You may have heard that several members of the fabled 1973 team were in town this weekend. Thanks to my pal and artist Jil Gordon, who attended the reception on Saturday, and ‘73 team member Geoff Steger (Bo’s Wolf–see the Bentley roster), I’m able to share a few details:
Background and Friday
Steger and ‘73 LG Gary Hainrihar started the planning about a year ago, knowing that this season would mark the 40th anniversary of the famed 1973 squad.
On Friday afternoon they received a tour of Schembechler Hall, the Glick, the new lockers, etc. According to Treger, “It was quite an eye opener for many of the guys who had not seen [the facilities].”
That night many headed to Fraser’s Pub. Treger: “That’s where we hung out when we were students. We probably should have bought that place—we’ve spent so much money there over the years. We’ve been going there back 40 years now and it really hasn’t changed. Although they got rid of the bowling machine—we were kind of disappointed they got rid of that.” [Ed. Urgent– I need to understand more about this bowling machine!]
They attended Saturday’s scrimmage and Hoke invited them down to the field to meet the team afterward. Steger: “Hoke introduced us and talked about the importance of the Michigan tradition. Brady is big on tradition and that’s important to the former players.”
Then newly named captain Cam Gordon stood up and addressed the 1973 team. Steger: “[Gordon] couldn’t have been nicer or more respectful. He thanked us for being there and talked about how he hoped the current team could carry on the tradition. It was very professional—he really looks like a great kid.”
Then ‘73 team captain Dave Gallagher got up and spoke. Steger: “He talked about how football is tough work and it’s a lot of great stuff, but he told them that we were were having our 40 year reunion and we’re all family. That it’s all about family and the life-long friendships. He told them to not forget that they’d all be doing this 40 years from now.”
Treger added, “When we have our reunions, no one cares who were the All-Americans or stars—all we care about is the stuff we went through in the locker room, and the dorm, and all the crazy things we did at Fraser’s..stuff like that. And we’re all glad there was no YouTube—we’d of all wound up in jail.” [laughs]
Afterwards all the current players stood up, came over, shook hands with the ‘73 team and thanked them. Treger told me he was blown away how respectful they were. “Everything was ‘Yes sir’, and ‘Thank you sir’, and all that. It was everything we were taught by Bo. The current players thanked us for being there and I’m thinking just the opposite, we should be thanking you guys for putting in all the hard work right now. It was kind of cool.”
That night the team gathered for dinner and drinks at School-Tech, the former company of legendary U-M AD Don Canham, in Ann Arbor. Details:
- The team watched footage from the original TV broadcast of the 10-10 tie.
- 73 DT Jim Lyall was Master of Ceremonies but several folks spoke including Gallagher, co-captain Paul Seal, Bob Thornbladh, Troszak, Gary Moeller, and Dave Brandon (remember the AD was a senior on this team).
- Brandon told the guys how much he loved them and invited them all back for the dedication of Schembechler Hall. He also talked about how he personally fought for the approval of the statue of Bo (U-M has historically strayed away from having statues of individuals on campus).
- Brandon talked about their specific class, from 1970-1973, their amazing record (entered every game undefeated until the last game) and, with the aftermath of the 1973 AD vote, how they really changed the course of college football (to open up the postseason to deserving teams).
- They discussed many of the guys on the team that have since passed away, and as you might expect this got emotional.
- A common theme was Bo and his influence on their lives. Many went into the specific lessons Bo taught them. Many hit on that they were all brothers—because of Schembechler. Treger: “You look back on your life and there’s really two or three people maybe who truly influenced you. For most of us it was Bo. More than our own dads. You were coming of age, growing up, and he was the guy. It’s a pretty deep feeling…it’s hard to describe.”
- And yes, naturally there were a few choice words for Michigan State AD Bert Smith in reference to the 1973 vote.
Steger later told me, “Although I did make a comment–If we’d had been 3-8 a couple of those years, I wonder how everybody would’ve felt then! [laughs]. It was a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but we’d all do it all over again.”
Thanks to Gordon and Steger for the details.
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