05. September 2013 · 10 comments · Categories: 2013

[Ed. Buddy Moorehouse from Stunt3 passed this along for ND week and I thought it was great.   Sure, if our band director stomped Tommy Rees on Saturday it would be appalling…but 35 years from now after Tommy Rees won a bunch of Super Bowls?  I don’t care who you are–that’s funny.]


Guest post by Buddy Moorehouse
When the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry resumed in 1978, I was a freshman trombone player in the Michigan Marching Band. Back in those days, the Wolverines would open the season with one Big Ten game before playing their three non-conference games in a row. So after whipping Illinois in the opener, 31-0, it was off to South Bend for the second game.

Bo wanted his band with him at Notre Dame, and what Bo wanted, Bo got. We all headed down on Friday and spent the night before the game in Sturgis; we were put up by various Sturgis High School band families. I remember that my Sturgis family considered it quite an honor to have two Michigan Marching Band trombone players sleeping in their basement.

The Michigan Marching Band also performed at that night’s Sturgis vs. Battle Creek Pennfield game, and again, everyone made a huge deal out of the fact that they had the Michigan Marching Band in the house. They made us feel like this was the biggest thing ever to happen in Sturgis, and maybe they were right.

The facts of the 1978 Michigan-Notre Dame game are well-known. This was the Rick Leach-Joe Montana game, Bo vs. Dan Devine, Wolverines vs. Irish for the first time in 35 years. After falling behind at the half, 14-7, Ricky Leach put together three TD drives in the second half to take the 28-14 win. It was a great game.

I remember how great that win felt, but here’s the moment I remember most from that day.

The Michigan band was seated on the field during the game, and the trombones were all placed in the front row, because they didn’t want us hitting anyone in front of us with our slides. I was a lowly freshman, but for some reason, I had the honor of sitting right next to the band’s director, George Cavender.

George Cavender was a legend. He had succeeded the equally legendary William Revelli as Michigan’s band director, and he was a loud, bombastic, incredibly enthusiastic guy. The 1978 season was also his final season as the leader of the band, and I considered myself lucky that I was getting to play at least one year under his direction.

In any case, as the game got going, Cavender was just as loud and excited as any Michigan fan in the stands that day. He would cheer the good plays, boo the bad calls and wince at every dropped pass.

But here’s what I remember most: Late in the second half, as Michigan was cementing its comeback, Joe Montana got tackled near our sideline and came tumbling into the band. He came to rest right at the feet of the legendary George Cavender.

Before Montana had a chance to get up, Cavender gave him a pretty good stomp to the chest and said, “Get the hell out of here!”

I was smiling pretty big at that moment, and so were all the other trombones who had just seen what I had seen. If Bo had been looking in our direction, I’m guessing he would have been smiling pretty big, too.

That was no doubt the first time a Michigan Marching Band director ever kicked a Notre Dame quarterback, and sadly, I’m guessing it will probably be the last. I’m just glad I was there to see it.



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  1. Wow! That’s one whale of story. I thought I’d heard it all but Cavender giving Montana the business is epic.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Go Blue!

  2. Not only was I there, but that’s me to the far right of the picture. Buddy is absolutely right. George Cavender could kick butt (or chest) when necessary! I also remember that high school game we all cheered with vigor for Sturgis.

    Go Michigan! Beat the Fig Things!

  3. Bo’s only words to Leach at halftime: “look to your tight end, will ya’?”

    Cavender gets some credit for that win — I remember that we played almost continually during the second half to spur on the team and drown out the Notre Dame faithful.

  4. What exactly is funny or “great” about this story?

    Can you imagine what would have happend if the TV cameras had caught this with a close-up? The proud Michigan name would have been (rightly) smeared with the embarrassing actions of George Cavender. And his predecessor, William Revelli, would have been livid and would have chewed him out good.

    I’m surprised that anyone can think this is funny or in the spirit of Michigan athletics. Very sad indeed!

  5. Buddy Moorehouse

    Sorry you feel that way, Marc. Joe Montana came rolling into his band, and George Cavender let him know he wasn’t welcome there. It’s exactly like Greg said in his editor’s note: 35 years later, it’s a pretty good story!

  6. Sorry, but the “Michigan” (and MVictors) thing to do would have been to help Montana get on his feet and back on the field. Or are you implying that Montana did it on purpose?

    It’s the same with anyone at an NBA game who encounters a player flying into the sidelines. They help him up and brush themselves off. They don’t stomp on the guy’s chest. That would cause an immediate arrest and expulsion from the arena.

    Why and how is this different?

  7. Buddy, why don’t you take the chance to ask Mark Harmon how he would have felt if the director of the Michigan band had stomped on his chest in a similar situation? Or how his coach and AD would have felt? Then let us know.

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  9. In a related event some years prior to the “stomp” episode Michigan was playing MSU in East Lansing. It was the first half, as I recall, and Gene Washington came running down field in pursuit of a long pass. He leaped for the ball and ended up in the percussion section crashing literally through several drum heads. He looked up at the shocked bandsmen and said “rub-a-dub-dub”. I’m sure George Cavender remembered that event when he “unloaded” on Joe Montana!

  10. I was there too, playing alto sax, so well back from the action.
    I have to agree with Marc – though I do not recall this incident, I am disappointed to hear the story. I would hope that George would have offered Joe a hand up before sending him on his way. Instead we get unsportsmanlike conduct.
    Some role model.