05. December 2008 · Comments Off on Owner of the 1997 Championship Ring Revealed · Categories: Archive 2008

[Ed: This is an update on last night’s post on the 1997 Championship Ring that has appeared on eBay. The seller contacted me and revealed the name of the original owner. This isn’t an attempt to embarrass anyone, just answer some questions about how this important item in Michigan history ended up on the open market.]

The seller contacted me back, I’ve got the name of the player. Once again, I don’t know the circumstances or details of how this ended up on eBay and I don’t want to get into all of that.

The seller claims the ring belonged to Demetrius Smith, a full back on Coach Carr’s great team. Smith was kicked off the team in the summer of 1999.

I don’t remember the circumstances around all of this, I’m digging a little bit, but here’s a follow-up story in the Michigan Daily from July 1999 after Smith was kicked off the team for alleged involvement in an embezzlement ring at a nearby Big-K. According to the Daily piece Smith was not charged with anything:

On June 23, allegations of a six-person embezzlement ring from an Ypsilanti K-mart surfaced. Smith’s name was included – as well as two other Michigan football players – and the story quickly became national news. Five days later, Diane Smith [Demetrius’ mother] received a phone call from Debord. She said Debord told her “they no longer wanted him (Demetrius ) on the team,” and as a result, his athletic aid would be withdrawn.
….[a few paragraphs later]
So what was the big problem with Demetrius Smith? The only proven problem was that, during spring practice, he was indefinitely suspended by the team. The athletic department said it was because of “team rule violations.” Although they would not elaborate on what rules Smith violated.

As far as the recent embezzlement incident is concerned – after a three-week investigation by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office – Demetrius remains as guilty of stealing from K-mart as you and I. Sadly, the same can’t be said of the other two players involved, as they have already been issued felony warrants for their arrests.

There’s more in the Daily story. The writer is critical of how Lloyd Carr and staff handled this whole situation and left Smith and his family looking for an explanation. I’m reading between the lines that there were a lot more issues with Smith than the story or the coaching staff illuminated and that the Daily writer maybe should have dug in a little deeper to get the off-the-record reality. I don’t know.

But no surprise, this ring doesn’t mean a lot to a guy who later in the story is quoted saying, of the football program, “they ruined my life”.

Non sequitur. To cheer you up after this depressing tale, while grabbing the photo of Smith I couldn’t help but notice the guys a couple seats down row 7 who struggled to execute in at least one phase–the Team Photo:

That’s OT-Todd Mossa and DL Bill Seymour FWIW.