Well, I was one of those guys who predicted a shutout against Maryland – just not like that – yikes! The defense is starting to look very 1980/1985-ish. But the offense? The offense is still a work in progress, or is it? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out where this team is in the next two weeks. In the meantime, here are the Champions for the Maryland Game:
OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Gotta go with Drake Johnson. With no De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac not being able to hang on to the ball, The Drake made plays and looked comfortable running the ball – brace and all on his left knee. When the team was sputtering and looking for a spark on “O,” #20 made the most of his opportunity.
DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – It’s obvious the D-Line is playing lights out these past few games, but when the game/match was resembling an FA Cup Final and tied nil-nil after 15 minutes, Desmond Morgan was the difference on defense. His INT and strip thwarted Maryland drives when the game was still in doubt. The more I see of #3, the more I think that he is starting to look like a classic Michigan middle linebacker.
SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Speaking of soccer, you do realize that the winning points came from the kicker, don’t you? Yes, he missed one FG early, but Kenny Allen accounted for 8 points against Maryland. If the kicker is good for 8 or 9 points on the road, I’ll take that every week.
UNIFORM CHAMPION – Back in 1975, Ricky “The Peach” Leach and company wore white socks with their road white uniforms. It was a classic & clean look.
But Saturday against Maryland, Michigan came out with white socks on top of a blue lycra legging:
It looked sharp and reminded me of another timeless look from 1969:
I’d say stick with the blue & white stockings for the rest of the year – you have the Dr. Sap Seal of Approval! :)
So Amara Darboh had 9 helmet stickers after Utah, Jake Butt 8 and a handful of others (Peppers, Rudock) had seven. Assuming the stickers are dealt out after games, we’ve presumably got a few guys with at least 15 helmet stickers on their lids following Oregon State. Now, I’ve heard some argue that these assumptions are wrong – that many of the decals to date were earned in practice (including camp) and therefore it’s not a straight line ratio from now to the end of the season. But if the stickers are tied to game performance, and the criteria for getting stickers in a game stays consistent throughout the season – things will get sticky soon. The skinny:
We already know they stickers are the same size as the 1985-1994 version. As discussed here, the standard for decals likely goes to Mike Hammerstein, the mid-80s standout defensive tackle. He was the team MVP in 1985 and his helmet showed it. The big man was honored with 47 decals entering the bowl game, assuming he didn’t leave a couple on Keith Byars’ arse:
Assuming we’re not touching the area on or inside the wings (I will fight you, Jake Rudock!), at a glance it looks like we’ve got max capacity at 60. Maybe we could get 62 on Wormley.
Fast forward to 2015. A guy fifteen dekes after week 2 is projected to have 90 after playing the Buckeyes and entering the BCS playoffs bowl game. So at this rate we’ve got a problem unless Harbaugh and crew slow their decal roll.
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 HelmetHut.com:
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 wolverinehelmet.com):
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:
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?
[Ed. What the heck on the even of the opener and #4’s debut a repost. Dr. Sap gives you a primer on Jim Harbaugh’s greatest moments as a Wolverine!]
A guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis
#5: 1984 Miami (FL) – Jim Harbaugh’s first start as a Michigan Wolverine would come against the #1-ranked, defending National Champion Miami Hurricanes and he didn’t disappoint. Wolverine fans, myself included, had long felt that the maize and blue lacked one thing on offense for a few years – a tall, pocket-passing QB, ideally from California. That finally happened with the Palo Alto, CA 6-3, 202 pound Harbaugh.
Having heard that he had attended a high school passing camp with John Elway as his instructor, sealed the deal for me – Harbs was going to be the next starting QB in my opinion and his first start was highly anticipated by many. His first two passes against Miami – an out pattern to Vince Bean for 11 yards and another to Steve Johnson for 16 yards – showed off his strong arm, much to the delight of the Michigan Stadium crowd, as Michigan went on to win, 22-14. It was an impressive victory for the Wolverines and a great start for the new QB from California.
#4: 1985 Notre Dame – Remembering how Michigan finished the 1984 season at 6-6, not many gave U-M a chance in the season opener against Notre Dame in 1985. It was a statement game for both Michigan and its quarterback. Would the Wolverines bounce back with another 10-win season?
Would their quarterback return to form after breaking his arm a year earlier? A strong defense and solid ground game would power the maize and blue to the victory, and while Harbaugh didn’t light up the scoreboard with his passing, he was effective enough through the air to get the win, 20-12. His 3rd quarter touchdown on a quarterback draw and his ensuing endzone celebration put an exclamation point on the victory – Michigan and Harbaugh were back.
#3 1985 Ohio State – With Iowa having all but wrapped up the Rose Bowl bid a few weeks earlier with a one point win over Michigan, the Wolverines and Buckeyes were playing for Fiesta & Cotton Bowl bids respectively.
Not quite the same, but the chips were still high and Harbaugh was clutch throughout the game – particularly on 3rd down. Michigan’s QB would finish the game 16 of 19 for 230 yards and 3 TD’s with 8 of 9 passing on 3rd down for 8 first downs. He topped his clutch performance with a 77-yard touchdown bomb to John Kolesar that put a dagger in the Buckeye hearts once and for all as Michigan won, 27-17.
#2 1986 Notre Dame – Going into the game against the Irish in 1986, Michigan was ranked #1 in some polls but Notre Dame was strutting out their new coach and no one knew what to expect from Lou Holtz and ND.
Two moments stood out for me in this game: (1) After Harbaugh floated a perfect 27-yard touch pass to Jamie Morris for a touchdown, the Michigan quarterback flashed the #1 finger as he raced to the endzone to celebrate the score with his teammates. When did Michigan’s QB ever proclaim so visibly that they truly were #1? Never. (2) Late in the 4th quarter with the contest still in doubt and facing a critical 3rd & 6 at their own 22 yard-line, Harbaugh lofted a perfect 38-yard pass to Kolesar down the Michigan sideline that got the Wolverines out of trouble. When did Bo EVER throw deep on a critical 3rd & short with the game on the line? Never. Not until #4 arrived. A last-second John Carney field goal miss preserved the 24-23 Michigan victory.
#1 1986 Ohio State – After beating Notre Dame (twice), after beating Ohio State at home, and after winning the Fiesta Bowl, there was still something missing on the Harbaugh resume: a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl berth. Both were on the line in 1986. If that wasn’t enough pressure, Harbaugh put the bull’s-eye squarely on himself after he predicted victory over the Bucks on the Monday before the tilt with OSU.
This game was what he dreamed about as a kid emulating his boyhood idol, Rick Leach – beating the Bucks & going to Pasadena – and nothing was going to prevent him from reaching his ultimate goal. Much like he said before his first start in 1984, he was going to do whatever it took to win. In this game it meant overcoming a 11 point deficit in the second half and the raucous crowd in Columbus he so incited with his guarantee. It meant cupping his hands around his facemask to make it appear that his teammates could not hear his audibles that he really wasn’t screaming to them. It meant not throwing a touchdown pass the entire game. It meant executing the game plan to perfection. When it was all said and done, Harbaugh & the Wolverines would emerge victorious In Columbus, 26-24. They were Big Ten Champs and would head west to play in the Rose Bowl, just like he dreamed about as a kid.
Other Notables on Harbaugh:
Harbaugh would be the first UM QB to throw for 300 yards in one game (1986 Wisconsin, 1986 Indiana).
#4 was the nation’s most efficient passer in 1985 & finished second in 1986.
He would also become the QB to successfully break the Bo threshold of attempting more than 25 passes per game AND WIN – another indication that Michigan had finally devised an effective passing game that could win games.
Harbaugh started his career being late for his first team meeting and held a clipboard that entire 1982 season. He ended his career by hoisting the Big Ten Championship Trophy and singing The Victors in Columbus.
As I re-read my good friend John Kryk’s story (‘Wolverines on Your Head’) that appeared in the 2010 edition of mgoblog’s Hail To The Victors, I realized that there have been a few updates and corrections in the five years that have passed since it was written. In my never-ending quest to accurately recap the history of the Michigan Football helmet stickers, I have since determined, and confirmed with Jon Falk, that there were indeed three versions of the Wolverine decals. The image below recaps the nuances of the three versions:
Barry Pierson (29) in 1969 | Mike Lantry (36) from 1974
Version 2 (1975-1982)
Calvin O’Neal (96) in 1975 | Anthony Carter (1) from 1982
Version 3 (1985-1994)
Jim Harbaugh in 1985 | Tim Biakabutuka in 1994
So what happened in 1983 and 1984?
If those photos aren’t enough evidence for you, scan the videos of the 1983 and 1984 Ohio State games.
I’ve asked former players and I’ve asked Big Jon, and no one seems to have a concrete explanation as to WHY there were no decals on the helmets in 1983 & 1984. Initially, everyone I talked to was adamant that the decals were on the helmets those two years, but once I produced pictures of several players throughout those two years with blank helmets, they had no explanation.
I DO know that they were being kept track of on a wall in the locker room, but no one has an answer – not even your friendly neighborhood, Dr. Sap.
If anyone can help explain this dilemma, please respond to the Bat-Decal Signal below!
When looking back at some classic pictures and photos of Anthony Carter, you will notice that most of the time his jersey looked different from those worn by his Michigan teammates. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – AC, at times, did in fact wear a different jersey than his maize & blue brethren:
From 1979 through the 1981 season, Carter wore tear-away jerseys made by Russell Athletic.
Created in 1967 and known for the name they were given, these jerseys would indeed rip and tear apart whenever an opponent tried to grab them.
Before the Michigan jerseys became skin-tight, custom sewn, works of art by a local Ann Arbor seamstress in 1987, football jerseys some 30 to 40 years ago were loose-fitting garments that draped over the players. The excess material was perfect for a defender to grab onto and take an opponent down, sometimes even from behind. This technique was called a “shirt tackle.” You’ve probably never heard of that term because when the tear-aways were banned by the NCAA in 1982 (the last year they were used in the NFL was 1979), football jerseys gradually became tighter fitting, making it almost impossible to bring down a ball-carrier via a shirt tackle.
Recently legendary Michigan Football Equipment Manager Jon Falk shared with me the story of how Carter got to wear the tear-away jersey at Michigan. After sitting down with Bo Schembechler in the spring of 1979 and assigning the heavily recruited Riviera Beach, Florida wideout the #1 jersey Falk had a feeling Carter would be special. Sure enough the first few practices indeed showed everyone how fast and dynamic AC was. Never before had a receiver been able to catch every ball thrown to him in practice. Carter was able to chase down any pass, no matter how far it was thrown. For three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust-Bo and Michigan, this sight was truly shocking.
Schembechler noticed that the times Carter caught the ball in traffic, the only way the Michigan defenders could bring him down in practice was to grab his jersey. He was just too quick and elusive to bring down any other way.
Two weeks before the season opener against Northwestern, the Michigan jerseys arrived from manufacturer Spanjian and this got Bo thinking – if Carter wore a tear-away jersey the opponents would never be able to bring him down! Schembechler told Falk to get some tear-aways for his freshman wideout, but there was one problem – with the college football season only two weeks away, Russell was too busy completing jersey orders for other teams. When Big Jon asked the manufacturer to make some tear-aways, he was told they couldn’t meet his request at that time.
Undaunted, Falk pulled out a trump card and called a longtime friend–the owner of Russell Athletic. Sure enough, the owner ordered the Russell plant to stop all other production so that they could make some maize and blue #1 tear-aways for Anthony “The Darter” Carter. The rest is history. Here’s how they looked (note: no Carter nameplate on the back):
Falk also confirmed my suspicion that Carter was the only player to wear tear-away jerseys at Michigan. Big Jon told me that he would pack TEN (10) of the #1 tear-away jerseys for each game and that the most Carter went through in one game was four, which happened 3 or 4 times between 1979 and 1981.
Below are a few of the more famous nicknames from Bob “THE UFE” Ufer:
* Don Lund (Ufer’s color commentary man) – Lundo * Jack Lane (Ufer’s stats man) – The Human Computer * Tom Ufer – Old #3 son * Bo Schembechler – Bo “George Patton” Schembechler, The General * Woody Hayes – Dr. Strange Hayes * Woody Hayes’s Buckeyes – Test Tubes * Earle Bruce – “Darth Vader” Bruce * Earle Bruce’s Buckeyes – Scarlet and Gray Stormtroopers * Dan Devine – Dreary Old Dan Devine * Michigan State – Jolly Green Giants * Dennis Franklin – Dennis “The Menace” Franklin * Ed Shuttlesworth – “Easy” Ed Shuttlesworth * Mike Lantry – Super Toe * Gil Chapman – The Jersey Jet * Gordon Bell – The Whirling Dervish * Rob Lytle – The Blonde Bullet, The Fremont Flash * Rick Leach – Ricky “The Peach” Leach, The Flint Phenom, The Guts and Glue of the Maize and Blue * Russell Davis – Russell “Hustle” Davis * Harlan Huckleby – Harlan “Huckleberry Finn” Huckleby * U-M’s 1978 Backfield – Huckleberry Finn deep and Tom Sawyer close * Thomas Seabron – Old Sea Dog * Mike Jolly – Butterknife, Bones * Chris Godfrey – “Manster” (half Man, half Monster) * Ron Simpkins – Boo Bear * Curtis Greer – Curtis “Harvey Martin” Greer * Roosevelt Smith – Roosevelt “Rosey” Smith * Bryan Virgil – Bryan “Ozzie” Virgil * Lawrence Reid – Lawrence “LP” Reid * John Wangler – Johnny “Winging” Wangler * Mel Owens – The Hulk * Mike Trgovac – Tiger Vac * Anthony Carter – Spider, Darter, Sparkplug, the Human Torpedo and of course just, “AC.” * Robert Thompson – Robert “Bubba Baker” Thompson * Butch Woolfolk – “My name is Butch, don’t call me Harold, Woolfolk!” * Steve Smith – Smitty
Ufer-isms And because you can’t have one without the other, here are a few common but classic phrases frequently uttered by ol’ Ufe:
* Referees – $100 an hour men * Michigan Stadium – The Hole that Yost dug, Crisler paid for and Canham carpeted * Michigan’s Tartan Turf – Canham’s Carpet * Ohio Stadium – The Snakepit * Ohio Stadium Crowd – 10,000 Michigan fans and 75,000 Truck Drivers * The Little Brown Jug – The Finest Piece of Football Crockery in America * Offensive Co-Ordinator Chuck Stobart’s Offense – Stobart’s Stallions * Jerry Hanlon’s O-Line – Hanlon’s Hustlers * Gary Moeller’s Offense – Moeller’s Marauders * Bill McCartney’s Defense – McCartney’s Monsters * Michigan Football – “Football is a religion and Saturday is the Holy Day of Obligation” * The CBs of Michigan Football – “Crisler, Benny, Bump and Bo” * Ali Haji-Shiekh – “the only Iranian I know who wears cowboy boots” * Out of the endzone kickoffs – “Aluminum Beer Cans – Non-Returnable” * “Closer than fuzz on a gnat’s eye “ * “Like a bat out of … you know where bats come from” * “Pickin’ ‘em up and layin’ ‘em down” * Two things you can always count on Ufer saying: football is a game of emotions, and games are always won or lost up front in the trenches.
A while back legendary Michigan Football Equipment Manager Jon Falk told me the story of how Anthony Carter was given the #1 jersey to wear by Coach Bo Schembechler. He also told me that Bo went to unbelievable lengths to get AC to come to A-squared.
Recently I tracked down former U-M Coaches Bill McCartney and Don Nehlen to get the real details of how Carter became a Wolverine. Nehlen told me that U-M was not regularly into recruiting Florida back then, but at the same time, Michigan was still a considered a program with a national reach. “I can still remember the first time I saw him at practice,” Nehlen told me. “I said, ‘Oh, brother—this is a pretty fragile looking guy!’ He was a dynamite football player, though.” One concern they had about recruiting in Florida was the reality of having to bring the players to Michigan—and more specifically—the Michigan weather. While he was involved in the courtship, Nehlen also told me that the point man for the recruitment of AC was coach McCartney.
Sure enough, coach Mac had the full skinny and here’s our Q&A:
Steve Sapardanis (SS): Was Carter the most electrifying athlete you had seen in High School? Coach Bill McCartney (BM): Yes. He really was electric. He had balance, acceleration. His quickness was uncommon. He was a cut above. One thing you have to remember, the kids in Florida were able to play football year round and as a result, they had a noticeable edge when they got to college. By the time I went to visit him, he was already leaning toward Miami (Florida).
SS: Did you as coaches feel AC would get you over the hump and help you win a bowl game at Michigan? BM: You gotta remember, he was the rage! He was the cat’s meow! He was shot out of a cannon! He was faster than a speeding bullet! It didn’t surprise me one bit that he returned a punt for a touchdown in his first game (at Michigan).
SS: Did you have to recruit his parents to get Anthony to come to Michigan? BM: In some cases, you are right – you have to recruit the parents, because sometimes if you convinced the kid to come without selling the parents on it, you could lose the kid. That wasn’t the case with Anthony. Michigan was an easy sell.
SS: Why do you think AC wanted to come to Michigan? BM: Michigan was the maximum experience. It was a college town. It was a safe town; close to a big city. It had the largest stadium in the country. The most wins in college football history. It was wholesome.
SS: Wasn’t Carter worried about Bo running the ball and not throwing it a lot? BM: You’re right about Bo wanting to run the ball, but I don’t think Anthony really knew a lot about Michigan, to tell you the truth.
SS: It sounded like AC was the prized recruit in his class – was that the case? BM: Absolutely. I’ve never told anyone this before but we saw that the temperature for his visit to Ann Arbor was going to be 10 degrees. So we had this plan (laughs). We covered every detail with the coaches and his host.* It was all rehearsed. I flew down to Florida to pick up Anthony and brought him up to Ann Arbor. Because it was so cold, we were worried that the weather might affect his decision, so when the plane landed in Detroit, we had a car waiting to pick us up. So as soon as we got off the plane, I rushed Anthony into the car (laughs). And when we got to Ann Arbor, we had the car pull up right in front of the football building and whisked him inside. I had it coordinated with the other coaches so that Anthony was never outside for more than 10 seconds. [The host] did a great job with Anthony, showing him around and saying all the right things.
When his visit was over, I flew back with him to Florida. It was the only time I would ever fly to meet a recruit and fly back home with him – he was that important and that special. When we landed in Florida, Anthony said to me, “You know coach, it really wasn’t that cold!” That’s when I knew we got him. SS: Did the promise of an indoor practice facility factor in his recruitment? BM: It never did, because we didn’t want to make a big deal about the weather. See, if we talked about that, or how cold it would get, it would have put all the focus on the weather and we didn’t want to talk about that.
The ‘79 staff from the game program that season
SS: I heard that while you got AC’s mother to sign his Letter of Intent, getting his father to sign it was a little more involved. Did you and Bo actually go into the Florida Everglades to get Carter’s father to sign his LOI? BM: Yes, it’s true.
SS: Bo literally rolled up his pant-legs, took off his shoes and socks and walked into the Florida Everglades to get Anthony’s dad to sign his Letter of Intent? BM: Yes. (laughs!) The old man was foaming at the mouth to get AC!
SS: Why did both of Carter’s parents have to sign his Letter of Intent? Couldn’t it have been faxed? BM: We weren’t taking any chances. We didn’t want to run the risk of a fax. Lots of things can happen at the last minute. Lots of kids will change their mind and vacillate – especially with out-of-state kids. And with Anthony being from Florida, there were a lot of schools down there wanting to get him to sign. Anthony was insecure, but was an extra-ordinary kid who came from a not so stable situation. So Bo and I went down there and timed it (with all the other recruits) so that we were there (on Signing Day). In my mind it was a done deal. That’s why Bo came with me. If Anthony hadn’t signed, I would have been fired! I would have had to find my own way home! In my mind, he was the single greatest recruit Michigan has ever had – ever! I mean, he was a three-time All-American! When has that ever happened?
*Coach Mac couldn’t remember the host player’s name, but John Wangler later told me he thought it was Zeke Wallace from Pompano Beach, FL.