In 1924 WWJ’s Ty Tyson and Doc Holland called the Michigan-Wisconsin game at Ferry Field and delivered what is believed to be the first live radio broadcast from a football stadium. Since that day nine decades ago, for many of y9u radio remains the preferred method to consume Michigan football each Saturday – especially for road games :)

You probably know that this season longtime U-M color analyst Jim Brandstatter shifts over one chair, replacing Frank Beckmann as the play-by-play man.  Next to him will be Brandy’s former teammate and pal, longtime NFL broadcaster & Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf.

Before the season I got to chat with these guys for a piece for the game program–so look for that each Saturday.  

For you – here’s the entire transcript of my chat with Dan Dierdorf.  [P.S. Between us girls Dan D. doesn’t know me from Adam yet was off-the-charts kind and accommodating.  File under FWIW.]

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MVictors: The great Bob Ufer was unabashedly biased when he called Michigan games, and you certainly knew who Brandstatter and Beckmann were rooting for. Will it be a tough transition knowing you’ll clearly have a rooting interest with Michigan?

Dan Dierdorf: It’s going to be tough because for 30 years I’ve only ever done it one way, and that’s completely unbiased and neutral. You have to completely straddle that line. You have one foot in one team’s camp, one foot in the other team’s camp and you’ve got to really be neutral. I mean that is one of the things that not only is expected of you, it’s demanded of you as a network analyst. If the audience thinks you have a bias, which of course the two whole markets think you do.

The reality is you just can’t. I never cared about anything when I was doing network television other than hoping that the game was tied 28-28 at the start of the fourth quarter. You just wanted a good game. It’s going to take me awhile to show that I’m leaning towards the maize & blue, which of course I will be. That’s going to be a luxury, I think I’m going to enjoy it.

MVictors: So that’s one challenge. Does doing radio in particular, bring any unique challenges to what you were used to over the last several years doing TV?

Dan Dierdorf: Well I’ve done radio games before. When I first broke into the business, I started doing radio. I did the University of Missouri for an entire season back in 1984. I did about 10 or so games with the CBS Radio Network, working with guys like Lindsey Nelson and Ray Scott and Dick Stockton and people like that. I cut my teeth on radio.

There is a freedom in doing radio that doesn’t exist in television. When you do a game on television, you are a slave to the picture. You’ve got to service the viewer at home by referencing what he can see on his television screen.

To do anything outside of that, you’re really doing a disservice to the viewer, because you’re talking about something they can’t see. Everything you do in television, it orbits around the picture that’s on the screen.

When you’re doing radio, you can be more conversational. You can take longer to tell a story. You can paint the picture yourself. There’s a freedom in doing radio that doesn’t exist in doing television, and I’m looking forward to that. That will be fun.

MVictors: You’ve been so busy since leaving Michigan and you’ve had such a decorated career. Had you ever, maybe early in your career, considered coming back to Michigan in one capacity or another?

Dan Dierdorf: I’ve always lamented the fact that I haven’t gotten to spend much time in Ann Arbor on a football weekend. Because I was either playing in the NFL, or I was working in the NFL. The NFL season started before college football, and didn’t end until after college football. I just rarely ever got to a game in Ann Arbor, because I was working. I was always in Boston or New York or Miami or Oakland or Denver. It was just the nature of my life.

I always dreamed about when I retired, going back and just tailgating with my teammates and hanging out. Actually going to a game and sitting in the stands. Or sitting upstairs in the press box and whatever. That’s the way I saw it. I never saw myself coming back to Ann Arbor as a part of the radio team. I never imagined that.

MVictors: At what point after that did you see this job really as something you’d consider? Did it come down to knowing that you might be sitting next to Jim Brandstatter?

Dan Dierdorf: Well, yeah. How could my comfort level be any higher? Dave Brandon and I were teammates. Jim Brandstatter and I were teammates.  I mean if I’m not comfortable around those two guys…! [laughs] Jim Brandstatter and I played the same position. I have known Jim Brandstatter my entire adult life. We stay in contact, we’re friends. I’ve been friends with Jim Brandstatter since I met him in 1968. That was a long time ago.

How many people get an opportunity to do what I’m getting to do? I retired from network television. I thought I had completely retired. I had no intention of going back to work. Quite frankly, I don’t really view this as work.  They are going to pay me but what a scam. I probably would have done it for nothing.

MVictors: Is there anything about Jim Brandstatter that maybe fans wouldn’t know about him, but maybe should?

Dan Dierdorf: That’s a great question. I think they sense this, but I can offer confirmation that Jim is absolutely one of the most decent, honest human beings I’ve ever known in my entire life. They don’t need me to tell them that he is Michigan through-and-through—and what a luxury it is to have a guy like that associated with the program.

He is a walking library of the University of Michigan. Not just its football program, but its athletic programs across the board. Every university should have someone who has been there, done that, seen everything, and experienced it the way Jim Brandstatter has.

A lot of people are really successful in this business, but Jim Brandstatter is an even better person than he is a broadcaster. He’s also really funny. He also makes me feel good about myself, because he weighs more than I do. I actually get to play the thin man when we’re together. [laughs]

The only thing I need to do before the season starts—and I’ll pay for this myself. I’m going to have a structural engineer take a look at the broadcast booth. I just want to make sure there are enough steel beams underneath that thing when we both get in there together [laughs]

I don’t expect the university to pay for that; I’m willing to do it myself. I would like some confirmation that there’s a big enough I-beam underneath that booth that’s going to hold both of us in there. [laughs]

MVictors: Have you got to know Jon Jansen and Doug Karsch [the new Tailgate Show crew] at all?

Dan Dierdorf: I don’t know Doug.  My house [in Petoskey, MI] is about a mile and a quarter from Jon Jansen’s house. Seriously, Jon and I live maybe live a mile and a quarter apart all summer long in Northern Michigan. That’s his year-round residence up there. I’m just there from May to October. Yeah, I see Jon with some regularity.

MVictors: It sounds like you’re going to try to get a chance to hang out with some of your old buddies and tailgate when the opportunity permits?

Dan Dierdorf: Oh yeah. You know I see them during the course of the year, at different things. Yes, oh absolutely. I just have to be up in the booth about an hour, hour-and-a-half before the game. Before that, you’ll find me over on the parking lot by Crisler, where Dick Caldarazzo his tailgate. I’ve got the promise of a golf cart so I can go over there and tailgate for a while before I have to go to work.

MVictors: Are there any game day traditions or rituals that you hold to each week? Anything that you do as part of habit, before you broadcast?

Dan Dierdorf: Not really. I always get up early the day of a game and just prepare. I’m reading every newspaper article I can read. I just like to feel that I’m really prepared when the game starts.

I’m not one of those guys that refers to a lot of notes during the game. I figure if I don’t know it, it can’t be all that important. For me, I’m going to have to … I love the game. I love the traditions of the game. Whether that’s being at Pittsburgh when three minutes before kick-off they’re waving the terrible towels. Or it’s in Baltimore, where they play the theme from Gladiator and the stadium goes nuts.

That period of time that probably starts about 10 minutes before kick-off, right up to kick-off, I’ve never not savored every moment of that when I’m at a football game. My problem is going to be at least for the first couple of games, not getting totally swept away by the emotion that’s going to be coursing through my veins at Michigan Stadium.

I’m going to have to fasten the seatbelt and try to weather that storm, because it’s going to be very emotional for me. It’s going to be tough, because I’m going to realize how much I’ve missed this and how lucky I am to get a chance to go home again.

MVictors: I believe on CBS you wore a couple of Hall of Fame rings during your broadcast commonly, is that right?

Dan Dierdorf: I wear my college football Hall of Fame ring, and I wear my pro football Hall of Fame ring.Dan Dierdorf ring

MVictors:  Are you going to slap on a Michigan ring during your broadcast?  Or is that to be determined?

Dan Dierdorf:  Well my college football Hall of Fame ring says Michigan on it. It’s got my school on the college football Hall of Fame ring. Will I wear my M ring? Probably not. But that’s the nice thing about it, I always had to wear a coat and tie. I always had to wear a coat and tie, and I always had to wear a CBS blazer. Now I get to just wear Michigan stuff, and I don’t have to wear a tie. What a wonderful thing.

I can view the game in a Michigan sweatshirt and a Michigan baseball hat. I’ll channel my inner Bo Schembechler.

I’m telling you. I’m like a trained monkey; I won’t know how to talk without wearing a tie. That might be a struggle for me. I always wonder, “Why am I the only guy? Why am I the only guy wearing a coat and tie? Because it’s me and the guy next to me, my play-by-play guy. We’re the only two people in the entire stadium wearing coats and ties.”

MVictors: In the industry you have a lot of friends at Michigan. You both do. Might we expect a few visitors up in the radio booth during the year?

Dan Dierdorf: I would hope so. Yeah. Who knows who might stop by. I know I’ve extended an invite or two to some of the guys. Bob Seger has a home up by me in Northern Michigan. I know I have reached out to Bob, said “Hey, anytime you want to come to a game, feel free to stop by.” We’ll put him on the air for a while. He’s got a little bit of a following in Michigan.

MVictors: How’s Bob as a person?

Dan Dierdorf: What a great guy. Just a wonderful guy. I’m not going to lie, I’m semi-starstruck around him. I’ve just been a fan of his for so long. He’s the most down to earth guy. If you didn’t know what Bob Seger looked like, you wouldn’t realize you’re in the presence of such a star by the way he acts. You’d think this is a guy that just drove up in a truck and wanted to hang out and talk for a while. Great guy.

MVictors: So if he were here, what would Bo tell you and Brandstatter if he saw you walking up to the booth to call your first game?

Dan Dierdorf: The first thing he would do would be to tell us both that we were both that we were overweight and out of shape and report to him after the game to run some laps.
Jim and I would both know how immensely proud he would be of the two of us for doing that. As silly as this sounds, one of the reason I’m doing this is I know he would be happy. I know he would be thrilled at this. He would be over the moon and that brings a smile to my face.

MVictors: Anything you’re trying to get through to them through this broadcast this year? It has been a challenging stretch for fans and I know folks are really excited to have you here.

Dan Dierdorf:  Let me tell you something. One of the things the fans are going to figure out really quickly is I bleed Michigan football and I always have. When things aren’t going well, I have a hard time containing it. My crews at ABC and CBS over the years have had to suffer with me on Saturday afternoons when things didn’t go well. Everybody knew how much it mattered to me so they would get after me, whether it was find me an Appalachian State T-shirt. Of all times, we lost of Minnesota one time when we’re doing an Indianapolis Colts game. Honest to God within 20 minutes of the game being over, into our meeting room walked Tony Dungy, the coach of the Colts who of course is a Minnesota grad. I have to get down on one knee and kiss his ring.

Fans are going to figure out that it really means a lot to me. What I want, what I hope happens is that I get to watch Michigan football turn the corner and head back up to where it needs to be. That’s important to me and I plan on being there to watch it happen.

MVictors: Outstanding. Thank you so much for the time.

Dan Dierdorf: You’re welcome. Anytime, thanks.

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I’ll post the full interview with Jim Brandstatter in the coming days..

Follow MVictors on Twitter

And talks about you-know-what.

Worth a listen, about 13 minutes of audio:

HT:  mgoblog user UMICH1606

sam_webb

I’ve been trying to catch Sam Webb for an interview for quite a while now and recently I finally had the chance to sit down with him.  

He co-hosts ‘The Michigan Insider’ daily radio show on WTKA 1050AM in Ann Arbor with Ira Weintraub each morning. Webb also writes a column for the Detroit News covering recruiting. The balance of the time for the 32-year-old Flint native is gathering and publishing information on recruits as managing editor for GoBlueWolverine.com. He’s a busy man, so busy in fact that he was recently instructed by a doctor to take on a new job: getting a full night of sleep.

We chatted for about two hours about radio, how he got started in recruiting, his rivals at The Wolverine, coach Rodriguez, his patented ‘gut feelings’ and much more.  I’ll publish some of the interview here and the rest will hopefully be found soon over at GoBlueWolverine and in GBW magazine. 

MVictors:  Fans seem to dwell on the star ratings of prospects.  Do you have any say in the star ratings?
Sam Webb: No. No say. The regional guys get together and come up with the rankings.

MVictors: It seems like that’s kind of a big deal.
Sam Webb: It is on paper, but in practice, I don’t think there’s a big difference between a three and a four star.   It is all opinion and some of it politically influenced. Some networks are more SEC conference based. Some analysts are more tied to particular schools, so their recruits are rated more favorably. Notre Dame has benefitted from that. Michigan has benefitted from that in the past, not as much anymore [laughs]. There’s a lot in play when it comes to the rankings.

I tell people to not take the rankings, or recruiting in general, so seriously. It’s a guide and it gives you a picture of what things look like and it gives you a glimpse at what kind of athlete a guy may be. But a recruiting analyst is never going to have as much information on kids as coaches, so what you have to do when it comes to recruiting classes is trust the scouting ability of your coaches and wait to see if they prove worthy of that trust. You’ll see that eventually on the field.

MVictors: Is player rating something you’d like to be a part of?
Sam Webb:  I wouldn’t do rankings even if they gave me the opportunity. You’ll notice that when I write in the Detroit News, I never ever make player evaluations. I always use the analysts for that and part it is because the News is a different medium and you are supposed to attack that job in a more unbiased way. I don’t give people an avenue to say, ‘He’s just ranking this kid higher because he’s going to Michigan.’ I always use the analysts to avoid that sort of perception.

MVictors: Are you able to share information with the Michigan coaching staff? And the other way around, because I’m sure they have information that you’d like to have, and you have information that they’d like to have.
Sam Webb: You can volunteer information to Michigan, they just can’t reciprocate. They can’t tell you to call recruits. They can’t do interviews on recruits. They can’t do anything or any sort of dealings with you. There are a few questions they can answer about recruiting and they are very, very broad questions and there are a limited number of them.

MVictors: Do you talk to the Michigan coaches and tell them what’s going on?
Sam Webb: I’ll email information and say, ‘This is report on this guy’, or ‘this is what I got on that guy’. We’ll volunteer information, but we can’t go beyond sending out reports like that.

MVictors: Looking back, what are some of the names of recruits that you just knew after seeing them that they’d be stars.  And who are a few of the guys that didn’t make it that really shocked you?
Sam Webb:  I’ll start off with some of the guys that didn’t make it, because that’s easier. Kelly Baraka for sure. I thought he was going to be unbelievable. Antonio Bass I thought was going to be phenomenal and he’s a guy who didn’t make it for another reason. I thought Justin Fargas was going to be a superstar here.

As far as guys that made it, I knew Chad Henne was going to be good. When I saw Lamar Woodley in high school I knew he’d be special. I tell you what, when I saw Vernon Gholston I knew that guy would be really good. When I saw Reggie Bush I knew there would be no question. Same with Adrian Peterson, no question.  And Tim Tebow.  When I saw him his junior year he was spectacular. Ted Ginn is another one.  He had fantastic speed but I knew he wouldn’t make it as a corner, and he was originally recruited as a cornerback.

There are a few guys I feel about that right now. I think [USC commit] Kyle Prater will be an absolute monster as a college football player. I think Seantrel Henderson will be an unbelievable college football player, I don’t think there’s any question about it.

MVictors: What is your feeling about other sites, like blogs, that will see a breaking story on a premium site and share it on their site in a post or a forum?
Sam Webb: I haven’t really talked to anyone about protocol but if you’re asking me how I’d like to see it handled, if a premium story is on GoBlueWolverine and five seconds later it is regurgitated on say a blog site, that certainly isn’t the fairest of practices.  I’d like to see, if they have to mention it, that they write something like, ‘Big news on X site, click this link’ but realistically that isn’t happening. What happens is someone writes that this is the story, and mentions that it came from a pay site.

What that does is compromise the ability to get those stories. For Scout and Rivals, it really doesn’t have much impact right now but eventually you’ll get to the point, and I guess it’s the slippery slope argument, where you won’t have any information gatherers. You tap it so dry that no one will pay for that service anymore.

MVictors: What the biggest difference in the recruiting experience between Coach Carr and Coach Rodriguez?
Sam Webb: I think both place a lot of value on recruiting players that they’ve seen in camp. I think both coaches had the majority of the coaches recruiting in the state of Michigan, then they fan out in the area with a focus on Ohio and Pennsylvania. When Carr was coach, they did a lot in California, and Kentucky, and a lot in New Jersey. With Rich, he’s got a large focus in Florida but no as much in California.

MVictors: What about the experience of the kids?
Sam Webb: They both espouse the virtues of Michigan, and did so in a way that is appealing to players. With Lloyd, it was more from a standpoint of having been part of that history. With Rich, it’s more with about a reverence of history. Lloyd was speaking more first person, ‘I was with Bo Schembechler,’ and ‘This is what we did and what it meant.’ Whereas when Rich talks to kids, the reverence when talking about someone like Bo Schembechler is almost from the same standpoint that the kid might have. He’s selling it and he feels it, but he’s talking about in a different way than Lloyd would talk about it.  I don’t think that puts lesser value on it; it’s just different.

When you spoke to Lloyd, he was bigger than you and I don’t mean that in a bad way. You’d see him and it was like, ‘That’s Lloyd Carr”. When he spoke you felt like it was almost part of Michigan history talking. When you speak to Rich, you feel more like you’re talking to your neighbor. It’s more of an eye-level rapport. He comes off more as a guy you’d actually hang out with. Not that you couldn’t hang out with Lloyd, but you get what I mean. Lloyd was bigger than the room, so to speak. I hope this come off in a denigrating way, either way, for both guys. But that’s a difference between these guys.

Bill ‘Huge’ Simonson interviewed Coach Rod today on his Huge Show, aired throughout Michigan and on 1050AM WTKA in Ann Arbor. The show host mentioned the interview would be available on their website tonight. What’s the hold up? Here’s the full audio of the interview:

Simonson has been going off on Ann Arbor News columnist Jim Carty all day for his recent column where Carty suggested that Rodriguez should apologize to WVU and pay the $4M. He’s dedicated the entire show to this topic, repeatedly calling Carty and his columns “garbage”.

UPDATE 1/18: Jim Carty fires back at Huge on WTKA this morning, I’m looking for audio. Also Carty’s latest column reiterates his take that Rodriguez should apologize.

Here were a few of my notes from the Huge/RR interview as it happened:
[The papers were removed] “in the middle of the day.”
“I threw out some old game plans…Notes that I took…Some we ripped up, some we shredded”
“The innuendo was crazy”
“If there was any pertinent information it was left there.”
“Why would I try to hide anything? I would never do that.”
“I never said I would NEVER leave. It was never my intent to leave. I was right in the middle of remodeling my house.”
“I did not call a single Michigan recruit until after I resigned.”
“The facts are the facts. Let’s get it out there and let’s move on.”
Regarding the $4M buy-out. “some of things said by West Virginia are not true”.
“The level of vindictiveness has caught me a little off-guard.”
On whether he owes WVU an apology, as Carty suggested today, “No I don’t owe an apology.”
“I told the staff first [that he was resigning], then told the team.”
On the threats and the property damage “There were some things that happened after the Pitt game…after the resignation, someone ripped off the mailbox, some other threats that my family received…the persistence of it caught me a little surprised…the level it went to caught me off guard.”
Are you hurt, stunned or surprised by what’s going on? “All three..”
“I’m in a great place now.”
“I’m honored to be at Michigan.”
“[the people at the university] are committed to the program. I want to focus on the future.”
“it’s a National Enquirer type (story)”