butchtroyLeft, from John T. Greilick, 2011 Detroit News.  Right, Butch Woolfolk as printed in 1981 Detroit News

Through Tate’s twitter goodbye we got a little reminder of when Troy Woolfolk’s criticized Forcier’s workout habits this summer.   You might recall that later on media day Tate said all the right things about Woolfolk’s words, and he added that, “seniors are the leaders of this team.  Whatever they say, they can say—it’s up to them.”

So I thought this was interesting.  My pal Steve Sap sent over a clipping from a September 1981 Detroit News a few weeks back.  In it, T-Woolf’s dad Butch Woolfolk (B-Woolf?) spoke to the media about his concerns about the team a few weeks into the season. Preseason #1 Michigan was upset by Wisconsin the opener but then smoked Notre Dame 25-7 in Ann Arbor.  After a disappointing five point win over Navy many were scratching their heads–and the elder Woolfolk made it known he wasn’t happy with the flaky start:

“I have a tendency to speak my mind, and maybe I shouldn’t say this…but this team is just not mentally ready…It’s a mess.”

He added, “I don’t like this team right now.  I don’t like it at all.”   While Butch didn’t target a particular player, he did call out his fellow senior teammates saying, “The sad part of it is there are a lot of seniors on this team.  And seniors are supposed to lead the way.”

So did they get it together?  Well, probably not to Woolfolk’s standards.  They dropped close home losses to Iowa and to unranked Ohio State, before rolling UCLA in the Bluebonnet bowl to finish 12th in the land.

tate leaving  Tate heading triumphantly off the field after the Illinois game alongside your run-of-the-mill part-man, part-Wolverine, part-Bumblebee.

On Tate
Speaking of Tate, he’s taken plenty and obviously he’s clearly learned a lot from this experience.  I hope things work out.   Word of course is that he struggled in the classroom and that’s the reason, he told media before the season, that he was absent from many of those offseason workouts–he was working on the academic side of things.  

One piece of “street” wisdom: make sure you are in damn strong academic standing before you say, “You really have to try to flunk out here,” especially with someone like Brandon at the helm.

Via The Wolverine Blog and WolverineHistorian, a YouTube Tatetrospective:


  1. Butch was right about that '81 team. Bo was angry at Becker, Paris and Muransky the whole season. As juniors those 3 were the key to winning Bo's first Rose Bowl, and as seniors they sat fat on their laurels and waited for the NFL.

    The Bluebonnet that season was considered the very best for NFL prospects and had more scouts in attendance than any other bowl game. So Becker/Paris/Muransky turn it on and crush the Bruins. If they had played with complete effort all season UM might have run the table that year. Their lax leadership percolated throughout the locker room.

    • Greg from MVictors

      Excellent stuff – thanks

    • The other half of that was a first year starter at quarterback, Steve Smith, who struggled badly in the three losses that year. Not to say that some more focus by those seniors might not have pulled out a couple of those.

  2. To see how good Becker, Paris and Muransky were just look at the Rose Bowl they won as juniors. Butch played most of the 2nd half with a concussion and it didn't matter. The holes were big enough to drive a tank through.