Helmet decals.  Honor badges.  Or how about “performance stickers”?   Call it a gut feeling but I think we’ll see them on the winged helmet following the Utah game but we’ll see.  A primer on helmet sticker history can be found here.

Naturally Dr. Sap has been pondering their return and he has mocked up a few potential designs for your review, poll at the bottom:

New Decal Adidas 1. adidas logo
New Decal Blank Old School 2. 1969 old school maize
New Decal Blank 3. 1969 high maize
New Decal BO 4. Bo

New Decal M

5. Block M (Inside Oval)
New Decal NIKE 6. Swoosh
New Decal Sap 7. Pebble grain retro
New Decal THE TEAM 8. The Team x 3
New Decal Victors 9. HTTV
helmetdecals19751982 10. Mid-1970s
Photo Aug 26, 6 53 54 AM Added: 11. Blockhams Bo  (submitted by Scott from The Blockhams)
Block M Added 12. Plain Block M (requested on Twitter and mgoblog)
jumpman Added 13. Via comments, Jumpman (2016?)


Which one do you like, or do you have your own design?  Send it over or hit me on Twitter.

Pick a Performance Sticker:

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Old School decal


bo and jim

So if Harbaugh is indeed introduced next week, a big question for Michigan uniform mavens concerns whether #4 will re-introduce the helmet decals.  Bo actually invented the concept while at Miami, and brought them to Ann Arbor in 1969.  Here’s a brief run down of the stickers over the years thanks to Dr. Sap:

decal history You’ll note above that the decals actually took a break in the mid-1980s during Harbaugh’s tenure, but did indeed return for his final two seasons, including his captaincy in 1986.  We also know that Coach Harbaugh used them in Palo Alto:

luck helmet stickers

Coach Hoke was asked about this by Wojo back in 2011 and obviously nothing happened, but with Harbaugh?   You’d have to think there’s a good chance we’ll see them on the field in 2015. 

What do you think?

Who was Bo's Best Back?

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Update:  Amani Toomer chimes in with authority:



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[Ed. A modified repost from January 2011 & the last time Michigan Man was tossed around..during the last coaching search]

The term Michigan Man hasn’t been this hot since Bo dropped his epic blast at outgoing coach Bill Frieder.  This of course happened during the last coaching search and it prompted Hoover Street Rag, UMGoBlog and a pre-SI/pre-practicegate Rosey to serve up excellent discussions centered around the Michigan Man concept.

We know the use of the term goes way back, certainly before Bo used it so famously.   Heck, we know that Bo dropped this on Mark Messner during a last ditch recruiting trip in the mid-1980s:

Bo walks over, just hands me a tape and says [Messner in perfect Bo voice]: “You’re a Michigan man and you belong at Michigan.”  And got back in the car.

I don’t know if there will ever be a true “source” of Michigan Man because as I understand it, it’s piggybacking on the concept of the ‘Harvard Man’, which I believe was simply extracted from England and the ‘Oxford Man’ or ‘Cambridge Man’, for instance.   The Great Gatsby, chapter 7:

“And you found he was an Oxford man,” said Jordan helpfully.
“An Oxford man!” He was incredulous. “Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit.”
“Nevertheless he’s an Oxford man.”
“Oxford, New Mexico,” snorted Tom contemptuously, “or something like that.”

Anyway, I did a quick search to find the phrase and nabbed a century-plus old source of it being used in the context of a U-M grad in a coaching position.  Vanderbilt was coached by a former M player, assistant and Yost’s brother-in-law Dan McGugin.   Frank “Shorty” Longman coached Notre Dame but went to Michigan and played for Yost from 1903-1905.

When Michigan scheduled Notre Dame in 1909, check out this passage from September 12, 1909 edition of the Free Press:

1909 Michigan Man


Flash forward to 2014, when recently reader Brian Snider found this cool article eBay in the Michigan Daily dating to 1905 concerning the construction of the Michigan Union, where the subheadline mentioned Michigan Men:


Of course the Union was originally for men (women were only allowed to enter through the North entrance and when accompanied by a male escort), reiterated on this match book:

union matchbook

And we know the label ‘Michigan Man’ goes back further than this.  Author John Kryk (Natural Enemies) told me he found its use “predates Yost” and he’s come across references from the 1890s.


* Jim Harbaugh a Michigan man?  “Like hell he is!,” says Mike Hart in 2007.
* Shorty Longman’s Ruse

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The recent Dr. Sap’s Decals post has sparked a bit of discussion on whether Hoke should bring them back.  One of the arguments folks use against the practice is that individual awards like this take away from the team concept.  But you have to reconcile that with the fact that Bo, who was mildly supportive of the team concept, started the tradition of issuing the decals.

But there was a point when Bo wavered.  Did you know that he actually took them off the helmets for a short stretch in the early 80s?  I did, but only because Dr. Sap himself sent me an updated diagram a few weeks back.

This week I got this email from a former U-M lineman who talked about when this happened and more:

Not sure if you knew this but in 1983 and 1984 Bo did give us stickers but they were placed on a board in the Football Building.  He just did not put them on our helmets.

When Bo announced it, it was to show the importance of the team and not the individual as the gold footballs were individual awards.  Initially It was like “that kind of sucks” and you never thought about it again.  More because it was a change than anything else. 

It’s funny as an offensive lineman you were never quite sure why you got one.  A good block, a good game, a good play.  It was easy for the specialty folks, touchdowns, TFL, sacks, fumble recovery, interceptions, 100+ yard games, etc.  They never told us specifically why we received  one. You just seemed to get more of them when you won.  I still have my helmet from my freshman year where I earned I think 6 or 7 of them.  I only played on the kick-off return team then and I was never told what I did to receive them.  I would assume we had a great return so the kick-off return team would collectively get  a gold football but no one said to me at least, you are getting a gold football because you did “this or that”.

That last part is disappointing to uniform nerds everywhere (like me), who were half-hoping Bo, after hours of carefully deliberation with the assistants, hand delivered the stickers in an elaborate ceremony after each game   :)

1984 wasn’t Bo’s finest season on record and perhaps that drove him to bring the stickers back the following season.

Hoke didn’t bring them back but I think a surprising number of Michigan fans would like to see them return.  I’m talking about the helmet stickers or decals of course, Bo Schembechler’s 1965 invention (while at Miami, OH) that he brought to Ann Arbor. 

Wolverine gear guru Dr. Steve Sapardanis was one hoping they’d be back and he’s even suggested a 2011 version to grace the Schutts and Riddells on Saturdays:

Although these won’t adorn the headgear this season, Dr. Sap thought he’d run down a his thoughts on who he’d honor each week.  First, some context from Sap:

In the past, Bo Schembechler had a list of achievements and criteria for each team (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) as well as individual accomplishments for awarding his helmet decals.

Not being privy to film study or game performance grading, the process has been simplified to just touchdowns and big plays – and a few other "Awards of Distinction" as you will see below.

Here’s Sap’s rundown for Eastern Michigan, including some influence from the editor of this site.

Week #3 vs. Eastern Michigan
ALL members of the Michigan Defense: for not allowing a point in the 1st quarter – first time all season!
Jibreel Black: 1 decal for Forced Fumble in 1st quarter.
Thomas Gordon: 2 decals – one for 1st quarter Fumble Recovery and one for 2nd quarter one-handed Interception.
Jordan Kovacs: 2 decals – one for 4th down goalline stop in 1st quarter and one for 3rd down stop/open-field tackle in 2nd quarter.
Denard Robinson: 4 decals – one for 52-yard run in 2nd quarter; 9-yard TD pass to Kevin Koger; 11-yard TD run in 2nd quarter; 19-yard TD pass to Drew Dileo in 3rd quarter.
Kevin Koger: 1 decal for 9-yard TD reception in 2nd quarter.
Vincent Smith: 1 decal for Denard Robinson fumble recovery in 2nd quarter.
Drew Dileo: 1 decal for 19-yard TD reception in 3rd quarter.
Brandin Hawthorne: 1 decal for 2nd half Tackle For Loss.
Craig Roh: 2 decals for 3rd quarter Sack and Tackle For Loss.
Martavious Odoms:  1 decal, editor’s choice, for his blocking downfield and driving an EMU defender five yards out of bounds
Jeremy Gallon:  1 decal, editor’s choice, for doing a great job handling punts.  Relief!
Jake Ryan: 1 decal for 2nd half Tackle For Loss.
Will Heininger: 1 decal for 2nd half Tackle For Loss.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 1 decal for 1-yard TD Run in 3rd quarter.
Brendan Gibbons: 1 decal for 21-yard Field Goal in 4th quarter – the FIRST UM FG this year!
Mike Martin: 1 decal for the NASTIEST-LOOKING HELMET on the team – it looks like it already has a year’s worth of scuff marks in just game #3 of the season!
Vincent Smith & Jordan Kovacs: 1 decal each for the BEST LOOKING HELMET DESIGN on the team. No surprise that they BOTH wear Schutt helmets designed by Russ Hawkins of Capitol Varsity.  and Finally:

Ron English: 1 decal for putting decal awards on the EMU helmets – what a novel concept!

And since we’re in week 3, Sap shared his tallies for the first couple weeks:

Week #1 vs. Western Michigan
Brady Hoke
: 1 decal for not wearing a coat or jacket during the downpour of rain. TOUGH!
Michael Shaw: 1 decal for 44-yard TD run.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 2 decals – one for 1-yard TD Run and one for 2-yard TD Run.
Brandon Herron: 3 decals – one for 94-yard Interception Return for a TD and one for 29-yard Fumble Recovery for a TD, and +1 editor’s pick for getting us to talk about Tom Harmon’s exploits.
Jake Ryan: 1 decal for knocking down pass at goalline that Herron returned 94 yards for a TD.
Ryan Van Bergen: 1 decal for Fumble recovery.
Jordan Kovacs: 2 decals – one for blitzing hit on QB that caused fumble return for TD, one for other blitzing sack.

Week #2 vs. Notre Dame
Dave Brandon: 1 decal for creating an outstanding atmosphere for a college football game -2nd only to the Rose Bowl at night! (For those of you who have never been, the Rose Bowl at night is a DEFINITE UM Fan Bucket List priority!).
Charles Woodson: 1 decal for the biggest (Super Bowl) ring in the stadium – I could see it 3 sections over and 30 rows up –sweet!
U-M media relations – 1 editor’s pick, for posting the audio from Gary Moeller’s headset before the catch.
Desmond Howard – 1 decal editor’s pick, for his wonderful speech before the game.
Steve Everitt: 2 decals – 1 for still being the toughest AND toughest LOOKING dude in the stadium & the best center U-M has had since…#48?  And editor’s choice, for blowing up this website with people searching on the name ‘Steve Everitt’.
Drum major McMahon: 1 decal for his pre-game catching of the baton over the crossbar, atoning for the fumble in Season Opener vs. WMU.
Denard Robinson: 5 decals – one for each TD (4 passing, 1 rushing).
Junior Hemingway: 2 decals – one for 77 yard reception and one for 43-yard TD catch.
Jeremy Gallon: 2 decals – one for 14-yard TD reception and one for 64-yard reception to set up winning TD.
Vincent Smith: 2 decals, one for the epic 21-yard TD reception on the screen, and +1 editor’s choice, for tossing the ball into the hands of the Irish Guard at the back of the end zone after the play.
Roy Roundtree: 1 decal for 16-yard game winning TD reception.
Jordan Kovacs: 1 decal for 2nd quarter interception.
J.T. Floyd: one decal for 2nd quarter interception.
Will Campbell: 2 decals – one for 3rd quarter fumble recovery and one for 3rd down stop late in game.
Jake Ryan: 1 decal for 3rd down stop late in game.
Ryan Van Bergen: 1 decal for 4th quarter fumble recovery.
Marvin Robinson: 1 decal for forced fumble.
Terrance Robinson: 1 decal for fumble recovery.
Stephen Hopkins: 1 decal for executing goalline fumble-rooskie play to Denard for TD – NICE!

03. September 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s official now.

The Big Ten Network will continue its Icons series this fall, this time looking at the iconic coaches in the league.  It’s not a countdown this time, rather, they just selected a legend from each school:

The 12-episode series will stretch into the winter, and profile one coach from every Big Ten school, including Illinois’ Lou Henson, Iowa’s Dan Gable, Indiana’s Bob Knight, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler, Michigan State’s Jud Heathcote, Minnesota’s Herb Brooks, Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte-Hiller, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Purdue’s Gene Keady and Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez.

I did get interviewed for the Bo piece so my goofy mug might be in there.   (And maybe in Woody? That would be a treat.)

As far as the other selections, Lou Henson is a bit of a surprise.  I guess I would have went with Bob Zuppke but ok.

I’ve got a big issue with the Jud Heathcote choice, however.  

jud hair Without getting too far into this, I grew up in East Lansing watching Jud and I went to his hoops camp and I have nice memories of the man.  And I get that the show can highlight the 1979 title and his grooming of Izzo & it will make for a quality show.  But brother, Jud would be pretty far down on my list, unless it was recognizing iconic comb jobs (Lou Henson would remain as well).   I’d easily put Biggie Munn, Duffy Daugherty, Ron Mason and Izzo ahead of him. 
All that said, they did such a great job with the first round I’m looking forward to seeing all of these.

Here’s the Harmon Icons piece if you need it:

29. August 2011 · Comments Off on Closer to the Poof Scenario · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

The latest Ohio State media guide apparently wiped Tressel’s 2010 coaching season from the books:

— 94, career wins for Tressel at Ohio State. The media guide does list Tressel’s win total after subtracting the vacated 2010 season. So he’s 94-21 (instead of 106-22) and is credited with an 8-1 record vs. Michigan (9-1 before 2010 was erased), nine bowl appearances (instead of 10) and six Big Ten championships (he had seven before the self-imposed penalties took away last season).

We’ll see how the Big Ten treats it.  As discussed here, if the Big Ten agrees that the 2010 season never happened for Tressel, he’ll be wiped from #2 behind Fielding Yost in the all-time conference coaching standings which requires a minimum of ten seasons at the helm.   Tressel would just have nine, and thus…see ya.

The bonus: guess who’s currently at #3?  Bo Schembechler of course, meaning General Bo will nestle up to Yost in second place if this goes down:

** One last chance to help out – the Walk is Saturday August 6th.  A HUGE thanks for all the support to date.  $1225 $1480 raised so far!  A big thanks to Craig Ross for the impromptu donation at the media event, and all the readers and my blogging brothers who have helped out in one way or another.

Folks occasionally ask how they can help support this site.   Here’s a big way:

On August 6, 2011 I return to the MSU campus for this year’s JDRF walk to cure diabetes. Yes, this event is in Spartan Country but this is not an green and white cause–in fact you may know that Bo Schembechler participated in the Ann Arbor JDRF walk and was a big advocate of diabetes research and education. 

I learned about this horrible disease when my nephew Jack was diagnosed at age 3.  If you want a sense for what life is like with Type 1, watch this short video that Jack helped put together.

All this said, I need some air cover.  Here’s how you can help me:

jdrf jug

The saga continues on the Big Ten all-time coaching statistics.  Readers of this site know that at the urging of a pesky blogger, the Big Ten officials updated their records last season to reflect the time Michigan left the conference from 1907-1916. 

The result was a boost to Fielding Yost’s lead over Jim Tressel in conference win percentage by coaches from .833 to .888 (here are the current numbers, through last year’s bowls):

B1G Conference Records

Mark Snyder discussed the ramifications of the Ohio State self-imposed vacated wins on the all-time records in this recent piece, & note Mark corrected Yost’s official win pct last night ;)

As Snyder points out, I think we can assume nothing is official until the NCAA/Big Ten complete their investigations.   I asked the Big Ten offices to confirm and I’m guessing they will say it be resolved when the investigation is completed. 

[Update July 11] I got the expected response from the Big Ten’s Scott Chipman:

My question:  Scott, is there an official ruling from the Big Ten on how the Ohio State sanctions/vacated wins affect Tressel’s conference win percentage?  Or is this all pending the final NCAA/B10 rulings on the sanctions?

Chipman’s reply:  Greg, As of right now, that’s all TBD.

I see a few possible outcomes that could impact these records once again:

Final Punishment



Revised  Win %


1 NCAA reverses vacated wins; no change in 2010 record. 106 22 0.828 Pigs fly.
2 All 12 wins taken off the books, only the loss to Wisconsin remains 94 22 0.810 Tressel remains #2 behind Yost on the Big Ten books, slightly above Bo who’s at .796
3 All 12 2010 wins now reflected as losses on the books 94 34 0.734 Tressel drops to #7 on the all-time list, behind Yost, Bo, Crisler, Carr, Woody, etc.
4 The entire 2010 season is wiped (0-0), but Tressel is still officially coach for the 2010 season. 94 21 0.817 He remains on the list at #2, given he still qualifies with 10 seasons.
5 The entire 2010 season is wiped (0-0), and Tressel doesn’t get credit for coaching in the conference last season 94 21 0.817 Poof! Tressel completely wiped from the record books–he would not meet the minimum 10 year qualification.


Of course that assumes the punishment stays somewhere within the framework for the self-imposed penalty.  If not, there are many other potential outcomes:

  • The Big Ten could decide to take some action that’s not consistent with the NCAA ruling (like making a ruling on only the conference games, which would tweak the above table).
  • The NCAA penalty could go deeper than 2010, resulting in a bigger shift in the rankings.
  • And there’s the off chance the other coaches (Carr) could be credited with additional wins shifting the rankings even further.

Related: The ‘H’ is for Handlebar (1896)