the MAC title, UT's seventh MAC crown--the most by any conference school in the last 25 years.
The Rockets upset Purdue, 33-29, the first win in UT history over a Big Ten opponent. Kevin Meger sets school records for pass completions (33) and attempts (52) in a game, throwing for 305 yards and a touchdown. Meger is named Sports Illustrated national offensive player of the week.
The Denver Broncos, with the 11th pick in the NFL draft, select UT defensive end Dan Williams. A two-time All-MAC first-teamer, Williams is the first in Rocket history to be selected in the draft's first round, and the second highest pick in MAC history.
Toledo wins the eighth MAC title in school history, posting a 7-0-1 conference mark. Wasean Tait receives the MAC Vern Smith Award (Most Valuable Player) and Gary Pinkel wins MAC Coach of the Year and Ohio College Coach of the Year honors.
The Rockets complete the fourth undefeated season in school history (11-0-1) with a 40-37 victory over Nevada in the Las Vegas Bowl. Wasean Tait scores from two yards out for the winning points in the first overtime game in NCAA Div. I-A history.
Toledo is ranked 22nd in the final UPI poll, 24th in the AP poll and 24th in the CNN/USA Today poll. Wasean Tait finishes second in the nation in rushing, tallying a MAC record 1,905 yards.
Toledo begins its season with a 36-22 upset of Purdue, and proceeds to an 8-0 record. Before the streak was snapped with a loss at Ball State, the Rockets were ranked No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the CNN/USA Today poll. The Rockets go on to win the MAC West title.
Coach Gary Pinkel is named MAC Coach of the Year for the second time.
Cornerback Clarence Love is taken in the fourth round of the NFL draft by Philadelphia. Defensive tackle Jason Richards signs a free agent contract with Tennessee immediately after the draft.
Former Rocket Mel Long, Sr., is inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame.
The Rockets repeat as MAC West champions.
Former Rocket Tyrone Brown plays in the Super Bowl as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
(With gratitude to the late Frank Kralik)