Prior to the Purdue game I sat in for a segment on WOMC’s Tailgate Show.  Just before I went on the air, host Lucy Ann Lance summoned over Peg Canham, widow of legendary Michigan athletic director Don Canham.

Mrs. Canham was wearing a stunning necklace and it caught my eye.  Lance knew a bit about it and mentioned that it was a gift from the former AD, made from an old Wolverine football championship ring.

I wanted to know a little more, so I connected with Mrs. Canham afterwards and she was kind enough to send along a photo:


I knew there was something very familiar about her necklace, and it didn’t take long to figure out why.  I’ve featured a few Michigan championship rings on eBay Watch over the years including this one from 1977:

Along with the photo, Mrs. Canham was kind enough to share a few memories about the ring. “He surprised me with the necklace for Christmas shortly after we were married in 1995,” she told me.  “As I’m sure you can figure Don had a jewelry box full of rings but this one was always my favorite because it is the Michigan Stadium, and he knew it.”

She also noted that in the famous photo of Don Canham at his desk (the same one you can find inside Yost Ice Arena on the west wall), the legendary AD is wearing that band, back when it was merely a ring:

doncanham2Don Canham wearing the would-be necklace (courtesy of Peg Canham)

Outside of Ann Arbor, Don Canham is probably best known for revolutionizing the concept of marketing college football and athletics in general.  According to Peg, some of those who worked with directly with him might remember him as “a gruff, tough and ‘all business’ type of person.”

Not true says Peg.

“In actuality he was a very kind, caring person.  He loved children and always went out of his way for them.  This necklace was just one of many sweet things he did for me.”

As we know, while sadly many of these mementos end up in boxes, attics or <gulp> even eBay, this one isn’t going anywhere.  “Now that Don is gone I treasure this keepsake more than ever,” Canham shared.  “I miss that guy every day!”

Currently Mrs. Canham is working on setting up an elite honors program in Sports Management in Don’s name within the U-M School of Kinesiology.    The intent, according to Canham, is “to make it the premier program in the nation taking only the top 10-15 students for this two year program.”   Details are still in the works and she’s already working on contacting potential donors and other U-M affiliated organizations.

What a great idea.  Oh, and when can I apply?

* Michigan football needed a turnaround. Enter Don Canham.  Daily interview from 2004
* From the Inside  Book by Don Canham  
* Canham items on eBay

A quick edition of eBay Watch features an auction of a mildly stained ticket from the Michigan-Ohio State game held in Ann Arbor on October 22, 1927. It has a little more significance than just an old piece of memorabilia from college football’s greatest rivalry. This game marked the official dedication of Michigan Stadium. Here’s the stub:

1927 Michigan Ohio State

Bennie Oosterbann captained the crew that roared to a 21-0 victory to officially break in the giant stadium, which of course is currently going through some major changes. We’re fortunate to have few excellent sources of information on this game.

First, the Bentley Library has an outstanding summary of the dedication. Just a taste:

General admission tickets sold for three dollars. The 11,114 student ticket purchaser had to pay a fifty cent surcharge on the normal $2.50 price for this and the other “big games” of the year. The box seats in the lower rows went for four and five dollars. More than 17,000 tickets were sold at Ohio State.

Nearly one thousand Boy Scouts, from all over Michigan, plus a few from Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus, were on hand to usher the ticket holders to their seats. A crowd of nearly 85, 000 was on hand as the dedication ceremonies got under way at 2:00.

Next, the Bentley site republished the Detroit Free Press article on the big day, click here to read the whole thing. An excerpt:

This day, however, the new castle of athletics was formally anointed. While one cheering block pelted the other with yells and massed bands played Michigan hymns, the stadium was properly and thoroughly dedicated.

It was properly dedicated because there were no speeches for one thing. No gentleman mustered sufficient brashness to think he could successfully pit his voice against the roar of the thousands Perhaps it was brashness that was lacking at that, it may have been the understanding that whatever might have been said with mighty word or tidy emphasis would be so much wasted breath.

Finally, the great WolverineHistorian pulled together this beauty of a video of Dedication Day and posted it on YouTube for all to enjoy:

Here’s the full auction for the 1927 ticket stub, there’s been quite a few bids already.


MVictors: Blue Books

I just received a fresh copy of ‘Historic Photos of University of Michigan Football’ from Turner Publishing. Michelle O’Brien authored the collection, which pulls together fascinating photos from the vaults over at the U-M Bentley Historical Library over the past 100+ years.

It isn’t confined to games and practices; it also includes a few unique looks at the band, the fans and in some cases, the excitement on campus and outside the stadium.

Each photo contains a detailed caption describing the photo often along with a relevant background from the period. O’Brien did a very nice job-it’s a fine collection and would make an excellent gift.

While I’ve seen a few of the photos before but most were new to me. Here’s a few of my favorites, click to enlarge:

Louis Elbel conducts The Victors in 1952
Louis Elbel, the man that composed The Victors after the 1898 Michigan game at Chicago, conducts the Michigan Marching Band in 1952

The original Little Brown Jug, photo from Minnesota
The original Little Brown (White?) Jug. I love the “Not to be taken from the Gymnasium” instruction painted on the top. Can you imagine?

Breaking ground on Michigan Stadium
A photo as they break ground on Michigan stadium, with a clear shot back to Yost Field House in the background. Gorgeous.

Michigan football historic photos

Touchdown Pour Jesus, South Bend

While there’s still a shot a getting to six wins and preserving two great streaks, this season is turning into an exercise of focusing on themes and trends inside games rather than the end result. A loss a Notre Dame is always tough to take and we still don’t know how good the Irish are, but I saw some good things out there Saturday.

The comeback effort turned into a Sisyphean task, as a few times the Wolverines were on the brink of scoring a critical touch only to have a brutal fumble or pick wipe it all away. This game was obviously lost on the turnovers, the worst occurred before the rain came down, but that can be fixed. This offense isn’t quite ready to enough register points to overcome the kind of hole they put themselves in the first quarter, but certainly showed signs.

After last week I never thought I’d say this but Threet looked sharp, didn’t he? I don’t mean sharp as in ‘much improved for a guy who’d be a third stringer on most teams’, I mean sharp as you want your quarterback to be. I haven’t seen the replay on that early screen to Minor that was dropped and picked up by the Irish- I assume that shouldn’t have been thrown but otherwise, didn’t he look solid? Threet threaded it in there on a few outside slants and handled the ball as best that can be expected in the brutal conditions. I’m not saying this is the answer, you still need someone that can take off for 7 yards, but I’ve got confidence this guy can get it done this season.

On McGuffie, you’re seeing a guy that’s just going to be a fixture in this offense and goes out there and busts ass. The 80-yr-old Irish fan next to me said, “Boy, we’re going to have to watch that kid for the next three years.” Believe it . Sitting up top we could see the freshman missed a few holes, even when he hit the second level, but who’s complaining?

And the offensive line, the biggest question mark coming into this game – they protected well and create holes for McGuffie. There was the late drive where they took a few penalties and it was far from perfect, but overall pretty solid. Of course all this assumes that Notre Dame isn’t a complete trainwreck of a team, which they still might very well be. We’ll learn more next week when they travel to East Lansing.

Special teams? Major gaffs on the first two kick-off returns but what else? Warren dropped one punt (recovered) but otherwise handled things on a difficult day. Mesko was excellent on punts and ran the punt option to a T on three occasions, twice hitting nice punts on the run (a real run, actually considering hitting the hole), and once on his run to get that first down. One for one on field goals and a adequate kick-offs given the conditions. They also got a hand on a Notre Dame punt.

More takes:
* The offense still can’t execute a pass over the middle, I know RR doesn’t use a traditional tight end but can’t they drag the slot over the middle and make a play?
* The defense was put in some bad situations but as has been said all year, has to be the unit that wins games for this team. They didn’t do enough, and Trent was getting worked early which is painful to see. I’m sure Shafer relies on having Warren and Trent cover the outside receiver one-on-one and having issues with one or the other is a concern. That said, Trent made a great cover and turn on a ball later in the game (which he picked), so I’m not overly concerned. And Warren was called for a couple pass interference plays which looked ridiculous, certainly the second in the end-zone – it looked like he tapped the guy’s back before jumping to go for the ball. I saw some ND fans shaking their heads after that one.
* The linebackers didn’t seem to be a factor, I’m looking forward to mgoblog’s defense UFR.
* Notre Dame had trouble getting the right players on the field, at times with 12 or 10. Give credit to Rodriguez and company, this hasn’t been an issue all year. There were times last year (I’m serious) where Michigan had 10 guys on a punt or punt return teams on multiple occasions in games. And it happened on defense all the time. Also give credit to the discipline of this team. Have they jumped offsides on offense or defense more than a couple times all season? For a team playing many freshman and young guys, they aren’t taking a lot of penalties. Last week they were in the top 30 in the NCAA in penalties and penalty yardage. The personal fouls this week may throw that off, but give them credit.

From section 122:
* The ND fans are very proud of their renovation, which was completed over 10 years ago. It’s nice, but I’m wondering if they have any regrets about not putting in any boxes? I’m sure Irish fans would spout back, ‘We don’t want ’em in our stadium’, but really? Don’t tell me they’re not concerned about revenue and want to preserve the pure atmosphere- there’s a bar in the parking lot outside the stadium. And a big screen wouldn’t hurt either, I would have look to have seen a couple of those plays again. Finally, while the seats a spacious unlike somewhere else, the bench seats are made of wood! I know, Irish fans would say, ‘This is a righteous profession, JC was a carpenter’:

Wood bench seat, Notre Dame stadium

* On the pass play were Trent was torched, the 80 yr old Irish fan next to me said, “I could have caught that one.” The pain, it stings!
* Once again this year, Notre Dame dropped in Red Dawn paratroopers onto the field before the game. I captured a video, apologies for the Beavis/Butthead quality commentary throughout:

31. August 2008 · Comments Off on From the Inside: Construction photos · Categories: Archive 2008, Michigan Stadium

A few photos from inside the stadium Saturday. I got to the game pretty early but overall I hear they did a good job with the crowd control. There was much more room in the concourse underneath the new construction than it appears from the street, and it provided some nice shade and there was a good breeze blowing through.

A few photos of the construction:

Required gear for Michigan stadium

[Webmaster’s note: Slightly modified from last year’s version]

Here we are on the eve of Michigan football’s 2008 season opener. Many of you out there are no doubt assembling your tailgating gear, food, wares, etc., for the early start tomorrow. Part of this preparation includes your in-stadium provisioning, which is a completely separate exercise. A few thoughts:

1. AM/FM Radio. To listen to the play-by-play from Brandy and Beckmann. You’ll get injury reports, sideline observations and insight, statistics and analysis of key plays that are under replay review. Probably most critical: you’ll have a chance to block out the blabber from an idiot nearby that is giving his own play-by-play or screaming at the coaches.
2. M Lid. While not an absolute requirement, it certainly helps to keep that sun from beating down on you, especially for the noon games such as tomorrow’s tilt. For those in the North end zone or West side of the field, could be critical.
3. Digital Camera. You never know who you’re going to see at the game or what live action you might catch. Make sure you upload any vintage game video on YouTube for everyone to enjoy throughout the ages.
4. Tickets & Lanyard. Obviously you’ll need those tickets to get in but for the big games I always try to bring in a lanyard to hold the stubs. If nothing else, it makes for easy access to display the ticket on the way back in from the john or to get some snacks. Also gives you some chest coverage if you decide to peel.
5. Your Wallet. Where you keep your bread, Daddy-o. I don’t care how many brats your jammed in your greasy skull at the tailgate, you’ll need at least a drink or two and more likely a snack.
6. Seat Cushion. It serves so many purposes. First, it marks your spot in the tight M stadium rows. Next, it provides some comfort to your bony arse. Finally, it actually gives you an extra inch of torso height above the guy in front of you. Don’t think that matters? Try it sometime – it does.
7. Phone/PDA/Blackberry. In case something crazy happens you’ll need to call your boys. And the “other scores” communication at M stadium is lackluster at best. You’ll need your device to keep current on the big games of the day. For you gambling degenerates this of course is a must.
8. Keys. While most the folks in my section have keyless entry to their luxury sleds, you still don’t want to forget your keys. Keep them in your pocket. According to the M Zone and the rest of the blogosphere, it is no longer cool to shake your keys during a “key play”.
9. Seeds. A personal preference of the webmaster but I always enjoy a few seeds to help cut the tension (I chomped thousands of seeds in 2005). I prefer Planters due to the zip lock bag and of course I’m partial to the colors. Substitute for chew or smokes as necessary.
10. Shades. Similar reason as the hat. If you’re in the North or East sides of the field they are mandatory. Wear them for no other reason than to hide your pickled bloodshot peepers.

Update for 2008: Get ready for a few headaches getting into your section if you don’t get there at least an hour early. Expect the vast majority of fans to be either be oblivious or simply disregard the warnings about the delays. Given all this, you might want to refill your prescription of Lexapro, Cymbalta, Xanax, Zoloft, Effexor, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and/or Valium if you show up late.

A short edition of eBay Watch, this installment featuring this beautiful American made Chevy 4×4 with a limited edition paint job:

Michigan Pick-up Track

Thanks to Matthew for forwarding this link. Right now this chick magnet has no bids with a starting price of $999.99. Here’s the full auction. My only beef? I would have insisted on the winged helmet design at least on the front of this sled, but I’m a romantic.

If you hurry, you can test out this beauty at one of the biggest tailgating venues on the planet, the NASCAR race down tomorrow down at Michigan International Speedway just 40 or so miles from Ann Arbor. And speaking of the Sprint Cup series, did you know that current points leader Kyle Busch is a Michigan football fan? I did; I remember the piece they ran on ESPN or somewhere showing his tour of the Big House last year.

Busch describes how it started in USA Today this week:

Although he is from Las Vegas, young Busch is a big University of Michigan football fan. U of M is about 40 minutes away from MIS in Ann Arbor, Mich. “My brother (Kurt) moved up to Michigan years ago to run in the Craftsman Truck series and he went to a Michigan game,” Kyle recalled. “He bought me a Michigan sweatshirt and sent it home for me. I never really paid attention to college football until then, but I became a Michigan fan. Not too complicated of a story, but it’s fun to be able to follow them when I have a Saturday afternoon off in the fall. I was lucky enough to be able to go to their practice last fall and get to know a few of the guys. You always respect people who are as competitive as you are, and they certainly have the same drive to win that I do.”

Michigan stadium renovation

There’s many changes going on around the athletic campus, with much of the focus for obvious reasons on the Michigan Stadium renovation.‘s doing a nice job of publishing frequent updates on the project, here a nice photo from last week:

Michigan stadium renovation

Just down the road another major project is going on that hasn’t got much attention: the new football practice facility. Those in Ann Arbor know of this because you can’t miss it. The frame of the enormous structure, which is built on the site of the old outdoor practice field and the varsity soccer pitch, now dominates the skyline along State Street and it towers over Schembechler Hall. For those out of town I thought you might enjoy of few shots, click to see enlarge:

Here’s a few details on the $26.1 million project from

The new football facility, approximately 104,000 gross square feet to be built on an existing outdoor practice field, is expected to include a full-size football field, lobby, restrooms and storage space. Approximately 3,000 gross square feet of space in Schembechler Hall will be renovated as part of the project.

Whoa! That’s a lot of gross square feet (I think). I don’t think the soccer pitch was a big loss. I used to occasionally walk by that thing after football games and always felt it was terrible. My lawn has fewer contours and holes. Last I heard they’re building the new soccer field near the tennis center just up the road.

Here’s a bit more on the football facility from including a depiction of the finished product (and judging by the SUVs, drafted sometime prior to the gas crisis):

Michigan stadium renovation

The building is expected to be completed in 2009.