15. January 2017 · Comments Off on The Old Man Himself · Categories: 2016

Check out this gem, from February 1946 via the Michigan Daily digital archives.  Bill Mullendorf, an outgoing senior and Daily sport editor, composed what appears to be a farewell column.

Instead of dropping a retrospective of the great sports triumphs during his days at the Daily, he chose instead to discuss an unplanned encounter a Michigan legend at practice in the fall of 1944.  Give it a read – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed:

Yost passed away few months after this was published.


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12. January 2017 · Comments Off on Willis Ward and the Track Captaincy · Categories: 2016

Yes M’am!  It happened.  Thank you to the U-M Library, the U-M Bentley Historical Library, The Michigan Daily, and support from “The Kemp Family Foundation, who finally did what I’ve been anxious hoping would happen: an searchable digitized archive of the Daily.  Feel free to give it a test run:

Dude. Sweet.  The search works great, and you can download and save pages and links as you go along.  Well done.  The only drawback?  Like with any text-based scanning software, sometimes the text search is spotty if the quality of the scanned page is in rough shape, as of course can happen as the pages have aged.

Within seconds I was able to search for and find a few never-before-seen nuggets on a few of my favorite topics like The Little Brown Jug and Willis Ward.

Speaking of Ward, you may know a lot about the 1934 Willis Ward controversy that played out before the Georgia Tech game that year, either from this site or on mgoblue.com, or via the kickass and Emmy-nominated documentary Black and Blue.   I don’t think I had heard about this, tough.

It turns more than a few folks raised a suspicious eye when, in May 1934 (yes, months before the Georgia Tech game mess heated up) the U-M track team failed to elect Ward captain of the 1935 squad.   Here’s one of the letters to the Daily in the May 25, 1934 edition:

So nicely done, C.A. Blue.

Thanks to a quick search in the new digital archive, I know that “Murmuring Michigan” is a reference to a piece that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, where the author described a few days on campus in Ann Arbor. As I understand it, he observed a movement of students on campus beginning to rebel against the established norms/biases of the day.  Like racism.

He was right.  In a few months later, the campus exploded before the Georgia Tech game.

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01. December 2016 · Comments Off on Butting against Head-to-Head · Categories: 2016

While the committee chairman’s words Tuesday night were promising, I still struggle seeing this happen for Michigan.  I think people agree the best scenario is Colorado winning on Friday night, opening the #4 slot in the playoff.

First, via CFN here is how the committee selection process works:

2. Each member will list the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first ranking step. This is known as the “listing step.”

3. In the first ranking step, each member will rank those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The best team in each member’s ranking will receive one point; second-best, two points, etc. The members’ rankings will be added together and the three teams receiving the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The three teams that were not seeded will be held over for the next ranking step.

4. Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next ranking step.

We also know the committee values head-to-head and conference championships, but not necessarily more than the other.  And they only really look at these metrics when the teams are comparable.   But the other thing Hocutt noted was that they don’t look ahead.  To me, this implies is that they can’t (yet) place value on a potential conference championship, but they could once the conference championship is actually earned.

So back to the selection process.  If Colorado drops Washington and Clemson beats Va Tech, let’s assume a few things:

  • Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson will be the first 3 teams seeded.  (Any final comparisons of Penn State against Ohio State will be handled and likely snuffed at this time.)  That leaves a second group of six including the B1G champ, Michigan and Colorado.
  • Given that, Michigan, the B1G Champ, and Colorado will be the top 3 teams on every ballot in that 2nd group of six.  Yes, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could crack that top 3 of the next group of six but it doesn’t seem likely barring a ridiculous blowout in that game.
  • In this second group of 6, it’s unlikely that a voter will put Colorado over the B1G champ.  I understand this is possible, but it’s unlikely given the weight the committee has clearly given to the B1G conference in general.
  • This is important –>  Given 2 of these teams will hold a conference championship this weekend, there will indeed be some voters who view Michigan, Colorado, and the B1G champ as comparable and some voters will now add tangible value to the teams with a conference championship on their resumes.  And of course the result of these games is only new piece of information the committee has this weekend.  Head to head has already been factored in.
  • For simplicity I’m valuing the B1G champion equally.  Clearly Michigan has the stronger head-to-head argument against Penn State (in many ways, you weird people), especially given the 39-point beatdown.
  • FWIW, note that Barry Alvarez is recused if Wisconsin is in this next group of 6, which is likely.  This leaves 11 voters.

A couple scenarios of how this could go:

Scenario #1Mild emphasis on conference championships.

  • Michigan
    • Six (6) first place votes (meaning most of the 11 voters put U-M ahead of Colorado and B1G champ for the final playoff spot)
    • Three (3) 2nd place votes (a few voters put the B1G champ ahead of Michigan)
    • Two (2) 3rd place votes (meaning 2 voters move B1G and Colorado ahead of Michigan, given their conference titles)
  • B1G Champ (Wisconsin or Penn State)
    • Five (5) first place votes
    • Six (6) 2nd place votes

Under this scenario, Michigan would get the 4th playoff spot by a hair.

Scenario #2Medium emphasis on conference championships.

  • Michigan
    • Seven (7) first place votes
    • Four (4) 3rd place votes (meaning 4 voters put B1G champ and Colorado ahead of Michigan)
  • B1G Champ
    • Four (4) first place votes
    • Seven (7) 2nd place votes

Under this scenario, despite Michigan easily earning the most votes from the committee for that 4th spot, the B1G champ would get the 4th playoff spot by a hair.  The Rose Bowl would likely select Michigan.

And you can see where it goes from there, depending on what the voters (or some of the voters) place on the conference championship.   The point is that a slight shift from Michigan to the conference champions can swing this.

Oh, and god forbid we get full on Fulmer’ed – with one of these guys putting Michigan 4th or 5th or worse – because then we are truly screwed.


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29. November 2016 · 4 comments · Categories: 2016

I don’t see Michigan in play for a playoff spot no matter what happens.   If Washington and/or Clemson lose, I see the committee going for the B1G champ over Michigan and they aren’t putting three B1G teams in the playoff.

The committee understands that if it takes Ohio State alone from the B1G, it will obviously ignore the conference champion.  The idealistic view is that the major conference champions more or less feed into the playoff.  They will debate taking solely Ohio State over Penn State should the Lions win Saturday – so much so that I could see Ohio State getting dropped out if Penn State wins.  The “only Ohio” scenario is less of a concern if Wisconsin wins for sure, but still a concern.

Given the opportunity of a slot opening up, they will thankfully take the B1G champ. I think they signal this tonight by putting Michigan at #6, but even if they have them at #5, they will justify the B1G champ jumping them in the final rankings based on the championship win.

So that leaves Michigan out.  But to me the consolation prize is pretty agreeable.  With the B1G champ in the playoff, the Rose Bowl has discretion and will take Michigan.  Under the scenario that Washington loses to Colorado to free up the B1G champ to be in the playoff, this would set-up a rematch with the Buffaloes.   Some might argue that they wouldn’t want a U-M vs. CU rematch.  What they really don’t want is Colorado–but they won’t have that choice (they must take the PAC 10 champ).  So given the best option to make the game special, they will go for Michigan and Harbaugh of course – rematch be damned.  It’s been a decade, you know you want to go back and Michigan just participated in a 10.4 rating for a noon game.

If things go according to script, with Clemson and Washington winning, I still see debate of Ohio State vs. Penn State/Wisconsin for the playoff spot but only one B1G team will end up in the final four.  In this case, yes, Michigan heads to Miami and the Orange Bowl as widely projected.

Cheers to the Rose Bowl:


29. November 2016 · Comments Off on The B1G’s Unmitigated Gall! · Categories: 2016

Great idea from my pals at SupportUofM, Hoover Street and Maize and Blue Nation.  Co-sign.  Via Craig @ Hoover Street Rag:

I’m moving forward because there’s only two choices: wallow in bitterness or accept the whims of cruel fate and hope the universe sees fit to balance them out in the long run.

But it is better to take action than just to say you’re moving forward.  Thankfully, our friends at the Big Ten office have decided that, in addition to a “public reprimand” for Coach Harbaugh for his postgame comments, they have fined Michigan $10,000 for violations of the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy.

Now, we’re not worried about Michigan’s ability to pay the fine.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Warde Manuel has a small piggy bank in Weidenbach Hall labeled “Harbaugh Says Something Fund” filled with the petty cash overflow from Michigan Stadium popcorn sales that will cover it no sweat.  But, it gave our blog friend Justin at MaizeandGoBlue an idea, one supported by Kerri from SupportUofM and Brad from Maize & Blue Nation as well as us here at the HSR, to launch a fundraiser benefiting The ChadTough Foundation.

This is a chance for all of us to turn a negative into a positive, to turn disappointment into hope, and to prove that the power of the Ann Arbor money cannon is a force for good.
The plan is as such:
Step 1: Raise $10k for The ChadTough Foundation by kickoff of this Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game
Step 2: Once we raise $10k, let’s challenge the Big Ten to match the donation
Step 3: Let’s make this a conversation piece during the Big Ten Championship Game
We’re all part of a big Michigan family, so let’s show that when a family faces disappointment it can come together and make big things happen.  Spread the word on your social media channels, get the snowball rolling.

Visit the fundraiser to donate now.

No amount is too large or too small.  (We personally like $27.00 for what the winning score would have been had the spot been adjudicated in Michigan’s favor or $17.00 if you’re old school and think the tie would have been perhaps more fitting an outcome for a battle of this magnitude.)

Then, once you donate, please share via social media to help generate awareness. Full details on the fundraiser page.

28. November 2016 · Comments Off on Danielson on Mad Dog Radio, Buckeyes “lost the wrong game” · Categories: 2016


From his Sirius interview with Chris Russo, interesting stuff from Gary Danielson on the Michigan-Ohio State game, the strategery of Harbaugh’s postgame rant, the spot, and a lot on the playoff scenarios.

If things fall like they should, he wouldn’t put Ohio State in the playoff (“they lost the wrong game”) and discussed the odd situation we’re in with the committee and the conference championships.


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27. November 2016 · Comments Off on Why You’re Michigan! | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2016
[Ed. No official decals are being doled out this week from Dr. Sap, just a few words.]

Guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

25. November 2016 · Comments Off on Going Indoors (1896) | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2016


These days there’s no question about the identity of Michigan’s biggest rival—that’s that team from Ohio —but back in the late 1800s and well into the Fielding Yost era, public enemy number one was Chicago and Coach Stagg.


While today we play the Buckeyes after the Thanksgiving holiday each season, did you know that Michigan actually used to play ON Thanksgiving day?
Indeed and On this day exactly 120 years ago, Michigan and Chicago squared off on Thanksgiving Thursday in Chicago and they did this a few times starting in the 1890s. 

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  Go Blue!

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script after the jump:

More »

20. November 2016 · 3 comments · Categories: 2016

[Ed.  I’m happy to introduce guest writer Andrew Kahn, who covered Saturday’s game for MVictors.  You can check out more on his website.]

Guest post by Andrew Kahn

Michigan fans are partying like its 1970-something. That’s the last time the Wolverines had a football season like this. Saturday’s 20-10 win over Indiana completed a perfect home slate. They’ve done that plenty—there have been 37 seasons in which Michigan has played at least four home games and won them all, most recently in 2011. But to win by an average margin of 32 points at the Big House, as Michigan did this year, is what makes 2016 so impressive.

The chart below shows some of the seasons in which Michigan has played at least four home games and won them all (without ties). They are ranked by the average margin of victory in the home games and the chart also shows the closest home game, the team’s overall record at the end of the season, and whether it won the national championship.


For the curious: margins in 2006 (16.0), 1997 (16.3) and 1948 (27.8) don’t crack the top 17.

Fielding Yost’s “point-a-minute” teams at the beginning of the 20th century fill up the top of the list. Other than the two pre-1900 teams, the only squads above the 2016 Wolverines on this list were coached by Yost, Fritz Crisler, or Bo Schembechler.

Saturday’s 10-point win, in which the Wolverines trailed at half for the first time all season, was the exception at Michigan Stadium this year. (And Michigan did take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, after which there was no scoring.) Michigan had a scare against Wisconsin, winning by seven. The other home games were blowouts, hence the 32.4 average margin. Not since Bo’s teams in the 70s have Michigan fans witnessed such dominance in person, and the especially high number of home games made it even more fun.

“Winning this game feels like one of the best wins I’ve ever been involved with,” Jim Harbaugh said after the game, comparing it a playoff game. Asked to reflect on the seniors winning their final game at Michigan Stadium, Harbaugh said, “I know how it feels to play at Michigan and not win your last game at home. [Michigan lost to Minnesota in its final home game in 1986]. It’s not a good feeling at all. Our guys played eight home games and won them all. The constant for a Michigan football player through the ages is playing at Michigan Stadium. It always has been and always will be. The one constant to time, the facilities, changes in society and everything else is playing in that stadium. To have that feeling of winning your last game is a great feeling.”

Senior kicker/punter Kenny Allen said the undefeated home slate is another thing to check off the list of accomplishments. “We expect to win every game here,” he said. Added senior safety Dymonte Thomas: “It’s nice to go undefeated at home. It lets people know when they come to the Big House they better pack a lunch because it’s going to be a long day.”


O’Korn’s run
Senior running back De’Veon Smith was unquestionably the offensive star of the game, rushing for a career-high 158 yards and Michigan’s only two touchdowns on runs of 34 and 39 yards. But Smith said it was quarterback John O’Korn’s run, one play before Smith’s first score, that ignited the offense.

“When John took off for that run, that’s what really sparked us,” Smith said. “That really got the offensive line going.”

After the previous drive, quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch got on the phone with O’Korn and told him, “You need to make a play to change this game around.” O’Korn obliged. Facing a third and eight from the Michigan 34 with under five minutes left in the third quarter, O’Korn took off. Here’s how Harbaugh described it:

“Two defenders were pressuring John. He stepped out of it with good ball security. He got the first down and was being threatened at the sticks and didn’t dive or slide; he kicked through an arm tackle. A big play, a signature play for a quarterback in a big game.”


Let it snow
Harbaugh and the players who spoke to the media mentioned “the elements” several times, justifiably. Watching the weather from the press box, the Big House at times resembled a snow globe. Late in the fourth quarter, I couldn’t help but think of Ron Burgundy’s line in Anchorman: “Boy, that escalated quickly.”

Here’s the field at 6:33 p.m.:


And again at 6:39 (notice the cheerleaders’ snow angels in the bottom right corner):


Just three minutes after that, at 6:42:


At 6:45, with cheerleaders sliding in the north end zone and making snow angels (again) in the south end zone:


And finally, at 6:49, with the players belly-flopping in celebration of a big win:



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20. November 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: 2016


Here are the Decal Champions for game 11 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPIONS – As a senior, you always want to go out with a bang and leave it all on the field. De’Veon Smith once again gave his all, left no doubt and left nothing on the field Saturday. A career best 158 yards and two TD’s was the perfect ending for Michigan’s battering-ram of a runner. Never one to take the easy route or run out of bounds, Smith once again showed that he has a nose for the endzone. His two scores were classic Smith runs and a great way to punctuate your last game at The Big House.

I also wanted to call out Ben Bredeson for his play Saturday. He seemed to always be getting to the second level on his blocks and paving the way for Smith and his scores in the second half. I thought #74 was the best O-lineman out there and reminded me of another #74 – Mike Husar. He was another stalwart from 30 years ago who was a critical cog in those great O-lines that blocked for coach Harbaugh when he was a QB at Michigan.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPIONS – I’m not sure that I have ever seen a more talented group of Michigan defensive backs than this year’s unit. Every guy has great cover skills, can close and pursue, but more importantly, can wrap up and tackle. There have been some great Wolverine Secondaries in the past that may have featured one or two studs, but top to bottom this year’s group makes each opposing QB throw a perfect ball every time and against every DB. Usually there will be one or two guys that an opponent can pick on and go after, but not with this team. They ALL are lights out. Because they create so many incompletions, maybe we should call them the Legion of INC?  J

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Once again, Kenny Allen was solid in everything he did. He put up two field goals but just as importantly, he pinned IU deep on at least four occasions with his punts. His non-returnable touchbacks also help set the Michigan defense up with good field position and is just another example of how important the kicking game is.

COACHING CHAMPION – I touched on it above, but you gotta credit Mike Zordich & Brian Smith for the job they have done with this Wolverine Secondary. They are a confident, aggressive and talented group that has been shutting down opponent’s passing attacks all year long. Last week they shut down Iowa’s passing game and Saturday they did the same against the Hoosiers. Spread Offenses can make any defense look bad by putting everyone on an island, but not this group – they have no fear! Let’s hope they can shut down those hairless nuts from Columbus next week!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – For all of you who complained that there were too many decals on the helmets last year, I noticed that not one player’s helmet is “full” of stickers this year.

via mgoblue.com

via mgoblue.com

Maybe it’s because they are a tad smaller in size this year? Maybe it’s because they are oriented and positioned properly this year? Or maybe no stickers were awarded last week after the Iowa game? Not sure, but I do like the look, and will see if I can find out what the real story is.

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6: Jabrill Peppers (O), (D), (ST), Entire Staff (C), White socks (Uni)
Week 7: Khalid Hill (O), Rashan Gary (D), Khaleke Hudson (ST), Coach Tyrone Wheatley (C), blue socks (Uni)
Week 8: Amarah Darboh and Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Jim Harbaugh (C), white Jumpman Towels (Uni)
Week 9: Wilton Speight (O), Ben Gedeon (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Offensive coaches (C), Juwann Bushell-Beatty and his roaming jersey # (Uni), Ricky Leach
Week 10: N/A
Week 11: De’Veon Smith & Bed Bredeson (O), M defensive backs (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Mike Zordich & Brian Smith (C), volume of helmet stickers (Uni)