I had the pleasure to write today’s #MichiganComic for Scott and the illustrious ‘The Blockhams’ series. Here’s a snapshot, click to see the full page:
Thanks for the opp Scott!
Saturday night at the Big House I’ll be wearing these:
Have I lost my mind? Perhaps. But it’s for a great cause and what I hear is an excellent event:
On Saturday, February 8, the Ronald McDonald Houses of Ann Arbor will host their second annual Red Shoe Affair presented by the Southeastern McDonald’s Owner Operator Association. This exciting evening, located in the beautiful Jack Roth Stadium Club at Michigan Stadium will include an exclusive behind the scenes look at the Big House with a strolling dinner, cocktails, auctions and entertainment. The event helps build awareness and funding for both of the Ronald McDonald Houses of Ann Arbor.
With nearly 1,500 families served annually, the Ronald McDonald Houses of Ann Arbor has provided families with more than just a place to rest but a place where families can support each other and remain close to their child when they are needed most. We believe that when a child is hospitalized, the love and support of family is as powerful as any medicine prescribed. Over the years our mission has remained the same while the need for our services continues to grow.
If you’ll be there look for the guy wearing those shoes and say hi. If you are interested in joining me you can get tickets here, support the silent auction here, and find out much, much more about Ronald McDonald House here.
Go Red! Go Blue!
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Here’s a few pics from the 5th Annual Swing to Cure Diabetes held at the UM Golf Course on Monday afternoon. According to former Michigan QB/DB and event organizer Rich Hewlett, this was one of the biggest turnouts in the half decade of the outing that benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center (UMCDC). I don’t have the final numbers but they raised a lot of money and ran another wonderful event.
Special guests this year included Mike Hart, Ira Weintraub, Coach Mo, Coach Hanlon and Coach Hoke:
Coach Hoke addressing the UMGC crowd, flanked by Hewlett and his son Jeffrey, a current U-M student living with Type 1 diabetes. I spotted Coach Hoke taking a few swings out there and yes, it went about a well as you’d guess (think blacksmith)
Coaches Hanlon and Moeller circa 2013 and 1969 (inset)
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I really don’t function too well when I’m watching these games and it’s gotten worse since as I was in New Orleans two decades back.
Funny, the lingering painful image I have from ‘93 is not Webber’s timeout but rather Donald Williams out on the wing with his legs and arms extended (wrist snapped), slinging in three and after three like he was Spike.
It got worse at the 1998 Rose Bowl. Arms folded, I barely said a word or moved the whole game. Thinking about the never-ending string of late-game third-down measurements still makes me twist. I’ve seen highlights of course (and more importantly, I know how things turned out!) but I’m not interested in watching the entire replay again because it was so agonizing.
Last night, once I arrived in section 227 I offered the occasional fist bump to the fellers around me but never moved from the seat—for anything–from tip to the time I walked out.
I don’t think I’m alone. My dad once asked one of his pals, a big Michigan fan, why he didn’t really ever go to the Big House despite living within an hour. Reply: “Because they break your heart.” It was heart breaking last night.
At times It’s Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine but for a lot us, especially when we’re on the brink like this, it’s also agonizing TBAMW. Look, I’m what Mike Gundy would call a man(+1) now and I have an incredible family at home. Believe me I can and do put this stuff in perspective and rebound quickly after the game is over. But in these situations in the moment it’s almost impossible for me to truly enjoy it. Nevertheless, like a moth to the flame I will return again, hopefully soon.
All that said I feel better today. There seems to be some serious love along with a deep appreciation directed at Crisler Center for what just happened over the past few weeks. One unique aspect of going to the Final Four is that win or lose you really can’t take it away (ok, sometimes it gets taken away) and these guys won’t be forgotten. I liken our fandom in this case in the role of a proud parent whose son or daughter just finished 2nd in the Spelling Bee. (Winning word: “incidental”).
The fans in Atlanta were outstanding, and hats off to the Louisville masses for being first class. The Syracuse fans, FWIW, were coach class.
Thankfully Michigan fans, by and large, aren’t blaming these Sun Bowl-esque refs for the loss, although they nearly ruined one of the best games in recent history. I hope Jim Delany sends them a sternly worded tweet instructing them to do better.
But for M fans, now? Let it go, man, at least right after you check out the gif of the Burke block that Ace posted at mgoblog, not because it’s a demonstration of the crappy call that it was, it’s just…well just LOOK AT IT and ACCEPT IT before it destroys you!
And the Fab Five? That’s personal business for me because they were classmates and I’m widely biased about how I feel about them, even Webber. I’m glad they showed up. I feel like a big piece of this was put behind us this weekend. And according to Sam Webb this morning having those guys in the locker room after the game to check on the team seemed to give Burke and crew, who were clearly devastated, a boost.
And speaking of the Fab Five, Jimmy King’s interview with Sam and Ira Monday morning was gripping. Please check out the full podcast here. If you listen really hard you can hear my jaw drop from my bed as King described black hole of communication. As Jimmy (and Jalen on Grantland) clearly described, it was such an awkward thing between the other 4 guys and Chris that I hope Monday they worked things out. Whatever it was.
A few misc photos just because– President MSC, Desmond, Novak, Chuck and Denard [note: I don’t know who snapped that pic, it was sent to me, rest are my pics], and quick view shot before the national anthem:
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I was at the 1993 Final Four in New Orleans two decades ago as a U-M student and it was certainly a trip I’ll never forget it. After we drove down (yep, from Ann Arbor to New Orleans) we went over to pick up our tickets.
Just a moment after they were in my hands I was offered $3,500 my pair to the semis and finals from a broker holding a bound stack of bills the size of a roll of duct tape (my primo student seats were 18 rows behind the bench). I remember Mitch Albom happened to be there at that moment and saw us struggling with the dilemma. He asked us if we were staying out of trouble or something like that. (None of your business old man!) For a few different reasons I couldn’t bite on that tasty offer. File under Cool Story Bro.
The sting of that brutal ending in ‘93 lingers for sure but the whole experience was amazing. The semifinal game against Kentucky was one of the best I’ve ever seen and the ensuing trip to Bourbon Street and the ensuing sunrise, etc.., were truly epic. And regarding that sting, I’ve seen enough football nailbiters—both bitter and sweet—to numb the pain of Webber’s untimely timeout. I still feel like I need to head to Atlanta next week to truly put the 1993 final behind me, or at least that’s what I’m telling the Mrs.
I might just go so I don’t have to listen to those clowns on CBS misrepresent history and make up stories about recruiting. Or I might just go to find Tom Crean and tell him about my KickStarter campaign to build a special Rose Parade float in his honor.
I’m guessing most Michigan fans are thrilled but not shocked that this team made it through to the Final Four. And while anything can happen in the NCAA tournament, had Jordan Morgan’s layup against IU gone in instead of barely rolling off the rim, Michigan would probably have been a 2 seed.
As far as the outlook, the most encouraging thing here is that they keep winning despite key players having rough games–Burke in the first couple games, Hardaway yesterday, Stauskas until yesterday. My concern? In those games down the B1G stretch and for a while against Kansas they looked like the young team that they are—out of synch, tossing the ball away, taking bad shots. They are still so young, but having McGary’s physical presence underneath (& having the big fella clearly wary of foul trouble) along with Spike giving Burke the occasional blow is so huge.
You going? Final Four ticket packages here from SeatCrunch.
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Here’s Santa himself paying the Michigan football team a visit in Pasadena back on Christmas Day in 1947:
Fullback Jack Weisenberger receives a gift from Kris Kringle and one can only assume the old man handed over USC’s offensive and defensive playbook. A few days Fritz Crisler’s magical crew stomped the Trojans 49-0 to seal the national championship. Wiesenberger scored three touchdowns!
Merry Christmas and Go Blue!
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A couple updates on my annual post of what to bring to Michigan Stadium. This year local police have added a few other items to pack:
“Bring a dose of patience, a sense of humor and some excitement for the game,”
Check. Check. (Yes, we have those. We were around from ‘08-‘10). And Check.
Why? The Stadium Bridge is still closed and I’m guessing there will be quite a few folks who traditionally rely on that route to get to the stadium coming from the north and east sides of the state. AnnArbor.com posted a map, etc. For those finding discovering this little issue today here’s your t-shirt:
You should also bring your history tidbits and you can get all those here:
Here’s what else to bring:
1. AM/FM Radio. Forget the latest incarnation of the radio that sticks on your ear, they are unreliable. Bring in a radio you trust to listen to the play-by-play from Brandy and Beckmann. You’ll get injury reports, sideline observations, statistics and analysis of key plays that are under review (although Brandstatter always seems to think the replay will goes Michigan’s way). Probably most critical: with the radio in your ears you can block out the blabber from the idiot nearby who won’t shut his Twizzler hole, as he gives his personal play-by-play and screams down to the coaches from row 87.
2. M Lid. While not an absolute requirement, it certainly helps to keep that sun from beating down on you. For those in the North end zone or east side of the field, could be critical.
3. Digital Camera. You never know who you’re going to see at the game or what live action you might catch.
4. Tickets & Lanyard. Obviously you’ll need those tickets to get in but for the big games I always try to bring in a lanyard to hold the ducats. If nothing else, it makes for easy access to display the ticket on the way back into your section. It also provides some chest coverage if you decide to peel. (P.S. Take a hard look at those tickets in the pic – anyone know what game that was? Avert your eyes!)
5. Your Wallet. Where you keep your bread, Daddy-o. I don’t care how many beers and brats your jammed in your greasy skull at the tailgate, you’ll need at least a drink or two and something to eat at the game.
6. Seat Cushion. It serves so many purposes. First, it marks your spot in the tight M stadium rows. Next, it provides some comfort to your bony butt. Finally, it actually gives you an extra inch of torso height above the guy in front of you—really. Don’t think that matters? Try it sometime – it does.
7. Phone/PDA/Blackberry. In case something crazy happens you’ll need to call your boys. And the “other scores” communication at M stadium is lackluster at best. You’ll need your device to keep current on the big games of the day, and follow the latest tweets and Facebook blasts. (P.S. The comedy relief on Twitter during the Alabama game saved me and others I’m certain.)
8. Keys. While most the folks in my section have keyless entry to their luxury sleds, you still don’t want to forget your keys. Keep them in your pocket. And P.S. — It is no longer cool to shake your keys during a “key play”.
9. Seeds. A personal preference of the but I always enjoy a few seeds to help cut the tension.
10. Shades. Similar reason as the hat. If you’re in the North or East sides of the field they are mandatory. Wear them for no other reason than to hide your pickled bloodshot peepers.
Optional #1: the handheld Fan Vision unit. I haven’t heard them promote the device this year, interested to see if they’ve added some features or views or improved the quality.
Optional #2: Especially this year – invest $5 in a game program! Check out the history features (hint, hint).
We Michigan fans love our maize and blue gear and our clever T-shirts but beware: quite a few Alabama fans are on a different spiritual realm.
Take The Bammer here, as seen before the 2011 Capital One bowl against Michigan State:
HT to @DaBangStick for the photo
Having face paint and kilt is one thing, but the tattoos are obviously around 24-7. That’s dedication.
After this photo was snapped Bammer grabbed my bro, a Spartan fan, and told him, “Now ya’ll take it easy on us, ya hear?" and he winked. At that precise moment my brother’s pregame tailgate-infused glee and optimism was wiped away and he knew his Spartans were doomed. Doomed.
Avoid The Bammer. Go Blue.
2000 Orange Bowl
I’ve had my own run in with Alabama fans, namely at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Bullets:
* I remember the Alabama fans being pretty dang annoying (not that we Michigan fans aren’t). When we won the game on the missed extra point I got the double whammy of the euphoria of a huge Michigan victory alongside the devilish joy of schadenfreude.
* Speaking of winning on the missed extra point. I’ve heard a few folks, looking back, telling me something like, “Yeah, great game but too bad that game ended that way..” I totally disagree with this. I don’t feel it was cheapened by how it ended. Those extra points in overtime are high pressure kicks. It takes 11 guys to execute especially the kicker, snapper and holder. We made ours.
* Tickets. There’s always a false feeling that tickets to these big road games are scarce. Certainly it applies to some games – 1998 Rose Bowl obviously, for one. But man, you literally couldn’t give tickets away to this game once you got there. One guy with me circled the stadium (and got lost—damn you perfectly symmetric stadium!) for an hour and couldn’t get rid of them.
Prediction? Bammer’s revenge: Make it Alabama 32, Michigan 13
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