Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

When looking back at some classic pictures and photos of Anthony Carter, you will notice that most of the time his jersey looked different from those worn by his Michigan teammates.  Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – AC, at times, did in fact wear a different jersey than his maize & blue brethren:

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From 1979 through the 1981 season, Carter wore tear-away jerseys made by Russell Athletic.

Created in 1967 and known for the name they were given, these jerseys would indeed rip and tear apart whenever an opponent tried to grab them.

Before the Michigan jerseys became skin-tight, custom sewn, works of art by a local Ann Arbor seamstress in 1987, football jerseys some 30 to 40 years ago were loose-fitting garments that draped over the players.  The excess material was perfect for a defender to grab onto and take an opponent down, sometimes even from behind. This technique was called a “shirt tackle.”  You’ve probably never heard of that term because when the tear-aways were banned by the NCAA in 1982 (the last year they were used in the NFL was 1979), football jerseys gradually became tighter fitting, making it almost impossible to bring down a ball-carrier via a shirt tackle.

Recently legendary Michigan Football Equipment Manager Jon Falk shared with me the story of how Carter got to wear the tear-away jersey at Michigan.   After sitting down with Bo Schembechler in the spring of 1979 and assigning the heavily recruited Riviera Beach, Florida wideout the #1 jersey Falk had a feeling Carter would be special.  Sure enough the first few practices indeed showed everyone how fast and dynamic AC was.  Never before had a receiver been able to catch every ball thrown to him in practice.  Carter was able to chase down any pass, no matter how far it was thrown.  For three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust-Bo and Michigan, this sight was truly shocking.

Schembechler noticed that the times Carter caught the ball in traffic, the only way the Michigan defenders could bring him down in practice was to grab his jersey.  He was just too quick and elusive to bring down any other way.

Two weeks before the season opener against Northwestern, the Michigan jerseys arrived from manufacturer Spanjian and this got Bo thinking – if Carter wore a tear-away jersey the opponents would never be able to bring him down!   Schembechler told Falk to get some tear-aways for his freshman wideout, but there was one problem – with the college football season only two weeks away, Russell was too busy completing jersey orders for other teams.  When Big Jon asked the manufacturer to make some tear-aways, he was told they couldn’t meet his request at that time.

Undaunted, Falk pulled out a trump card and called a longtime friend–the owner of Russell Athletic.  Sure enough, the owner ordered the Russell plant to stop all other production so that they could make some maize and blue #1 tear-aways for Anthony “The Darter” Carter. The rest is history.  Here’s how they looked (note: no Carter nameplate on the back):

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Falk also confirmed my suspicion that Carter was the only player to wear tear-away jerseys at Michigan.  Big Jon told me that he would pack TEN (10) of the #1 tear-away jerseys for each game and that the most Carter went through in one game was four, which happened 3 or 4 times between 1979 and 1981.

Related:
Helmet Decal Details with Jon Falk
Keeping AC Warm – How Michigan Landed Anthony Carter

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05. April 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: 2015

 

ftb_michigan

To those who attended, that had a game day feel, didn’t it?   Now we need to convince Ira, Sam and Steve to prop up the Victors Lounge tent in 2016 and we’ll be all set. 

As far as the game, sure, the offense was lackluster overall but given they drafted “even” and didn’t protect the quarterbacks, I don’t think a shoot-out was in the cards.  Speaking of QBs, I was impressed with Malzone but I’d go with Morris if the season started tomorrow if you asked me to put the ol’ depth chart up on the ol’ wall.

A few sights and sounds:

 

Carr Mo Harbs

Carr/Mo:  It was very cool to have Carr and Moeller as honorary captains and, as we learned later, have them draw a few trick plays.

Band: Another nice touch that gave the day a game day feel was the band, though seated, rolling through the pregame song sequence.

Uniform Update:  I won’t call it Uniform Timeline worthy (beyond what is already there), but there was no Legends patch on the #48 jersey.  My $.02: until they make it official, leave the patch on the jersey.

While there were seemingly no major uniform reveals out there (not even a spring game patch like the last few years) I did love seeing the GO BLUE-tongued shoes on a few of the guys:

GO BLUE kicks

Can’t Wait: I got a close up look at Ty Issac before the game and the dude is an absolute house – I can’t wait to see this beast carry the pigskin:

IMG_4692 x

Git-R-done:  File under FWIW.  The media used to wait around a good 15 minutes or so after they were seated for Brady Hoke and IIRC, RichRod, to start their postgame press conferences.  If the Q&A Saturday sounded a bit odd, my man Harbaugh was at the podium before really anyone from the press box made it downstairs and sat down. 

Bowl Half Empty:  Who cares?  But ok I’ll bite. Calling the bowl 100,000, the question comes down to whether the bowl was half full.  Keeping in mind that everyone is jammed in there for games, I say it was not quite half capacity.  I’d call it 45K– but I could be sold on 10K in either direction.  But..

Photo Apr 06, 12 42 19 PM

..then again Bacs (who was back in the press box and not in the thin air of row D) says I’m on crack.

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imageMaully in 1915 team photo | Bentley Library

From reader and memorabilia collector Mark Bomia:

Over the last couple years I acquired the entire John Maulbetsch estate. Maully was an All-American halfback for Michigan in 1914 and member of the College HOF. Some of these items, like most of his scrapbooks, I’ve donated to Bentley Library.

One of the coolest pieces I still possess is Maully’s 1914 All-American ring, given to him by the “Ann Arbor Boys” in December 1914 when he was selected by Walter Camp. It is a gold ring with a .7 carat diamond with a block M on one side and “AA” on the other. The band has a congratulating inscription.

Let me know if this is something your readers may enjoy. I can send pics, if interested.

Naturally I wanted to see the pics – pretty sweet:

Maully's rings

Bomia later shared, “The ring is 14k gold with a .7 carat VSI, D color diamond. The inscription on the inner band states ‘To Maully Maulbetsch from the Ann Arbor Boys Dec 1914.’  I’ve also included a signed letter from Yost congratulating Maully on his AA selection..”

Here’s the letter from Yost, congratulating him on the All-American selection and urging him to expand his skillset “I am anxious to have you punt and drop kick and practice catching punts when you can” for the upcoming season.  It was sent from the law offices of his brother-in-law Dan McGugin:

letter Cheers to Bomia for sending this along !  This is an awesome slice of U-M lore.

 

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On eBay right now, this –> a series of football ticket applications from the early 1930s, with one including this message from #1000SSS from The Grand Old Man himself:

Yost and drinkers

This wasn’t the only time that Yost spearheaded a message on the ills of drinking at games during this era.  Back in 2008 I noted this cartoon that appears in the 1934 yearbook:

drunkWhile we know folks found a way to drink during Prohibition, the law ended with ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933.  That said, Michigan state law approved the sale of 3.2 percent alcohol earlier that year and I’m sure more than a few bottles of the good stuff found their way to and through the gates of Michigan Stadium.

Inconceivable

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BennieBen  McCready and Captain Jake Ryan

As a follow-up to my post from this weekend on the potential changes to the Legends program, today I chatted with Ben McCready, godson (and namesake) of Bennie Oosterbaan.  Ben confirmed that Jim Hackett called him about the Legends program.  A few notes:

  • Nothing is official, but U-M is indeed evaluating the Legends program and considering changes.
  • The evaluation is being driven, in part, by feedback from the players.
  • McCready’s understanding is that they do intend to maintain the Legends distinction, but are considering honoring those players in a different way.
  • All options are on the table including a presence in the stadium to recognize the Legends. 
  • Hackett is soliciting input from the Legends/families and has already connected with one other Legend/family.  Hackett will be talking with all the Legends families and keeping everyone in the loop as this moves forward.
  • Timeline is TBD, but McCready’s understanding is that they plan to settle this before the season starts.

McCready also told me, “I trust Jim Hackett completely,” and added, “I am very confident that everyone – the players, the fans and the Legends families, will be very happy with the way this all turns out.”

 

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Helmet Decals

So word is out that the helmet decals will return and the Legends program will be modified in some manner, starting with the patch on the jersey.  Bacs:

bacs tweet

Regarding the helmet stickers:  I’m not surprised (my spies confirmed a lot of chatter weeks ago) and you can imagine that I’m pretty jacked up and looking forward to the decal reveal. I’d prefer a replica or close variation of the Bo-era decals, but I’d go with a block M or whatever.  I know Dr. Sap has a few ideas that we’ll reveal down the road.  Heck, I’d even go with this design if it would mean cheaper tickets & Twizzler prices:Im loving it

On the Legends jerseys, I’ll start with Bacon’s tweet.  I think he’s probably right that Canham or Bo wouldn’t have been crazy about the concept, but I wonder if they would be ok with unwinding this (at least the jersey portion) after it was already unveiled. 

I need more info on what exactly happening here, but I really like the Legends program including the patch on the jersey.  Whether you like the aesthetics of the patch or not, what this concept did was bring these great players to the forefront and got people (people other than yrs truly) talking about them again.  Dave Brandon had to sell the families of those who had previously retired jersey numbers to bring them back on the field, so now what?  

Legends Program Montage(Bennie McCready & Jake Ryan | Ox Wistert | Mark Harmon)

I know that the athletic department has at least tried to reach out to certain family members of Legends recently I assume to, ahem, talk this through.

I think the biggest problem with the Legends program is that it became a burden on the coaching staff to dole out these jerseys to the “right” player and they felt obligated to include the families as much as possible.  It was probably easier to not bother.  My take, and what I’d sell to the families—just let the coach decide who gets the jersey and leave it at that.  If the designated player and the families form a relationship after that, all the better, but I wouldn’t ask the coaches to work all that out ahead of time.  To Desmond, one of the living Legends (along with Ox Wistert), I’d say the same thing – don’t worry about whether the player “earned” the right to wear #21, just let the coaches assign the number and that’s that.  It should be an honor to Desmond that his name is on any jersey on the sideline.    This bureaucratic burden was why RichRod buried the #1 jersey. 

So, before I blast away any further I’ll chill until I hear more.  My questions — Do the special Legends lockers in the stadium go away?  Does the section of the Towsley museum carved out for the Legends vanish?   Of course the biggest question – do the previously retired jerseys go back in the vault?

No matter what, looks like we’ll have some interesting tweaks to the Uniform Timeline this fall.

 

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