11. October 2017 · Comments Off on Carl McKee & the Version 3 Helmet Sticker | Storytime with Dr. Sap · Categories: 2017

A guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

In my never-ending quest to find out all that there is to know about the University of Michigan football helmet stickers, I tracked down the creator of the version 3 helmet sticker, Carl McKee.

If you recall, Bo Schembechler introduced the first Michigan helmet sticker in 1969. It was a crudely shaped, gold colored football. Those lasted through the 1974 season.   In 1975, the second version of the helmet sticker was introduced. This time the shape of the sticker looked more football-like, but the difference was that a snarling wolverine head was added to the decal. These lasted through the 1982 season.In 1983 and 1984, while no stickers were placed on the Michigan headgear, the awards were still tracked on a board/wall inside the Michigan Football locker room.  [see the Uniform Timeline for details]

Sap was mad as a hornet in ’83 and ’84


That’s when Carl McKee happened to meet Michigan Football equipment manager, Jon Falk. The two struck up a friendship as Carl was a big Michigan football fan and he and Big Jon would occasionally talk and exchange some ideas and thoughts about Michigan Football.

Right around the same time, Carl had a good friend by the name of Thomas Kneff, who was a local artist that liked to draw and paint country scenes and barnyards.  Carl felt the Michigan helmet sticker needed a tweak, so he asked Kneff to re-draw the snarling wolverine head and add some laces to the design to give it more of a football look and feel.

This is one of Kneff’s more famous paintings

Carl then took his helmet sticker artwork to a printing company in Detroit, MI and had them print off a few samples to give to Falk. Big Jon liked the new look so much that he asked Carl if he could print off a few thousand more because Michigan was going to use these new stickers in 1985.

The snarling wolverine head is a little bigger in Carl’s version of the helmet sticker.

The rest is history, sort of.

Carl’s stickers were used by Michigan for about 7 or 8 years, until Falk realized the thin vinyl was getting torn and lacerated from all the hits and collisions the players were enduring over the course of a season. In 1992, Falk went national and had another company use the same laces and snarling wolverine head design Carl came up with and applied it to a thicker mil vinyl that was more durable and would stand up to the rigors of big time college football.  That sticker would last until the end of the 1994 season. In 1995, Lloyd Carr became the Michigan Football Head Coach and he ended the helmet sticker program for a variety of reasons.

But the legend of Carl McKee doesn’t end there.

You see, Carl was, and still is, somewhat of an entrepreneur and he never met an idea he didn’t like. One of his more popular ideas was putting catchy phrases on vinyl sheets so we could all tout how proud we were of our favorite college and college football team.  That’s right, bumper stickers!

Carl made a bunch back in the 80’s and had his teenage sons, Carl III, Bob and John, sell them at all the tailgates around Ann Arbor.  Daughter Anne and brother Michael would literally iron out the crinkly dollar bills each weekend at the McKee household.    Oh ya, Carl also drove the kids to East Lansing and sold green and white versions of his bumper stickers to the Spartan faithful as well!

For four years the McKee children would put their money they earned from selling bumper stickers in the bank to pay for college tuition.   That’s right–Carl and his bumper stickers put his kids through college!

Do any of these look familiar?  Back in the day they sold for $1 each, or 6 for $5:

LOL –> “Ohio State has lost its punch”  #woodyburn

I know I have a few of these in my collection!

Dr. Sap dressed quite appropriately for his visit with Carl McKee.

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07. October 2017 · Comments Off on John “The Human Shrapnel” Maulbetsch | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2017

This Week in Football edition heads way back to discuss college football Hall of Famer John Maulbetsch:

TWIMFbH is sponsored by Hillside Terrace of Ann Arbor.  This segment can be heard on the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff and you can listen live on 1050AM in Ann Arbor & on wtka.com around the world.  This segment plays approximately 2 hours before kickoff each week.

You can hear the archive of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.    If you have suggestions for future games hit me on Twitter @MVictors.  Go Blue!


/script …after the jump

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03. October 2017 · 1 comment · Categories: 2016

I’ve attempted to represent the overall and relative strength of U-M’s rivalries over time.  If you had a seizure reading this, cheers, you are reading it correctly.  Click the pic to expand it.  Please jump to Bullets listed below for additional notes, definitions and context.rivals-updated


(1) Western powers clash highlighted by annual Chicago/U-M Thanksgiving games; Elbel pens ‘The Victors‘ following 1898 game.
(2) Yost arrives and unleashes Point-A-Minute reign of terror; brutal Minnesota Little Brown Jug game in 1903 fosters bitterness.
(3) Apex of Stagg vs. Yost Chicago rivalry with recruiting wars, “loans” and scandal.
(4) Notre Dame wins in 1909 and Coach Shorty Longman taunts Yost in Ann Arbor.1910 game abruptly canceled due to eligibility dispute.
(5) The Trough of Disillusionment – U-M’s is out of B1G and schedule shifts, Penn emerges as the top rival.  Ohio State’s Chic Harley dazzles Yost in 1919.
(6) Games with Bob Zuppke’s Illinois teams and Red Grange create national buzz and a wicked (yet short-lived) rivalry; Rockne and Yost exchange accusations of rule-bending and bigotry.
(7) Battle with Minnesota for B1G/national supremacy; Francis Schmidt introduces OSU gold pants. Chicago quits football.
(8) Notre Dame series resumes, 1947 national title controversy blazes in the sports world.  MSU rises.
(9) Biggie, Duffy & Woody. A trio of all-time rival coaches arrive, MSU creates a national powerhouse, Dr. StrangeHayes emerges & will do the same.
(10) The Ten Year War – Bo and Woody battle and create Big 2 and Little 8; Gophers crushed.
(11) Blame Bo & Reggie Ho – U-M dominance over MSU pushed rivalry intensity down; Irish series resumes with classic games.  Bo is Bo, Earle Bruce ain’t Woody.
(12) The Loch Ness Gopher – It’s full on whack-a-gopher.  Despite the jug, the rivalry is only meaningful in Ann Arbor after Minnesota wins.
(13) Carr Blasts Cooper but game outcomes settle B1G title; Spartan Bob.
(14) Hart jabs, Little brother gets excited and MSU rises. 2006 #1 vs. #2 & rematch talk, HBO’s ‘The Rivalry’ airs.
(15) RichRod/U-M’s struggles elevate MSU focus; OSU intensity wanes and Meyer arrives.
(16) Enter Harbaugh – #4 returns home; national stakes in B1G East, ND series off schedule again.
  • This is a Michigan view of the world – so this won’t mirror how other teams view the intensity of their rivalry (or lack thereof) with U-M.  Michigan is unique to have so many rivals (arguably 5-6 different “main” rivals) over time.   Consider Ohio State’s view of its rivals:


  • This is obviously more art than science, but more science than Malcolm Gladwell typically relies on.
  • Creation of a rivalry requires a primordial stew of history, competition, and culture (including perceived cultural differences.)  I wouldn’t eat this stew, dude.
  • Once a team is a rival, I figure the strength of that rivalry at a given time is a confluence of the stakes involved (including bragging rights), the success of the teams, and at times the temperature of off-the-field activity between the players/coaches/universities and fanbases. (Fact: the Notre Dame rivalry has been fueled by behind-the-scenes shenanigans, f-yous, and tomfoolery.)
  • I rated each rivalry on 5 year intervals.  I could have gone granular especially over the last 20-30 years but rating rivalry strength on 12 month intervals gets a little ridiculous, even for nerds studs like me.
  • Not a surprise, but the peaks you see on this chart are when the two teams are very strong.  The nosedives often occur after Michigan pummeled the former rival to a pulp.
  • Thanks to the unholy trinity of Michigan historical & cultural wisdom (Craig Barker of the HSR, Steve Clarke of WTKA and John Kryk of Natural Enemies and Stagg vs. Yost) for the input.
More thoughts from Craig Barker:
  • Your inauguration into Michigan fandom plays heavily on whom you consider Michigan’s prime rivals.  OSU is always there, but younger generations, including the kids in that class, are going to see MSU as equally important, as you see in the chart.  Same with boomers who grew up during the Biggie/Duffy ascendant era.
  • On that tack, I also think that the importance of Michigan State as a rival can be personal, especially based on family.  If you have Spartan fans in your family, you know quite well how much they love to needle you, like some kind of…little brother…or something.
  • I think there’s a correlation to “the bigger you are, the more rivals you attract.”  Call it a gravitational theory.  The top five winningest schools are Michigan, ND, Texas, OSU, and Nebraska.  Michigan and ND definitely have multiple rivals, Texas has Oklahoma and A&M (dormant as it may be), OSU just has Michigan (which I think speaks volumes to their single-mindedness) and Nebraska had Oklahoma and Colorado from the Big 8 days, but then has the Rectangle of Ruckus in the B1G West now (since Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska all just hate each other.)
  • Rivalries tend to come in the intrastate and the interstate.  The intrastate is the Big Brother/Little Brother dynamic, or the university vs. land-grant rivalry.  The interstate is the defense of state honor thesis, crossing lines with the state that for some reason you hate.  Alabama’s is more intrastate focused, but they still sure don’t like Tennessee or Mississippi.  Florida hates FSU, but the Georgia game is a big deal, etc.  So I think many schools have two rivals, the internal and the external, and then it moves from there.
  • Penn State, not a rival, because the importance of the games in the 1990s and 2000s were about B1G standings, not about bragging rights.

Feedback? – Comment below or hit me on Twitter.

26. September 2017 · Comments Off on Leach Breaks down 1978 Notre Dame game (WTKA audio) · Categories: 2017

Pregame rituals vary, but I try to listen to as much of the WTKA Key Bank Countdown to Kickoff show as much as I can.   If you missed it this week you missed an epic segment.

Prior to the Purdue game Rick Leach phoned in to comment on the topic of This Week in Michigan Football History.  The topic was the 1978 Michigan-Notre Dame game, aka “The Reunion Game”.

Leach was injured the week of the game and he talks with Sam Webb about how he was injured, where he was during game week, about a visit from Bob Ufer, and then a few details on gameday: before the game, what Bo told him at halftime and a bit about after the game.  It’s outstanding.

Ira was kind to send me the clip so here it is, the first couple minutes is the TWIMFbH piece on the history of the rivalry and a recap of this game, and then Sam goes right into the Q&A with Leach:

Go Blue!

P.S. Speaking of all of this, the weekend WTKA is continuing the tradition of the Ufer Classic, and the game of choice is indeed that 1978 Notre Dame-Michigan game.   Ufer is fired up for this one and it’s a classic.  Make sure you hang in there for the second half!

23. September 2017 · Comments Off on Purdon’t Champions | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2017

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is a Schembechler-era savant and once again this season he’ll be diligently handing out his postgame helmet stickers after each game. Sap has pored over hours and hours of U-M games over several decades, and in these posts he’s able to tie the present to the past.  I encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Sap on YouTube, or follow Sap on Twitter.

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Remember the George Orwell book, 1984?  Well, good thing this is not 1984. If it was, the season would have been over the moment they walked Wilton Speight off the field early in the first half. Thirty-three years ago, when coach Harbaugh was felled by a broken arm against Michigan State there was a significant talent drop-off at the QB spot for Michigan.

[via Detroit Free Press]

You think Bo and Jim have ever forgotten that? Nope. That is why John O’Korn and Brandon Peters are waiting their turn. Did you see that type of performance coming out of #8? I certainly didn’t, but I will tell you this: sometimes when you get thrust into the fray, you don’t have time to think and over-analyze things. When that happens, instincts and muscle-memory kick in and you get what we all saw Saturday out of O’Korn – WoW!

Listen, I get that it was one game, but my gosh, you could have a put a #15 on his jersey and I swear I was watching Jake Rudock once again. There was decisiveness, there was accuracy, but more importantly, there was guts. When teammates, on both sides of the ball, see their QB improvising to keep plays and drives alive, it elevates the performance of everyone else on the team. That’s why you saw Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon and Nate Schoenle do what they did against the Boliermakers. You CANNOT underestimate the importance of QB play and moxie on the gridiron. It was one game, but thankfully, this is not 1984.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPIONDevin Bush did not have all the stats in the world against Purdue, but he was everywhere once again. His energy drives the defense and his motor never seems to stop. Man is he good!

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – His stats may not have been off the charts, but the punting of Brad, don’t call me Monte, Robbins was just the settling influence the punt game needed. I’ll take a 40.6 yard average per punt any game.

COACHING CHAMPIONS – Did I hear that correctly? Purdue was 0-12 in 3rd down conversions for the entire game and gained only 10 yards of offense in the second half? I’ve heard of halftime adjustments, but that is incredible!  Don Brown aka Dr. Blitz is doing a lights out job with this defense, which was the reason I didn’t officially get worried about the outcome of the game until midway through the 3rd quarter. When a defense plays like that, they give the offense and the rest of the team a chance. They keep you in the game until a big play is made. Congrats coach – that was just what this team needed to avoid Purdue calling themselves the Spoilermakers once more.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – Last week I said I (finally) liked the absence of white on the home maize and blue uniforms. Well, I don’t know if the players did this on their own, but I saw a few players, like Kekoa Crawford wear what appeared to be white arm sleeves on their shins. Dang, that was a sweet look with the all-white unis! Thumbs up!

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Dope UGP item of the week:

Week by Week Champions (O = Offense, D = Defense, T = Special Teams, C = Coaching, U = Uniform, E = Editor’s pick)
Week 1 vs. Florida:  Ty Issac (O), Devin Bush (D), Quinn Nordin (T), Don Brown, Greg Mattison (C), all-maize unis (U), Camaron Cheeseman (E)
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati:  Ty Issac (O), Tyree Kinnel (D), Grant Perry (T), Greg Mattison (C), refined helmet decals (U).
Week 3 vs. Air Force:  N/A (O), Chase Winovich (D), Quinn Nordin & Donovan Peoples-Jones (T), Jim Harbaugh (C), full on maize and blue uniforms (U)
Week 4 vs. Purdue: John O’Korn (O), Devin Bush (D), Brad Robbins (T), Don Brown (C), white-arm-sleeves-on-shins (U)

23. September 2017 · 1 comment · Categories: 2017

This week’s game hits an anniversary of “The Reunion Game” – a resumption of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry after a three decade+ hiatus. Billed as 2 legendary college football schools of course, but also a battle of Joe Montana vs. Rick Leach. Montana was coming off the classic Cotton Bowl win the season before, and Leach was hyped up as one of the nation’s most talented quarterbacks.

This week’s segment starts off with the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, then hits on the game itself.  Wolverine Historian’s highlights from the game:

One thing that sticks out is Leach’s performance.  Obviously he had a huge game, but just watch the guy control the line of scrimmage.  He has the Irish on their heels with his hard snap count.  God bless his cotton pickin’ heart!

Speaking of Leach, check out this clip via Dr. Sap of The Guts and Glue making critical third down play, and of course Bob Ufer’s call and reaction:

Here’s the clip:

Once again, a huge shout out my man John Kryk of Natural Enemies  — if you have any interest in the history of our beloved sport, you need to read every page of this book.

TWIMFbH is sponsored by Hillside Terrace of Ann Arbor.  This segment can be heard on the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff and you can listen live on 1050AM in Ann Arbor & on wtka.com around the world.  This segment plays approximately 2 hours before kickoff each week.

You can hear the archive of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.    If you have suggestions for future games hit me on Twitter @MVictors.  Go Blue!


/script …after the jump

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17. September 2017 · Comments Off on Just Kicking It – Sights and Sounds (Michigan 29, Air Force 13) · Categories: 2017

Well, we’ve seen more inspiring efforts but I get that fans are testy.  The stakes have been raised and along with it the expectations.

As far as the quarterback situation, here’s the deal.  If I were heading on vacation I wouldn’t trust Coach Harbaugh to water my plants and feed my goldfish.  They’d all die.  But I do trust him to handle the quarterback position.   Even if you forget about his track record everywhere else, he’s earned your trust with what he did with Jake Rudock – remember that?  So chill, go feed your pet and let Harbaugh handle the QB.

More importantly it was gorgeous out there Saturday, and here are a few sights and sounds:

Jalen & Jansen:  These guys might make a decent local radio show, no?


The Fab Fiver and #77 were honored for their recent induction into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.  Jalen’s teammate Jimmy King was also on prem supporting his man JR5.  BTW – if they have a creepy-looking-mannequin Hall of Fame but here’s my nomination:

Decals.  Dr. Sap killed it with his helmet stickers this week.

Levert Reverts Back – Here is Caris repping AC with Coach Beilein:


Drink each time you hear “Red Zone”   Ahh yes, we’ll be hearing that a lot this week.  Thankfully David Brandon’s plan to sell the rights and rebrand it “The Autozone Red Zone!” fell flat.   Thankfully Quinn Nordin’s leg did not.

On Duty.  AG Bill Schuette is running for governor and was hanging out and talking shop with a few D-list celebs on the sideline before the game.

Flannel guy has a water bottle jammed in his left pocket but he’s also happy to see you.

Saline Car Wash is hiring:  I spotted a stadium sideline usher asking Mrs. Jim Harbaugh for her credential.  I’m not exactly sure what was said but methinks he quickly recognized his mistake and moved on to harassing helping photographers.

EVERITT RULES!  What, this guy doesn’t rule?  He’s asking for your help…

He’s a Key West guy, and Irma left the area in a shambles.  We don’t even know the extent yet.  Here’s his GoFundMe page, he’s gathering money for gift cards for the locals.  I’m in – you should too.

Permission to Buzz the Tower(s)  – We’ve had our share of pregame fly-overs but don’t they take on special meaning when we’re playing Air Force?

Dropping in  – Based on what happened at the BYU game it appears we had the “A” team out there Saturday:

Band, take the field – The band stepping into formation from different perspective than you’ve seen, just perhaps?  Again, this was the 45 year anniversary of the MMB being gender-integrated:

Men, take the field – I love the James Earl Jones hype video that precedes this:

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17. September 2017 · Comments Off on Air Force Triple Option Champions | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2017

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is a Schembechler-era savant and once again this season he’ll be diligently handing out his postgame helmet stickers after each game. Sap has pored over hours and hours of U-M games over several decades, and in these posts he’s able to tie the present to the past.  I encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Sap on YouTube, or follow Sap on Twitter or catch Steve rolling around town in the Sap-mobile:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION:  Nothing notable here, but don’t panic, see COACHING CHAMPIONS below..

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION: Chase Winovich seemed to be all over the field on Saturday, especially the Air Force backfield. His intensity and energy seemed to drive him and the rest of the defense to keep pressuring the Fighting Falcons offense all game. While Gary, Hurst and Bush got all the pre-season hype, Winovich’s play is starting to command some attention of his own. Gonna need him to keep it up and do the same come November.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION:  I’m going with Quinn Nordin and Donovan Peoples-Jones, for obvious, and different reasons. First of all, when you kick 5 of 5 field goals and tie a school record for most 3-pointers in a game, you deserve a helmet sticker!
Ok – now for DPJ. Amazing how much more comfortable he looked back there against Air Force this week. Part of it was getting past the first-home-game-in-front-of-your-hometown-friends-and-family-jitters out of the way. As a player, sometimes you want to do so well and so much that you end up what is called “playing outside yourself” and not just letting the game come to you. That’s nerves, that’s excitement, but that’s also coachable. Which gets to my next point about coaching.

A couple of years ago, Lloyd Carr shared with me what he was hit with during his first year as a young Michigan football position coach in 1980. The year before, in 1979, Michigan was the absolute WORST team in the country when it came to Special Teams execution. The Wolverines fumbled trying to receive punts, missed field goals galore, and even had some punts blocked. It was not good. How did Bo handle it? With an enthusiasm unknown to Lloyd Carr. Because Bo felt the special teams were not coached as well as they should have been in 1979, he assigned every coach a position on the 1980 special teams. Much like anything in life, business or sports, if you focus on something and monitor whatever you are concerned about, you will more than likely improve performance. So what happened in 1980? Michigan led the country in several Special Teams categories. The same thing happened this week. Jim Harbaugh obviously put more focus and attention to Special Teams and it showed on Saturday – specifically the punt return team. The talent is there, and now it seems the coaching and focus is as well.

COACHING CHAMPION:  I’m going to talk you all off the ledge and go with the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach, Jim Harbaugh. Am I concerned that the offense has struggled to put up points and score touchdowns once again this season? No. Here‘s why: generally and historically speaking, teams typically have their defenses more developed and ready to go at the start of the season when compared to the offense. Why? I think the answer is twofold:

(1) Defensive play is typically more emotionally based, while the offense has more of a cerebral look and feel to it. Not saying that there is less strategy involved and employed on the defensive side of the ball, it’s just that defenses can hit the ground running a little sooner than the offenses do. Maybe it’s a timing thing with offensive pass routes and blocking. Maybe not.

(2) I can remember Bo and even Lloyd talk about how much of the offense was still needing to be “installed” as the season progressed. I used to hate hearing that, by the way, but I do understand that performance and victories are based and founded on execution. Plays don’t get called by the coaches and/or get successfully executed in games until they are perfected in practice. All you had to do was look at the Cincinnati offense last week and all the passes their QB missed on.

Don’t panic. It is a common coaching strategy to not reveal all your cards so early in the season – especially against teams that you have a schematic and talent advantage over.   Do you really think the Michigan offense used all the plays in their playbook against Air Force? I don’t. Remember how that-sweatervest-coached-team-from-down-south won a national championship when it seemed like they were just barely beating their opponents each week? Remember how awful Connor Cook and the MSU offense looked at the beginning of the 2013 season? Remember how they won the B1G Title that year?

The offense is gonna be just fine – trust me.

UNIFORM CHAMPION:  The lack of white and nothing but maize and blue on the home uniforms is starting to grow on me. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I loved the white socks and white wrist bands the players wore back in the day. That was a cool look back then, but as they say, “That was then and this is now.” Now, the look is ALL maize and blue from head to toe and I gotta admit, the Jordan Brand has nailed the home uniforms – they look solid!\

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Week by Week Champions (O = Offense, D = Defense, T = Special Teams, C = Coaching, U = Uniform, E = Editor’s pick)
Week 1 vs. Florida:  Ty Issac (O), Devin Bush (D), Quinn Nordin (T), Don Brown, Greg Mattison (C), all-maize unis (U), Camaron Cheeseman (E)
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati:  Ty Issac (O), Tyree Kinnel (D), Grant Perry (T), Greg Mattison (C), refined helmet decals (U).
Week 3 vs. Air Force:  N/A (O), Chase Winovich (D), Quinn Nordin & Donovan Peoples-Jones (T), Jim Harbaugh (C), full on maize and blue uniforms (U)
Week 4 vs. Purdue: 


[A repost on the anniversary of ‘The Catch’.  A thanks once again to Coach Moeller for sitting down and doing this with us.]

I mentioned earlier this week that Ira and I recently sat with Coach Moeller, who will be honored Saturday at Michigan Stadium, in studio at WTKA.  This was my favorite part and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  We methodically mo catchstepped through the headset audio from The Catch (recall that the athletic department released it last year in the UTL ND game program).

As a bonus – I’ve included a second clip of the man on the other side of the field.  Writer John Kryk interviewed Lou Holtz for his book Natural Enemies, the definitive tome on the U-M-ND rivalry, and he was kind enough to share this clip from his archives.  It’s Holtz discussing the defensive play call and their strategy.   It’s a little scratchy but I sent it over to Ira who cleaned it up a bit.

The Moeller clip is over 17 minutes long so give it a chance to load up and we cover just about everything that is said on the recording and more.  Holtz is just over a minute (that’s Kryk asking the questions).

A crude diagram:
The Catch options
What you can’t see is the Irish safety, who is back and over on the left side of the defense (toward Desmond) but immediately goes to double cover Howard when the ball is snapped.

Listening to the clips basically you learn that Notre Dame called the right defense to stop this, and more importantly, they successfully disguised the formation enough to get Grbac to believe ND would leave just a single defender on Desmond Howard (I love how Coach Lou calls him his full name) and thus call the pass.   If Elvis knew ND intended to swing the safety over to put double coverage on Howard, he would have checked to the 29 toss to Ricky Powers (or possibly the Caesar off tackle) to move the chains.   As Holtz said, they basically conceded the first down if Michigan ran the pigskin and you can see on the clip they would have struggled stopping the toss.

One thing I think Holtz denies or didn’t recall (or he’s just stubborn)—on the replay (see the endzone view later in the clip below) it does look like the Grbac pump does made the safety take a step in before adjusting and heading to the end zone to try to break up the play.  That change may have provided Desmond just enough of a window to make the play.

Either way, the bottom line here the Irish were in the right coverage but the execution of the pass and catch trumped the Notre Dame defense.

Video clip:

A big thanks to Ira for running the 1s and 2s, to Kryk for the Holtz clip and of course to Coach Moeller for walking through this with us.   Also thanks to pink shorts guy in the end zone:

pink shorts guy

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