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Bo era savant Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis recently caught up with Jon Falk to get down and dirty on the decals.  And if you are wondering when this site is going to stop talking about helmet decals, the answer is NEVER.

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Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis (SS): Bob Ufer mentioned that there were team goals as well as individual achievements that were used to award the decals. Do you know what criteria was used to get a decal? Was that list published?
Jon Falk (JF)
: There was a notebook that Bo had that listed the goals.  It had offensive scores, defensive stops, interceptions, tackles for loss – I can’t remember all of them.  When the offense would score, every player on offense would get one. If we scored more than 30 points, the whole offense would get one.  If the defense made a goal line stand, the entire defense would get a decal.  Things like that.

SS: Who made the decision to award decals to each player?
JF: The position coaches would give me the list.  Later on, it would be the Victors Club List.  That’s where guys would wear Victors Club jerseys at practice.

Victors Club Jersey(Victors Club jerseys)  U-M Bentley Historical Library

SS: When were those decisions made? After evaluation of game film?
JF: Correct.  On Sunday each position coach would break down the game film and make a list of who would get (how many) decals.

SS: When were the decals applied to the helmets?
JF: Monday.  After I got the list from the coaches on Sunday, I would put the decals on Monday before practice.

SS: Who put the actual decals on the helmets?
JF: I did.  I would also check the helmets on Saturday to see if any were torn.

SS: Who kept track of the decals and were they locked up?
JF: I had them in my office, locked in a drawer.  I had a book that I kept a record of for the entire year of who had how many decals.

SS: Do you still have that book?
JF: Oh, gosh no!

SS: The design of the decals changed over the years. Who decided to change the design in 1975 & 1985?
JF: I did.  The original ones were crudely shaped – they were just punched-out and literally stuck to adhesive tape.

SS: Who/what company made the decals?
JF: There was a local guy in Milan, MI – gosh, I can’t remember his name – but he was the guy who made them.  They were made on cards that had 10 decals on each card.

SS: Were the decals actually a yellow football with just a clear-colored (not blue) wolverine head?
JF: Well, like I said, the first ones were cut out and applied to adhesive.  The next ones (1975-82), the yellow was adhesive with a clear wolverine head. But those were very thin and would tear and get torn, so the next ones (1985-94) were made a little thicker.  They were yellow with a blue wolverine head (with laces) and were a little more durable.

SS: The decals were not on the helmets in 1983 & 1984 but were still kept track of. Who made the decision to take them off the helmets?
JF: I don’t recall that. I thought they were always on.

SS: They came off in ’83 & ’84 and I had heard that they were still kept track of, but they were just not placed on the helmets. Evidently, Bo wanted to reinforce the TEAM element and thought removing them might help.
JF: No, I don’t remember that. Are you sure?
SS: Absolutely.

SS: Were the players excited about getting new decals each week?
JF: Oh, yeah!  Each Monday they’d say things like, “How come I only got this many decals?” And I would tell them, “Go talk to your (position) coach.”  But some of the players would move the decals each Monday and then I would move them back on Saturday before the game.

SS: You mean some of the guys would reposition them?
JF: Yes. And I would have to move them back to where I put them.

SS: I know there were left and right decals. Were they placed on the helmets in a certain way?
JF: Yes. I tried to place the decals so that the wolverine head was facing away from the (side) stripe.  So the left-facing ones were on the left side of the helmet and the right-facing ones were on the right side of the helmet. That didn’t happen every year, but that’s what I tried to do.

SS: When Lloyd Carr made the decision to remove the decals in 1995, were they still kept track of?
JF: By then we had the Victors Club T-Shirts – not the jerseys. A few years later, if we were playing a home game, they would wear a blue Victors Club jersey with no numbers on it at practice. If we were playing a road game, it would be a yellow Victors Club jersey. The Demo Squad would wear different colored jerseys for each team that we were playing on the road. The Demo Team would wear white jerseys for the road (visiting) teams.

SS: How did the players react when they were told there would be no more decals?
JF: You know what? They just took it in stride. We didn’t want anything to distract from that winged-design.

SS: I have been a big proponent in trying to bring back the decals. What’s your take, Jon? Would you like to see them again on the Michigan Football helmets?
JF: I like that Michigan helmet without the decals.
SS: :(

OTHER TIDBITS FROM JON FALK:

  • “I used to tell all the players who would go to the Senior Bowl, ‘Don’t put any (other team) stickers on that helmet of yours!’”
  • “Bo used to ask me, ‘How come these helmets are scratchy?’ Guys like (Mark) Donahue and (Rob) Lytle would have their helmets all scuffed up and Bo didn’t like that.  He liked those old (MacGregor) helmets where the design was actually inside the helmet and there was a plastic coating on the outside. So we got some touch up paint and Bob Bland would touch up the helmets every Thursday night.”
  • “Dave Brandon wanted the helmets to look shiny for each game on Saturday. So a few years ago, Bob Bland would paint the game helmets on Monday so they would look perfect for Saturday’s game.   More recently, all the game helmets have been shipped to Elyria, Ohio to have them touched up and have a heavy gloss coating applied to them so they could be nice and shiny. On Monday the helmets would get shipped to Ohio to get the gloss finish re-done. The guys would wear practice helmets all week and get their game helmets back on Thursday. This way the helmets would look nice all the time.”
  • “The first night game against Notre Dame was when we first used the speckled (yellow) paint and used it all season.”

 

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Via the U-M Bentley Historical Library

I’ve heard a lot about the dogs Whiskey and Brandy providing Michigan Stadium some ball-chasing entertainment over the years, but I’m not sure I’d seen a video clip.  Via the Dr. Sap Archives from halftime of the epic 1969 Ohio State game:

More on Whiskey (and her puppy Brandy) from James Dickson in Michigan Today:

Fan demand grew to the point that administrators issued an announcement in the Michigan Daily asking that the dog’s owners make the halftime show a regular arrangement.”WANTED,” the announcement read, “Overwhelming demand for continued halftime performances for ‘Little Dog Blue’ and his magic ball has necessitated a full scale search for the small but strong star.

And check out this reprint of a 1970 Michigan Daily piece on the popular pooch, noting she even made it to Pasadena that season:

The Rogers feared there might be difficulties in getting her to Pasadena, but people connected with their trip were helpful in making arrangements for the dog.

The only real scare came when they learned at the last minute that the dog could not be accommodated on their chartered flight. As a last resort, Dave walked onto the plane at the end of the line with Whiskey in her traveling box, hoping that the other passengers would recognize her and insist that the dog be allowed to stay. As Rose Bowl watchers already know, his request was granted and the dog was able to perform at the Rose Bowl game.

I also noted that the exploits of Whiskey and Brandy were not mentioned in the Traditions list I started in 2013.  That’s fixed, and I plan on taking a deeper crack at the Traditions list later this offseason.

 

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JH joined M&M.  Harbaugh didn’t remind Golic that he was in the Notre Dame ass-kicking business, although he did keep them waiting for a few minutes to start the interview:

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Audio:

 

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Since the turn of the last century, as I see it the Michigan coaching hires have fallen into 2 buckets:

  • Legacy Hires > under the Michigan Man umbrella, these are guys with playing and/or coaching experience in Ann Arbor before they took over.  (And FWIW a lack of outside heading coaching success).
  • Hired Guns > gents with head coaching “success” (let’s call it .550 or better) at other college programs but no previous coaching or playing experience at U-M.

Harbaugh is the first hire that really falls on both sides of this divide, having had both college (& NFL for that matter) head coaching success along with U-M ties as a player and alumnus.  A breakdown*:

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* I removed George Little who kinda/sorta coached U-M for one season in 1924 while Yost took a breather, and ok, if I moved the mendoza line for “success” down to .500 Hoke gets a check.

A few thoughts:

  • Of the 4 Hired Guns, I think Ivan Maisel of ESPN got it right, comparing this hire to that of Fritz Crisler who won two national titles at Princeton before taking over in Ann Arbor:

For one thing, Harbaugh is the most successful head coach Michigan has hired since it swiped Fritz Crisler from Princeton in 1938. All Crisler did in 10 seasons in Ann Arbor was slap the wings on the helmet, invent two-platoon football, go 71-16-3 (.806) and finish with a 10-0 record in 1947.

  • The next highest profile hire would be Rodriguez (on the brink of a national title shot at WVU), then Yost (short term dominance wherever he went), then Schembechler (Bo who?).
  • Speaking of Yost, he didn’t have the reputation of Crisler or even Rodriguez because in 1900 he still just didn’t have the name out there to attract him to the major college programs.  Michigan found him thanks to a lead from Illinois (Yost had applied for the gig in Champaign in December of 1900—thank goodness they didn’t bite).   I found this short clip in the 1934 Michigan Alumnus where Charles Baird, the AD who hired Yost, described how he found him:

imageDamn, Yost was a beauty.

 

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Via my friends at the U-M Bentley History Library, from the September 1986 issue of the Ann Arbor News…coach Harbaugh:

VWHe’s seated on the back bumper of his old “fender-flapping VW.”

Bo knew about Harbaugh’s sled and, umm, didn’t care for it: “The car Harbaugh has should not be allowed on the streets.”

 

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By Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

In the 1970s player introductions for college football games were very different compared to the productions that they are now.  There were no fancy graphics, no computer generated backgrounds and no animations some forty years ago.  While the intros back then lacked the glitz and glamour of today’s game, they made up for it in uniqueness and creativity.

In 1973, the player introductions for the Michigan-Ohio State game were announced over the Michigan Stadium public address system. ABC-TV’s Bill Fleming was live on the field and had the players run up to the on-field camera as he announced their names to the sell-out crowd and national TV audience, literally minutes before kickoff.  Those introductions were epic and captured the emotion of the moment.  None were better than Michigan’s Curtis Tucker, Dave Gallagher and Paul Seal’s introductions.

A few years later, ABC decided to use video mug shots at the Friday walkthroughs for both teams instead of delaying the start of the game with on-field player introductions.  This was relatively boring as the players were usually just standing there in their team-issued sweat-suits as the camera moved down the line, one by one.

Then, in 1978, Michigan tailback Harlan Huckleby added a subtle coolness to his intro for the game against Notre Dame.  When the camera moved in front of #25 and paused for about 3 seconds, Huckleby winked:

When I recently asked Huck about it he didn’t recall doing the wink or what his motivation was at the time.  Whatever the reason, it was a cool move by one of Michigan’s coolest cats, for sure!

The next time Michigan was on National TV, Michigan’s Russell Davis, Ralph Clayton and Doug Marsh all decided to continue the tradition of the Huckleby Wink. During the 1978 Michigan-Ohio State game, all three players winked when the ABC camera got in front of them.  The next year, during the 1979 Notre Dame mug shot player intros, Stan Edwards, Lawrence Reid, Clayton and Ed Muransky all winked to the ABC camera.  Who knew that what Huck started on a whim a year earlier would continue with the next group of Wolverines?!

For the 1979 Rose Bowl, NBC took the player introductions to a new level.  The peacock network already had the players introducing themselves, as well as their hometown and degree of study for the previous few Rose Bowl telecasts. In 1979 NBC decided to have the starters for each team hang out in a picturesque garden while they shot their player intros.  It was a little more dynamic and flashy than ABC’s Friday walk-through mug shots, but not by much.

For Michigan quarterback Rick Leach, NBC decided to add a little pizzazz to his intro. After announcing all the offensive starters, NBC had Leach crouch down behind his offensive linemen. As legendary broadcaster Curt Gowdy announced that “you can’t hide an All-American,” the Wolverine offensive linemen all knelt down on one knee and up stood the Guts and Glue behind them. It was classic!

I’ve made a video collage of some of the more memorable Michigan player introductions of the 1970’s for all to see and remember:

Ed. You can check out the whole Dr. Sap Archives video collection here, including the intro clips from several games in the 1970s.

 

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UGP

[Ed. In a repost from January 2014, Dr. Sap is back and offers up some Bo-era flavor that comes from the treasure trove that is the Sap archives. –G]

Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

When Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh scored on a quarterback draw against Notre Dame in 1985, little did he know that a photo of the classic TD would spark an interesting discussion in the national media.   As Harbaugh crossed the goal line that afternoon, Ara Parseghian exclaimed on the CBS broadcast, “A quarterback draw – great call!”

The next week, Sports Illustrated captured Harbaugh’s scoring play under the title, “A Cure For Bo’s Blues”:

A Cure for Bo's Blues - HarbaughA couple of SI readers took notice of the NFL football Harbaugh was cradling in the photo.  They were inspired to write the editor and ask why a collegiate athlete was using a professional pigskin:SI Letter - Jim Harbaugh's NFL Wilson footballAs noted by SI’s ED/Sir, this question was addressed by the NCAA and the next year they decided to modify their college footballs that were used by Division I schools. So when Michigan played at Notre Dame in 1986 Harbaugh was throwing around the new AFCRT Wilson 1001:

Jim Harbaugh - Notre Dame 1986It was the same model, size and shape as the NFL Wilson – it now just had a different, less professional-looking, stamp on it.  Of course everyone then was asking, “What the heck does AFCRT mean?”  It stands for the American Football Coaches Retirement Trust and is essentially a retirement plan setup for qualified college football coaches.

The ball stayed in circulation for a few years. In fact, when Demetrius Brown outdueled Rodney Peete in the 1989 Rose Bowl, this was the ball that was used in that glorious victory over the Trojans:

AFCRT pigskin Michigan

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Thanks Sap!  If you want to see the best looking ball from a Notre Dame game, that’s easy.  My pal and artist Jil Gordon does the handiwork on many of the game balls awarded to players and coaches.  Here’s what she did for UTL 1.0 – just amazing:

ND ball

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Great stuff from Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (HT: JP & GN).  A snippet:

  • Your Harbaugh does not function like other head coaches. An innocuous query about the weather, for instance, could trigger a florid quote from Admiral William Halsey. And yet a routine question about a running back’s knee injury may cause your Harbaugh to wince, pause and grimace as if a malodorous scent has wafted into the room. Your Harbaugh’s default in this instance is: “We don’t really talk about that here” or “I can’t get inside his body” or “He’s working through something.” This is a design flaw our technicians in California have not yet worked out.
  • You may notice that your Harbaugh never shuts off. This is normal.
  • [this –>] There are still a few bugs in the answer-response system. For instance, you may sense – due to a long pause – that your Harbaugh has completed an answer. You will begin to ask another question. You could be two sentences into your question when your Harbaugh suddenly continues his answer to the previous question. You will feel stupid. Do not be alarmed. This is normal.

Full instructions (and warnings!) here.

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