14. April 2009 · Comments Off on Rick Leach Remembers Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych (audio) · Categories: Archive 2009, Baseball, History, WTKA 1050AM

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Former Michigan quarterback Rich Leach, on hand for the Alumni flag football game (or as Leach calls it, the Old Farts game)  Saturday, called in to WTKA to remember his former teammate, Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych who died yesterday.

It’s vintage Leach.  First, he talks about his relationship and experiences with Fidrych, including the struggles down in the minors.  Don’t miss the story about the trip to Columbus where the opposing pitcher put Leach in the dirt, a little message to old #7.

He finishes up with a few thoughts on the Spring game, including what having the players back meant to Rich Rodriguez.

28. January 2009 · Comments Off on Coach Red Speaks, again, for the last time (WTKA audio) · Categories: Archive 2009, Coach Berenson, Michigan State, WTKA 1050AM

Michigan coach Red Berenson clearly wants to put this to bed and behind his team, and after one more post I’ll do the same (for tonight).  I’ve already checked the availability of MDekers.com since I’m hockey guy now.

Last night on the WTKA Red Berenson show at The Arena in downtown Ann Arbor, the Michigan coach gave hosts Andy Evans and John U. Bacon his take on the Kampfer/Tropp/Conboy incident.  Here’s the audio:

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Notes and quotes:

  • Red was still concerned about Kampfer’s health and his ability to play this weekend.
  • “The incident was uncalled for, it was unnecessary, it has been dealt with.  It  should not happen in any league.”
  • “Kids have to remember you’re responsible for what you do on the ice.  Whether you’re a hockey player or a baseball player, when you’re holding that bat or holding a hockey stick, you’re responsible for what you’re doing with it.”
  • Even asmuch as the kid that grabbed Kampfer, the Conboy kid, who’s a big tough kid, and was maybe out of line to jump Kampfer from behind needlessly, but maybe out of frustration, the end of the game or whatever, and he held the other kid [Corey Tropp] off that already hit him with a stick when he was down.  He held him off with one hand, and said, ‘What are you doing?’.”
  • The best quote of the night:  “It has been dealt with, and Rick Comley at Michigan State, I’ll give him high marks for dealing with that the way it had to be dealt with.  That’s a tough thing for a coach you’ve got these kids, you recruit them, you believe in the them, you want to defend them, you want them to grow and learn, but this was over the line.”
  • “This was one of the worst incidents I’ve seen in my many years in college hockey…”
  • “This story’s over.  Louie’s here.”    Classic – Caporusso was next up for an interview.

Complete podcast can be found here (in four parts).  Includes Caporusso, Jack Johnson, talk about Notre Dame and more.

A much anticipated call into to WTKA this morning as Andy Evans spoke with Michigan assistant head coach Mel Pearson. They discussed of course the ugly incident at the end of the Michigan State game Saturday night, where Steve Kampfer was taken down and then slashed by Spartan players [photos]. As expected, Pearson kept out of the fray. He said kind things about coach Rick Comley and the Spartan program and he offered he’s confident that Comley and MSU will do the right thing. He believes Tommy Anastos and the CCHA will act swiftly to send a message.

Pearson also talked about the upcoming series with #1 Notre Dame this weekend which is going to be ridiculously awesome.

Two positive notes:
* Pearson confirmed that Kampfer is doing ok although they are still waiting for some test results to confirm there was no concussion.
* He advised that Mark Mitera is doing very well and skating. Pearson offered this info up unsolicited, and said Mitera is “coming along very nicely. He looks great, he looks great. He’s probably a couple weeks away still..” Pearson added his return is a “real possibility”.

Here’s the full audio

Here’s more podcasts from WTKA, including an interview this morning with new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

05. January 2009 · Comments Off on Bacon Interviews Rodriguez on Inaugural Big Show (audio) · Categories: Archive 2008, Coach Rod, WTKA 1050AM

Local author, professor and Michigan athletics historian John U. Bacon launched his new radio program this afternoon on WTKA’s ‘Big Show’. As announced a few weeks ago, Bacs will take the Monday 3-6pm slot on the live local program which rotates hosts throughout the week.

He started off with a bang as just a few minutes after taking the air he had Coach Rich Rodriguez on the line. They discussed the rigors of recruiting, how the internet has changed recruiting, on “derecruiting” (getting players adjusted to school and the football program after they’ve been fawned over for years), on the reception he got at Crisler during the Illinois hoops game, on the search for the defensive coordinator (nothing new, although he admitted a factor was the NFL playoffs) and on the defensive scheme he’s looking for, and more. Enjoy:

A couple notes:
* I got a chuckle when he and Bacon joked about how coaches rave over the food served the families of recruits. Rodriguez said jokingly, “the tea tastes sweeter”, which is a reference to southern-style iced tea, also called sweet tea (prounounced swate tay) due to (duh) it being loaded with sugar. You’d be hard pressed to find a recruit’s moms serving sweet tea anywhere in these parts anytime but especially this time of year. I’m not sure I’d have any idea what he was talking about if I hadn’t lived in Washington, DC and southern Virginia for a stint. It also touches on one of the criticisms of Rich Rodriguez, that he’s abandoned the Michigan base of recruiting. This of course seems silly in the wake of the commitment of #1 recruit in the state, but so it goes.

* Bacon noted he’s going to write a piece that’ll describe the experience of going through an extensive workout S&C coordinator Mike Barwis. Oh, and as Bacon notes, he’ll be the guinea pig for the article, actually going through the paces with Barwis. Rodriguez told him to bring extra Tylenol. Word.

Bo's Lasting Lessons

23. December 2008 · Comments Off on Ron English Interview (audio WTKA 12/23) · Categories: College Coaches, WTKA 1050AM

Former Michigan defensive coordinator’s interview this morning on 1050AM WTKA talking about his new job as head coach at Eastern Michigan. Great interview; I hope that he makes football exciting down the road in Ypsilanti.

He talks with Sam Webb and Andy Evans about:
* Recruiting and the status of his class.
* His expectations for defensive coordinator.
* About being an African American coach and what the opportunity means.
* On the EMU vs. Michigan game in 2009. “There’s nothing like that Big House”, or “the Huge House” as he calls it now.
* On his respect for Rod Marinelli.

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Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News dropped into Lloyd Carr’s office in Wiedenbach Hall this week and tried to get your former coach to bite. He didn’t. Of note:

Former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach said early in the week on an Ann Arbor radio station, in response to a question about Carr, that he wishes the former coach would come out publicly to support Rodriguez.

“As far as I know, there’s been no comment, nothing come out publicly to support him, and to me, and I guess since I speak my mind, my feeling is, I guess silence speaks 1,000 words,” Leach said. “I wish he would, because many people came to his side when he needed help.”

[Ed: Here’s the audio:]

Carr, however, said he made his intentions clear from the beginning.

“I’ve talked with Rich several times, and I told him I would not be making any comments publicly because I didn’t want to have anything that I said be misconstrued,” Carr said. “However, I told him if he ever needed me, I was available. I would be there.

“And he made it clear that I was always welcome. I think our relationship has been very positive.”

To the folks who insist Lloyd Carr come out and say something: What exactly is he supposed to say?

That he supports Rodriguez and the direction of the program? Bill Martin did that early in the season and it came off like a fart in church. Is Carr supposed to rally the Michigan fan base, or the old school Michigan backers like Leach? And I understand LC’s concern about it being misconstrued (Carr: “Any true Michigan fan who doesn’t support Rodriguez should get a life”).

Look, I’m guessing it hasn’t been easy for Carr to stay away from the program. These are still 99% his players and he cares about these guys. It’s been a selfless act to stay completely away. He deserves credit for that and more importantly, and I think old schoolers would agree, Carr’s earned the right to determine how he supports the football program.

Related:
– Leachapalooza: The Best of Rick Leach on WTKA 12-09
Where in the World is Lloyd Carr

07. December 2008 · Comments Off on WTKA 1050AM to Announce New Afternoon Show · Categories: Archive 2008, WTKA 1050AM


Steve Clarke in the Bud Light MVictors Lounge

More good news in a memorable weekend of Michigan sports. WTKA 1050AM, which recently moved The Huge Show out of the 3-6 slot and replaced it with the national Dan Patrick Show, sent an email to loyal listeners this afternoon with a significant announcement. The Ann Arbor-based local sports station will introduce a new “live and local” afternoon show and added that it would include “the return of some very-familiar names”. The new show will start this Wednesday, December 10.

Great stuff. They’ll be providing more Tuesday and I’m looking forward to the official announcement.

For those who listen to 1050AM WTKA may have noticed that the Dan Patrick Show has run the last couple days in the slot that used to be occupied by Michigan radio host Bill ‘Huge’ Simonson. WTKA has moved the Huge show out of the drive time slot and onto a 6-8pm window and on delay.

I called the station to ask about the decision. Sounds like it came down to a ratings and perhaps a few complaints from listeners. While Huge is technically a local show, the frequent focus on Central Michigan athletics I think wore thin on some Ann Arborites. So they’re moving Dan Patrick into the slot.

I didn’t hear Huge’s reaction to the show (because Dan Patrick was on!) and I didn’t hear the delayed show. I’m sure he’s pissed but sometimes radio hosts downplay setbacks like this.

A few quickly scribbled thoughts:
* I’m not a fan of the Dan Patrick show. To me, Patrick is still a witty teleprompter highlight reader and not a radio host. The cute frat boy towel whipping humor is really for the birds.
* I’d prefer a local host, Huge included, cover this critical slot especially during football season. I still miss Dennis Fithian [MVictors interview] and without knowing the financials behind the decision, think it was a big mistake letting him go.
* For a local show, Simonson and his producer Brett Muller got some incredible guests and when talking sports, it’s an interesting listen. While some guys think he’s a prick, Huge seems like a good man all in all, he’s adopted children FWIW and always steps up for quality charitable causes including the WTKA football take-over. So why does that matter? Believe me, Dan Patrick won’t be broadcasting live from the Griese-Hutchinson event next year nor will he be promoting the other great things that go on around the A2 community.
* Here’s where I think Huge falls down. Some of the stands he takes come off as schtick e.g., How can I piss off MSU football fans this week? and that silly feud with Jim Carty. And when he starts to joke on the show or with guest, I think most of the audience turns into crickets.
* Just a thought, how about WTKA bring back former morning host Steve Clarke in a 3-5 or 3-6 slot? Clarke dials in each Wednesday morning and he’s money. He also does a great job in the Bud Light Victors Lounge.

The net: Financials aside, I don’t like the move on face but I’m sure there’s much behind the decision that I don’t understand.

UPDATE 11/12: JC, Esq. has a post up reacting to this post with some insight and to me, some great news. Here’s a snip:

This has been coming for a while and I wouldn’t be surprised if the show is completely gone at some point sooner rather than later. Expect WTKA to put together an all-local afternoon show that will focus on Michigan sports.

Check out the full post here right now.

07. November 2008 · Comments Off on Jug Deal: Win One, Get two Free · Categories: Archive 2008, History, Little Brown Jug, WTKA 1050AM · Tags: , , , ,

The original Little Brown Jug, photo from Minnesota
The original Little Brown (White?) Jug, from Historic Michigan Football Photos.

HT: Caught this nugget on Sam Webb’s show this morning and it really hurts. The winner of Saturday’s battle will keep the Little Brown Jug for not only a year, but until November 5, 2011 (!). Bollocks!

Yes, due to the way the schedule shakes out the Wolverines and Gophers don’t meet for another three years. Thankfully that game is in Ann Arbor (kick-off time hasn’t been determined quite yet).

That’s our jug! As Lloyd Carr reminded everyone last year, we bought it, they stole it. It’s ours–let’s keep it.

Should we fail, it’ll be the longest stint that the jug’s been in Minnesota since a four year stretch from 1960 until Michigan won it back in 1964. Previous to that, Minnesota’s great Bennie Bierman-led Depression era teams held the receptacle from 1934-1942.

The final segment of my four part interview with former WTKA morning show host Dave Shand. In Part I, we discussed what Shand is up to these days, his lawsuit with Bill Martin and his thoughts on the current morning crew at WTKA. In Part II, we looked at Jim Carty and the Ann Arbors News series on academics and athletics. Part III discussed Red Berenson, the future of the hockey program, and we got some of Shand’s candid feelings on how the University handled the Ed Martin mess.

Wrapping things up, we turn to the Rodriguez hire. We talk about the hiring process, the deal that was allegedly struck in Toledo, the ensuing lawsuit, and finally, we get Shand’s thought on what Rodriguez’s system will bring on the field.

Achtung! Shand uses some spicy language in this one (again). FWIW.

MVictors: Michigan landed a big name football coach in Rich Rodriguez. You’ve got a lawsuit with Bill Martin right now and he of course it was Martin who spearheaded the coaching search. What were your thoughts as you watched the coaching search unfold?:

Shand: [laughing] It was a complete clusterfuck. It was an absolute disaster. And Bill Martin’s excuses, ‘I was at sea’ or whatever, I have no idea, he couldn’t contact Les Miles because he didn’t get permission from the athletic director. Bill Martin lied, he absolutely lied. Because the next time he was trying to hire somebody [Schiano] he contacted him directly. Obviously he didn’t want to hire Les Miles which is fine. If you don’t want to hire somebody, just come out and say, “You know what? I know there’s a lot of pressure to hire Les Miles. I’m not interested in hiring Les Miles.” Don’t go through this whole charade.

This is a typical example of the arrogance of Bill Martin. In that he thought he could get away with it. Ok, we’ve got a $4 million buy-out, but we’re going to litigate them down and we’re not going to have to pay the four million bucks. It turns out West Virginia was pissed off enough and they weren’t going to litigate it down; they weren’t going to settle the case.

So it cost Michigan, they say $2.5 million. But I’ve heard, through back sources, that Rich Rodriguez did not realize that the $2.5 million that Michigan is paying on his behalf is taxable, so Rodriquez is going to have to pay taxes on that. Plus there’s the million and a half out of his own pocket. I’ve also heard from some very credible sources that Michigan’s paid the whole nine yards. Michigan has paid the entire $4 million to West Virginia, Michigan has paid $750,000 of West Virginia’s legal fees, a million dollars of their own legal fees, and has paid taxes on the $4 million it paid on his behalf which is all taxable income, so Rich Rodriguez, instead of the four million dollar coach, he’s become the eight million dollar coach. Anybody want to take a look at that?

MVictors: From the perspective of a lawyer, were you surprised that they pushed to try to reduce the buy-out?

Shand: If you had asked one hundred contract lawyers about his defense to their claim, as far as the $4 million buy-out, one hundred contract lawyers would have said he had no chance.

MVictors: The lay person would look at John Beilein’s situation and note that he got it reduced, so why couldn’t Rodriguez?

Shand: And [Beilein] negotiated; he said, “This is where I want to go. What will it cost me for me to pay you guys to get out of this deal?” And then they negotiated a deal. Rich Rodriguez didn’t do that. He went straight to litigation going, “I ain’t paying fuck all.” And West Virginia said, “What do you mean you’re not paying fuck all? We had a liquidated damages clause in your contact which is enforceable. You can’t tell us your not paying fuck all.” And that was the position that they had. Well, they were dead wrong and they paid every single penny plus all their legal fees. Probably should have just negotiated it down and it would have cost them, say, $3 million. That was just really stupid.

MVictors: From a legal perspective, as University officals, what authority did Martin and Mary Sue Coleman have to step into that meeting in Toledo and make a deal with Rodriguez? And Michigan settled with West Virginia right before Martin and Colemany were to be deposed, do you think they were afraid of having to reveal details of the meeting in Toledo?

Shand: There’s so many avenues you could go down here. I think there were a lot of things that were said there and a lot of promises that were made…that they did not have the authority to make. You can not make multi-million dollar promises to pay on somebody else’s behalf without the Board of Regents approving those promises. They would have to say, which is typical in any public body, “We have to go back to our bosses, which is the board of regents, and present them with what we have tentatively agreed on and get their approval on this”. Apparently none of that went on. They were just two cowboys out there goin, “Oh yeah, we can pay $2.5 million, we can do all this stuff..” That’s not their money. That’s money that belongs to the people of the state of Michigan– this is a public university. And that money doesn’t get to be thrown around willy-nilly without the Board of Regents, which is a duly elected body in the state of Michigan, approving it. I have no idea where they got off doing what they were doing. I was stunned.

MVictors: This of course is all alleged. We know West Virginia’s lawyer said it was agreed to in the meeting, but we don’t have anyone else saying that.
Shand:
Well, we don’t have Mary Sue Coleman’s deposition because..[laughs]..she wasn’t deposed.

MVictors: What are your thoughts on the hiring of Rodriguez, forgetting about the hiring process and lawsuit, etc.?:
Shand:
I loved the hire. I think Michigan’s needed a change for a long time. I love Lloyd. Bo helped recruit me here to Michigan. I know Gary [Moeller]. Melanie Moeller, Gary’s granddaughter, is my daughter’s best friend. But I thought it was going to be a breath of fresh air. I was pleased with the hiring. Mike Barwis from what I hear from all the hockey guys that are dealing with him say he’s just a horse. A lot of the hockey guys before going to pro training camps have been working with him, it’s radical, it’s different and they really think it’s helped them. I love everything he’s doing.

Rich Rodriguez is going through the same process that Red was going through when he got here. Red had a thing in his head about how his was going to play. High tempo, high speed, high execution level with constant pressure and you’re going 100 miles an hour for sixty minutes. If you can hang with us, fine. If you can’t hang with us we’re going to blow your friggin’ doors off. That’s the way he wanted to play. He took the job in 1984 and he comes to the University of Michigan and what does he have? A bunch of plow horses. He has no talent to work with. It took him four, five years to get enough of the guys for his vision. He literally had to sweep out four years of guys that were plow horses.

You can’t play Red’s system if you can’t fly. Finally when he got a whole team in of guys that could fucking skate, from first second first minute, to the last minute of 60 minutes, we’re goin’, and we’re going 100 miles an hour. And we went 37-3, and 38-2, and 35-4 but it took him that long. Rich Rodriguez doesn’t have any players that can play his system. Maybe Carlos Brown. Maybe Martavious Odoms. They’ve got a couple of them and they don’t have a quarterback. And the defense doesn’t have the presence yet to know how to fly. He’s got a bunch of 4.6 guys back there and he wants a bunch of 4.2 guys back there.

Michigan’s always been known for starting fast and finishing slow. Now they’re starting slow and finishing fast. And I’d rather have finishing fast because that means we’re getting to the right conditioning level. Next year, there going to get to a new level.

MVictors: Are Michigan fans going to wait two to three years?
Shand:
They’re going to be pissed [laughing]. But they have to have the one thing that Michigan fans don’t have and that’s patience. This is a totally different way of playing the game. We could have kept a Lloyd Carr and kept Mallett and Justin Boren, and we could have gone 10-2, 9-3 or whatever, playing traditional Michigan football. Are you going to have a chance to compete on the national stage? The answer is no. Rich Rodriguez gives you a chance to compete on the national stage, but you’re going to have to wait 3-4 years to see what his vision is. I think he’s the right guy.

I always admire the ability of Michigan fans to blow smoke up their own ass. Sorry folks, we’ve only had one national championship in 50 years. Have we been consistently above mediocre? Absolutely. I think Rich Rodriguez gives them a chance to be exceptional. Rich Rodriguez had West Virginia one game away from having his team in the national championship. We’d had one shot at that was 1997. And it’s West Virginia! You’ve got dumbfuck hillbillies with no teeth and one nut. At least we’ve got a chance to recruit better student athletes here.

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Here’s links to all four parts of the interview:
Part I: What he’s up to, the lawsuit with Bill Martin, more.
Part II: Jim Carty and the News Series
Part III: Coach Red and the Fab Five
Part IV: The Rodriguez hire


Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey