The recent Dr. Sap’s Decals post has sparked a bit of discussion on whether Hoke should bring them back. One of the arguments folks use against the practice is that individual awards like this take away from the team concept. But you have to reconcile that with the fact that Bo, who was mildly supportive of the team concept, started the tradition of issuing the decals.
But there was a point when Bo wavered. Did you know that he actually took them off the helmets for a short stretch in the early 80s? I did, but only because Dr. Sap himself sent me an updated diagram a few weeks back.
This week I got this email from a former U-M lineman who talked about when this happened and more:
Not sure if you knew this but in 1983 and 1984 Bo did give us stickers but they were placed on a board in the Football Building. He just did not put them on our helmets.
When Bo announced it, it was to show the importance of the team and not the individual as the gold footballs were individual awards. Initially It was like “that kind of sucks” and you never thought about it again. More because it was a change than anything else.
It’s funny as an offensive lineman you were never quite sure why you got one. A good block, a good game, a good play. It was easy for the specialty folks, touchdowns, TFL, sacks, fumble recovery, interceptions, 100+ yard games, etc. They never told us specifically why we received one. You just seemed to get more of them when you won. I still have my helmet from my freshman year where I earned I think 6 or 7 of them. I only played on the kick-off return team then and I was never told what I did to receive them. I would assume we had a great return so the kick-off return team would collectively get a gold football but no one said to me at least, you are getting a gold football because you did “this or that”.
That last part is disappointing to uniform nerds everywhere (like me), who were half-hoping Bo, after hours of carefully deliberation with the assistants, hand delivered the stickers in an elaborate ceremony after each game :)
1984 wasn’t Bo’s finest season on record and perhaps that drove him to bring the stickers back the following season.