Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

Before we examine the 2015 decal (which we started in Phase I here) we need to look back at the evolution of the Michigan Football helmet decals. 

1969-1974 Version #1 – When Bo introduced the helmet stickers at Michigan in 1969 (Version 1), they were solid, maize-colored, crudely shaped footballs. These were used through the 1974 season.  Here’s Don Moorhead’s helmet as featured on


1975-1982  Version #2 – The decal shape became more oval and the snarling wolverine head was added.   There was now a left-facing version, and a right-facing version.  Here is a good look at them from one of Jim Dack’s helmets (find more info on Jim’s collection at

Photo Sep 13, 8 34 56 AM

The other distinction with this version was that the wolverine image was actually clear, thus allowing the blue helmet paint to make the wolverine appear blue:

Because the design was made 40 years ago, there was no high-end computer program like Photoshop that was used to create the snarling Wolverine head graphic.  It was probably created using Line Art.  Notice the level of detail on the hair, teeth and nose of the wolverine. The more you zoom in, the more detail you will see.

1983-1984  No Helmet Stickers.  The mystery of this two-year stretch discussed here.

1985-1994 Version 3 – After a two year absence, the decals returned in 1985 (Version 3) with a few modifications.


The shape was now more spheroid in nature. The snarling wolverine is no longer a clear image – it is distinctly colored blue.  The wolverine head was centered in the decal laces were now added to the top of the shape giving it more of a football feel, and the color was a little brighter yellow.  Before Saturday, we hadn’t seen decals on the Michigan helmets since the Wolverines defeated Colorado State in the 1994 Holiday Bowl.

2015- – Version 4 – So we learned on Labor Day that the decals would be returning.  Here’s another look:

decal Upon further review, a few things are apparent:

  • Size – The overall size is the same as the Version 3 (1985) decal with one distinction- the wolverine logo is actually slightly smaller, 1/16” (from blue tip edge to blue tip edge).
  • Color – It clearly has a darker tone of maize and blue color to it so that it matches the 2015 uniform, including the helmet wings and stripes.
  • Design – Overall design is basically the same as Version 3, with the laces and wolverine head are the same as Version 3, but now there is blue trim to it.

When looking closer at the image, I noticed a few things that were different from the 1985 decal, specifically with the quality of the wolverine:

  • (1) Teeth – there is less white area in teeth of this year’s decal.
  • (2) Nose – there is less white area on the nose, as well.
  • (3) Hair – the hair length around the neck and back of head has now been “smoothed.”
  • (4) Outline – the blue trim becomes jagged when zooming in on the decal.

I think all these differences are the result of scanning the 1985 version vs. scanning the 1975 version.   So, here’s the deal: the 1975 version was the original, and the 1985 decal was created from a scan of the 1975 decal.  When it came time to create the 2015 decal, hardly any of the 1975 stickers were in good enough condition to re-scan, so the only option was to scan a 1985 decal.  What you ended up with was a scan of a scan to make the 2015 version.  When you do that, there is a loss of image quality and that is why the hair appears to be smoothed, and there is less (white) detail in the nose, teeth and elsewhere.

Is anyone going to notice this from their seats in Michigan Stadium?  No.
Will I? Yes.
Am I ok with it?  Yep.  I’m thrilled that the helmet stickers are back!

Just maybe next time a tweak is being considered for the decals, maybe Dr. Sap can be consulted?

– – – – – –

More from Oregon State game here:


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Glenn “Bo” Schembechler wasn’t the only major change to hit Ann Arbor in 1969.   New athletic director Don Canham decided introduce artificial turf inside the Big House.   Here’s a great photo of Dan Dierdorf and Bo inspecting a sample of the righteous carpet up on eBay now:

bo and dierdorf

Apparently Dierdorf was skeptical of the safety of natural grass, having suffered a knee injury in 1968 (from the notes on the wire photo):


I’m not sure what they hoped to accomplish with their little empty shoe test, but oh well.  

It’s pretty clear that Canham was not only dead set on the innovation, he was pretty proud of it.  The new coach would seemingly be the obvious choice to don the cover the of the game program, but Bo was present.  In fact, no person is present on the front of the program for Bo’s first game at the helm—here’s a look at the Vanderbilt game program (also on eBay now), showing off Canham’s carpet:

1969 vanderbilt program

The bid on the Bo/Dierdorf photo is currently at $27.28.   The Vandy program is going for $59.99.


[Ed 4/27/2011:  Originally posted November 19, 2009 – bumping up this interview with Ira and Mandich because you should hear it.]

Excellent interview this morning on WTKA 1050AM, as Michigan legend and current Miami, FL radio personality Jim Mandich dialed up Ira Weintraub to discuss Ohio State, 1969, the current team, Bo, Chad Henne and Jake Long on his Dolphins and much more.

Gotta love that he’s flying up to the big game on Steve Ross’s luxuriously private jet.

Definitely worth a listen:


You can hear all of the WTKA podcasts here, anytime.

Next up on eBay Watch, here’s a Michigan football glass from 1969 commemorating the “centennial year of football”:

1969 Michigan glassThe back recognizes Bo’s 1969 team highlighted by the great 24-12 victory of Ohio State.   At first glance it looks like a major screw-up as the centennial of Michigan football would be in 1979, a decade later (when they would really screw things up.)

Upon further review, it might be a bit of early Don Canham marketing coupled with a nod to the 100th anniversary of college football, as Princeton and Rutgers first squared off on November 6, 1869.

The sellers wants <gulp> $64.99

Other stuff:

  • See you after We Beat Ohio.  People get a kick out of Coach Hoke calling the Buckeyes “Ohio”.  I started doing that in casual conversation a couple years ago because I like it, and that’s what I do with things I like.  And I like this: up on eBay there’s a pass for entry into Michigan’s locker room after the 1963 game with Woody Hayes’s “Ohio”: Ohio locker room pass As an aside, the ‘63 game with the Buckeyes was actually moved out a week due to the assassination of President Kennedy.  I touched on that in this post back in 2009.

  • Buy Blue Bonds!  About a year after I asked if anyone out there had one of the $500 bonds issued by athletic department to fund the Michigan Stadium construction in the 1920s, there’s this on eBay.  No, it’s not one of the bonds but rather the application to purchase one or two.  At $249, I’d want it signed by Yost himself.  (I’d say it’s worth $15).  It’s interesting nonetheless, check it out: stadium_bonds
20. March 2011 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Bo says, “Hey Mouse, Look Me in the Eye like a Man!” · Categories: Archive 2010 · Tags: , , , , ,

There has been a fabulous dump of old Bo Schembechler wire photos on eBay as of late.  I posted this one of Bo grinning before the critical Michigan State hoops game a couple weeks back, so I thought I’d better do the same today.

Here we’ve got Bo flanked by the great Jim Mandich and Rose Queen Pamela Tedesco, shaking hands with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland before the 1970 Rose Bowl (HT: Steve Sap):

You might know that Jim Mandich is battling cancer right now and you can provide your support via this website.  The seller is asking $15.88 for the Bo in Disneyland pic.

Here’s a few more good ones of General Bo.

First, Bo furious:


Bo loving it: boauburn

Go Blue!  Beat Blue Devils.


Photo: Detroit News photo services.

Thanks to BiggieMunn for sending this over. The photo above was set alongside of Angelique Chengelis’s fine piece on a few of those involved with the 1969 Wolverine victory over Ohio State.

Question: Anyone know the significance (if any) of the 26 on Bo’s sleeve?

On the extended team roster, #26 belonged to a sophomore quarterback named William Ross of Beaver Falls, PA.

Answer this question definitively and we win Saturday.

Related: Jim Mandich of ‘69 on WTKA (audio) <—You’ll enjoy this