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Kelly Lytle's book, To Dad, From Kelly, is a reflection on his relationship with his late father, former Michigan All-American Rob Lytle. The following is an introduction highlighting Rob Lytle's bond with Bo, followed after the jump by an excerpt from the book, titled "Lytle Would Play." You can visit the author at www.kellylytle.com.
Introduction by Kelly Lytle:
It was the day before the Game of the Century between #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan. I was 24 and working on Wall Street in lower Manhattan, and spent the morning with my attention fixed on my computer screen reading previews of the next day’s showdown. By late morning, I had read that Bo had collapsed and been rushed to the hospital, the prognosis grim. I searched for any detail I could find, ignoring the routine commotion of the trading floor. Then my phone rang.
"Kelly," Dad started, his voice soft and weak. "Kelly, I just lost a father." Silence.
"Kelly, I loved him," Dad finally said.
|Lytle's playing career left him battling lifelong injuries, but true to form he wouldn't let that sideline him. [via http://kellylytle.com/]|
My father and Bo met in 1971 when Dad was a high school All-American for Fremont Ross in Fremont, Ohio. At the time, college coaches around the country were promising Dad the world. Bear Bryant apparently once said: "Rob, how 'bout you come visit Alabama so one of our belles can show you some southern hospitality." And Woody Hayes claimed that he would run the wishbone offense so Archie Griffin and Dad could share carries. Bo, though, took a different approach.
"Rob," he said, "You’ll never be as great again to these coaches as you are right now. At Michigan, we have six running backs. You’ll be number seven if you come here. Whatever happens after that is up to you."
Dad eventually narrowed his college choice to Michigan and Ohio State. When Dad phoned Woody to inform him of his decision to attend Michigan, Woody simply said, “We’ll see about that.” Not long after, Dad found himself in his living room face-to-face with the Buckeye leader. “If you’re committing to Michigan, you better say it to my face,” Woody demanded. So he said it to his face. Bo's honest challenge had made its impression.
The next four years cemented the relationship between Dad and Bo. In Bo, Dad had a mentor who preached the team over the individual, and a coach whose sermons about modesty and determination weren’t just words but gospel. In Dad, Bo had a talented runner who believed in self-sacrifice, a star who played through pain so often that for years after in the Michigan training room hurt players would have to hear the words “Lytle would play.”
Michigan won 28 games from 1974-1976 and played in the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl. In 1976, they shut out Ohio State 22-0 at the Horseshoe to win the Big Ten Championship. Dad ended his career as Michigan’s all-time leader in career rushing yards with 3,307 (he’s now 8th), won Big Ten MVP his senior season, and finished third in balloting for the 1976 Heisman Trophy. Still, I believe these accomplishments were secondary for both Bo and Dad.
Every conversation I’ve ever had with Dad’s Michigan teammates settles on one topic: that when Bo asked Dad to play fullback to bolster the offense, he willingly sacrificed carries, yards, and his body to better the team. For this, Bo often called Dad the “greatest teammate” he ever coached.
While growing up, Dad never mentioned his touchdowns and records or wins and losses. Instead, he preached the values of Michigan football. “Every day you either get better or you get worse, you never stay the same,” Dad would often say, usually punctuating it with a reminder that “nobody is ever as important as the team.” I often laughed away his comments as trite.
Now I can see them as the hallmarks of a man dedicated to placing others above himself. Playing football, especially from 1973-1977 at Michigan, shaped my father. These years strengthened his resolve. They fortified his sincerity. They wrecked his body. The game left him physically beaten and emotionally broken when injuries forced him to retire. He shouldered this pain the rest of his life.
Dad died on November 20, 2010, eight days after his 56th birthday, and three years and three days after he'd lost Bo. I lost my best friend and the man who most influenced me. To Dad, From Kelly is my attempt to remember my father through the lessons he taught me and the questions that went unasked and unanswered between us.
[After the jump, an excerpt from Kelly's book. Fair warning: it's emotional]
So that happened. This was a spoof off of Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp's "U Know It"—the U meaning what you think it means. Relevant information to recruits:
They also point out that Ohio State has never had a quarterback play in the Super Bowl. This got me wondering which schools produced the most SB starters. Results are in a Google Sheet.
The two tied at the top are Stanford (two Plunketts, five Elways) and Notre Dame (Montana's four, Theismann twice, and Daryle Lamonica). Brady now has Michigan at six, tied for second with "the Cradle of Quarterbacks" (Purdue, in that needs to be pointed out now). I didn't count schools that guys transferred from—if you do, Russell Wilson gives NC State two, Vince Ferragamo credits UCLA as well as Nebraska, Jeff Hostetler gives Penn State another, and Troy Aikman puts Oklahoma on the board—still no Bucks. All hail Touchdown Tom!
Filling the Class
This year's diary rock star alum96 kind of collated the knowns and unknowns and think we knowns and Sam Webb hinted at knowns regarding the 2015 class as Michigan races to fill at least six and maybe as many as 11 more spots. He's updated the diary so it's fresh, and also added a profile of Zach Gentry, who seems to be trending very blue.
Versus a Bivouac Wolverine? I've met a lot of different groups of Michigan fans, enough to start finding slight differences in what they like to talk about. Western Michigan fans have to deal with a greater number of Domers, East Coasters tend to care a lot more about Penn State, Southern transplants need constant ammunition against SEC der. Ohioans have a Bo-like loyalty that can only come from a fandom borne under siege. Ann Arborites don't need arguments for what's good about the program; they want to know what's wrong and how do we fix it right now!
In Metro Detroit we have to deal with Sparties. When I was growing up Michigan went to Rose Bowl after Rose Bowl, all the while going on about values and academics. From the perspective of the Perles-era Sparties, whose own program was basically a despicable version of Brady Hoke's, we were insufferable. The Spartan fanbase as a result got VERY sensitive to things like non-alum Michigan fans telling the old "they both got into Michigan State" joke and came up with "Walmart Wolverine."
No good Michigan fan uses that term. The whole concept is ridiculous: Across America, college football programs are the biggest sports team in the state and what outsiders identity it with. Nobody in Ohio would question if it's alright to root for the Bucks if you actually went to truck driving school. The Cornhuskers without the support of the entire state of Nebraska would be in the Mountain West. Notre Dame would have a national following of 150,000 lapse Catholics who came from money. The SEC would be in Division II. The only people who care if you went to the school whose colors you wear are either uber-pretentious, or more likely went to an "other" school that nobody would root for if they didn't have to.
Etc. National college hockey general update.
Best of the Board
CAN I GET A SHIRT IN HERE?
One of our constant complaints under Hoke was the number of redshirt opportunities he missed. Marley Nowell speculated whether Michigan might try to get some shirts on some guys (you don't have to be a freshman to redshirt). I think it's a good question, especially since Michigan could end up graduating more players than we can replace in a couple of years (the roster currently has 26 juniors).
Of course when you get into the candidates there's always reason not to. Gedeon, Canteen, Jenkins-Stone and Dymonte are already on the two-deep; Taco, Lewis and Cole, the running backs and Morris are already starting. That leaves Houma, DaMario, Ways, Watson, and Stribling. If the staff gets a late shirt on any of them it's at least a good sign that they value the future of the program. Doubt it happens.
WHO IS GOLDEN ARM?
A trip back through Bo's Lasting Lessons turned up Bo-bits on Brad Bates, Jim Hackett, Jerry Hanlon, and of course this about Jim Harbaugh:
"Jim ended up being twice as good, in my book, as the Golden Arm- Harbaugh was the Big Ten MVP his senior year, beating the other guy by a mile- and Jim's teammates liked him. Maybe Harbaugh didn't have half the arm of the Golden Boy, but he had twice the brains and ten times the heart. Give me those specs, anyday."
This sparked a long thread about who this "Golden Boy" was that Bo was talking about. Testaverde? Jeff George? A guy who was on that team said Jim Everitt.
ETC. Slate calls us nerdy. Gary Anderson was frustrated by core requirements. UNC players pushed into paper classes suing for the educations they were supposed to get. Jay Harbaugh asks Twitter if you can own a pet wolverine. Rosenberg gets fisked for inflating deflategate. Bubba Paris' heartfelt call to Michigan fans reposted from Facebook.
Your Moment of Zen:
I remember Charles.
The dumbest thing in the world. We are all very fortunate that we experienced the overblown seriousness of NFL reporters for a solid month before ballghazi hit. Otherwise the sheer concentrated stupidity of it would be killing us all right now. People who have tested these things tell you that it's extremely hard to distinguish between 10 PSI and 12, and yet:
And that's from Peter King's site. King is the unofficial voice of the NFL, and even he's reduced to throwing a million different articles on his site about a nothing issue.
Elsewhere lunatic screechers have demanded the Pats' removal from the Super Bowl and the ejection of Bill Belichick from the Earth's gravity well. It's enough to turn yesterday's press conferences into bravura performance pieces by the Patriots even though they were the legal crap-speak version of "both teams played hard." I'm down with anyone expressing open contempt at the assembled NFL press corps.
When this happened in college football, the Pac-12 fined Lane Kiffin and we all rolled our eyes at him, then got on with our lives. The NFL has to be so damned serious about everything, though, so we get a solid week of questions like "what can you possibly say to the children about this travesty?"
And there but for the grace of Dave Brandon's uncontrollable urge to email go us.
Harbaugh in the Orange Bowl. I enjoy the bit where he tells Tyrod Taylor that he did indeed throw a spectacularly unlikely touchdown.
Interesting times in Knoxville. A day after Tennessee (and former Michigan DL coach Steve Stripling) cut loose defensive end Marques Ford for no reason whatsoever two weeks before signing day…
"It's an ugly business," LaRosa said. " … In the nasty business, they kept it sort of honest by at least saying that they had other commits and they were pulling his commitment."
…their offensive coordinator pulls up stakes and bolts for the NFL. Turnabout is fair play there. This would be going too far in penance, though:
Jones always has maintained a tight relationship with Mike DeBord, a longtime college and professional coaching veteran, whom NFL sources told VolQuest.com this week could depart an executive-level post in Michigan's athletics department for assistant coaching opportunities back in the NFL.
That would be bonkers. DeBord hasn't coached since 2012 and hasn't had a coordinator spot since 2007.
Ford immediately committed to Rutgers, FWIW.
Angelique on Drevno. Former players are fans:
"We were a team that was pretty beaten down," former Stanford offensive lineman Chris Marinelli said. "Their first order of business was getting us stronger and we pretty quickly became a pretty scary, forceful team. We mauled people. I think people (who follow Michigan) will see that pretty fast. He will get all those guys in tune very quickly. He's one of those people who gets people in line, especially the young guys in terms of breaking habits. It will be a pretty quick turnaround."
FO and SB Nation writer (and former All-Pac-12 OL) Ben Muth:
"Drevs is O-line through and through," Muth said. "He's going to impart toughness on that offensive line. Michigan's offensive line is going to be tough and play physical.
"The great thing about that staff -- they have an identity, and they're going to impart it on you. That's something we didn't have at Stanford, and when Harbaugh got there. He said, 'This is what we run, this is how run it, and other teams are going to have to adjust to us.'"
Having an identity is going to be a welcome change after years of turnover going back even to the Lloyd Carr days, when DeBord came in and went to an exclusively zone stretch system.
HAIR. Via Dr. Sap, here's Rick Leach and Kirk Gibson chatting with each other on a 1979 edition of Michigan Replay:
Another thing on Peppers to safety. Marcus Ray points out something I'd forgotten:
In fact, Ray got an early signal from Peppers in his true freshman season.
"During the season, he told me, 'Hey, I would have preferred to play safety, but I'm a team player,'" Ray recalled. "He said he made a lot of plays at safety in high school. He said he just feels more comfortable there. I think that's a great move.
He played the spot in high school. Ray also thinks he can be Michigan's best there since… 1997. But definitely no longer than that.
Jay Harbaugh is 25, and therefore there's nothing I can tell you about him that has anything to do with anything. He is Jim Harbaugh's son, he went to Oregon State and then GAed under Mike Riley, he spent the past three years with the Ravens working as a quality control coach, and he knows modern rappists.
Got School Visits going UPPP, on a Tuesday! #Team137
— Jay Harbaugh (@JayHarbaugh) January 20, 2015
This is good, because every coaching staff needs someone who can decipher recruits' twitter.
JIM: This kid says he's throwing "hunnids." Is that some sort of exercise?
JAY: …in a sense.
JIM: Working on his arm, then?
JAY: If so he got that workout from Pac-Man Jones.
JIM: So no.
JIM: Moving on… this kid says he's named "Reagan." Any chance that's code for street drugs?
JAY: No. Pretty sure that's the president.
JIM: /issues offer
This extremely young staff might not need translation skills as badly as Hoke's needed Roy Manning ("ROY! COME HERE AND FIX MY AOL!"), but never hurts. After what looked like an NFL-enforced period of dormancy, JayBaugh has resumed twittering and has done so competently.
Flat tire has temporarily halted today's progress! Improvise and adjust! pic.twitter.com/XHpIJCeq61
— Jay Harbaugh (@JayHarbaugh) January 21, 2015
If this coaching profile seems heavy on references to twitter, please reference the bit above about Harbaugh getting carded when he tries to buy juice.
Anyway. Here is what Harbaugh did with the Ravens:
For the Ravens, Jay Harbaugh provided statistical analysis, self-scouting reports and breakdowns of opposing defenses.
He did shoot down an opportunity to join the 49ers last year, causing a reporter to write an article with the dubious premise that working for his uncle instead of his dad was a radically independent path:
Beyond Grandpa Jack Harbaugh and the brothers, there is Jay, a 24-year-old offensive assistant for the Ravens so determined to carve his own path in the industry that he turned down a chance to join his father for the inaugural season of Levi's Stadium.
But in that article we do get quotes about Jay. Mike Riley:
"Jay has forged his own way in this business to be a very good young coach," said Oregon State's Mike Riley, who was Jim's head coach for two years with the San Diego Chargers. "Jay is a grinder. He's like Jim to a T."
And the elder Harbaugh:
"One time, I asked, 'Do guys give you a hard time about working for your uncle, automatically look at that as the reason you got the job?' His response was: 'It's my responsibility to not give them the opportunity to confirm that suspicion.'"
That is accurate, and will remain accurate as long as he's at Michigan. That's just life. That is the exact right attitude to bring to the job.
He seems off to a good start in the proving-your-worth department, as he's been prominent on the recruiting trail already. But, yeah, your guess is as good as mine.
INTERLUDE: FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROY MANNING
"ROY! Did you delete my BonziBuddy again?"
"Who do you think is going to call plays this weekend?"
"BonziBuddy is not Al Borges on your computer."
"He might be."
"That is an excellent point."
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) January 22, 2015
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
You got me. Jim Harbaugh is a terrific coach with a great track record of hiring. Jack Harbaugh has literally sired a coaching tree without peer. There are reasons to think this is a good idea and not JayPa redux.
If JayBaugh ends up ascending to the offensive coordinator job without going elsewhere and proving his chops I would be worried. Until then he's just an exceptionally young and motivated position coach whose main job is recruiting. That's a luxury Jim Harbaugh has since he's part OC and full time QB coach of his own team. Also he is Jim Harbaugh.
Zach Gentry: Eyes Off Texas?
In recent days, Texas has turned up the heat on their pursuit of 2015 five-star QB Kyler Murray, a Texas A&M commit, even getting him to take an unofficial visit to Austin.
What does this have to do with Michigan? Well, Texas already has a 2015 QB commit: 6'7", 230-pound NM four-star Zach Gentry, who pledged to the Longhorns last May and has turned down overtures from the likes of Alabama and Tennessee since. With Texas eyeing Murray, Jim Harbaugh visited Gentry in Albuquerque on Monday, and things are moving quickly. Gentry removed "committed to Texas" from his Twitter bio, and multiple outlets, including Wolverine247, report that he'll take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.
Just like that, Michigan may very well be the favorite to end up with him:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) January 22, 2015
What would the Wolverines be getting? Scout's free evaluation makes him sound like an ideal fit for a Harbaugh offense:
Gentry is an intriguing quarterback with NFL size but surprising mobility for a big man. He has a downfield arm and can make every throw but also shows the ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to run for positive yards. He looks to have a good feel in the pocket and doesn't panic when the rush comes at him. He can keep his eyes down the field and throws an accurate ball whether in or outside of the pocket-Biggins
The film backs that up; other than some mechanical issues with his delivery, there's little not to like there.
Jay Harbaugh checked out another under-the-radar QB, California prospect Anthony Gordon. Gordon, like McLane Carter, was very productive in high school on a title-winning team but hasn't generated much in the way of college interest or attention from the recruiting services.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple impending announcements, a rundown of weekend official visitors, and much more.]
Ace: Michigan's basketball season is almost certainly lost, but there's always the prospect of seeing one or two players transform under Beilein's continued tutelage, especially now that most of the freshmen have bee n thrust into major roles. Which freshman do you expect to show the most improvement over the rest of the season, and which do you want to see show the most improvement?
|Nnanna nnanna, nnanna nnanna, hey hey hey, that's pretty high. [photo: Upchurch]|
Dave Nasternack: Expect: Ricky Doyle. I think this is probably the most obvious choice. First, he's been starting for awhile, now, and has already shown improvement in various areas. I'm guessing he's leading in 'freshman minutes played?' If not, he's got to be close. So, just due to experience on the floor, he's got the be as comfortable in his role as any of the other contenders. Plus, the areas of improvement for Doyle are closely related to experience and mental understanding: positional awareness and some body control (almost always for bigs) vs. increased shooting %s, building muscle, better technique, etc. In addition to a couple of post moves, Doyle has shown patience inside and flashes of passion/GAF, which is exactly what you want to see to fuel his improvement. It would also be ideal if he could grab a few more rebounds.
Hope: While there is definitely something to be said for Aubrey Dawkins, I'm going to go with Kam Chatman. Chatman came into school with a ton of hype and excitement—not to mention a little more hair—but has only showed flashes of his potential in short bursts. While Chatman has looked lost both offensively and defensively for long stretches of this year, I do believe that he has the highest ceiling of any freshman on the roster. Plus, unless Donnal were to move down a position, Chatman is the ideal 4 on this roster. His length, size, and athleticism would make him the most ideal fit for the position that Beilein has had in his M tenure. Chatman will definitely have to improve his court awareness, positioning, and definitely his shooting consistency in order to do so, however. Based on losing his starting spot, a further decrease in minutes, and the eyeball test when he was playing more consistently, I'm guessing that his "growth jump" will come over the summer or in 15/16 rather than in the next couple of months.