[A repost on the anniversary of ‘The Catch’.  A thanks once again to Coach Moeller for sitting down and doing this with us.]

I mentioned earlier this week that Ira and I recently sat with Coach Moeller, who will be honored Saturday at Michigan Stadium, in studio at WTKA.  This was my favorite part and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  We methodically mo catchstepped through the headset audio from The Catch (recall that the athletic department released it last year in the UTL ND game program).

As a bonus – I’ve included a second clip of the man on the other side of the field.  Writer John Kryk interviewed Lou Holtz for his book Natural Enemies, the definitive tome on the U-M-ND rivalry, and he was kind enough to share this clip from his archives.  It’s Holtz discussing the defensive play call and their strategy.   It’s a little scratchy but I sent it over to Ira who cleaned it up a bit.

The Moeller clip is over 17 minutes long so give it a chance to load up and we cover just about everything that is said on the recording and more.  Holtz is just over a minute (that’s Kryk asking the questions).

A crude diagram:
The Catch options
What you can’t see is the Irish safety, who is back and over on the left side of the defense (toward Desmond) but immediately goes to double cover Howard when the ball is snapped.

Listening to the clips basically you learn that Notre Dame called the right defense to stop this, and more importantly, they successfully disguised the formation enough to get Grbac to believe ND would leave just a single defender on Desmond Howard (I love how Coach Lou calls him his full name) and thus call the pass.   If Elvis knew ND intended to swing the safety over to put double coverage on Howard, he would have checked to the 29 toss to Ricky Powers (or possibly the Caesar off tackle) to move the chains.   As Holtz said, they basically conceded the first down if Michigan ran the pigskin and you can see on the clip they would have struggled stopping the toss.

One thing I think Holtz denies or didn’t recall (or he’s just stubborn)—on the replay (see the endzone view later in the clip below) it does look like the Grbac pump does made the safety take a step in before adjusting and heading to the end zone to try to break up the play.  That change may have provided Desmond just enough of a window to make the play.

Either way, the bottom line here the Irish were in the right coverage but the execution of the pass and catch trumped the Notre Dame defense.

Video clip:

A big thanks to Ira for running the 1s and 2s, to Kryk for the Holtz clip and of course to Coach Moeller for walking through this with us.   Also thanks to pink shorts guy in the end zone:

pink shorts guy

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Given the buzz around the prospect of your beloved Wolverines opening the season in a maize alternate uniform, you should know it’s not the first time.  Readers of this site are aware of the canary disaster of 1928, but here’s a refresher:

I first read about all this thanks a tip from Bruce Madej, the legendary U-M SID, who reviewed the Uniform Timeline sent over a ditty from his book, Champions of the West.  Within a section of the book talking about Fritz Crisler and the launch of the winged helmet at Michigan in 1938, it gets into a little uniform history— including this spicy meatball:

The only change in the typical blue uniforms before 1949 came in 1928.  As Michigan planned to play Navy in Baltimore, the Midshipmen refused to wear any other color than their traditional blue.  Therefore, Michigan came out in bright yellow jerseys with blue numerals.  The team was said to look like canaries, and the uniforms were put away after the 6-6 tie.

Fast forward to today, and we can see that Navy did indeed have a uniform that resembled the gear the Wolverines wore back in the 1920s.  (But note, FWIW, I think that happened a lot back then).   Anyway – Via eBay, here’s a look at an advertisement that was created for that very November 10, 1928 game, in the form of a pop-up Navy footballer.

Navy vs. Michigan ad 1928 - Baltimore, MD

The only major difference was the Midshipmen’s striped socks so they wanted to do something.  Here’s a game photo from the ’29 Michiganensian, and while it’s gray and grainy, you can see that one squad is wearing the lighter color:

[Update via Reader Jumpman – a colorized version of the canaries:

Now, for the serious historians, you should know that Michigan was trying to figure out how to deal with this conflict of color vs. Navy before 1928.  In fact in 1927, the year the freshly minted Michigan Stadium opened for business, your Wolverines wore maize helmets (or headgears as it were) at the game in Ann Arbor [via the Michigan Daily archives]:

Of course this is still more than a decade before the winged helmets appeared, but it is significant nonetheless.

1928 wasn’t the only time Michigan had a challenge with the fairer of our two school colors.  Just a few years ago those high and bright maize numerals on Outback Bowl jerseys became invisible, like Wonder Woman’s jet, when viewed in the Florida sun from beyond 55 yards:

Can not see michigan uniforms

Related: Uniform timeline (updated)
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Up on eBay right now, a couple items related to the 1950 season.  First, a nicely presented booklet promoting season tickets for the upcoming year, Bennie Oosterbaan’s third at the helm of the Wolverines:1950 Ticket Info

Unfortunately for those who shelled out a whopping $21.60 for season tickets, the 1950 campaign was most memorable for the games played away from Ann Arbor.  That started with the October 14 battle vs. #1 Army played at Yankee Stadium, then the Snow Bowl vs. #8 Ohio State in the regular season finale on November 25 in Columbus, and finally the Rose Bowl against #5 Cal in Pasadena. 

Speaking of the Snow Bowl, another item up on eBay right now claims to be an original 4×5 photo negative from the game:

Snow Bowl 1950 Michigan vs. Ohio State I’m not sure why someone would forge the pic, but the shot of #49 looks almost cartoonish when viewed up close. 

The auction of the photo starts at $9.99, and the 1950 season ticket info booklet is going for $8.00.  


While they’re going to be a tad more than they cost in 1950, you can get your 2013 Michigan hoops and football tickets here.


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08. February 2013 · Comments Off on Bucks Unlimited · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , ,


Via a piece on local tipping at area restaurants in, something good resulted the “unfortunate defeat” of Sucks Unlimited in 2007:

“When Oregon football fans were here, another bartender and I waited on a group the whole weekend. They were over-tipping everyone ridiculously—buying a beer for $5, paying with a $50 bill and telling me to keep the change. The Friday before the game, one gentleman in particular wanted to buy us out of Jagermeister (which isn’t possible, I assure you). He bought 100 shots to pass out, which cost him roughly $500, then tipped $200 and gave me another $500 to let him stand on the bar while he passed them out. We split that $500 among our door staff and kitchen staff.

“The next day, after the Wolverines’ unfortunate defeat, the same Oregon fans spent most of the rest of their evening at our bar. The same man from the night before ran up a rather large bar tab with me and tipped $1,000. That hasn’t happened to me since, but I don’t expect it to. If Oregon ever plays Michigan again though, no matter where I am, I will come out of retirement to wait on them.”

Not to discredit the general generousness of the Duck faithful, but I’m guessing there were special circumstances in play.  Methinks the ringleader of the generous group was none other than Nike billionaire Phil Knight, who was indeed spotted around town (at Dominick’s at one point) before the game, and upstairs during the game:

Phil Knight Michigan Stadium 2007

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25. January 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: 2012

78staff You’ll be inundated with Harbaugh content over the next week and here’s some more, hopefully a little unique.

Thanks to the Dr. Sap archives, here a brief interview with then U-M assistant coach Jack Harbaugh following Michigan’s 21-17 victory over Arizona on October 7, 1978:

No, he doesn’t talk about his young sons John and Jim, but I thought it was worth sharing to get a sense for what the elder coach Harbaugh was like back in the day, and as a bonus, the backdrop of the Michigan Marching Band postgame routine :)

The pic inset (via mgoblog) is from a profile of the 1978 U-M staff and shucks, Jack kind of looks what would happen if Jim and John had a dad.

Related:  via John U Bacon:  The Harbaughs – and Their Godfather


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25. January 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: 2012

Coach Beilein dialed into Rome this afternoon, audio (a tad faint but listenable):


* Praised Trey Burke for his ability to excel in both big and small spaces on the court.  Marveled how he gets to the rim in traffic or surrounded by defenders.  Does this in practice that make you go, “how did he do that?”.

* Praised GRIII, said he has a chip on his shoulder for not being a highly touted recruit in Indiana early on.    Beilein talked about “what a pleasure” is to coach him and how quickly he adopts their coaching points.

* Said this team has a chance to be one of the best he’s every coached.

* On the Ohio State loss, “that was what we needed..”

* On the potential of the #1 ranking, he downplayed it again, adding, “I wanna know where we’re going to be in March.”

21. January 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: 2012

Uniform Timeline

The latest mini-project:  A descending timeline of changes to the Michigan football team uniforms over the years.   I’m still pulling it together but you can check out what I have so far here.  This will also be a regular ‘page’ that you can access from the toolbar above.

A huge thanks to Dr. Sap (Steve Sapardanis) for much of the detail especially during the Bo years.  

As always, ping me with any inputs

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18. January 2013 · Comments Off on The Harbaugh Bio Plaque – Preserved · Categories: 2012 · Tags:

Phenomenal, via John Kryk, NFL beat writer for the Toronto Sun:

As a “fun thing” to do, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh this week arranged for plaques to be hung above each player’s locker.

Each plaque contained a photo and bio of  the player from during his high school recruitment.

What about one for Harbaugh?

“They didn’t have the internet back in 1982 that I’m aware of,” Harbaugh said.

Fortunately, however, the John Kryk Football Archives go that far back.

As an unofficial college and Michigan football historian of sorts, I possess far too many musty boxes in my basement, to my wife’s chagrin. One produced the accompanying goods.

And here’s the goods:

Jim Harbaugh Michigan Jim Harbaugh High School Bio

Full story on Kryk’s blog, Kryk Slants.

HT: Dr Sap for the phone call.  


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16. January 2013 · 3 comments · Categories: 2012

Via reader Larry, from the October 24, 1927 edition of The Lantern, the Ohio State student newspaper:


This was published on the Monday after Michigan Stadium was officially dedicated on November 22, 1927.  On that day over the 84,000 fans who packed the Big House watched Bennie Oosterbaan and the boys shutout the Buckeyes 21-0.  

While I’ve never heard anything but glowing reviews of Yost’s shiny new structure, at least one writer from Columbus was unimpressed.

For starters, compared to the ‘shoe, the new stadium lacked size and beauty:beauty For what it’s worth, Ohio Stadium was dedicated in 1922 & coincidentally Michigan was the opponent on that special day, a 19-0 victory for the Wolverines. 

The Lantern was also concerned that the playing field was a little tight on the perimeter:

room Here’s a look at an early shot from the end zone:

michigan stadium 1927

Final criticism, it was bear to get in and out:

leavingGuilty as charged.

So did they like anything?  Yes.  The view was lovely, even from row 100:

view A far as the game on the field, Michigan’s dominance and its ability to consistently reload was a mystery to the young man in the press box:

reloadedI think Yost had something to do with that.

A huge tip of the hat to Larry, my favorite Buckeye, for forwarding this over.


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14. January 2013 · Comments Off on What If Denard had Decals? · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , ,

image_thumb166[1] Guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

Last year, we kept track of the helmet stickers every game for each player deserving these awards based on not only individual, but team accomplishments.  After the Ohio State game, Denard Robinson led all players with 42 award decals.

Ever since then I wondered what would Denard’s helmet look like if it had decals on it?  With a little PhotoShop work, wonder no more.

Below are a couple of possibilities – one with all 42 decals on one side, and another with half, or 21 on one side.

Denard Robinson with Helmet Decals Denard Robinson with Rich Rodriguez

In order to fit 42 decals on one side of the helmet, the decal size would need to be reduced, but you get the idea.  That’s what happens when you are made of Dilithium!

Think there are a lot of decals on Denard’s helmet?

Mike Hammerstein in 1985 and Desmond Howard in 1991 were two former UM players that had a ton of decals on their helmets.  #66 sported 47 decals on his helmet in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska:

Mike Hammerstein helmet Mike Hammerstein Fiesta Bowl

#21 in the 1992 Rose Bowl and against OSU in 1991:

Desmond Howard helmet Desmond Howard helmet

To me, there was nothing like seeing Michigan and Ohio State clash at the end of the season. Having both teams’ helmets filled with decals just added to the spectacle.

So I ask you, wouldn’t you rather see the winged helmet decorated with decals at the end of the season, or would you rather see the same old wings and stripes with nothing on it?

Remember, THIS IS MICHIGAN, and the decals are a tradition that Bo started back when he was at Miami (Ohio) and brought to Michigan in 1969.


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