Koppitz-Melchers Brewery For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History, we head back 112 years to arguably the greatest calendar year in Michigan football history.  That’s right I said it.

While that’s up for discussion, there’s little doubt 1902 was one of the finest for Michigan athlete Neil Snow. 

On January 1, 1902, Snow tallied 5 touchdowns in the inaugural Rose Bowl.

Back in Ann Arbor my man Snow the undisputed was big man on campus #BMOC, and the folks at the Koppitz-Melchers Brewery of Detroit put an ad in the Cornell-Michigan baseball program telling everyone how much Snow loved their beer.  Of course he didn’t consent to the ad.

Here’s how that all played out, as well as the game played on October 4, 1902:

The full story of the 1902 beergate tale here.  You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM starting tomorrow at 3pm EDT (4 hours prior to Rutgers getting their butts kicked).


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Shane Morris A mildly concussed Shane Morris, after his final snap (and handoff)

Brandon’s statement this morning basically hits all of the points I outlined here in my unpaid intern Crisis Management 101 lesson.  It assesses what happened, admits faults, discusses plans to fix the problems and so on.

But—why was Hoke hung out to dry and not told this was all happening?  This isn’t just a “medical report”.  If Hoke was told this was all happening, at the Monday presser could have talked about his responsibility and perspective on Saturday, but then he could have added, ‘..but we’re reviewing everything that happened to understand what mistakes (if any) were made’ and that the ‘details will be coming soon’, etc. etc.

It looks like they didn’t tell him?  What?  From the statement:

As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday.

How is that possible?   Again, I don’t think Hoke is lying. 

I’m not suggesting Hoke is absolved of any ownership here – far from it.  While he shouldn’t be responsible for medical diagnoses, he is responsible for how the whole operation fits together on how the sideline communicates with each other, and in particular, to he and his staff.

His responsibility to Morris and the rest of the players as the leader of the football team is to demand that all these questions be asked about what happened on Saturday so it can’t happen again.  And after seeing the film he should have absolutely demanded that Morris be evaluated or certainly, if he assumed his medical staff was taking care of that, to know the results

He obviously didn’t do that, or he would have known that Morris was indeed diagnosed with the concussion on Sunday instead of telling reporters otherwise on Monday and making U-M and the football program look even more unprofessional and disorganized, and in this case, dangerous.

As Brandon’s statement points out this is more of a communication issue.  As of Monday it doesn’t look like Hoke took those steps to find out what happened, but bizarrely on top of that, but he didn’t even know that resources in the department were engaged investigating the breakdown on Saturday.  On tippy top of that, more importantly on a personal level, he didn’t know that his boss was apparently heavily involved!?  “I [Brandon] have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday’s football game.”  

sideline hysteria Sideline as Gardner heads out after losing his helmet

And no one involved in these reviews told Brady that Brandon was talking to them and reviewing everything that happened Saturday?  And Brady didn’t contact his boss about the situation that was making headlines literally everywhere?  

Brandon’s not absolved either.  Hardly.  He knows damn well how to handle a crisis like this, or at least has the people around him to do it.  By not informing Brady of what was happening he allowed Hoke to embarrass himself, to potentially put Morris at more risk during practice, and more importantly, to make a mockery of this university on Sunday (with that ridiculous statement) and Monday at the press conference.

And Brandon didn’t tell Brady he was conducting all these reviews?   And Brandon didn’t include Brady in any of the reviews (isn’t the head coach part of the communication loop)?

Only reasonable conclusion – the boss is excluding Hoke because he’s lining him up to be fired for this.  Maybe not now or this week, but you don’t have an epic freeze out like this in the athletic department between the athletic director, the staff and the coach unless something is up.

I’m so pissed.

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29. September 2014 · 6 comments · Categories: 2014

Say what you want about Dave Brandon (and everyone is saying what they want), but we know firsthand that he knows how to deal with a media crisis/circus.  His handling of the Rich Rod practicegate scandal was masterful.  I dubbed him ‘Super Dave’ and he deserved it.  What’s striking to me here is the complete lack of savvy in the handling of this issue.  Someone joked to me it is as if Hoke is being set-up.  As preposterous as that is, it would at least explain what is happening.  This doesn’t feel anything like a Dave Brandon Production.

The strategy since last night (and the basic Hoke talk track today) seems to be to separate Hoke from the medical diagnosis and decision to play or not play.  Fine.  But when asked today if the medical staff performed a concussion test, Hoke said, “I assume so.”  Huh?

Now, perhaps Hoke was so focused on trying to sell the “I’m-a-coach-not-a-doctor” strategy that he fumbled that answer.  But does anyone believe that Hoke doesn’t really know (by now) exactly what happened on the sideline with Morris?   It was probably reviewed with half of the athletic department by now.

How it Should have Gone
Based on my credentials as an unpaid US Senate intern (/Barney Fife sniff) two decades ago, if I’m running the talk track it goes like this.  After pointing out that student-athlete safety is of the highest priority, and that you have the full confidence in your medical staff:

1. Explain what the process is when a player comes out of a game for an injury.
2. Explain that you reviewed specifically what was done with Morris on Saturday with the staff. (This must have happened) 
3. Point out what was done correctly with Morris’s examination, and candidly what, if anything, was missed.
4. If anything was missed, explain why it was missed and what the staff is doing about it to ensure it never happens again. 
5. Explain the process to communicate to the coaching staff when an injured player can return to the field.
6. Point out what was done correctly with the communication process, and candidly what, if anything, was missed.
7. If anything was missed, explain what the coaching staff is doing to correct this communication process moving forward to ensure it never happens again.
8. Reiterate that U-M has the finest medical staff in the business.
9. Reiterate how seriously you take the safety of student athletes.
10. Take questions.

If you think this is too much detail and would expose Michigan to outside scrutiny and ridicule, I guess I’d ask: how’s the current talk track working out?  What time does Nancy Grace land at DTW?

Hoke’s Character
By the way, just to be clear:
1. I don’t think Hoke is lying – this is just being handled so poorly.
2. There is no way Hoke knowingly would put a player in danger.  He would never do it.


Update: This is a Dave Brandon crisis management Production.  Full statement from U-M released this morning.  Full MVictors reaction here.

Statement from U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon Regarding Student-Athlete Health and Welfare

Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team’s coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.

I have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday’s football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane’s care and determining his medical fitness for participation.

In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.

I have worked with Darryl Conway, my Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.

It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.

I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes’ well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.

With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.

In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury. The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.

Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.

The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field, and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes.

Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again.

Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:

We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird’s eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines. 

We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.

We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes’ health and safety our number one priority.

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IMG_4274 - kiss

I don’t have to explain how I feel about the history of this rivalry and also needless to say, it is very rough for me to watch that jug head out of town.  Looking through the photos, it particularly stung seeing shots with that new section of the jug.  I stood inches away when Jil Gordon painted on the score last year.   You might call this the dong punch de resistance:

jug and program Check out the kid holding a program.  Inside there is a story this week that I wrote, particularly about the different paint jobs the jug has had over the years leading off with a mention of Jil’s work (including the photo below) on the new section last year.

Jil Gordon paints new section (2013 - Greg Dooley photo)Now that thing is hundreds of miles away and they are doing lord-knows-what to it.  Punch.

 Read on..(1964 team, Arena, Pomp, Mood, links and more…)

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28. September 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: 2014 · Tags:

IMG_4144 Barbarians!

Dr. Sap's DecalsSteve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is back this season with his weekly postgame helmet stickers.  Sap would do a backflip if coach Hoke decided to reinstate this tradition that Bo brought to the team in 1969. 

Until that day comes, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.   I’ll typically toss in the Fan Award and the Editor’s Choice:


NONE – I was going to award De’Veon Smith with a decal as he ran hard in the first half. He scored a TD. He ran with passion. Smith ran with an attitude that seemed to be just what this offense needed. But then where was he in the second half? Not slamming him for lack of playing time, but…NO DECAL FOR YOU!

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION NONE – Joe Bolden made some big stops in this game. Yes, he had 10 tackles and 1 sack and yes, the defense kept up their end of the bargain for as long as they could, but…NO DECAL FOR YOU!
SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION NONE – Dennis Norfleet had a decal all but sewn up. He was solid in his returns. He made all the catches – some under duress – and heck, he even downed a punt at the Minnesota 1-yard line, but then he went and fumbled a 4th quarter punt that pinned Michigan deep inside their own 10-yard line late in the game, so…NO DECAL FOR YOU!
UNIFORM CHAMPION White adidas Arm Sleeve – Thought it looked cool. The white sleeve was a nice contrast to the traditional maize and blue unis, and I thought the white sleeve looked better than the black one. My take? Wear the white sleeves at home and the black sleeves on the road.
Photo Sep 27, 3 17 16 PM
EDITOR’S CHOICE BUMP ELLIOTT:  No question: the WWII vet, Mad Magician, National Champion, Big Ten MVP, Rose Bowl winning coach and esteemed Iowa athletic director..89 year old Bump Elliott:



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A few from pregame out here on a perfect day inside the Big House:


Jug safe keeping



The Official Braylon back in the house


DSCN6635Mad Magician and ‘64 Head Coach Bump Elliott and All-American QB Bob Timberlake


DSCN6631 Captain Jim Conley and Barry Dehlin



Frank “The Fudgehammer” Nunley and Rick Volk.  In ‘64 Volk pick off the Buckeyes twice in the 4th quarter to seal the game and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Jil Gordon and Scott Robbins

My favorite Michigan artists – Jil Gordon of TrueBlue365 and Scott Robbins of The Blockhams.  Check out Scott’s latest with Ira and Sam on WTKA.


Photo Sep 27, 2 29 39 PM


Photo Sep 27, 1 12 15 PM Jon Falk preaching!  (While Steve Clarke is tweeting)

This week we start with 1958, Bennie Oosterbaan’s final season at the helm in Ann Arbor and roll up to the coach and the team being honored Saturday in Michigan Stadium: Bump Elliott and the 1964 Big Ten & Rose Bowl Champions:

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM or inside the Bud Light Victors Lounge starting at 11:30am.


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Ed.  On Saturday the 1964 championship team will be honored during the Minnesota game.  Earlier this year I spent a couple hours with the (lone) captain on that squad, Jim Conley.  The full version of this story is available in mgoblog’s wonderful annual Hail To The Victors mag.   Given it’s their week, here’s a tighter and yes, less spicy, version of the story of that great season.

See Part I: Starting from Nothing
See Part II: 
The Season

Getting Business Time
The trip to the Rose Bowl was conducted in two distinct phases – party time and business time.   The first portion started off with the usual tours, some time to hang out and a bit of partying. And the team lost focus.

“Chrysler gave us a car for every 4 guys,” Barry Dehlin recalled.  “For the first week, you had a bunch of 20-year-old guys out there and we were partying.”

But as young men tend to do, they took advantage of their celebrity status with the California coeds.  “We go to Disneyland and the next thing you know we’re in our hotel room and there are eight or ten of the Disneyland tour guides,” Conley recalled.  And the captain wasn’t immune.  “We went to the Whiskey a Go Go.  The girls are dancing and all that, and let’s just say we had some guys that were good at what they do, you know what I mean?”  

“I’ll never forget, we’re walking into the hotel.  There’s Bill Laskey with me and a couple of other guys.  We’ve got these damn girls with us with those frilly skirts shaking around.  As we’re walking down the hall [assistant coach] Jocko Nelson walks by, looks at me and says, ‘Captain Conley.’ And I go, ‘Coach Nelson.’  And we just kept going right on by. [laughs]”

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