On the week of the Little Brown Jug game, is there a better time to welcome a member of the Jug Brotherhood?  

James Heike 
A hearty congratulations to James who created a beautiful replica jug, sent me the pics and his story and thus punched his ticket to eternal glory.   He’ll never have to buy a drink again in Ann Arbor or Minneapolis.   Here’s a look:

Heike 2  And don’t look now but James went the extra mile getting it signed by #16.  Proof that Denard signs jugs if you ask him nicely:

The Man Himself 2

James, let’s hope that Michigan wins and paints the new scores somewhere other than immediately above the Michigan ‘M’ (which seems to be the clubhouse leader in the local betting houses) so you don’t have to make a tough decision on your Denard signature :)

Here’s Heike’s story in his own words:

My buddy’s been bugging me to write in for a year or two now and in the spirit of jug week, I figured I’d finally share the story of my own Little Brown Jug, how it came to be, and what makes it just a little bit different from the other jugs you’ve featured on the site over the years.

It all started 2 years ago.

Michigan 58 – Minnesota 0
I was in my living room with a bunch of buddies, watching Michigan steam roll Minnesota – by the second quarter, Vinnie Smith had thrown, caught and rushed for TDs and we were all busy celebrating each offensive penalty called against U of M because they meant more “Yards for Denard.” Life was good.

But as we were eagerly awaiting the U of M bench flooding onto the field with the jug held high over heard, we got to talking about getting a jug of our own. At first I thought we could surely find a boutique shop online and order a replica. But as we searched nothing came up. In fact, we could only find one reference to a replica Little Brown Jug anyone online– MVictors.com

I read the article about that first brave soul who set out to create their own jug and knew I had to do the same. I searched for weeks and finally came across a perfect 2 gallon jug, left in a barn in rural Michigan. I ordered the jug and eagerly awaited its arrival.

Michigan 35 – Minnesota 13
By the time Devin Gardner was making his first career start, the jug was complete. What I thought would be a fun craft project turned into an all consuming endeavor. I’ve estimated that I sunk some 50+ man hours into my jug. Meticulously reproducing every detail, right down to the hand writing and idiosyncrasies of the score columns.

It was a fun experience though; it gave me the opportunity to learn even more about my favorite team, the history of what was once a fierce rivalry, and a deeper understanding of the tradition and passion that dates back to a game played some 30 years before my grandfather was born.

Starting on that date in 2012, a new tradition was born that I hope to continue for a long time- each fall, when the Maize and Blue take on the Golden Gophers, I’ll be hosting a jug party at my house. Last year, we had a huge turn out highlighted by the score writing ceremony after the game. Looking forward to notching another crooked score on the jug this coming weekend.

Making it Special
Back in February, I was making plans to drive to Rochester, MI for a secret rendezvous with my girlfriend’s family. I was planning on asking for their permission to marry their daughter, but needed a good cover story to get out of town without raising suspicions. One afternoon, my soon to be fiancee came up with the perfect out, “did you know Denard is going to be signing autographs in Ann Arbor this weekend? Haven’t you always wanted to get that jug signed by him?”

It was a perfect cover- I made the drive to Ann Arbor that weekend, secured her parents blessing, and headed to Ann Arbor to meet my favorite athlete. Pretty great weekend if you ask me.

When I got to the M Den, the line was already snaking through the two story building. I waited in line for 4 hours, and just as I was finally approaching the table I was cutoff. “Only 600 autographs, and unfortunately you’re 601.” I was dumbfounded. I pleaded with the employee to let me go ahead but he wouldn’t budge. In a last gasp of desperation, I pulled the jug out of its protective bag. Everyone, and I mean everyone, took notice.
Where’d you get that?!”
Can you make me one?”
Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that!”

The employee who had stonewalled me just moments ago suddenly had a change of heart, “Well I guess I can let one more through,” he said. As I set the jug in front of Denard, that infectious smile lit up the room, “Wow… now that’s cool!” he said.

It is pretty cool, at least to me it is. I love seeing #16 scribbled across that labor of love every day, perched in its glass case. My now fiancée doesn’t seem to mind it even though it’s taking up precious space in our living room.   And this Saturday, when our boys take the field after an agonizing two week lay off, it’ll be cool to break it out again and relive the tradition of the original trophy game all over again.

Well done James!  

Damn I wanted Denard, Treezy and crew to go out on a big note but it wasn’t to be.  Michigan fans know this game can be brutal and there you have it.   USC doesn’t convert on that fourth sad denard down late in the game, or even if we wrap up Shaw and bring him down on a couple late scrambles, and it’s surely over. 

I thought the defense was just inches away for sealing this game against a team we probably shouldn’t have beaten.   Give Gardner credit for generally remaining cool and getting the team down the field for the go ahead score.  Lewan overall did a fine job on Clowney. 

This game will be remembered for Clowney’s bomb blast, the back-and-forth nearly four hour battle and it being Denard’s finale.   It was fun to be down there in the fourth quarter to watch it play out but it was just heartbreaking watching the team creep off the field and sulk during the postgame.  

For a team with no running back and a depleted secondary they still had the chance to do some great things this year but really didn’t.  The highlight of the season has to be squeaking by a very mediocre Michigan State team and there’s no way 8-5 can be considered anything but a disappointment despite facing 4 of the best teams in football this year all on the road.  

Michigan teams and championship teams have depth.  One man goes down, the next guy takes his post and performs.   They are not there yet but you see a broad foundation of young guys on the team and coming.  

I had a photographer on the pitch for the first time and loved the results.  We went through them pretty rapidly so I’ll probably post some more.  Check them all out here:

Outback Bowl 2013 – 2nd Half Photos      Outback Bowl 2013 – Postgame

Outback Bowl 2013 – First Half Photos      Outback – Pregame Shots

More Sight and Sounds:

Raymond James – Loved the layout of the stadium, at least from my view (and I’ve heard complaints from those inside, so..yeah).  That said, the scoreboards are atrocious and it was tough to find a decent down and distance, but I love how they handle the ends of the field and the pirate ship and the beer garden feel.  Here’s a panoramic, click to expand:

OutbackFull

Aboard the SS Big Clownin’ before the game:

ship

Clowney Don’t Play That – I was behind the Carolina bench heading toward that end of the field when big Clownin’ dropped that bomb.  It sounded like an absolute cannon shot – never heard anything like it.   Here’s Clowney on the bench right after that bomb cooling off:

DSCN2318

The Track – While the grass was really tightly cut it it was actually pretty damp on the pitch before the game – I assume they hosed it down in the morning.  Denard slipped several times trying to cut and while obviously both teams faced the same conditions, it seemed Michigan had more trouble. 

Hey Sixteen – Several of the USC coaches (I didn’t see Spurrier) approached Denard after the game and congratulated him on his career.  Each one referred to Denard as “16”.

Look for Dreadlocks – As soon as the players took the field it was clear you couldn’t read the Michigan numbers from upstairs.  It was a little better closer to the field but it was brutal.  Here’s a decent representation of what it looked like from up top:

unis

Comfy and shoelaceless:  Denard’s cozy slippers, perhaps a Christmas gift?

slippers

Related:

  • Outback Bowl 2013 – 2nd Half Photos
  • Outback Bowl 2013 – Postgame
  • Outback Bowl 2013 – First Half Photos
  • Outback – Pregame Shots
  • TWIMFbH: Beating the Irish in the Beauty Contest

  • I left Columbus with more questions.   Like many of you I’m puzzled why Denard wasn’t used in the second half especially down the stretch.   If he was hurt and out of commission he sure didn’t look it in the postgame and Hoke didn’t say as much in the postgame.  Brady Hoke - Postgame Ohio State 2012

    While Hoke never really talks about injuries, it’s not like there’s some gamesmanship required here—the bowl game is five weeks away.   And let’s say he Denard Robinson - Postgame Ohio Statewas dinged up and couldn’t run the ball for some reason–toss him in the backfield as a decoy, no?   

    Other than the lack of Denard down the stretch, the other frustration was how he was used in short yardage.   He showed no indication that he was ever going to pass it and really didn’t throw in warm-ups.    So if you aren’t going to have him throw it–at any point–then on short yardage put him in the backfield with Gardner and hand it or toss it to Denard, or fake it to #16 and have Gardner run it, or toss it to Gallon or ARGH. 
    After the 2001 Michigan State Spartan Bob game Lloyd Carr summed up how Jordan Kovacs - Ohio State 2012he felt about his team, when he said, “They deserve better.”   

    Kovacs was on the brink of tears in the postgame.  The defense made huge players to keep Michigan in this one but the offense couldn’t move the ball in the second half.   The opportunity for a historic  win was out there. 

    They deserve better.

    There were plenty of positives and memorable moments that sadly get tucked away in a loss:

    – Denard’s TD run (aka Crunch (left) then Lunch)
    - Roundtree’s TD with agent Dileo running security on the perimeter
    - The huge hits on defense highlighted by Frank Clark’s sack
    - Several big stops on defense in Michigan territory
    - Hagerup’s excellent day punting and overall an outstanding game for special teams.

    - This was an epic game all in all.  Hats off to the Buckeye defense and Miller and Hyde.  Looking forward to next year’s battle between these two QBs.

    Roy Roundtree postgame Ohio State
    And one positive moving forward.  Prediction:  I think we will see the Devin-Denard backfield unleashed in the bowl game and a big win and a conclusion to the season.   And then we’ll all be pissed off talking about what could have been :)

    Misc:

    * Ohio Stadium.   Wow, what used to be a beautiful stadium is now the car Homer Simpson designed.   It’s an unorganized smattering of unsynchronized advertisements (FYI – Texas de Brazil is coming to Easton Town Center!), disjointed signs honoring form teams/players/coaches, and flashing lights featuring wild-eyed cartoon footballs saying OOOOOoooo:

    Ohio State Scoreboard Oy Oy Oy Oy

    * Atmosphere.   While the stadium aesthetically is a mess, despite the occupants, the atmosphere is gets high grades.  The pregame tension was wild.  It’s quite a place to witness a Michigan game for sure.  Yes, the south end zone reeked like Jagr and pot at the end of the game but that’s part of the culture, man.

    * Top 3.   So Michigan has faced arguably the top 3 teams in the country.  I feel like we should have taken down the Irish and U-M squandered a great opportunity Saturday.   If you asked me to compare each team in the aftermath of each game, I’d rank them 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Notre Dame.   If you asked me to rank them today I’d probably flip Ohio and Notre Dame. 

    * We’ll take it.  One set of the disjointed honorary signs are the Buckeye national championships… including Woody’s 1970 team that lost by ten to Stanford in the Rose Bowl:

    1970 National Champions I discussed the history of claiming national titles, and whether Michigan should claim 1898, in This Week in Michigan Football history on Saturday’s pregame show.   Whether it’s done by drunken AP voters or some other group, expect OSU to claim some sort of national championship in 2012.

    * Don’t Tempt me.   Ever see a kid teasing the lion outside his cage at the zoo?  Pat Omameh Frigid.  Including my coat, I had five layers on me and gloves and a hat.  I was still freezing during pregame.  This was nuts:

    Brady Hoke shortsleeves Guessing they had to pry that watch off after the game.

    * Formations.   The media was each provided a booklet that included detail of the Ohio State marching band’s formations of the day.   I’m certain I’m the only one who opened it.  Here’s the block M they formed, down to the position of each member of the band:

    block M 

    Here’s a look at the Script Ohio – the documented formation and the real deal from Saturday.

    2012 Script Ohio

    Here’s how it looked when the MMB taught the folks in Columbus how to do it back in 1932:

    script ohio

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    The hugs and smiles were flying and that’s how you do Senior Day.  Hoke’s got the hug thing down pat, and it’s tough to beat this for smiles:

    Denard Robinson Smile - MVictors.com

    Misc from Saturday:

    * Squibs.  Only use a squib kick if it’s the last play of the half or game, or in other words, if there are around four or fewer ticks left on the clock.  Or anytime Rocket Ismail is on the field.  No exceptions.

    * Student No-Shows.  OK, beside Fitz’s brutal injury there was one downer.  And now I’m pissed.  It’s one thing to show up late (and the ESPN opening shot from the south end zone just before kickoff was damn embarrassing) but to not show up at all?   I don’t get it.   Sorry youngsters, but #1000SSS should remove a section or two of student tickets and sell them to folks who are waiting for season ducats.   And by the way, for what it’s worth it looks even worse from the sideline due to the slope of the stadium—it appears as though half of the students didn’t show.  I can’t help but wonder how many players were shaking their winged noggins.  When PA announcer Carl Grapentine executed what I think is an awesome U-M tradition—calling out for each U-M class, freshman through seniors, to sound off—it was a complete mess:Empty Michigan student section

    * Captains of 132:  This is what it’s all about.  There were many former legends in the house, including Bump Elliott and Don Lund.   Loved seeing Captains Koger and Martin representing, here postgame.  As Martin put in on Twitter, this was some “family business”:

    Mike Martin and Kevin Koger

     * Helping Out.  Speaking of former U-M’ers, man, what an NFL career Stevie Brown is putting together with the NY Giants.   Check out John Kryk’s piece on Brown if you missed it.  Here’s Brown with Treezy postgame:

    Roy Roundtree and Stevie Brown

    Brown was in town selling some of his T-shirts, which supports Hurricane Sandy relief via and the Red Cross.  Get some:

    stevie brown t shirt

    * Strength of Schedule.  So if you put aside the Ohio State situation, by most measures heading into the last week of the regular season Michigan in 2012 will have faced the top few, maybe top 3, teams in the country in Notre Dame, Alabama and the Bucks.   That used to count for something.   Take 1945, the year featured on Saturday’s ‘This Week in Michigan Football’ segment.  Michigan dropped games at Yankee Stadium vs. Army, at Baltimore Stadium vs. Navy, and in Ann Arbor against Indiana.  Those teams finished #1, #2, and #4 respectively.  So where did The Fritzmen end up?  Number 6.  

    * Last time.  So this is the final time we’ll see Denard not lace up of these beauties in Michigan Stadium:

    Denard Robinson Shoelaces - MVictors.com

    * But I don’t Hate you, man.  I ran into a few very friendly Iowa fans downtown after the premiere of the Billy Taylor movie Friday night.  I gave them my typical “good luck” and chatted for a little bit.  It got me to thinking about where, today, we view Iowa as a rival and vice versa.
    Then I thought about everyone else.  
    Then I made a chart. 
    Then I posted it here:
    [Ed.  Then I updated it with Rutgers and Maryland and reposted it]:

    Hatred Index 

    More here from MVictors:

  • Senior Day Pageantry (Photos)
  • Bear Hugs Aplenty
  • TWIMFbH: Platooning to Stop Davis, Blanchard (1945)
  • Moeller and Holtz Breaking Down “The Catch”

     

    Elsewhere:
    Iowa Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke – mgoblog
    Alternate Endingmgoblog
    Blue – Hoover Street Rag
    Iowa Wrap-Up – Maize and Blue Nation
    Game Photos – UMGoBlue

     

     

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  • Congrats seniors.  Here is Denard and Kovacs getting wrapped up by Coach Hoke, how shows a little one handed ceremonial ball security.

    Brady Hoke hugs Denard Robinson - MVictors.com 

    Brady Hoke hugs Jordan Kovacs - MVictors.com

    Here’s a look at the custom made pigskins they received.   Kovacs indeed had a #11, not a 32, on his ball.  Here’s how they looked FWIW:

    Senior Day Footballs - Custom Made

    One more: here’s Denard tapping the banner for the last time, but check out Treezy with 180 of his 360 degree leap (thanks for nothing, zebras):

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    More here from MVictors:

  • Handling Family Business (Michigan 42, Iowa 17)
  • Senior Day Pageantry (Photos)
  • TWIMFbH: Platooning to Stop Davis, Blanchard (1945)
  • Moeller and Holtz Breaking Down “The Catch”
  • Ed.  Dr. Sap is back with his decals for week 6.   This week I added the Editor’s pick, the Fan and the uniform entry.  Here are the picks from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 & Week 5.

    clip_image002[1]Context:  Back when Bo was coaching the Michigan Football team, he awarded decals for individual as well as TEAM accomplishments.   He also selected Champions each week.

    Not only were the obvious categories (offense, defense, special teams) selected, but Bo also made it a point to recognize the not so obvious ones – Scout Team Champions and Team Hustlers – each week.  

    Here are the picks this week:

    OFFENSE

    DENARD ROBINSON – I don’t know what else can be said about #16? Just when you think he is down, done, or hurt, Denard comes back stronger than ever! Maybe it’s the added weight/muscle? Maybe it’s the coaching staff calling plays to protect his body more? All I know is that when he came back into the game against the Illini, you could see/feel him take the team on his shoulders and WILL them to victory. That’s a sign of TRUE leader, and dare I say, true CHAMPION?

    DEFENSE

    KENNY DEMENS – The linebacker may have played his best game as a Wolverine with a key 4th down stop early in the contest and a nice interception in the second half. Nice to see that when he got to the bench, he got a hug by the head coach, and not a stuffed Wolverine shoved in his face! By the way, is he still holding on to that intercepted football?

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    BRENDAN GIBBONS – It’s not every day that your kicker gives you 9 points in a game, but it’s more than that – Gibbons is a totally different kicker. There is a calmness and confidence that just wasn’t there a few years ago – NICE!

    HUSTLER /
    SPARKPLUG

    JAKE RYAN – For those of you not familiar with the (classic) rock band Steppenwolf, check out their signature song, Born To Be Wild. I think it should be #47’s anthem. Not only does he look Born To Be Wild, he plays Born To Be Wild!  I called Ryan “manster” last week, this week he had his “motor running” all game. This dude is all over the place on defense!

    EDITOR’S PICK

    PAT OMAMEH – The guy has such a big heart and I’ve witnessed him visiting the sick children up at Mott on Thursday nights.  He shtick is not only hilarious, the kids absolutely love it.  He clearly doesn’t do this to be recognized but last week he was officially named one of the 11 FBS players on the AllState AFCA Good Works Team for his charitable work.  Props to Pat – thank him if you see him.  Want to support the group that does the Thursday visits?  Buy a shirt.

    UNIFORM CHAMP

    VIN SMITH & PINK TOUGHNESS – Vincent Smith showing how you rock the pink like a badass:

    UFER MAIZE & BLUE
    FEDORA FAN

    How you can you not give it to these guys?  Damn I want one of those sweaters.  (And BTW they had me well before they formed the human victory cigar):

    the boys

    Runner up – the couple blasting the vuvuzelas.   How did they get those past security?  (Don’t let your imagination wander on that):

    vuvuzela

    Related:

  • Mattison’s Mansters (Michigan 45, Illinois 0)
  • What President Ford Might Have Said Today
  • The Thumb of Pressure & Other Vintage Inspiration
  • TWIMFbH: Playing for Kegs and The Homecoming Tradition (2001)
  • Honoring Freshman Ford (1932)
  • Back Up at Yost (Photos)