I always think about this interview during MSU week, especially this morning when I heard Mark Messner join Michael Spath on WTKA.  Originally posted in 2009, here’s Messner talking about his great battles with MSU’s superfreak lineman Tony Mandarich, along with a bit about Bo’s drug policy and how the team self-regulated bad behavior.  Dig it:

MVictors: Is there a particular game that you look back on with great memories?

Messner: The Michigan State game my senior year is one that sticks out, because there was so much hype about Mandarich. There was talk about ‘the game within the game’, with Lombardi and Outland trophy candidates going at it and all that. He was such a physical specimen and I vowed that I would not let myself get embarrassed by someone who could overwhelm me physically. I could not let that person get me because if I did, the media coverage would be all over it.

He did get me once and that’s when I realized that there was something strange going on with this man, because no man should ever do that.  It was my junior year.  We were watching film getting ready for Michigan State and I was like, “Look at this thing! He’s destroying people.” In that game I got out of position and he got underneath me. He picked me up off my feet and ran with me for fifteen yards with my feet just dangling. He threw me like a rag doll into the Michigan State bench.

No matter what, there was no way I was going to let that happen again. And I never did. In my senior year I would not let that guy catch me. Bo used to say he’d never seen somebody out-run, out-think, out-maneuver someone when they shouldn’t have.  It was purely motivated out of not getting embarrassed [laughs].

MVictors: Did you ever get a chance to know Mandarich personally?

Messner: Yeah. On different All-American teams, like the Playboy team, the AP, UPI, Bob Hope Show, you’d come down for a few days for taping and publicity stuff and they would room us together [laughs]. They’re thinking, “Oh, Michigan people!” I’m like, “This is our frickin’ rival, what are you doing putting me in the same room with this guy!”

He was a very personable and a nice person. He wasn’t like some of these guys, and I don’t bad mouth people, but Broderick Thomas was just arrogant guy and not respectful of other people. Tony wasn’t like that at all and we had a mutual respect for each other on the field.

MVictors: Obviously Mandarich’s name evokes thoughts of steroids.  How did Bo handle drugs within the team?

Messner: It’s one of the things that makes me respect and love the guy the way I do. Well before the NCAA was doing the drug tests, Bo was doing random tests to anybody so that you wouldn’t be out on campus smoking. He was more concerned about recreational drugs on campus (than steroids). We’d come to practice and if your name was on a list you’d have to pee in a cup. That was before it was mandated. We’d still have to do it for bowl games but for the regular season, no one was doing that. Bo was that way all season long.

I remember one day I took the socks from practice because I need some socks [laughs].  The next day I was getting dressed  for practice and I had no socks. I practiced without socks. [Equipment manager] Jon Falk told me, “Listen son, that’s an NCAA violation. I can not let you have them. I can’t replace them. If you bring me an old pair of socks I’ll give you a new pair but you’re not leaving this building with our t-shirts, shorts or socks.”

I had to bring the damn socks back so I could have socks for practice. That’s how strict they were. I’m proud of that.

MVictors: We’re starting to see students arrive on campus that might not remember Bo, certainly not during his coaching days. Is there something unique you remember about Bo?

Messner: Bo had a very protective media persona. He was standoffish and harsh toward the media, and that’s what a lot of people saw, but inside he was one of the most caring and long-term developers of men that I’ve ever met.

I was privileged to be one of his captains. After practice you’re sitting in his office and he asks you about the team chemistry, about problem kids, about which kids need help getting their degrees.  As the captain you are rattling off the guys that are struggling, or aren’t feeling confident or not sure if they are going to stay with the squad and so on.  Bo wanted special emphasis on these players because he really cared about guys.

MVictors: As leaders on the team, did you have to self-police the other players?

Messner: We didn’t police for steroids because it was pretty obvious, from the physical changes to the personality changes. But we would self police guys breaking rules on campus.

I remember when Brad Cochran was our captain one of the kickers was out the night before when we were going to be at Campus Inn. We had a strict internal policy against it. Brad got a phone call and let him know that one of the players was up at Rick’s. He stormed right up there, grabbed him and told him, “Sorry bud, you’re not playing tomorrow.”

Full Messner Interview here

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A few sights and sounds from Saturday’s colossal beating:

  • Relentless.  Up 41-8 Harbaugh challenged the spot.  I love it.  It was a reminder that no matter what the circumstances, our focus will remain sharp, the gas pedal will be pressed down.  The team came out stale in the second half and I wonder if Harbaugh did this to reminde everyone that this never stops – there are no moments to relax – and this is how it will always be.  Even up 41-8 in the 4th.
  • Speight Watchers. While it’s tough to draw meaningful conclusions against that caliber of opponent, Speight looked much better.  He was more relaxed in the pocket and the he dialed in his accuracy during the bye week.  Next week will say a lot because despite the sink hole that’s opened on the banks of the Red Cedar, he (and many others) will be under a lot of pressure next week.
  • Harbs’ Specs.  Harbaugh explained his new glasses in the postgame presser.  No way he came up with this dynamic trio off the cuff:

And then the glasses is that a Woody Hayes nod?


“It is, actually. There’s really three people. Got my eyes checked out a couple weeks ago and they said I needed to go to glasses full time, so as of Tuesday I’m now a full-time glasses person. This style in particular is a tip of the cap, a nod, to Woody Hayes, to Michael Douglas in the movie ‘Falling Down,’ and also a tip of the cap to Malcolm X. In honor of those three men.”

  • HR King on prem. Hands down you have to give Harbaugh an A+ this season on honorary captains.  A torrid pace ain’t it?  Here’s a great shot of Hammerin’ Hank (via @mgoblue):


  • Yostian Pace – My man @JohnKryk notes that we’re on a splendid scoring pace.  Through 7 games Fielding Yost’s 1901 team scored 340 points.  Harbaugh’s have put up 341.  Counting the Rose Bowl, the 1901 crew put up 550 and completely shut out their opponents.
  • The Bo Store.  Item of the week, back half mesh lid  /flame /flame /flame


  • Mudbowl:  Props to the SAE gents for keeping the Mudbowl rolling in high style, a Meechigan tradition that dates back to the 1930s (H/T Geoff Voss for the photo):


• The Wolverines improved to 64-29-2 in the all-time series against Illinois and 33-11-1 in home contests against the Fighting Illini. Michigan also improved to 90-28-2 on homecoming and has won 18 of its last 22 homecoming games.

• Michigan is now 7-0 for the first time since 2006 and just the fourth time in 40 years (1986, 1997, 2006, 2016).


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Here are the Decal Champions for Week Seven by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – When it gets close to the goal line, you gotta love Khalid “The Hammer” Hill. Michigan hasn’t had a battering-ram of a back since…Leroy Hoard? It’s got to be an awesome feeling for a coach & a team to know that when you get close, The Hammer is going to seal the deal. Red zone efficiency is an important metric and when you can punch it in from in close, you pretty much punch out your opponent.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – I’m starting to get the impression that Rashan Gary is adjusting to the speed and strength of the college game. Believe me, it IS a step up from high school, even if you are as big and strong and quick as #3. He’s starting to make his presence known and felt and that is impressive midway through his freshman year.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Khaleke Hudson and his blocked punt was the kiss of death for the Illini. Why? Because 90% of the time, the team that blocks a punt, wins the game. It’s demoralizing for one team and jacks up the other. And when a team like Michigan gets jacked up, look out! It becomes infectious and permeates to other groups of the team. And when that happens, it’s all downhill from there for the opponent.

COACHING CHAMPION – For the second game, Michigan has used a ton of runningbacks and I think Coach Tyrone Wheatley needs to get some love for the job he has done with the guys carrying the rock. Having depth is one thing, but having quality depth that seems to have a different group contributing each week is another. TW is coaching these guys up and it shows. Whether it’s #4, #12, #22, #32 or even #5, these guys can carry the load when called upon.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – As long as the white socks are worn on the road, I’m down with the blue socks at home.


The look is growing on me and I think it looks sharp with the home unis.

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6: Jabrill Peppers (O), (D), (ST), Entire Staff (C), White socks (Uni)
Week 7: Khalid Hill (O), Rashan Gary (D), Khaleke Hudson (ST), Coach Tyrone Wheatley (C), blue socks (Uni)



For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History takes us back to the special year of 1927 – the season the Big House was first open for business.  Can you dig it?  Yost could and did!

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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script after the jump:

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H/T to my man Craig Barker of HSR for the reminder and as always, the epic calendar entries in the Michigan Athletics History Calendar.  On this day in 1940 the ‘Toast to Yost from Coast to Coast’ was held at Waterman Gymnasium.  Fielding H. Yost was honored by a host of dignitaries – (Willie Heston, Tom Harmon and Louis Elbel to name a few) in an event that was broadcast on NBC radio around the country.

The Bentley Library has the original recording of that tribute.  It’s a tad choppy in spots but well worth a listen if you have the means.   The highlight for me is certainly hearing the voice of Yost as he addresses the audience.   Here’s a small clip where the 69-year old Yost recalls stepping off the train in Ann Arbor for the first time:

You get a taste of his famous “Meechigan” at about 14 seconds in, which endures today thanks to Bob Ufer, Chris Fowler and TWIMFbH.

There’s much more in the event, even a speech from then-judge Willie Heston – the star of Yost’s epic Point-A-Minute squads from 1901-1904.

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God bless your cotton pickin’ maize and blue fedora-covered ears, old Ufe returns Saturday!

an awesome tradition, toe meets leather at noon Saturday as WTKA 1050AM will air another game from the Bob Ufer radio archives.  This time it’ll be the 1977 battle between your #1 ranked Wolverines and the undefeated (5-0) #14 Wisconsin Badgers in Ann Arbor.

So after weeks of ignoring those important in your life I suggest you tune in while you are making good with your spouse, friends, family or putting rake to leaf in the yard.

You can support the Ufer Foundation here.

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09. October 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: 2016

A few sights and sounds from Saturday’s colossal beating:

  • Piling On.  The noise that Harbaugh was piling on seemed to swell during the game but I haven’t heard much this morning (Sunday).  That said, faking an extra point with nearly THREE FULL QUARTERS left to play is not running up the score – it’s football you little babies.  As for the second half, was U-M supposed to kneel every snap?  For much of the final 2 quarters, Peppers was wearing a cashmere robe, eating bon-bons and trying to figure out which hat to wear for his postgame interviews.  I’m calling you babies because that’s what you are.
  • Chicken counters.  I don’t care how bad you think Michigan State looked against BYU, if you think we’re rolling the buses up there, giving the starters a little work for a couple quarters, packing up Paul and cruising back to Ann Arbor you are crazy.  Even the best Michigan teams get a battle in East Lansing.  And Iowa won’t be a picnic either.  And the Buckeyes will have their hands full in Madison next week.  The best thing I can say about Michigan State’s struggles is that as it stands, we (yes we) don’t need to win up there to win the B1G.
  • [nitpicking].  I’ll quietly note here that I have concerns about Speight’s accuracy as we sit at the halfway point.

#1000SSS posted these historical notes – and I’m annoyed:

Michigan’s nine rushing touchdowns are tied for the most in program history (1939 vs. Chicago).

OK, are we not counting the Yost era?  We like to count Yost’s national championships and conference titles, right?   Well Michigan scored more than nine rushing touchdowns a bunch of times during the Point-A-Minute era, including 22 in 1904 vs. West Virginia.  You could argue that you should draw a line in history based on rule changes (introduction of forward pass, etc, introduction of 6 point touchdown, whatever.).  My preference would be to note clearly where the line is being drawn, then state the “current” record but also acknowledge the historical record.

  • U-M recorded its second-largest margin of victory since 1920 (78 points) and its third-highest in program history. It is the largest margin of victory in a conference game in U-M history, replacing a 69-point win against Northwestern in 1975.
  • Michigan’s 78-point margin of victory is the largest in Big Ten history, for any conference game, topping Wisconsin’s 83-20 victory over Indiana in 2010 and Ohio State’s 59-0 victory over Wisconsin in the conference title game in 2014.

No and no.  So this time kind of an odd line is drawn (1920) but the bold notes are still wrong.  When Michigan beat Chicago 85-0 in 1939 the Maroons were in the conference. (They quit football a couple months later but that doesn’t change that they were in the conference for the 1939 season.)   And back to the point about Yost above, if you want to cite the all-time mark, in 1902 the Yostmen beat conference foe Iowa 107-0.

Eight Armed CREATURES. Speaking of that 1904 beating of West Virginia and Yost – this is so great:

When the West Virginians returned home the Daily New Dominion of Morgantown interviewed them and reported:

“It was declared that every player on Yost’s team weighed eight tons and had an average speed of 96 miles an hour. . . . One player said he was plucked up in the air and thrown over the head of a creature which was at least 100 feet high and had eight pairs of arms. …”

Inserting old clipping for posterity:


Mood Index:  Knocked up to 96.  Though I’m grumpy about the historical notes, it’s still great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Uniforms:  First update to the Uniform Timeline in a few weeks, as the road NIKE whites appear for the first time.  By and large these are the same as last year’s model with a tweak to the colors (the maize is the NIKE “Amarillo” as expected.  The maize stripe on the sleeves appears to be slightly thicker this season.

The Bo Store.  The latest UGP/Moe’s venture is killing it – with stuff like The Nap, The Nap, The Nap and this Bo retro sideline jacket:

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Rutgers Related:


Here are the Decal Champions for Week Six by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:


OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – At 4pm, Saturday afternoon, I sent out this tweet:

sap-tweetI just had this feeling that Jabrill Peppers was going to have a monster of a game. Sure he was coming back home and was playing in front of a lot of family & friends, but I didn’t think he would look as smooth as he did in the offensive backfield. I mean, he looked like a veteran option QB back there!! Decisive.

Oct 8, 2016; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Jabrill Peppers (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during their game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Points Solutions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Quick. Deceptive, but more importantly, smart. He knows what to do when the ball is in his hands.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – When you realize that this game was somewhat close – in the first few minutes and in the rain – the defense needed to step up and deny Rutgers any chance of gaining any momentum. Jabrill Peppers made sure that was not going to happen on his watch and during his homecoming. His ability to make tackles in open space and get to the quarterback is very reminiscent of Charles Woodson, some 20 years ago.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Seriously, is another team ever going to kick to Jabrill Peppers again? Even though his punt return TD was called back, (and that was NOT a block in the back on Jourdan Lewis!) that was an impressive return with a nice Barry Sanders-like spin-move. Much like Tom Harmon’s all-everything performance against Ohio State back in 1940, Peppers seemed like he did everything but sell tickets and blow up the footballs, Saturday night in Piscataway. Yes, the Heisman winner references are no accident.

COACHING CHAMPION – Whenever you drop the third highest point total in program history on your hapless opponent, you know there is some good coaching going on for the Maize and Blue. Gonna give one helmet sticker to the ENTIRE COACHING STAFF because that was the most impressive, thorough and dominant victory I have witnessed in a long, long time – maybe even better than the Gator Bowl whupping Michigan laid on Ole Miss back in 1990.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – The white socks look great with the all-white road unis! Even better is the fact that they were all the way up to the knees – no ankle-grabbers, here!!

socksChris Evans was Kung Fu fighting

Helmet sticker for that classic look. Thank-you, Sonny Anderson & Big Jon Falk!!!

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6:



For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we take a couple trips, first back to 1994 when we retired the #48 jersey of President Gerald Ford, then down the dial to 1955 as the Wolverines took on Army in the premier match-up in the college football world.

This provided a great opportunity to remember the great Ron Kramer.  On the gridiron the Michigan legend played offensive & defensive end, running back, quarterback, kicker, and receiver– sometimes all within the same game.  Off the gridiron, Kramer was a 9-time letterman and set Michigan’s all-time scoring record on the hoops squad and he excelled in the high jump for the track team.  Here’s more:

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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script after the jump:

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