12. December 2008 · Comments Off on J. Fred Lawton & ‘Varsity’ (1911) · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, History, M Marching Band, Michigan Memorabilia, Ohio State

Probably based on the posts on this site around history and memorabilia, I receive the occasional email from folks asking about where to find an old item, or more frequently, asking to put a value on something. So I’m like the those mildly effeminate twins on Antiques Roadshow who price out furniture, except there’s one of me, I’m better looking, and sports memorabilia is for nerds cool. Reader Meg sent this note to me recently:

I have a signed copy of Roses That Bloomed in the Snow, a book of poetry by J. Fred Lawton. Is it worth anything?

Good question. I’ll get to the value in a minute but first, a little about Lawton. From a umich.edu page on the history of the Michigan Marching Band:

During the fall of 1911, two Michigan students — J. Fred Lawton and Earl Vincent Moore — decided that the University needed a new song. (Since Michigan was no longer a member of the Western Fooball Conference, the words “…champions of the West…” as sung in the Victors seemed inappropriate.) Together, they wrote the fight song, Varsity, which was an immediate hit at the weekly Friday night pep rally in University Hall at which Moore played his new song on the Frieze Memorial Organ. Fischer was in attendance that night and, upon hearing Varsity, recognized its appeal. He agreed to play the march the next day at the Michigan-Case football game.

Yes, people still ask why we sing “champions of the West” but to me, it’s a throwback, it’s cool and I enjoy explaining why. Don’t get me wrong, I like Varsity too, but it lacks the ‘fight’ in fight song. The Bentley Library has this photo of Lawton and Moore singing a few bars for the cameras:

For his efforts Lawton received an honorary varsity letter ‘M’, one of only a couple dozen to receive the honor for the period 1913-1952 (others included Yost, Crisler, Keen, Fisher, Elbel, Matthaei – you get the idea, this is a big deal).

The book Meg owns, Roses That Bloomed in the Snow, was published by the Michigan M Club in 1959 & is a compilation of poems from Lawton featuring the title piece, which was inspired by the 1950 Snow Bowl in Columbus. After a little digging I found it:

I don’t think you need to consult insurers over this one, but it’s certainly a nice piece and would have value to Michigan historians. You can buy a copy of Roses online for $12 so I’m guessing a signed version would fetch anywhere from $20-$40.

Related:
Was the Victors Ripped Off?
1904 and the Mountaineer Romp
The Snow Bowl (1950)
The Blue get Bombed in the Bronx [great band performance summary in the NYT]

14. November 2008 · Comments Off on Benny Friedman juggled Chairs · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, History, Yost

Check out David Davis’ interview on Nextbook.org with author Murray Greenberg on his new book, Passing Game: Benny Friedman and the Transformation of Football. An excerpt:

How exactly did Benny Friedman transform college football?

In the mid-1920s, at the University of Michigan, along comes Benny Friedman. He had a unique ability to grip the football and throw it down the field with accuracy. As a kid, he had ambitions to become a strongman, so he’d done a series of exercises designed to stretch and strengthen his wrists and arms: lifting heavy chairs and tossing them from hand to hand, things like that. Combined with his physical strength, he had nerve. He was completely unintimidated and uninhibited. He’d throw the ball on any down, from anywhere on the field, when that was practically a mortal sin.

later:

In the book, you point out that Friedman played at the University of Michigan while Henry Ford was promoting anti-Semitism in nearby Dearborn. How did the anti-Semitism of the day affect colleges and college football?

The Jewish college football players of Friedman’s time walked an interesting tightrope. On the one hand, if they were good enough, they were welcomed onto the teams. On the other hand, they knew that schools had Jewish quotas and that, if they weren’t football players, they wouldn’t be welcome.

Friedman felt very strongly that George Little, his first head coach at Michigan, was anti-Semitic. He gave Benny such a difficult time, almost daring him to quit the sport, that Benny was on the verge of transferring from Michigan. Thankfully, the next coach, Fielding Yost, recognized Benny’s skills and enabled him to become the star attraction.

Sounds like an interesting read, you can pick up a copy here at Amazon.com.

Related:
Yost Busts the Galloping Ghost
SI’s College Football Best, by Jersey Number
eBay Watch: The Wolverine Pack & 1926

31. October 2008 · Comments Off on Carty Interview Part III: Radio, Evil Wojo, Blogging and Bruce · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, Media, Ohio State

Continuing the interview with former News columnist Jim Carty. In Part I we talked about his decision to leave the News, on his new blog, the day Lloyd Carr canceled his subscription and his feud with Bill ‘Huge’ Simonson.

In Part II we talked about some of his critics, access at the Capital One Bowl, on the accusations the News misled some student athletes during the athademics series, and on when he called Bill Martin ‘Barnacle Bill’ during the coaching search.

In the last installment, We discuss radio, the good vs. evil in the world of sports journalism, bloggers and their place in the media and finally, we wrap up with my plea to make Bruce Springsteen shut his yap and just sing.

MVictors: I see you’re still doing the WTKA Bud Light Victors Lounge, are you able to “enjoy” the lounge now that you don’t have to run over to cover the games now?
Jim Carty: I’m trying to do them all, sometimes law school prevents that. There’s a WTKA staff rule, no booze for the talent [laughs].

MVictors: Are you on the payroll for those gigs?
Jim Carty: For the Monday appearance and for the Saturday appearance I’m paid a grand total of $100 [laughs].

MVictors: You do a great job on the radio, you seem very comfortable. Most of your former colleagues do radio in some form another, any thoughts on doing more radio down the road?
Jim Carty: I love doing radio, it’s fun. It’s completely different from writing. A big part of my move to law school is because I want to something different with the rest of my life. A lot of people have asked me, ‘Do you think if you go into sports law?’ I would just be stunned if I go into anything having to do with sports. At least part of it is because when sports is your job, it’s less enjoyable, it just becomes your job. I would like to get back to where sports is something I enjoy on a different level. Would I never say never? I would never say never. Maybe Bill Simonson and I could do a show together. [laughing]. There’d be conflict.

MVictors: You read Michael Rosenberg’s book [War As They Knew it] and had a nice review for it in the News.
Jim Carty: I thought he did a tremendous job.

MVictors: You joked on your blog that Rosenberg’s kind of moved into perceived group of program critics with you and Drew Sharp. Do you think we’ll ever see an evil incarnation of Wojo?
Jim Carty: No, I don’t think so. If this were a pro wrestling outfit, that would be a tremendous turn of events. Like, Wojo to turn heel, or Angelique to turn heel! Managed by Lloyd Carr. That would get big WWE ratings but I don’t think we’ll see it.

Bad Angelique, very bad

Although I will say this. Wojo holds the positions he holds very honestly. There are some people who are homers just because they love the school. I think Wojo tends to be positive because he’s a positive person. But one the other hand, if he truly believes someone was a bad guy or doing the wrong thing, I don’t think he’d hesitate to say it. If the moment ever comes where Wojo says, ‘This guy’s a bad guy that needs to be fired.’ Then this guy’s a bad guy that needs to be fired. There’s no doubt about that! [laughs]

On Mike, it’s very interesting. I think one of the best things a columnist can do is stake out his territory and say this is where I stand, whether you like it or not. Mike has staked out a big square and said, ‘I’m very skeptical of how Rich is doing things. Not that I think he’s the devil. Not that I think he should be fired. But that I’m very skeptical.’ That’s a very good thing for a columnist to do. He’s not weasling; he’s not giving himself any gray area. He’s staking out his turf and he’s saying ‘this is a how I stand and let’s see how it turns out.’ And it’s going to be very interesting to watch.

MVictors: Have you considered writing a book?
Jim Carty: Too much work. I’m going to law school, I want to work Monday through Friday [laughing]. Even if I have to work 12 hours a day.

There’s a tremendous book in the whole academics story, I’d say about a quarter of the story got into the paper. That doesn’t mean there’s a bunch of allegations out there. Just a quarter of the story got in there. I just don’t have the time. And it’s not going to make anybody rich, nobody’s getting rich off of academics and athletics books. And right now my attention is law school.

MVictors: Does Mitch Albom have a Barry Bonds-esque special chair and his own special section of the press box?
Jim Carty: Mitch is very quiet, very private person. He comes to the press box, he sits with everybody else, pretty much keeps to himself.

MVictors: Are you guys allowed to talk to him?
Jim Carty: Ahhh…I guess? You know, Mitch has been around a long time, there are a lot of people that know him very well. Those are the people he sticks with. I sort of understand that. He’s been around a long time, he has a lot things going on. I will say he’s never acted aloof or acted like a dick to me [laughs]. That’s more than I can say for Mike Lupica. [laughing]

MVictors: Whoa. Let’s go there. Your roots are out east…
Jim Carty: Lupica’s a guy I grew up reading, I loved that guy. Two or three times when I was a very young reporter I got to interact with him and he was pretty much a dick to me.

Bucky Dent was my hero growing up. I got to cover him when he was a Triple-A manager. He was a dick to me, too. [laughs]

MVictors: You’re from out East, you covered Rutgers. You called the Rodriguez hire a ‘home run’ in the News. I want to know, what was the line on Rodriguez before he came to Michigan, from your experience and your Big East contacts and counterparts?
Jim Carty: Rich has always been viewed as a guy who put football talent ahead of everything else, like grades and character and things like that. Part of that is probably sour grapes by the people that coached against him, people who that perhaps couldn’t get into their schools some of those kids Rich could get into West Virginia. Part of it is a product of the fact that it is difficult to coach at West Virginia. The state produces a minimum of Division I players, and minimum of Division I basketball players. And let’s be honest, it’s a school that offers opportunities to many, many people regardless of their academic background, whether they’re in athletics or not, they’ll give anybody a chance. He probably used that to his advantage. Now – he took some kids with criminal brushes that I don’t think he could take here. And that’s why I think many people viewed as not a perfect character fit. But he’s here now and he hasn’t recruited any axe murderers to Michigan yet. Now, if he brings in a convicted felon you have to wonder if that’s what he’s about. But so far we see no sign of that.

MVictors: I know you can’t paint bloggers with a broad brush–anyone can start blog, but it general, what’s the view of sports bloggers from the guys in the newsroom?
Jim Carty: It’s fascinating. It really is fascinating. I have worked with two reporters, both of whom are excellent reporters. One of whom from very, very early—years ago—was a huge fan of mgoblog he said, “This guy is tremendously talented. You need to hire him at MLive. Go to him right now and offer him whatever it takes to bring that blog to MLive.”

I worked with another reporter who thinks that Brian is just an irresponsible clown. That’s not my opinion in any way.

MVictors: He could crush you.
Jim Carty: This guy is a very traditional journalist’s journalist, who think there’s a bright line between the public and journalism, and that Brian is a clown, pretending to play journalist. And it’s fascinating to see the diversity right there in the newsroom right in front of me. I’m a big fan of Brian, if I haven’t made that clear I tried to say that when I was with the News. He’s so different anyone else covering Michigan right now. And he is covering Michigan whether people want to acknowledge it or not, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. He covering Michigan. He’s a factor. He’s a player. Watching him exploding into that role has been fascinating. I don’t know where goes, I think it goes wherever he wants it to go.

But I also think it’s the sort of thing where the more attention you get, the higher the stakes are. You know? Some of the things he’s done in the past I don’t know if he would do now. Maybe he would. I’m just saying he carries a little bit a different imprimatur of legitimacy right now. If your buying stock in your traditional columnist or your buying stock in Brian Cook—I’d buy stock in Brian Cook. [Ed: I’d buy GE – great yield!]

MVictors: I assume you had some good friendships at the News, other than the people, what’ll you miss most about the job?
Jim Carty: The paper, as a whole, has a commitment to journalism that not all papers that size have. They poured tremendous resources into the academics and athletics project. People may not believe this but they did the project because of a genuine belief that they want student athletes to have the best academic experience at Michigan that they can have. I believe that’s the organization’s true position. Ed Petykiewicz, our editor, and Bill Martin before the series, I believe they were personal friends. And it’s difficult to put a personal friendship at risk for the idea that these kids should be treated better. It’s difficult, it costs people things. I think it was done because the paper believes it’s a newspaper’s role to drive examination of issues, not conclusions, but to drive examinations of important issues. I will miss working for a place that believes in doing more than just covering the game, or just covering the city council meeting. And I worry well they can do that in the future in this really rough newspaper environment.

MVictors: I know you recently attended the Vote for Change concert where Springsteen performed and you’re a fan like me. Sometimes don’t you wish Bruce would just shut up, stop telling us how to vote and just sing about cars?
Jim Carty: Ahh, that’s an interesting question. It sort of intersects a little bit with being a columnist or being an editorial page writer. Do you have a responsibility in that position to try to influence people? I think there are a lot of people and a lot of artists who would say, ‘No, the two things are separate.’ There are others who would say, ‘This is who I am, and I’m going to tell you what I believe, and if you come along with me that great. If you don’t, that’s ok too.’ Bruce has never said, ‘Get out of here unless you’re going to vote for Obama.’

I don’t know. I guess I’m obviously more with him than not, because I told people to vote for Chris Easthope on my blog [laughing]. Whether Bruce or I moves anyone is very, very questionable. Afterward Chris emailed me, I emailed him back I said, “Dude, I hope I didn’t move more people against you than for you!”. [laughs]

23. October 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Woody says, “Don’t give this to Bo!” · Categories: Archive 2008, Bo Schembechler, Books, eBay Watch, Ohio State

The next edition of eBay Watch once again looks over at Mastro Auctions for another cool item, this time an autographed copy of Woody Hayes’ 1969 tome, ‘Hot Line to Victory‘. It’s just one item in a collection of old programs and other goodies, but this is the standout item to me. Here’s the full auction.

Woody's Book

There are many autographed copies of Hot Line out there, but this one has a special note inside:

Woody's Book

If you can’t make it out it reads:

To Gene Ryan
From John W. Printer [not sure what that means]

Be sure not to pass any of this information on to Bo!
Regards,
Woody Hayes

I wish I knew who Gene Ryan is and whether he truly had some ties to Bo Schembechler, but either way this pretty cool. Michael Rosenberg talked a bit about Hot Line to Victory in his great book, War As They Knew It. In it he Rosenberg describes the Woody’s tome as a “football textbook” and added, “the book was intended for the general public–Hayes wanted to share strategy and tactics with anybody who would listen.”

While we don’t know who Gene Ryan is (yet), we do know that Woody’s comments not surprisingly were in jest. Obviously Bo could have grabbed a copy off the shelf himself, but Woody made it easy. According to Rosenberg’s book, in June 1970 Hayes sent a copy of Hot Line to his protege’ and included a personal note to “a truly great coach and friend, Bo Schembechler”.

26. September 2008 · Comments Off on A Badger’s Prediction, and the Tyranny · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, Wisconsin

Gilliam, a fellow prestigious Power Index pollster and die hard Wisconsin Badger backer passed along his prediction for Saturday. Somehow his cousin planned a wedding at 2pm [see below] so he won’t be seeing any live action. Either way, here’s his take on what’s going to happen:

Our defense is weak, once you get through the line. We are BAD tacklers, especially the safeties. McGuffie should have a field day. Just run the typical “Michigan screens” (I’m not sure if that’s in Rich Rod’s playbook, but it should be), and get him into space on the corners, and buh-bye….

Unless your defense is horrible against the run (and you are playing at home, and desperate, so that helps), you should be able to contain us. Our QB is not bad….and our offensive coordinator is outstanding (especially making in-game adjustments), so we will put up points.

Michigan 34 – Wisconsin 23

[Note: Gilliam, you’re defense better be really bad for M to roll up 34]

In honor of Gilliam the Badger’s wedding situation I give you a selection from Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch:

“As I get older, the tyranny that football exerts over my life, and therefore over the lives of people around me, is less reasonable and less attractive. Family and friends know, after long years of wearying experience, that the fixture list [schedule] always has the last word in any arrangement; they understand, or at least accept, that christenings or wedding or any gatherings, which in other families would take unquestioned precedence, can only be plotted after consultation. So football is regarded as a given disability that has to be worked around. If I were wheelchair-bound, nobody close to me would organise anything in a top-floor flat, so why would they plan anything for a winter Saturday afternoon?”

War As They Knew It: Michael Rosenberg

Detroit Free Press sports columnist Michael Rosenberg’s first book, War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a time of unrest, will be released September 10. There have been a few reviews of the book out there already, and from what I’ve read it’s getting high marks.

Rosenberg sent me an advance copy and I burned through the 330+ pages in a few days. It’s a wonderful read, well written and meticulously researched. A quick scan of the acknowledgments and book notes reveal the breadth of interviews, videos, books, and news sources that Rosenberg poured through to weave the tale of this period.

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry certainly plays a key role in this book but it’s more of a backdrop. Rosenberg unveils how each man and their teams both dealt with and were affected by the social and political turmoil of this time. Mixed in are some new stories and a fresh, deeper look at some of the old legends.

For me, the most interesting elements of the book:
* Rosenberg’s accounts of the various protests in Ann Arbor and Columbus during the period.
* The insight into the mind of Woody Hayes – the guy is completely off the charts.
* And apologies to my English teachers/professors but I was also re-introduced to and fascinated by the work of 19th century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Hayes studied Emerson with religious fervor and his work formed the principles that truly defined the old Buckeye legend.

Rosenberg was kind enough to sit with me to talk about the book. The interview went longer than I planned so I’m splitting it up into two parts. Part I will focus on the book itself, in Part II we’ll get into Rosenberg’s now well web-traveled harsh opinions on Rodriguez and talk about the current team in the aftermath of Saturday’s opener.

One thing that stuck out for me was how well researched and detailed the book was. Was this a larger effort than you envisioned when you started?

Rosenberg: Either the schedule was too ambitious for the book, or the book was too ambitious for the schedule. I started working on it in spring of ’05, I talked to Bo and sold a 60 page proposal in December of ’05, the idea it’d be done in November of ’06, and published last fall. In August I met with my editor and they let me know Bo is shopping a book [John U. Bacon’s Bo’s Lasting Lessons]. The marketing people figured it should be published in the college football season but not in the same season [as Lasting Lessons]. So it was delayed an extra year and I used all of that time, which I’m not proud of.

[Side note: Coincidentally Bacon was sitting in the same coffee shop where I did the interview with Rosenberg. Good thing the place didn’t burn down or we’d have lost lost two of the leading experts on Schembechler; I tried to keep them on separate sides of the lounge.]

How did Bo react when you approached him about the book?

Rosenberg: His first reaction was ‘Another book!?’. Literally those were the words he said. But then I started about some of my ideas on the book and on the era. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I remember sitting at his desk, he said, “I think the true story that’s really never been written, and the most interesting part of the time when we faced each other was what was going on on campus.”

Here’s a guy that’s had around 50 books written by him or about him, and he’s saying there’s a book that hasn’t been written. It was really encouraging to me.

Michigan fans don’t want to hear this, but Bo could have coached 25 years in Columbus, had Woody actually left when Bo went to Miami. Woody wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in Ann Arbor.

As I went through the book, I felt like that Columbus was sort of a mainstream sanitized version of Ann Arbor, and Bo was kind of a mainstream sanitized version of Woody in certain ways.

When Woody was fired/retired, you mention in the book that there was some speculation that Schembechler might replace Hayes in Columbus, how realistic was that possibility?

Rosenberg: I spoke to Gene D’Angelo, who produced Woody’s TV show in Columbus. As a side note, his daughter is Beverly D’Angelo from the Vacation movies. He told me that Woody wanted Bo to replace him and that he had a whole plan to do it. I didn’t put that in the book, I just felt it was too uncertain, I didn’t have other sources say that. I think that was Woody’s dream, Bo was his guy and it would be proof that Ohio State is a superior place to Michigan. But once Bo took the Michigan job, there was no way he was going to Ohio State.

You’re obviously not the first writer from the Free Press to write a book, but how did they feel about you taking on this project?

Rosenberg: They were great, Mitch [Albom] kind of paved the way I guess because he’s got so many things going on. . I’ve got the best boss – Gene Myers. They want happy writers and as long as your working hard they’ll make accommodations. My Free Press work was probably not what it would have been if I hadn’t done the book, but I still worked real hard for the paper. It was a hard double to pull off.

Did Mitch give you any advice during or at the beginning of the project?

Rosenberg: I actually didn’t tell him I was working on it – not for any reason in particular, but I just didn’t talk about. He came up to me at the Ohio State game in ’06, I remember him coming up to me saying, ‘I didn’t even know you were writing a book.’ I didn’t really ask for any advice, the only thing I asked him for was that blurb [on the book jacket cover Albom wrote, “A wonderfully crafted collision course of a book.”].

Is Mitch around a lot, or does he kind of just fly in for games? Are you allowed to speak to him?

Rosenberg: [laughing] Yes, I’m allowed to speak to him. He’s obviously in his own orbit as far as career success. Forget about sports writers, very few writers period have had that kind of success. But we have a good relationship and we get along well.

You had a special message from Free Press writer Mick McCabe in your acknowledgments [Rosenberg thanked everyone on the Free Staff “except for Mick McCabe”], what was the deal with that?

Rosenberg: [laughing] Anybody who knows Mick will understand that completely. I actually haven’t heard from him yet- it was all in good fun. On some level he would appreciate this. If I had an actual problem with someone it wouldn’t show up in the acknowledgments.

You interviewed John Prusiecki, the former player that wrote that famous note under the ‘Those Who Stay will be Champions’ sign […and those who leave will be doctors, lawyers, etc., etc.,’] as he quit the team, how did you find him?

Rosenberg: It was mentioned somewhere, maybe it was Mitch’s book [Bo]. I’m not sure. But I was able to track him down, he was in Chicago. I think that anecdote says a lot about my book as opposed to the other books that have been written. Because that story’s been told and that’s a fun story. But the rest of it when he goes into Bo’s office and Bo says ‘You can’t quit’, and Prusiecki says ‘This isn’t the army, I can quit if I want to quit’. Bo says, ‘Fine. What’s your name?”. He didn’t even know the guy’s name and he’s telling him he can’t quit.

That to me showed so much more depth and said so much more about the era – how he’s saying this isn’t the army and how Bo was running things at the time. To me, this is a metaphor for the book, there’s stuff out there like that story, but I’m providing a different level of depth and insight – that’s what I was shooting for. I wasn’t just going for funny stories.

Another often told story is Woody, when asked why he went for two at the end of the 1968 game, allegedly said, “Because I couldn’t go for three.” You couldn’t find any reference to Woody actually making that quote. And your interviews revealed that Woody didn’t actually intend to go for two, it was actually a miscommunication.

Rosenberg: I couldn’t find any reference to that quote in the next day’s papers, or in the next year’s stuff leading up to the game. If you’re asking me, I think that’s an urban legend. That doesn’t mean he never said it. But it’s possible given Woody’s personality that he would have said that, just in his defiance of the press. It would be a little odd to me, but I could find no evidence.

The story that is repeated a lot is that Woody said that and that it motivated the guys [in 1969]. I’ve had Michigan guys on that team tell me that. My response is, if it was such a big deal how come no one wrote about it? It could have been a rumor that he said that. It could have been mentioned to a booster club. Some of the best stories I heard I couldn’t put in the book because I just couldn’t prove it. I tried to double and triple check all the stories, and I always erred on the side of not putting in the book.

Hayes and president Nixon were good buddies and Woody was a big supporter of the war in Vietnam. You just returned from Beijing- how do you think Hayes would feel about having the Olympics in a Communist country?

Rosenberg: [laughs] I think there’s so much about the world today that Woody wouldn’t be able to handle. He’s just a guy from his era, and it was slipping away from him. I can’t imagine how he’d react to a lot of things, like Jim Tressel making $3.5 million a year!

As far as the Olympics, I think he’d be very outspoken that Communism is wrong, and would talk about it. And hope the Americans kicked ass. Whatever he felt, he wouldn’t shut up about it I can tell you that.

One person that I was introduced to in your book was Woody’s wife, Anne Hayes, and you provide some anecdotes about her throughout the book. She really seemed like a saint, how is Anne remembered in Columbus?

Rosenberg: She was beloved. People in Columbus speak warmly and fondly of her. I find that the Ohio State guys tend to stay around Columbus, a lot of them work at Worthington Steel. Ohio State football is so much more the fabric of Columbus than U-M football is in Ann Arbor, not to minimize it here, that’s just how it is. Students today probably have no idea who she was.

Every year that passes, like anyone else, fewer and fewer people know of her. Part of the reason this book appeals to me is I think Woody has become a caricature for people now. He has become a two dimensional figure. He was much more complex than many of these guys coaching today, the Nick Sabans and the Urban Meyers of the world. Many see him as a guy who won a lot of games but he’s much more complex than that, hopefully this book can change that perception.

Woody was working on a book that he never finished; he was a good way through it. Does anyone have a copy of his work?

Rosenberg: If someone does, I don’t know who. His student manager Mark George has a lot of Woody’s stuff, he doesn’t have it. I’d like to see it. After 30 years, who knows?

You talk about [former Michigan athletic director] Don Canham in the book. Do you think Michigan fans, or for that matter, fans of college sports in general appreciate the impact that Don Canham had?

Rosenberg: No way. They’re spending $230-$250, whatever, million to build these luxury boxes. Canham had a deal that would have had them built and paid off in a year, in 1976 and ’77. He was literally 10-20 years ahead of his time for his entire career.

Another thing he did, when he retired [in 1988], he sat down with [current assistant AD] Bruce Madej and basically laid out the next 15 years of college athletics, what was going to happen. Everything he said came true. He could literally see the future for his business.

You thanked librarians at Ohio State, so you’re saying there’s actually a library in Columbus?

Rosenberg: [laughs] Yes, yes indeed, and they were a tremendous help. I did all the research here at the graduate library for the most part, and I had a guy in Columbus and another researcher in Washington who handled the Nixon library.

The Michigan Daily is probably the only source for a lot of the games throughout Michigan’s history. Is there any effort by the daily to digitalize the archives and make them available online?

Rosenberg: That’s a good question. I’m not the best person to answer that, and I’ve asked that question in the past. It wasn’t a major concern for the era I covered. I would love to see that happen.

You’re starting your book promotion September 10th at Borders, correct? Are you excited?

Rosenberg: Yes, September 10th. I’m excited by that’s not the only feeling . I’m excited but I’m also a little concerned. I hope people like the book; I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback so far. I hope people buy it, I hope they read it, I hope people show up at the signing. It’s my first book we’ll see how it goes. Self-promotion is not my natural strong suit, but I know I’ve got to do it. But you work for years on a book you owe it to yourself to promote it.

I don’t mean it to sound wrong, but I also feel like this book is different, more in depth than some of the others books out there. I’m not exactly sure how to say that without sounding like an egomaniac – so I need you to say that [laughing].


[Coming up in Part II: Electric Boogaloo, [Update 9/3: it’s posted] we’ll talk about Rosenberg’s recent column that blasted Rodriguez, Darth Vader masks and much more. You can order ‘War as they Knew It’, here, or you can visit Borders or other area bookstores on Wednesday, September 10th].

Hail to the Victors 2008

Go now – get your copy of Brian Cook’s Hail to the Victors 2008 – An Annual Guide to Michigan Wolverines Football. And not just because there’s an article by yours truly in there.

I finished it up this weekend. Last year was the inaugural issue for the guide and it was very well done [MVictors review] and a fine read – this year’s edition is outstanding.

The analysis of each unit is sharp, detailed and offers another feature you won’t get in the typical preseason guides- some solid laughs. (Cook prescribes a having a glove handy if you are watching the Sam McGuffie mixtape for the first time “so you can be slapped out of your hysteria”.) A sampling:

– “[TE Carson] Butler is one of those guys who creates a mismatch as soon as he walks on the field, but that mismatch is only in favor of Michigan if he goes out in a pass pattern.”
– “Junior LaTerryal Savoy’s sell-by- date has expired.”
– HTTV ’07 dropped this on Morgan Trent: “In two years of playing time he’s yet to make a great break on the ball to disrupt a pass.” Cook summarizes Trent’s improvement in this year’s guide, “Teams actually avoided him [last season].”
– On Donovan Warren: “He’s a split second here and there from becoming a blanket. A step forward from “good for a freshman” to “bad mother” should happen.”

Great Stuff:
There are several excellent reads in the balance of the guide, here’s a few of my favorites:
– Paul Campos breaking down the internet frenzy in the days surrounding the coaching search. I wonder what Eerhole is up to these days.
– Michael Elkon takes a look at the top college coaches and their first few years at the helm of major programs. I’ll save you some time: wait for 2009!
– Two excellent pieces that take you inside Coach Carr’s circle, one by John Saward on Carr himself which folds in an interview, and Craig Ross gives the blow-by-blow inside one of Scott Loeffler’s quarterback sessions that leaves your heading spinning like Linda Blair.

Other takes:
– Someone in the final editing (presumably someone at Maple Street Press – no way Cook would have let this go) referred to former OSU coach Earle Bruce as “Bruce Earle” in a photo caption. It sounds right and I guess if you are going to disrespect a former Buckeye coach, this is the place to do it. Fortunately we were spared a caption with former Michigan coach Elliott ‘Bump’ Chalmers.
– I would have liked to see a little more coverage of “The Enemy”, especially Michigan State. There are full spreads on the Irish (nicely done once again by Brian Stouffer) and the Buckeyes (Thomas Orr), but the rest of the coverage of our opponents is a tad light.

In summary – go get your copy!

21. June 2008 · Comments Off on Michigan Football Vault – Book Style · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, History, Michigan Memorabilia

Last year I started putting a bunch of old images of cool Michigan memorabilia in what I called the ‘Memorabilia Vault‘. Author Jerry Green was tapped to pull together the book version and they’ve done a real nice job with ‘University of Michigan Football Vault‘, available at Amazon.

The detailed scrapbook narrative contains never before published photographs, artwork and memorabilia drawn from UM’s extensive campus archives. Tucked into dozens of sleeves and pockets, fans will find reproductions of old game programs, historic tickets, and numerous postcards and photos. These fascinating replicas include the building permit for Michigan Stadium, a letter from high school recruit Gerald Ford to Harry Kipke, and a souvenir program and scorecard from an 1894 game against Cornell.

You can actually pull these replicas out of the book and hold them. It’s very cool. As described, they actually reproduced some well known (ticket stubs, programs) memorabilia, and some not so well known stuff like this budget for the trip to the 1947 Rose Bowl, click to enlarge:

It’s very cool – highly recommended. The replica memorabilia is worth the price alone, and the photos in the book are outstanding. All in all, very well done.

01. March 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Former Legends think they’re Bill Shakespeare · Categories: Archive 2008, Bo Schembechler, Books, eBay Watch

For many of the legendary Michigan coaches and players, life after football has been pretty good. Some like Dan Dierdorf, Tom Harmon and Desmond Howard have ventured into the broadcast media, many others like Fielding Yost and Jamie Morris filled other roles within the athletic department. Of course Gerald Ford ended up in the White House.

Many former M Men wrote books about or related to their craft. Bo Schembechler hooked up with Mitch Albom and John Bacon to publish bestsellers. This installment of eBay watch takes a quick look at a few of the books out there:

Heisman Winner Tom Harmon:

Harmon contributed to a few books but the one most widely seen on eBay is titled “Tom Harmon and the Great Gridiron Plot”. I assume he had some hand in the book other than lending his name, but the official author is Jay Bender. At any given time there are a half dozen of these books for auction so I assume it was pretty popular. I can’t find a full abstract or review on the book but I do see it was targeted for kids and I found this item description:

STORY OF TOM HARMON AND THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TEAM WHO FIND THEMSELVES HAVING TO WIN THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP OR THEIR COACH WILL BE DISMISSED

Shocking stuff for the time perhaps. These days it seems a couple dozen coaches a year need to win a championship to avoid being “dismissed”.

Former Coach Fielding H. Yost:

Yost put pen to paper in his days as coach and after, producing many magazine articles and a book titled, “Foot Ball for Player and Spectator” first published in 1905. There’s currently a first edition on eBay (highest bid $500 so far) that was signed in 1935 by Yost, who remained active at the University after his coaching days. The book is now in the US public domain as it was published prior to 1923, you can read the entire thing on Google Books here. Yost goes through a variety of topics, starting with the history of football and running through formations, plays, rules and there’s some pretty cool old photos inside.

Former Coach Fritz Crisler:

Finally the architect of the Mad Magicians and coaching Legend Fritz Crisler published his own thoughts on the game with “Modern Football: Fundamentals and Strategy” in 1949. This work goes through Crisler’s theories of offense and defense. It might be interesting given his role at the helm of the amazing Mad Magicians [YouTube].

The Bentley Library keeps a listing of books on or related to Michigan football here. Would have loved to have seen Yost, Crisler and Bump Elliott collaborate on a book titled “Fielding, Herbert and Chalmers: Overcoming Unfortunate first names”.