13. August 2016 · 1 comment · Categories: 2016

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By Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

Forty years ago, Michigan Football Coach Bo Schembechler had open-heart surgery. With it being his second procedure in just over 7 years, people were wondering just how The General would respond.

Being aware of what was happening around him, and to squash any rumors or negative recruiting talk about his health and his ability to coach, Bo did what he loved to do – he jammed it down your throat.

He conducted an interview to show and tell everybody how good he looked and how great he felt. But to make his point more emphatic, Bo would do the interview while running!   Check it out:

Former Michigan Replay host Larry Adderley recalled to me that it was one of the more unique interviews he ever did.

“It was shot out of the back of a truck while we were jogging around the field. (laughs) It was shot for Michigan Replay when Bo was in the recovery stages of his heart operation. (Producer) Bob Lipson and I were always looking for stories on Michigan Football and realized that other coaches shows didn’t pursue the same kind of features and segments we did.”

Adderley, a former MSU football walk-on, also told me that the interview “was Bob Lipson’s idea. I had actually done a series on running earlier in the year with a Wayne State University professor that helped me do this interview with Bo. I remember the professor telling me, ‘If you’re not willing to do this all the way through, don’t do it!’”

Having hosted the show from its inception in 1975 on WXYZ-TV in Detroit until it moved to WDIV-TV in 1980, Adderley said Bo was very accommodating to work with.

“We didn’t need Bo’s approval (to do these segments). Lipson was a Michigan fanatic and Bo was always busy with football stuff, so we typically never required Bo’s approval. Bo was good in that we rarely did any re-takes of the show. I recall the segments with Bo always went smoothly. I became fast friends with Bo and really appreciated the access he gave us for the show.”

[Ed.  You might recall this gem from 2014 !]:

Bo Gets Cut

03. August 2016 · 3 comments · Categories: 2015

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Yawn.  Stretch..I’m back after my three month tour of Europe, Scandinavia and the sub continent.

Following the uniform reveal there’s been mucho chatter regarding the potential for a maize jersey.  @UofM_graphix posted this:

Michigan All Maize Jersey

I saw this and booted but quickly rallied (to type this post).

Legend has it that this has been done before.  No, not in 1964 despite what this oft-reference graphics depicts:

Michigan

Never happened:

Michigan Wolverines 1964

 

So that wasn’t real…but apparently the world did see the Wolverines in an all-maize way back in the day.  According to the book produced by my pals Bruce Madej and Greg Kinney Champions of the Westit was November 10, 1928 when Michigan faced Navy down in Baltimore.  Navy wore their traditional blue so U-M came up with the alternate maize design – and apparently they were not too well received (via the Uniform Timeline):

Navy Game 1928

While that’s a grainy B&W shot, you can clearly see one squad is wearing a light-colored jersey.  Add that in 1928 they certainly couldn’t produce the range of yellows that you see today, I’m guessing the canary was more of a dull yellow–but yellow nonetheless.  And P.S., the numbers were only on the backs of the jersey until 1930.

Either way – puke.  Don’t do it.  And don’t even try to invert the colors on the helmets!

More to come on the uni reveal.  Note that I won’t update the Uniform Timeline with specifics until we see which gear specifically makes it to the field, meaning starting with the Hawaii opener.

 

02. June 2016 · Write a comment · Categories: 2015

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My thoughts are with Ann Arbor legend Charlie Green right now, as he is dealing with pancreatic cancer and is receiving care from Hospice.  Shemy Schembechler has started gofundme page to help out the family and I encourage you to consider helping out.

That said, I’m guessing many of you, especially those outside of town don’t know Charlie.  He is one of those guys who is omnipresent at Ann Arbor athletic and charity events – he’s just part of the fabric of this place.  He always has a kind word for you and I always love bumping into him and sharing a few words.

I really got to know Charlie for this piece I wrote back in 2010.  The story ran that summer in the Observer and the Detroit News and it provides a small glimpse at this great guy:

Ann Arbor’s Charlie Green – Fifty years at the U-M golf course
[Originally published in the Ann Arbor Observer and later, the Detroit News]

In 1954, Albert and Gail Green drove up from Dayton and dropped their son off at South Quad. Charlie Green’s been an Ann Arborite ever since.

After graduating from U-M in 1959, Green taught subjects that, he says, “make people groan”–algebra and geometry–in Willow Run and Taylor. But what made him eventually become one of the most-recognized folks in town was his decision in 1960 to take a summer job at the U-M Golf Course. He’s been there ever since, coming on full time after retiring from teaching in 1993. He’s been clubhouse manager for the last thirteen years.

Now seventy-four, he works from an office just inside the clubhouse lobby, handling staffing, payroll, reservations, and special outings. “That’s enough to keep busy,” says Green, who’s still a lanky six-footer but says, “I’m shrinking.”

His time working on the course spans most of its history. Designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie, it opened in 1931, two years before MacKenzie’s jewel, Augusta National, site of the Masters Tournament. MacKenzie preferred to build around existing terrain as opposed to reshaping it from scratch. His greens famously undulate severely–to the frustration of many a golfer sitting over a four-foot bending putt.

The U-M course is “such a gorgeous place,” Green says, “but for many years it was ignored and fell into disrepair.” Things improved in the early 1990s when U-M raised $5 million to renovate the course. “They used to call it ‘The Rock,'” Green says, because the stone-hard fairways provided such generous rolls. “Now you fight for every foot.” The renovation didn’t touch those MacKenzie greens, though, which Green calls “the heart and soul” of the course.

A decade ago, pro golfer Ben Crenshaw visited the course, as part of a delegation looking at sites for the Buick Open. Green gave Crenshaw a guided tour, and after the second hole, he says, “it was like we’d known each other our entire lives.” But Crenshaw ended up quashing the proposed location. Hosting such a tournament would require adaptations that, he believed, would change the course for the worse. According to Green, Crenshaw declared, “Anyone who touches a blade of grass on this golf course ought to be shot! This course is a classic.”

To play at the U-M course, you must be affiliated with the school or be the guest of someone who is. Students take about one third of the tee times.

“People are quick to say, ‘Oh, it’s college kids, and they don’t care, and they’ll just tear things up,'” Green says. “But it’s not the case. They respect the course just as much as anybody else.”

While some have complained that playing the course takes too long, Green denies this. In fact, if someone is asked to leave the course it’s typically due to slow play–and since those players often lack the skill required for the demanding course, “frequently they’re relieved,” he says with a chuckle.

Green and his wife, Jean, have lived in the west-side Van Dusen subdivision for forty years. The couple have two grown children–Eileen, who’s in the mortgage business, and Sean, a website manager at U-M.

In his spare time, Sean carries on the family athletic department tradition–though, his father points out, he has it comparatively easy. Along with his work at the golf course, Green has helped out at U-M football and basketball games since the 1960s. He remembers typing out play-by-play descriptions of basketball games “on an old manual typewriter–and I’m not a typist.”

Sean handles that duty for the team today, using a touch-screen computer to document the action on the court. “That’s nothing,” Green snaps. Recalling a multisyllabic U-M basketball star from the late 60s, he says, “I typed ‘Tomjanovich’ five thousand times, and all he does is touch a button.”

In 2002 Green was presented with an honorary varsity “M,” a tribute given to only a few nonathletes. “I don’t know if there’s anybody out there with a bad word to say about Charlie Green,” says former football coach Lloyd Carr. Carr says Green “goes out of his way to help people” and exudes “deep pride” in the course and its history.

Those who make it onto the U-M golf course will find a special plaque bearing Green’s name near the sixth hole’s tee box. He handpicked the visually stunning par four to be the site of this honor. With its tree-lined fairway and two-level green surrounded by beautiful trees, he considers it the “signature hole” of the course.

Not just a caretaker, Green is a serious golfer himself. At his finest, he was a six handicap: in layman’s terms, that means he was darn good. He still tries to get in a game on Thursdays. A hole in one? “Naw, never had one,” he says, sighing. “But I’ve had two eagles on par fours.”

While that is arguably a more rare and difficult feat, Green acknowledges with a smirk, “Nobody cares.”

[Again, Shemy Schembechler has started gofundme page to help out the family and I encourage you to consider helping out.]

 

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The final decals of the year delivered by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis.  Well done Sap!  I added the editor’s pick for sweaty Harbs.

For me, a ten win season is top notch.  Only the best teams in Michigan Football history can say they had a double-digit win season.  For this team to finish with a Citrus Bowl victory and possibly a top ten national ranking, is a testament to their work and improvement each week.   What can you say about this coaching staff?  Jim has assembled a tremendous group and the way they dominated this Gator squad spoke volumes to their preparation and in-game management and execution.

To the seniors who stuck around and stayed – you are Champions!

Speaking of, here are your Citrus Bowl Game Champions:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Hands down, Jake Rudock was the straw that was stirring the Michigan Offensive drink today.  The turnaround in his play from the beginning of the season to the Citrus Bowl against Florida was remarkable.  It brought to mind two other amazing QB head-turning performances that I can recall in Michigan Football history: Steve Smith in 1983 and Tom Brady in 1999.  Once Smith had his harness removed from a separated shoulder earlier in 1983, #16 responded with three amazing performances to finish his career as a Wolverine.  Tom Brady became Tom Brady in the last three games of his Wolverine career as well.

Jake

Performances against Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama showed everyone why Lloyd Carr wanted #10 to just wait for his turn for good things to happen.  Can you imagine what Jake Rudock would be like after spending 3 or 4 years with Harbaugh and this staff?  While we won’t see it with Rudock per se, I have a feeling we will see that metamorphosis with the next Michigan QB.  Can’t wait!  When Rudock was interviewed after the game by Dr. Jerry Punch and he informed #15 that he was only the second QB in Michigan history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season, you could see Rudock get choked up – awesome!  While he was the QB for just one season, Jake Rudock left an indelible mark on Michigan Football.  Thanks for a great and memorable year to the guy his teammates call “Dad!”

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – The entire D-Line played outstanding against the Gators, today.  Guys like Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton, Maurice Hurst, Jr. and Royce Jenkins-Stone looked like an SEC line that just stuffs the run and forces the opponent to be one-dimensional.  I love that formula for defensive success and if that is a sign of things to come, look out – that just makes the rest of the defense that much better.  I don’t see much drop off in play for the defense next year and that bodes well for tough games on the road at East Lansing and Columbus in 2016.

SPECIAL TEAMS – We all knew that Kenny Allen had quite the leg this year.  His field goal accuracy this season was outstanding and he showed that against Florida on Saturday with two more three-pointers.  But what surprised me was two things – (1) Michigan only punted once in this Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and (2) Kenny Allen boomed that punt 57 yards!  Holy Schnikees that was impressive!!

UFER FAN CHAMPIONS – As I watched the game on TV, I was thrilled to see so much maize and blue in the stadium on Saturday.  But what made me smile was the “Let’s Go Blue” chant I heard from the Michigan faithful in the stands.

Fans Via mgoblue.com

I can’t EVER remember hearing that at a Michigan Bowl Game.  That was great to hear!  As Ufe would say, “God bless your cotton-pickin’ maize and blue hearts!”

EDITOR’S CHOICE:  To Coach Harbs, for wearing his coaching M sweatshirt the entire game in the Florida heat.  It was drenched and wrapped around him like foil midway through the 2nd quarter:

Harbs

Bad call!  But he didn’t flinch and wore it the whole game, and according to Niyo, even the entire week during practice.  I was in Florida – it was hot bro!

Decals dealt out in previous weeks:

    • Utah: Jake Butt, Jabrill Peppers, Blake O’Neill, (Uniform: White Road Uniforms), John Kryk
    • Oregon State:  De’Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill, The Coaching Staff
    • UNLV:  Ty Issac, Channing Stribling, Blake O’Neill
    • BYU: Jake Rudock, Defensive Line, Jabrill Peppers, (Uniform: Properly Hiked up White Socks), Amara Darboh
    • Maryland: Drake Johnson, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Allen, (Uniform: Blue lyrca leggings).
    • Northwestern: Jehu Chesson, Jourdan Lewis, Offensive Line, (Uniform: Maize and Blue gloves).
    • Michigan State:  No Champions
    • Minnesota: Wilton Speight, Michigan defense, Jabrill Peppers, (Uniform: Stickers crossing the stripes! :O)
    • Rutgers: Jake Rudock, Taco Charlton, Jim Harbaugh
    • Indiana: Jake Rudock, Jehu Chesson, Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Coaching staff, (Uniform: #CHADTOUGH on helmets)
    • Penn State: Jake Rudock, Jourdan Lewis, Taco Charlton, Michigan Coaching Staff
    • Ohio State: Jehu Chesson, Jehu Chesson again (Special Teams)
    • Florida (Citrus Bowl): Jake Rudock, D-Line, Kenny Allen, the Michigan Faithful in Orlando, Coach Harbaugh

 

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I mentioned this in my Holiday Shopping List for Michigan Fans post, but noted I hadn’t actually seen it yet.   Well I recently picked up a copy of  Wolverine – A Photographic History of Michigan Football and I can confirm they did a nice job.  Instead of offering a smattering of photos across Michigan Football History (which isn’t a bad thing of course), they took a unique path. They present a pile of photos that deftly chronicle 5 specific seasons:  1925, 1947, 1969, 1997 and 2011.   Check out Bennie O. alongside Benny Friedman in the raccoon coat from 1925:

2015-12-23 09.28.59

And this shot from the Navy game that same year:

2015-12-23 09.29.06

It takes you on and off the field for these five years, including a few photos I’m not sure have been viewed by anyone outside of the photographer and a few folks in the Ann Arbor News sports department.

Sadly, there’s no pic of me catching the ball after Gibby’s game-winning Sugar Bowl kick but I’m hopeful for the 2nd edition.

Get Wolverine – A Photographic History of Michigan Football available at Amazon and, I assume around town?

 

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Right in the giblets

It came down to lack of depth.  We don’t have the depth to replace the key injuries and just didn’t have the talent on defense to hang with the big boys.   We were exposed.  But we’ll be back with more guys.  Harbaugh and crew have done a remarkable job this season with what we have.  At kickoff today of the final game of the regular season we were in the B1G and even playoff discussion.   Sights and sounds:

Honoring Legends:  Talking with those involved, sounds like #1000SSS did a great job taking care of the families of the Legends this morning and for the game.  Here’s the Oosterbaan crew including my man Ben McCready (47), godson of the great Bennie O.:

IMG_8232 Bennie and Fam

Again, the Legends program did a great thing by putting these great players in the forefront.  The other bonus was building new relationships with the current families and in certain cases, with the student athletes who got to wear the coveted jerseys.  McCready shared this note he received recently from Capt. Jake Ryan:

“Ben – I just wanted to write and tell you it was an honor to wear the #47 jersey at Michigan. I was excited when Coach Hoke asked me and I wanted to represent Bennie in the best way on and off the field. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity and Go Blue! – Jake”

It was a delicate thing to do.  Of course Mark Harmon didn’t make it back so I’m not sure how the Harmons feel about the whole thing.  I’m good with the re-retirement and I’m looking forward to the ceremonies for Woodson (and of course Peppers).

Twenty One – Also a nice, brief acknowledgment of Desmond today.   I wonder if they are going to keep the flags outside the stadium?  I doubt it given they have set up permanent displays in one of the concourses:

Flags best

Traditions.  Michigan Marching Band tradition dictates that the drum major must toss his mace over the goal post and catch it.  If he does, Michigan wins.  If not, ugh:

Michigan mace fail

It’s happened before I know, including before the 2007 Appalachian State game THE HORROR (back then I referred to the mace incorrectly as a ‘baton‘) but was corrected later on.

Season Ticket Holders – During the 3rd quarter, they asked the season ticket holders to stand, then remain standing based on longevity (10 years, 25 years, etc.).  Nice touch (and nice marketing!). 26 here.

The King.  Came to see Peppers:

2015-11-28 10.53.45 Elvis

And Peppers was fun to watch:

CU7u2vuUYAEwGh7

#ChadTough – Beyond the retirement of #21 (and the re-retirements), there’s no other Michigan entry in the Uniform Timeline, but props to the folks in Columbus – very cool that the Buckeyes affixed these to their helmets today:

Chad Tough

 

CU7uEWBUAAAD_QH

Mood.  Back to 80:

mood data

Work! Work it Girl!  If you carried a camera into the media entrance, the officers asked you to take a photo to prove the camera wasn’t something evil.  So naturally I pointed the camera at the officer and asked her to give me her best:

cop

Big Nice Nut – For those who didn’t watch on TV, Big Nut and his buddy were in the first row in the south end zone:

stubhub

Dead serious:  I chatted up Mr. Nut and he was genuinely a nice dude.  Sorry.  Either way, damn you Stubhub!

Elsewhere:

Ace:

For the tenth time in eleven years, Ohio State won The Game. The Buckeyes ran at will; Michigan couldn’t trust its run game enough to even use it without ample trickery. While Michigan’s 9-3 record and obvious team-wide improvement stand as a testament to the remarkable work of Jim Harbaugh, today’s game showed just how much ground the program must make up on their chief rival.

MBN:

The Wolverine defense looked utterly confused and all around gassed during the game. There was no answer for the Buckeye’s zone read, and power runs.  Ohio State scored on six consecutive drives, aside from the end of the first half, which put the pressure on the Wolverines offense to make plays.

The Wolverine offense was able to march the football down the field, but had troubles finishing off drives in the redzone. Michigan settled for two field goals in the game while down in the redzone.

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By Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

If I told you at the beginning of the season that Michigan would finish the season with a 9-3 record, would you have taken that?  Coming off the RichRod and Brady Hoke years, of course you would.  Now that the season has played out, how does 9-3 look?  A little bit different, right?  Why?

Expectations.  In less than one year, our new coach has not only given us as a fan base expectations, but he has also raised them for the team.  That bodes well for the future, but that doesn’t eliminate the sting of losing to Ohio State.  The victories will come, and while it was easy to draw parallels from this team to the 1969 team in Bo’s first year, you need to remember this:  That 1969 team had talent oozing all over the place.  There were 18 players from that team that went on to play professional football.  And don’t forget that 4 players from that squad are in the College Football Hall of Fame (so far!).

Does this 2015 Michigan squad have that same level of talent?  No.  There is talent, but there are deficiencies that need to be addressed.  It will take time to amass the talent needed to take down the B1G Boys, but they will come.

For now, there is a bowl game left to play, and I’m sure it won’t be the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Expectations.

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – The Jehu Chesson that played against Ohio State was not the same #86 that played against Utah. This guys is night and day different from where he was at the beginning of the season. Jehu is confident, strong and clutch. Not exactly the words I would have used to describe his play in September. To go over 100 yards receiving against the Bucks and to score a touchdown is celebrex 200mg.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – He came close to blocking a punt in the first half, and then finally got his hands on one in the second half. In between that, Jehu Chesson was fighting tooth and nail on the Kickoff Team and wasn’t taking any guff from the Buckeyes. He has obviously gotten the message from Coach Harbaugh that you have to compete on every play. His play on Offense AND Special Teams has been elevated as a result. On a day with not much to celebrate, Chesson stood out as my Champion. GO BLUE!!

Decals dealt out in previous weeks:

    • Utah: Jake Butt, Jabrill Peppers, Blake O’Neill, (Uniform: White Road Uniforms), John Kryk
    • Oregon State:  De’Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill, The Coaching Staff
    • UNLV:  Ty Issac, Channing Stribling, Blake O’Neill
    • BYU: Jake Rudock, Defensive Line, Jabrill Peppers, (Uniform: Properly Hiked up White Socks), Amara Darboh
    • Maryland: Drake Johnson, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Allen, (Uniform: Blue lyrca leggings).
    • Northwestern: Jehu Chesson, Jourdan Lewis, Offensive Line, (Uniform: Maize and Blue gloves).
    • Michigan State:  No Champions
    • Minnesota: Wilton Speight, Michigan defense, Jabrill Peppers, (Uniform: Stickers crossing the stripes! :O)
    • Rutgers: Jake Rudock, Taco Charlton, Jim Harbaugh
    • Indiana: Jake Rudock, Jehu Chesson, Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Coaching staff, (Uniform: #CHADTOUGH on helmets)
    • Penn State: Jake Rudock, Jourdan Lewis, Taco Charlton, Michigan Coaching Staff

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28. November 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: 2015

Congrats to Desmond Howard; the coveted #21 officially retired during the second quarter today:

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Via Matt Pargoff, they also did this in the North end zone, nice:

21 in field

And there’s are new flags atop the stadium on the south end honoring each retired jersey –  I assume just for today?

Flags best