WPW returns with a look at one of my all-time favorites, the great Michigan quarter Benny Friedman.   If you are like me go grab HTTV 2014 and checkout Craig Ross’s wonderful piece on Friedman.  Ross first covers the history of the passing game in football, then gets into Friedman’s career (how he defined/revolutionized the passing game and his ridiculous numbers for the era) and closes with Benny’s legacy. 

Thanks to his dominance in the early days of pro football some go as far to label Friedman the Babe Ruth of football, and FWIW he used to swing the bat in Ann Arbor.

Wire Photo Wednesday features a great shot of him, on eBay right now doing just that:

Bennie Friedman

Here he is as well in the 1926 baseball team photo on the Bentley Library site:

Benny 1926 team photo

Elsewhere –on eBay, a man (at John Kryk’s suggestion) I put on my list of the Top 25 Wolverines of all-time.  The All-American beast Julius Franks

Julius Franks

 

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mvictorstop_8_27_14

via U-M Media Relations:

Delay-Free Radio Available for Fans Inside Michigan Stadium

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan football fans will be able to listen to the flagship radio broadcast featuring Jim Brandstatter and Dan Dierdorf without delay inside Michigan Stadium this season thanks to a partnership between WTKA Radio and the Michigan/IMG Radio Network. The three parties worked to eliminate several of the elements that normally lead to a significant delay with a radio station.

“The partnership providing delay free radio at Michigan Stadium is a great added feature for our fans,” said Hunter Lochmann, U-M’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We have heard from our fans that listening to the radio broadcast is a big part of their game day experience and especially in Jim and Dan’s first year as a team, we are excited to offer this to those fans that attend games at the Big House.”

“Today is an exciting day for the entire team here at Sports Talk 1050 WTKA,” said Matt Spaulding, Vice President and Market Manager for Cumulus Media in Ann Arbor. “What started as a whisper of opportunity has become a 10,000 watt reality for all the fans of Michigan Football and the listeners of WTKA. The dynamic play by play broadcast being delivered by Dan Dierdorf and Jim Brandstatter will now be showcased within the walls of the Big House on WTKA providing an even more memorable game day experience to the listening fan. Go Blue.”

WTKA’s AM 1050 in Ann Arbor will be airing Michigan football games without delay during the 2014 season, meaning fans can bring a radio to the games and hear the commentary from Brandstatter and Dierdorf in virtual real time as the play unfolds before their eyes.

Fans can bring a small transistor radio into Michigan Stadium as long as it meets the requirements specified in the prohibited items list.

 

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Along with Appalachian State returning to the Big House Saturday will be their fans, who in my experience were top notch back in 2007.  Looking back at my react post after the game (don’t click there and yes, this site was up and running in 2007) I almost forgot about Shaggy: 

Appalachian State

IIRC Shaggy and his buddies had their nicknames on the back of their shirts, and I spotted them heading down the aisle in Section 22.  Shaggy agreed to the pic above, correctly called the margin of victory by flashing the rockin’ deuce, and the rest, as they say, was history miserable.  Shaggy – will you be back Saturday?

I don’t think this lady will be back, she was in the 2nd overtime of life:

I offered a “well done” to an elderly woman & App State supporter as she walked to her car.   She smiled and said, “You have a lovely stadium.”

Yes, we have a lovely stadium. WE HAVE A LOVELY STADIUM!?

I would have preferred a swift smack in the giblets with her walking cane.

 

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Brandstatter and Dierdorf (1969)Brandy and Dierdorf in the Summer of ‘69  [Bentley]

You certainly know by now that this season longtime U-M color analyst Jim Brandstatter shifts over one chair, replacing Frank Beckmann as the play-by-play man.  Next to him will be Brandy’s former teammate and pal, longtime NFL broadcaster & Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf.   I spoke to both men this summer for a piece you can find all season in the home game program.   For you – I posted the full Dierdorf interview last week.   Like Dan D., Brandstatter is just an outstanding guy – incredibly kind.  File under FWIW – as a pee wee I grew up in East Lansing a few houses down from Brandy’s older brother (and Spartan) Art and his great family.

Here’s the balance of my chat with Brandy:

———————————————————————

MVictors: All right, so when did you decide you to go for the play-by-play gig?

Jim Brandstatter: I really didn’t decide, it was kind of decided for me. This whole thing, when Frank announced his retirement they had gone out and they were looking for people and they were, nothing really fit the bill. As I understand it they really wanted a guy who had Michigan background–someone who brought Michigan with him to the broadcasts. Then it wasn’t until the third week in January that I was asked if I ever did play-by-play and I said, ‘Yeah, I did a game back in 2003, actually.’

MVictors: Northwestern, right?

Jim Brandstatter: Yeah, Northwestern. When Frank had back surgery. Steve Courtney and I did the game at Northwestern and I have a copy of it and I was able to get it to Dave Brandon and the people at IMG. I said, ‘Here it is if you want to listen. I just want to do what you guys think is in the best interest of the broadcast. I want to stay on board. I want to continue to broadcast the games. If it’s in this capacity, fine but if it’s not I just want to stay doing color.’ They said, ‘Okay we’ll let you know.’ Then I forgot about it.

Because I still thought they were looking for a play-by-play guy then about late February, early March, they called me and said, ‘You know what? Your tape’s pretty good.’ I said, “Well, thank you.” They said, ‘Would you consider really being the play-by-play guy?’ I said, ‘Heck yeah. If that’s what you think is going to work.’

They also said that the opportunity to find a color guy with a similar criteria that they wanted in a play-by-play guy was going to open up the category, if you will, for more people. Because there’s a lot of people that probably were available to do color as opposed that there were fewer able to do the play-by-play thing with the same Michigan background they were looking for.

It was about two weeks later, Dierdorf showed up and that’s a no brainer, you know?  Dan Dierdorf. There’s a Hall of Fame broadcaster. Michigan Hall of Honor winner. Former All-American. How in the world can you not use Dan? He had been on our radar back in January but he had had horrific back surgery that he needed. It was one of those things where he’d be in rehab for a year. He did not think that he was going to be available because of the rehab and the surgery.

In April it turned out that the rehab was coming along better than he had imagined. He really wanted to return to Michigan. He loves Michigan football, it’s his passion. For him it’s a homecoming and he lives in northern Michigan most of the summer. He just liked the idea and thought it would be great to work with me since he and I were teammates and we’ve been friends since we were 17 years old. That’s how it worked.

MVictors: Has Frank given you any advice on the role?   Just being next to him for so long, what have you learned from him?

Jim Brandstatter: I’ve learned tons of stuff. Not just from Frank but from Dan Miller and Mark Champion. If I haven’t learned a little bit of play-by-play from those 3 guys then shame on me. Because those guys are top of the class in their ability to do play-by-play and as a color guy you listen and you learn and you try to fit to their play-by-play calls. They rub off on you.

Normally Frank would give me advice from a standpoint where it was the same advice he got when he took over for Bob Ufer. It’s really simple, he says, ‘Be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else. Don’t try to be Ufer.’ I take that to heart.  I can’t be Frank Beckmann. He was a unique, special play-by-play broadcaster for Michigan but Frank did it Frank’s way and that was the only way you can do it.

The only really advice he had was he said, ‘Okay, look. You know the ins and outs, you know how to do it and it’s just a matter of you being you. Don’t be me.’  That’s really the only advice that he had ever given him and that was the same advice that he got 30 years ago–and it still stands true.

MVictors: One of the nice things I think about doing play-by-play is that your voice will be immortalized on great plays. Of course we all know the great Ufer calls, and of course Frank’s everywhere over and over again. Is that something you’re looking forward to?

Jim Brandstatter: I’m looking forward to it but I’m not planning anything. I truly believe that stuff just happens. It’s got to be instinctive, it’s got to be off-the-cuff, and it’s got to just happen. From my perspective, it doesn’t even hit my radar that my touchdown call is going to be on SportsCenter or on film because that’s not what I’m worried about.

I know from Frank’s perspective and watching other guys, none of them have planned great play-by-play calls. When Woodson intercepted that ball against Ohio State [in 1997] in the end zone it was the best I’d ever heard Frank, he was standing up, he was pointing in the end zone and this stuff was just flowing. You know, ‘Clear off the mantel, make way for the Heisman Trophy, Charles Woodson has just intercepted….’ He went on, I stood back, I looked at him and I clapped. I applauded because you can’t make that up.

You can’t write that stuff. It just happened and he was there to capture that moment and he did it beautifully. I don’t even think about it. I just want to do it right.

MVictors: What’s the biggest challenge is going to be for you in your new seat here in the broadcast booth?

Jim Brandstatter: I think to get a nice flow and get a relationship established with Dan that translates to the audience. He and I, we’ll call the game and I know that we’ll do a nice job of it and the Xs and Os but I think the beauty of what I’ve found over the years is that the relationship between the play-by-play guy and the color guy is kind of what holds the needle for most of the listeners.

That’s another one of those things that I think is going to happen. Dan and I have to do our job but in between there, that relationship between us as friends, as football guys, as football players has got to kind of come out and say hello to all the fans every now and again. That relationship is real and people feel comfortable with us. Listening to us in their car or on their lawnmower or in their fans with their transistor radio or whatever.

From a difficulty standpoint, nothing to me is ever difficult. It’s a challenge but I’d pick the line from Lloyd Carr he used to tell his team, ‘Where else would you rather be?’ There is absolutely no place I’d rather be than right up there doing those games with Dan Dierdorf.

MVictors: Speaking of Dierdorf, is there anything unique you think he’ll bring to the color broadcast that may be different from how you handled it?

Jim Brandstatter: You know what he brings? He brings an NFL Hall of Fame career with him. He brings a tremendous amount of wit. He’s one of the best speakers you’ll ever hear. I think he’ll bring a perspective as to what it’s like at the next level and is that next-level type of play. Do you know what I’m saying?
I think that he brings that credibility automatically with him. That he’s played the game at the highest level. Has been elected to the National Football League Hall of Fame and he is able to analyze and see things during the game that he is uniquely qualified to talk about. He’s got the vocabulary and the experience and the wit to say it in an entertaining way.

That’s Dan Dierdorf and I think that that’s his great strength. Some guys are relatively dry and really Xs and Os-ey. Dan will have the ability to make it entertaining along with being authoritative and that’s a difficult thing to do. He was at the pinnacle, he was at the franchise of television–there’s no greater broadcast spot than Monday Night Football. He was there for a long time and when you reach that level, you know what? You got some pretty good juice to bring with you wherever you go.

MVictors: Is there anything about Dan Dierdorf that Michigan fans don’t know about him but perhaps should?

Jim Brandstatter: He’s a terrific public speaker. He loves Michigan and Michigan football. Being from Canton Ohio, he’s a guy that has adopted Michigan and Michigan has adopted him and he lives here 5 to 6 months of the year. He loves Northern Michigan, some of his best friends are in Ann Arbor. Like I said, he’s unabashedly a Michigan guy.

Even when he was broadcasting NFL football, he was the guy they would kid when Michigan did well or Michigan got beat or something like that people would go to him and kid him about it because they knew how much he bled maize and blue. All the other announcers everywhere around him would tell him, ‘What happened to your guys yesterday?’ They’d give him a little needle because they knew how much he wore Michigan on his sleeve.

That’s one of the things that’s unique about him, having played here and he loves Ann Arbor. He’s very quick-witted, just really very intelligent and he’s a hell of a good guy.

MVictors: Are you guys going to do any kind of dry run or practice or anything like that?

Jim Brandstatter I don’t know. We may, we may not. Dan and I—we’ve got 60 years of experience just doing games so I know that we’re going come and we’re going to watch practice together before the season. I know there’s a scrimmage the Saturday prior to the first game. Both of us I know want to be there. We may just sit together and talk as opposed to do a mock broadcast.

For Dan and I, this isn’t our first rodeo. He and I know where we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to do. I think the biggest adjustment we’ll have to make maybe is part of the necessary broadcast type-things within the broadcast like the little advertising one-liners, you know?

That when the tape is rolling, when the camera goes on and it’s live, that’s when everything ramps up. Your senses get their highest and you’re pumping your best stuff out. I think that’s the way both of us feel about that first game against Appalachian State.

MVictors: Should fans expect any special visitors in the booth? You guys do have a lot of friends.

Jim Brandstatter: I don’t know. That would be fun. I would love it if, who-knows-who comes up there?  If Greg Gumbel for instance decided he wanted to take in a college football game. He worked with Dan the last 5 or 6 or 7 years at CBS. I’d say, ‘Come on in! Call a play-by-play thing with Dierdorf, here!’ I’d absolutely would love that but again, I don’t know.

You know, that’s one of those things that happens at the moment if it does. I’m one of those guys that loves to have the non-traditional thing happen. It’s like we had Mark Harmon up in the booth when they put his dad’s jersey in the Legends program. So he came up and talked to us, it was great. We were talking football and this and that, and finally I looked over and said, ‘Hey Mark here’s a big question. What’s happening with Ziva on NCIS?’ [laughs]

He looked at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’ But that to me was fun and I think everybody who was a fan of NCIS and his career as an actor wanted to hear that question.
Completely out of the context of football so from my perspective, I would love it if somebody came up who was a friend of Dan’s or one of those broadcast guys who wants to come up and say hello. We’ll grab ‘em! I’m sure Dave Brandon will come up and we’ll give him a microphone.

MVictors: Having been to so many stadiums—college and pro–is there anything unique about the experience at Michigan Stadium?

Jim Brandstatter: There’s no question about it, because it’s so huge. You don’t realize how big it is and then you go to some other places where there’s 50,000 seats there and you go, ‘That’s a big place!’  50,000 people but it pales in comparison. The other thing I think that is unique and interesting about Michigan Stadium is this place was built in 1927. Yost figured enough about it so that you could put an extra deck on top of it with the foundation on it and here a guy is literally nearly 100 years ago with the foresight to build a place that could handle what is today modern college football.

That historic aspect of the Stadium in my judgment anyway, sets it apart and the fact that the same place has housed so many great, great names and traditional players. Michigan is the winningest College football program in history so with all of those things kind of going to making that place really hallowed ground.

To me it’s unique, not just because it’s Michigan but because of what Michigan has meant to college football nationally and what Michigan has meant to college football historically.

 

MVictors: What do you think Bo would tell you two if he saw you heading up to the stadium to call your first game?

Jim Brandstatter: I think that Bo would look at us and he would say, “I can’t believe they’re putting you two guys behind microphones to call Michigan football! What a colossal mistake!!” [laughs]  That’s what Schembechler would say to us. [laughs]

 

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UGP 2014

My annual post outlining your checklist before entering Michigan Stadium on Saturday. 

mix

Optional for 2014:

A. MaraWatch – Only required if you want to look cool and have everyone like & respect you.  Only then.
B. Tricked out customized adidas – Only for the true players (see A.)
C. Blow-up Doll(s) – To help fill up the empty seats around you.
D. Stick/Rope/Towel – ..to bite down on to help ease the pain if you see 98 running for his life against App St, or if TFLA remains in triple digits

The rest:
Provisioning for Michigan Stadium

1. Radio with quality Headphones. Forget the latest incarnation of the “official” radio that sticks on your ear (do they have another one in 2014?), they are unreliable.  Bring in a radio you trust to listen to the play-by-play from Brandy and Dan Dierdorf on WTKA 1050AM. You’ll get injury reports, sideline observations, statistics and analysis of key plays that are under review (although Brandstatter always seems to think the replay will goes Michigan’s way).   You can also check out the entire pregame show and This Week in Michigan Football History as it plays.  Probably most critical: with the radio in your ears you can block out the blabber from the fool nearby who won’t shut his Twizzler hole as he belts out play-by-play and screams down to the coaching staff from row 87. 

2. M Lid. While not an absolute requirement, it certainly helps to keep that sun from beating down on you.  For those in the North end zone or east side of the field it’s critical.  Especially if you are rocking my haircut.

3. Camera. You never know who you’re going to see at the game or what live action you might catch, and the zoom on your phone won’t cut it from row 68.  If you get a priceless shot send it my way.

4. Tickets & Lanyard. Obviously you’ll need those tickets to get in but for the big games I always recommend bringing a lanyard to hold the ducats. If nothing else, it makes for easy access to display the ticket on the way back into your section.   It also provides some chest coverage if you decide to peel. (P.S.  Look closely at that ticket in the photo – recognize it?  Perhaps this will refresh your memory.)

5. Your Wallet. Where you keep your bread, Daddy-o. I don’t care how many beers and brats your jammed in your greasy skull at the tailgate, you’ll need at least a drink or two and something to eat at the game.  And hey, invest $5 (still $5?) in a game program & check out the history features and make women swoon.

6. Seat Cushion. It serves so many purposes. First, it marks your spot in the tight M stadium rows. Next, it provides some comfort to your bony butt.  Finally, it actually gives you an extra inch of torso height above the guy in front of you—seriously.  Don’t think that matters?  Try it.

7. Phone. In case something crazy happens you’ll need to call/text your crew.  And for other games, you know the updates on the M scoreboard are lackluster at best.  You’ll need your device to keep current on the big games of the day, and follow the latest tweets and Facebook blasts.  (P.S. The comedy relief on Twitter during several disasters last year saved me and others I’m certain.)  (P.P.S.  Yes, that’s a Blackberry in the photo).

8. Keys. While to afford entry into the Big House I’m guessing most now have keyless entry to their luxury sleds you still don’t want to forget your keys.  Keep them in your pocket.  And P.S. — It is still not cool to shake your keys during a “Key Play.”

9. Seeds. A personal preference but I always enjoy a few seeds to help cut the tension.

10. Shades. Similar reason as the hat. If you’re in the North or East sides of the field they are mandatory. Wear them for no other reason than to hide your pickled bloodshot peepers.

 

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mgoblog’s Hail to the Victors preseason mag is an annual must-get so if you don’t got, get (also at UGP stores around town).  This year the Tales from Old Blue history section alone features pieces by Craig Ross, Bacs, John Kryk, Michael Florek, and yrs truly.  

Photo Aug 24, 9 24 14 AM

Florek pulled together a brilliant slice of U-M lore by chronicling the origins of the Wave in Ann Arbor.   Nutshell: U-M experienced the Wave, coupled with deafening fan noise, in action during the September 17, 1983 loss at Husky Stadium against Washington (U-Dub invented it in 1981).   Five weeks later the cheerleading team introduced  it to Michigan Stadium when #12 Iowa came to Ann Arbor. 

The story around the origins is very cool, but even better is the reaction of one Gen. Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler a couple weeks after it was introduced:  

“That thing (the Wave) never should have started.  If it never started nobody would know that we have an oval stadium and that you can make an ass of yourself all the way around the oval.  I can’t believe that fans are not sophisticated enough to understand the game.  It’s unsportsmanlike to both teams.”  

Damn, Bo was a beauty.   Needless to say the fans didn’t like being told what to or not to do in the stadium & letters to the Michigan Daily blasted back at Bo for his comments.  net-net – Bo backed off, the Wave endured, and get HTTV 2014.

 

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Congrats to Ken Magee and Jon Stevens for pulling together their outstanding book The Little Brown Jug: The Michigan-Minnesota Rivalry to be released on September 1.  I helped them out with a few things – some of the history of course and with a few photos – and from the early specs I’ve seen the book is a fantastic way to consume the history of this great rivalry.  The photos alone – over 200 inside – are off the charts.  Props to Kenny and Jon for scouring the earth to dig up many of the beauties inside.  

My buddy Oscar Munson made the cover:

Front

Here’s the official release:

The battle for the Little Brown Jug continues:
New book commemorates Michigan-Minnesota football rivalry

Though the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota may be in different divisions after this year’s game, the 110-year legacy of the Little Brown Jug lives on. In the latest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Sports series, authors Ken Magee and Jon Stevens take readers on a visual journey of this iconic rivalry’s history in The Little Brown Jug: The Michigan-Minnesota Football Rivalry.

“We hope that the readers will gain a better appreciation for these two great universities and how much of football parallels history,” Magee said, “be it the early century, roaring 20s … or many other historic moments in our past. The legacy the battle for the Little Brown Jug leaves in its wake many great men, not only on the gridiron, but in society.”

The book contains more than 200 images that have been donated from the private collections of local sports enthusiasts, photographers, and libraries. Many of the myths and stories that surround the famous trophy are examined and corrected, and various other tales are revealed for the first time. Glenn E. “Shemy” Schembechler III, son of the legendary Coach Bo Schembechler, wrote the foreword for the book.

“I hope that this book can highlight an underestimated football rivalry and tradition between two historic college football programs,” Stevens stated. The book will release in time for one of the last games the two schools will play consistently on September 27, 2014.

A portion of the profits from book sales are being donated to the Ken Magee Foundation for Cops, which benefits police officers permanently injured in the line of duty, and their families, to attend Michigan Football games, all expenses paid.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.
————————

To follow the latest on the book, follow ‘LittleBrownJug’ on Twitter here.

 

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In 1924 WWJ’s Ty Tyson and Doc Holland called the Michigan-Wisconsin game at Ferry Field and delivered what is believed to be the first live radio broadcast from a football stadium. Since that day nine decades ago, for many of y9u radio remains the preferred method to consume Michigan football each Saturday – especially for road games :)

You probably know that this season longtime U-M color analyst Jim Brandstatter shifts over one chair, replacing Frank Beckmann as the play-by-play man.  Next to him will be Brandy’s former teammate and pal, longtime NFL broadcaster & Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf.

Before the season I got to chat with these guys for a piece for the game program–so look for that each Saturday.  

For you – here’s the entire transcript of my chat with Dan Dierdorf.  [P.S. Between us girls Dan D. doesn’t know me from Adam yet was off-the-charts kind and accommodating.  File under FWIW.]

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MVictors: The great Bob Ufer was unabashedly biased when he called Michigan games, and you certainly knew who Brandstatter and Beckmann were rooting for. Will it be a tough transition knowing you’ll clearly have a rooting interest with Michigan?

Dan Dierdorf: It’s going to be tough because for 30 years I’ve only ever done it one way, and that’s completely unbiased and neutral. You have to completely straddle that line. You have one foot in one team’s camp, one foot in the other team’s camp and you’ve got to really be neutral. I mean that is one of the things that not only is expected of you, it’s demanded of you as a network analyst. If the audience thinks you have a bias, which of course the two whole markets think you do.

The reality is you just can’t. I never cared about anything when I was doing network television other than hoping that the game was tied 28-28 at the start of the fourth quarter. You just wanted a good game. It’s going to take me awhile to show that I’m leaning towards the maize & blue, which of course I will be. That’s going to be a luxury, I think I’m going to enjoy it.

MVictors: So that’s one challenge. Does doing radio in particular, bring any unique challenges to what you were used to over the last several years doing TV?

Dan Dierdorf: Well I’ve done radio games before. When I first broke into the business, I started doing radio. I did the University of Missouri for an entire season back in 1984. I did about 10 or so games with the CBS Radio Network, working with guys like Lindsey Nelson and Ray Scott and Dick Stockton and people like that. I cut my teeth on radio.

There is a freedom in doing radio that doesn’t exist in television. When you do a game on television, you are a slave to the picture. You’ve got to service the viewer at home by referencing what he can see on his television screen.

To do anything outside of that, you’re really doing a disservice to the viewer, because you’re talking about something they can’t see. Everything you do in television, it orbits around the picture that’s on the screen.

When you’re doing radio, you can be more conversational. You can take longer to tell a story. You can paint the picture yourself. There’s a freedom in doing radio that doesn’t exist in doing television, and I’m looking forward to that. That will be fun.

MVictors: You’ve been so busy since leaving Michigan and you’ve had such a decorated career. Had you ever, maybe early in your career, considered coming back to Michigan in one capacity or another?

Dan Dierdorf: I’ve always lamented the fact that I haven’t gotten to spend much time in Ann Arbor on a football weekend. Because I was either playing in the NFL, or I was working in the NFL. The NFL season started before college football, and didn’t end until after college football. I just rarely ever got to a game in Ann Arbor, because I was working. I was always in Boston or New York or Miami or Oakland or Denver. It was just the nature of my life.

I always dreamed about when I retired, going back and just tailgating with my teammates and hanging out. Actually going to a game and sitting in the stands. Or sitting upstairs in the press box and whatever. That’s the way I saw it. I never saw myself coming back to Ann Arbor as a part of the radio team. I never imagined that.

MVictors: At what point after that did you see this job really as something you’d consider? Did it come down to knowing that you might be sitting next to Jim Brandstatter?

Dan Dierdorf: Well, yeah. How could my comfort level be any higher? Dave Brandon and I were teammates. Jim Brandstatter and I were teammates.  I mean if I’m not comfortable around those two guys…! [laughs] Jim Brandstatter and I played the same position. I have known Jim Brandstatter my entire adult life. We stay in contact, we’re friends. I’ve been friends with Jim Brandstatter since I met him in 1968. That was a long time ago.

How many people get an opportunity to do what I’m getting to do? I retired from network television. I thought I had completely retired. I had no intention of going back to work. Quite frankly, I don’t really view this as work.  They are going to pay me but what a scam. I probably would have done it for nothing.

MVictors: Is there anything about Jim Brandstatter that maybe fans wouldn’t know about him, but maybe should?

Dan Dierdorf: That’s a great question. I think they sense this, but I can offer confirmation that Jim is absolutely one of the most decent, honest human beings I’ve ever known in my entire life. They don’t need me to tell them that he is Michigan through-and-through—and what a luxury it is to have a guy like that associated with the program.

He is a walking library of the University of Michigan. Not just its football program, but its athletic programs across the board. Every university should have someone who has been there, done that, seen everything, and experienced it the way Jim Brandstatter has.

A lot of people are really successful in this business, but Jim Brandstatter is an even better person than he is a broadcaster. He’s also really funny. He also makes me feel good about myself, because he weighs more than I do. I actually get to play the thin man when we’re together. [laughs]

The only thing I need to do before the season starts—and I’ll pay for this myself. I’m going to have a structural engineer take a look at the broadcast booth. I just want to make sure there are enough steel beams underneath that thing when we both get in there together [laughs]

I don’t expect the university to pay for that; I’m willing to do it myself. I would like some confirmation that there’s a big enough I-beam underneath that booth that’s going to hold both of us in there. [laughs]

MVictors: Have you got to know Jon Jansen and Doug Karsch [the new Tailgate Show crew] at all?

Dan Dierdorf: I don’t know Doug.  My house [in Petoskey, MI] is about a mile and a quarter from Jon Jansen’s house. Seriously, Jon and I live maybe live a mile and a quarter apart all summer long in Northern Michigan. That’s his year-round residence up there. I’m just there from May to October. Yeah, I see Jon with some regularity.

MVictors: It sounds like you’re going to try to get a chance to hang out with some of your old buddies and tailgate when the opportunity permits?

Dan Dierdorf: Oh yeah. You know I see them during the course of the year, at different things. Yes, oh absolutely. I just have to be up in the booth about an hour, hour-and-a-half before the game. Before that, you’ll find me over on the parking lot by Crisler, where Dick Caldarazzo his tailgate. I’ve got the promise of a golf cart so I can go over there and tailgate for a while before I have to go to work.

MVictors: Are there any game day traditions or rituals that you hold to each week? Anything that you do as part of habit, before you broadcast?

Dan Dierdorf: Not really. I always get up early the day of a game and just prepare. I’m reading every newspaper article I can read. I just like to feel that I’m really prepared when the game starts.

I’m not one of those guys that refers to a lot of notes during the game. I figure if I don’t know it, it can’t be all that important. For me, I’m going to have to … I love the game. I love the traditions of the game. Whether that’s being at Pittsburgh when three minutes before kick-off they’re waving the terrible towels. Or it’s in Baltimore, where they play the theme from Gladiator and the stadium goes nuts.

That period of time that probably starts about 10 minutes before kick-off, right up to kick-off, I’ve never not savored every moment of that when I’m at a football game. My problem is going to be at least for the first couple of games, not getting totally swept away by the emotion that’s going to be coursing through my veins at Michigan Stadium.

I’m going to have to fasten the seatbelt and try to weather that storm, because it’s going to be very emotional for me. It’s going to be tough, because I’m going to realize how much I’ve missed this and how lucky I am to get a chance to go home again.

MVictors: I believe on CBS you wore a couple of Hall of Fame rings during your broadcast commonly, is that right?

Dan Dierdorf: I wear my college football Hall of Fame ring, and I wear my pro football Hall of Fame ring.Dan Dierdorf ring

MVictors:  Are you going to slap on a Michigan ring during your broadcast?  Or is that to be determined?

Dan Dierdorf:  Well my college football Hall of Fame ring says Michigan on it. It’s got my school on the college football Hall of Fame ring. Will I wear my M ring? Probably not. But that’s the nice thing about it, I always had to wear a coat and tie. I always had to wear a coat and tie, and I always had to wear a CBS blazer. Now I get to just wear Michigan stuff, and I don’t have to wear a tie. What a wonderful thing.

I can view the game in a Michigan sweatshirt and a Michigan baseball hat. I’ll channel my inner Bo Schembechler.

I’m telling you. I’m like a trained monkey; I won’t know how to talk without wearing a tie. That might be a struggle for me. I always wonder, “Why am I the only guy? Why am I the only guy wearing a coat and tie? Because it’s me and the guy next to me, my play-by-play guy. We’re the only two people in the entire stadium wearing coats and ties.”

MVictors: In the industry you have a lot of friends at Michigan. You both do. Might we expect a few visitors up in the radio booth during the year?

Dan Dierdorf: I would hope so. Yeah. Who knows who might stop by. I know I’ve extended an invite or two to some of the guys. Bob Seger has a home up by me in Northern Michigan. I know I have reached out to Bob, said “Hey, anytime you want to come to a game, feel free to stop by.” We’ll put him on the air for a while. He’s got a little bit of a following in Michigan.

MVictors: How’s Bob as a person?

Dan Dierdorf: What a great guy. Just a wonderful guy. I’m not going to lie, I’m semi-starstruck around him. I’ve just been a fan of his for so long. He’s the most down to earth guy. If you didn’t know what Bob Seger looked like, you wouldn’t realize you’re in the presence of such a star by the way he acts. You’d think this is a guy that just drove up in a truck and wanted to hang out and talk for a while. Great guy.

MVictors: So if he were here, what would Bo tell you and Brandstatter if he saw you walking up to the booth to call your first game?

Dan Dierdorf: The first thing he would do would be to tell us both that we were both that we were overweight and out of shape and report to him after the game to run some laps.
Jim and I would both know how immensely proud he would be of the two of us for doing that. As silly as this sounds, one of the reason I’m doing this is I know he would be happy. I know he would be thrilled at this. He would be over the moon and that brings a smile to my face.

MVictors: Anything you’re trying to get through to them through this broadcast this year? It has been a challenging stretch for fans and I know folks are really excited to have you here.

Dan Dierdorf:  Let me tell you something. One of the things the fans are going to figure out really quickly is I bleed Michigan football and I always have. When things aren’t going well, I have a hard time containing it. My crews at ABC and CBS over the years have had to suffer with me on Saturday afternoons when things didn’t go well. Everybody knew how much it mattered to me so they would get after me, whether it was find me an Appalachian State T-shirt. Of all times, we lost of Minnesota one time when we’re doing an Indianapolis Colts game. Honest to God within 20 minutes of the game being over, into our meeting room walked Tony Dungy, the coach of the Colts who of course is a Minnesota grad. I have to get down on one knee and kiss his ring.

Fans are going to figure out that it really means a lot to me. What I want, what I hope happens is that I get to watch Michigan football turn the corner and head back up to where it needs to be. That’s important to me and I plan on being there to watch it happen.

MVictors: Outstanding. Thank you so much for the time.

Dan Dierdorf: You’re welcome. Anytime, thanks.

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I’ll post the full interview with Jim Brandstatter in the coming days..

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This season longtime local sports radio voice, M sideline reporter, & mgo-misc. host Doug Karsch will co-anchor the Michigan radio network Tailgate Show with former U-M All-American Jon Jansen.  Karsch will also continue his sideline reporting duties as part of the play-by-play broadcast.  I’m pulling together a piece on the new show and recently chatted with Karsch. 

Listeners of the radio broadcast know that Beckmann & Brandy referred to Karsch as “Krash”.   I never knew why, admittedly never asked, but either way, I never really cared for it.  I’m not sure why – I figured it obviously had something to do with Doug’s last name and I guess I assumed Frank or Brandy just thought it was funny to call him Krash.  Meh.

Anyway, when I chatted with Doug recently I asked him about the nickname and if ‘Krash’ was going to endure in Frank’s absence.  Here’s what Doug told me:

“I’ll tell you how it started and what’s funny is that I’ve been broadcasting since 1993 and I get asked more about that than anything else.  It was my first year doing sideline, it was 2006 and Michigan had a game at Minnesota.  The whole team arrives [at the hotel] and I was the last to check in. I was a rookie and I’m just waiting.  The team checked in, all the support people checked in and finally I go to check in but they don’t have a room under my name.   Now I’ve seen every misspelling of my name you can imagine. They kept looking through and found nothing. I said, ‘Try spelling it this way, try spelling it that way…”

“Eventually the manager reviewed the team list and said, ‘Is your first name Doug?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘We have it under Doug Krash.’  So at the Minnesota game at the team hotel I’m under Krash.   Frank hears all this and says, ‘Well that’s going to stick.’”

I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll go with it, whatever [laughs]..they can call me whatever they want..’  I was just happy to have the job!  And of course it stuck.

So I’m going to guess that Brandstatter will continue using it. And I don’t mind at all. [laughs] To this day more people ask me about that than anything else.”

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So there you go — and after hearing the real story I’ve instantly warmed up to the ‘Krash’ nickname – Go Blue!

 

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