On this day in 1979…still gives me the chills.  Via the great WolverineHistorian:

While it was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose, I love that in all the madness Ufer recognized that play in the context of Michigan football history when he offers that it will be remembered for another 100 years (’79 of course was the 100th anniversary of the program). We can safely say that’s true of course, looking back 35 years later and it’s probably more to do with Ufer’s call than the play itself.

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1981 Wisconsin Michigan pin

This edition of eBay Watch takes a look at an interesting pin commemorating Wisconsin’s 1981 victory over Michigan. Certainly no one in Madison would produce a trinket today for a regular season victory, but keep in mind that Barry Alvarez wouldn’t arrive for another decade and Badger football consistently had a place at or near the bottom of the Big Ten.

The lowly Badgers and hadn’t defeated the Blue since 1962 and in the previous four meetings Bo’s Wolverines outscored Wisconsin 176 to zero.   Michigan was riding a nine game win streak (including Schembechler’s first Rose Bowl victory) and that was enough for the pollsters to slot the Wolverines #1 in the preseason poll.

This seemed to be an ideal opponent for the opener, held September 12, 1981, and Michigan came in as a 19 point favorite.  Over 68,000 pickled fans witnessed the historic 21-14 upset.   Longtime sportswriter Jack McCallum was on hand for Sports Illustrated:

Last year Wisconsin didn’t score a touchdown until its fourth game. On Saturday in Madison, against a Michigan team that hadn’t yielded a touchdown in 5 games, Wisconsin scored two touchdowns in the second quarter and the gamer—on a 71-yard pass play. Quarterback Jess Cole throwing to Tailback John Williams—in the third. “This win is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Coach Dave McClain.

The issue? Michigan’s new dual threat quarterback Steve Smith struggled big time in the game. More McCallum:

For sure, Schembechler now knows, if he didn’t beforehand, that he has a quarterback problem; freshman [Steve] Smith may run a 4.5 40, but he completed only three of 18 passes for just 39 yards and threw three interceptions—all by Safety Matt Vanden Boom. And if Schembechler can’t find a quarterback who can get the ball to Anthony Carter, who caught only one pass for 11 yards against Wisconsin, well. Bo may not visit Pasadena on New Year’s Day after all.

The 1981 Wisconsin game was certainly not the last time that fans created souvenirs commemorating a regular season win over the Wolverines. Heck, it happened at least twice this season (Toledo, Michigan State) and of course you can still load up on goodies like this:

Appalachian State

In closing the SI column McCallum loaded up his pen and described the scene on the campus. In my mind’s eye I kind of envision State Street Madison being like this every Saturday night, but read on:

On Saturday night, though, State Street, the main drag, was loaded with people. Many were loaded; many were hanging from lampposts; all were singing the Badgers’ theme song, whose tune is that of the Budweiser ditty: “When you’ve said Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.”

More on the 1981 Season:

  • There would certainly be a few ups and downs but the Wolverines got a lift the following weekend. Notre Dame assumed the #1 ranking after M was upset, but Bo’s men were no doubt fired up as they hammered the Irish 25-7.
  • Sadly we lost legendary Michigan radio voice Bob Ufer during this season. He gave his legendary goodbye at the Iowa game and the Michigan Marching Band delivered a special formation in his honor [More from M Zone]:

Michigan Marching Band spells UFER

  • 1981 featured an incredible roster (Wangler, Humphries, Carter, Paris, Edwards, Woolfolk, Hammerstein, um, Boren, etc.)  That’s impressive, but check out some of the names on the coaching staff:  Schembechler, Carr, Miles, McCartney, Hanlon – wow.
  • No, Michigan didn’t make it back to Pasadena that season. They settled for a trip to Houston’s Bluebonnet Bowl where they faced UCLA in the first Pac 10 vs. Big 10 bowl game outside the Rose Bowl. WolverineHistorian put together a nice package for you, as the Victors prevailed 33-14:

  • Curiously, UCLA was a very familiar foe for old Michigan in 1981 and 1982.  After defeating the Bruins in the BB bowl, the teams met again the following September [31-27 loss] and again in the Rose Bowl later that season [24-14 loss].

You can view the full auction here, ending soon.  Other cool auctions out there:

Click Here

On November 20, 1976, Bo Schembechler and his Michigan Wolverines were about to continue their Ten Year War with Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, this time down in the snake pit Columbus. Bo was prepared all season to battle his mentor and rival, but he wasn’t alone. As the game approached that November, Michigan man, letterman and broadcaster Bob Ufer prepared a special message to the old coach from Columbus he called Dr. Strangehayes…it was this poem:

“Ohio Came To Bury Michigan, All Wrapped In Maize And Blue
The Words Were Said, The Prayers Were Read And Everybody Cried
But When They Closed The Coffin, There Was Someone Else Inside!

The Bucks Came To Bury The Wolverines – But Michigan Wasn’t Dead,
And When The Game Was Over, It Was Someone Else Instead.

Twenty-Two Michigan Wolverines Put On The Gloves Of Gray,
And As Cavender Played “The Victors”, They Laid Woody Hayes Away!”

As the game approached, Bob Ufer’s wife built a makeshift coffin out of a shoebox and a doll to represent the Woody burial. Ufer showed the box to his friend and engineer Jack Decou who fashioned an actual wooden coffin for his buddy, and it showed up on eBay this week:

#4 ranked Michigan defeated Hayes and #8 Ohio State that day 22-0. When Ufer died of cancer in 1981, the family gave the coffin back to Decou and yadda, yadda, yadda, it ended up on eBay.

This is quite an item and assuming the background in the auction is correct, a true one-of-a-kind piece of Michigan history. Ufer’s legacy at Michigan is quite secure; his business and family are still a force around town. And folks around Ann Arbor may have noticed that WTKA 1050AM is replaying entire Bob Ufer-broadcast games from 12-3 every Sunday during the 2008 season.

The coffin is a little bit creepy, given that Woody Hayes is actually dead now of course, but if you can shake off those willies you’ve got a chance to own a pretty cool item. Bidding started at $9.98, here’s the full auction. Shipping is $22 and you may want to send it directly to your place of business (good luck explaining to your wife why you paid $300 for a coffin and a doll).

This week on eBay this beauty popped up on eBay–it’s a 1940s-era WPAG wall clock:


I didn’t that know WPAG also broadcasted on FM which is always cool. You can hear the Lions and Tigers on 97.1FM these days and it’s a treat, except of course that it’s the Lions and Tigers playing. The clock depicts a maize and blue football player on the clock hands, a guy reading a script over the airwaves to the left, and a maestro conducting a band on the right.

It doesn’t appear as though this is an original, from the auction description, “It is the identical duplicate of the original production made back when swing and jazz was as hot as the city of Ann Arbor Michigan and the U of M football team.” Oh, and the person selling the item noted the Blue and “Maze” design, so this is clearly an avid M football fan.

WPAG was the original call letters for the local Ann Arbor radio station that covered U-M athletics; you may have seen ads with the legendary voice of Michigan football, Bob Ufer, and WPAG on this site before:

The call letters of the station changed a few times, ending with the current WTKA when the station went to an all sports format around 15 years ago. Check some of the history from the WTKA Wikipedia entry, it’s actually kind of interesting, note the Ufer reference:

First on-air as WPAG in 1945, the station was the first licensed to Washtenaw County, with studios on the third floor of the Hutzel Building, at the corner of Main at Liberty Streets in Ann Arbor. Owned by brothers Paul and Art Greene, the call letters WPAG were selected to reflect their names. (For many years there was a ladies lingerie and apparel store down on the Hutzel Building’s first floor, which caused long-time University of Michigan football broadcaster Bob Ufer to joke that WPAG really stood for “Women’s Panties And Girdles”.)

Meanwhile, the radio station went through a series of formats. WPAG played Top 40 music for much of the 1960s, then transitioned to a full-service format featuring MOR music in 1968. By 1982, WPAG was an adult standards station featuring Satellite Music Network’s Stardust format, then changed to country music a short time later.

In December 1987, WTKA was purchased by Tom Monaghan and had its calls changed to WPZA — a nod to Monaghan’s thriving Domino’s Pizza business. In late 1992, Monaghan (who now owns Ave Maria Radio, including Ypsilanti’s WDEO), sold WPZA to the MW Blue Partnership; eventually, it went to Cumulus Broadcasting and then to Clear Channel Communications, who flipped the station to all-sports WTKA (“The Ticket”).

And the rest was history but you can still buy a piece of the past with this clock. The seller put a Buy It Now price on this thing of a whopping $976.00! At least shipping is free. For that price, I’d want the late Bob Ufer himself to come over and deliver to me on horseback. Whomever buys this beauty is either a serious collector in a dimension I just don’t understand, or a cat with a lot of idle cash:

Flavor Flav, the Clocker Rocker

Michigan Replay
This really isn’t news – today’s Angelique Chengelis column announces that Michigan Replay is dead. We learned sometime this Spring that coach Rich Rodriguez didn’t like the post-game format, citing that having to do this show after a loss would be brutal. After watching the guy talk to the press after the Pitt loss last year you know where he’s coming from.

Replay has run since 1975 and Michigan radio color man Jimmy Brandstatter has hosted the show for the past 28. He’ll continue to do the show in whatever form it takes, likely some type of pre-game deal. I vote for a SNL ‘Super Fans’ round table with all Ditka references replaced with Bo until Rodriguez gets going.

Take: This may be a surprise to a few of you, but while I respect the tradition of the show [here’s Brandy with Bo after the Wanger to Carter IU game….unreal], the format is way past its prime. I realize that many of you made this a Sunday morning tradition, perhaps you and your Pops watched it together, etc., but it is time for a change.

In the 70s and 80s, seeing the highlights from the game was probably pretty special. Today you’ve already seen the highlights fifty times between Saturday night and Sunday morning. And while the player profiles sometimes yielded some nice info, the content of the back and forth between Carr and Brando was soft at best. Sharp or surprising quotes were scarce. It definitely wasn’t appointment television for me (ok, maybe after the Appalachian State game). I’m looking forward to the new format.

01. April 2008 · Comments Off on Happy Birthday Bo and Ufer! · Categories: Archive 2008, Bo Schembechler, History, Ufer

Wow – thanks to Coach Mac’s better half Lyndi, for letting us know that today (April 1st) is the cotton-pickin’ day that both Bo Schembechler and Bob Ufer were born! Ann Arborites – stop working immediately and go home on this day that must be declared a city if not a state holiday.

Unfortunately no one has come forward to offer to return Coach Bill McCartney’s Rose Bowl ring quite yet.

Bob Ufer, the great Wolverine track letterman and radio announcer for 37 years, would be 88 today. The legendary Bo Schembechler would be 79.

The best tribute I can offer up, a link courtesy of UFER.ORG (check it out, buy your Ufer stuff there). In this clip Ufer offers up the story about his General Bo Patton Schembechler horn:

Woodson's interception against Michigan State 1997

You like me have likely been suffering through ESPN’s tournament for the greatest sports highlight of all time (which inexplicably contains an entry with no actual footage and may have never actually happened: Babe Ruth’s called shot). I typically hate these things unless there’s some Michigan-related element to it (see Legg’s goal winning the ESPY).

To make a bit interesting I rolled my head through the greatest highlights in Michigan football in the past 40 years or so. Several came to mind and I’m certainly missing some of your favorites. My favorite? See the pic that leads this story. I was in the upper deck in Spartan Stadium on the same side of the field and saw the whole thing. My head almost exploded when I realized what I had just watched.

Here’s a poll and get your takes and feel free to add your own entry:


Here’s what I could find on the YouTube. Thankfully I witnessed each of these in person except for the great Wangler to Carter game winner and of course the Harmon ditty:
More »

Check out Brian Cook’s AOL Fanhouse post on the new montage put together by the talented “expressfan”. It’s not just your same old Wangler to Carter.

He’s got clips from the Bo and Brandstatter on Michigan Replay talking about the play and about broadcasting legend Bob Ufer. Plus, he thankfully includes a great clip of two plays prior to the famous pass when Michigan threw the ball right into Indiana coach Lee Corso’s hands to kill the clock. In one of the Ufer recordings (not provided here) you hear him talk about this but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. It’s hilarious. Here’s the YouTube and don’t miss Cook’s take on the Fanhouse:

16. December 2007 · Comments Off on Shades of Yost: Is Rodriguez a Meechigan Man? · Categories: Archive 2007, Coach Rod, History, Ufer · Tags: , ,

Meechigan men? Yost and Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez isn’t the only West Virginian to walk the sidelines for a Michigan football team. Many of you may know that the great Fielding H. Yost was born in West Virginia. A quick scan of Google maps determined that the old coach’s birthplace of Fairview is a mere four miles down the road from Grant Town, where Rodriguez was born. [Ed 11/28/08: Per John U Bacon, Bo’s Lasting Lessons author, this is completely false. I read this several places but apparently Rodriguez was not born in Grant Town. Bacon interviewed Rodriguez, here’s a note from Bacon to a few folks that challenged Bacon’s assertion of RichRod’s correct birthplace:

No matter how many sources list Grant Town as Rich Rodriguez’s place of birth, he was born in Chicago, and raised there until the middle of second grade. (I’ll take his mom’s word on that.) His family did leave their home late at night, and suddenly, and Rodriguez had not heard of West Virginia until they were leaving for the state that night, as the article says.

Yost brought so much to this University, from starting a legacy of dominate football to building Michigan Stadium. Fans of great Michigan announcer Bob Ufer may know that Ufer referred to the Wolverines as “Meechigan“, a tip of the hat to old Yost whom Ufer knew from his days on the Michigan track team.

From the audio archives, here’s the Great Ufer talking about Yost’s West Virginia roots and the twang that led to his Meeechigan:

Note: For more Bob Ufer audio, check out the Ufer Family’s site at Ufer.org!

Hey, there’s a t-shirt in here somewhere:

Meechigan man

Update: Monday morning, Bill Martin just pimped my Yost/birthplace take when introducing Rodriguez in the press conference! I knew those cats read MVictors on State Street