April 1 - Sunday
Reports that John Beilein has been officially offered.
April 2 - Monday
No news yet, but internet chatter points to Beilein being a done deal.
A post updated through the day. By the end, major networks are reporting that it’s official.
April 3 - Tuesday
Brian accidently deleted the NIT championship game (Beilein’s last game at WVU), so no post recapping that game. There is good news that all the players are indicating that they will return.
Google brings up an instructional video led by Tom Izzo when you search for 1-3-1 zone.
A 1-3-1 zone primer which is expected to be implemented under Beilein. Ten years later this seems fairly obsolete. Interesting, none-the-less.
April 4 - Wednesday
Unverified Voracity is Making a...Nah. Contract details have been released, and Beilein will be getting 1.3 million a year after all compensation is added in. However, apparently the contract doesn’t include anything about a buyout.
Has recruited a number of Michigan kids over the course of his career.
PSL? Has recruited there at Cansisus but hasn't had any recent ties in the state.
Facilities? Beautiful locker room, beautiful film room... wouldn't want to walk in to Crisler and try to win. Maize Rage noted as a distinctive feature.
Practice facility? General mutterings about the future, didn't offer anything concrete.
[I hate the way these questions go. Where is the "do you plan to continue with the 1-3-1 if you get the sort of athletes who can play tough man-to-man?"]
Conversations with recruits? Dodges it, basically. Manny Harris is one of ten(!) kids; Beilein one of nine(!!!).
Buyout? "The University of Michigan has nothing to do with my buyout. My lawyers and WVU are working on it." !!!
April 5 - Thursday
Recruiting Board Update. Names of note that have been added to the board: CA QB Dayne Crist, TX DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, and TE Kevin Koger.
April 6 - Friday
Post with various WVU videos (they still work!) that involve John Beilein in some way.
Colin Cowherd is stealing information from bloggers. This could probably be a post from last week.
Unverified Voracity is Like No Way. New WVU coach Bob Huggins is telling his recruits from KSU that several West Virginia spots will be opening up (i.e. transferring), so if the current ‘M’ class doesn’t stick, there could be some WVU players coming.
April 9 - Monday
Mailbag with questions on how out-of-state scholarships work and more Beilein questions and reactions.
Mike Jackson is the first member of Beilein’s staff.
April 10 - Tuesday
Kelvin Grady is sticking with his commitment.
A banner contest! Voting doesn’t work any more though. There are a few good submissions, including this:
April 11 - Wednesday
Manny Harris is sticking with his commitment!
Unverified Voracity Brings the Noise, Funk Pending. There are two current football rumors that seem credible: Kevin Grady has torn his ACL and will miss the 2007 season and Carlos Brown has been missing practice and will transfer back to the south.
As always, there is a nonzero chance both of these things are false, especially the latter since there is a chance Brown could change his mind. (It's unlikely a hypothetically torn Grady ACL leaps into self-mending action.)
Also, there are several newcomers to the ‘M’ Blogosphere, including this one…
And improbably-named freshman Ace Anbender covers the entire Detroit scene at the Ace of Sports.
Kurt Vonnegut has died.
April 12 - Thursday
Recruiting Board Update. Elliott Mealer added to the board. Also, WR Fred Smith has an offer and is very high on Michigan.
Varsity Blue (Tim and Paul) will be at the spring game with cameras, taking notes, and interviewing players. Requests and suggestions for areas to focus on are welcome.
April 13 - Friday
Kevin Grady has torn his ACL, but it sounds like Carlos Brown is staying. Brown had moved to CB this spring, so the sudden need for more running backs might be playing a part in persuading him to stay.
Alpena basketball player Eric Puls is coming to ‘M’ as a PWO. He’s 6’9” and can shoot, so maybe he’s a fit for Beilein’s system?
April 14 - Saturday
Spring game notes. There are no Tight Ends, and anyone who cares to remember ‘09-’10 won’t feel as optimistic about the LBs as this paragraph does:
The first string linebackers were Ezeh, Panter, and Mouton. Though reports from practice have been a little down on Panter's readiness, I thought he looked fine to good out there, a solid tackler with good enough speed. He was mostly tackling Vince Helmuth and Moundros, though. Mouton was physically reminiscent of Larry Foote. I have my money on him in the WLB competition against Graham. Ezeh was at SAM and did okay.
So this happened at the spring game:
Also in the category of “what a different world we live in”:
Anyway: Patilla was switched to fullback this spring once the backfield situation got dire, which bodes unwell for his future. Fullback is a black hole of a position that sucks in the underwhelming from other positions and holds them in its gravitational clutches forevermore.
April 16 - Monday
Jay Bilas says that Tommy Amaker turned around the basketball program and do you really think John Beilein is going to put them in contention for Big 10 titles? Jay Bilas and Tommy Amaker are best friends.
Unverified Voracity is Heresy-errific because Brian confesses that he doesn’t like EA’s NCAA football games. Also, apparently Lloyd went to WVU to coach under Don Nehlen, but only lasted about six weeks before Bo called him back. Maybe he would have replaced Nehlen, and then…
Alex Legion is opening up his recruitment. Also, Reed Baker will not be back.
April 17 - Tuesday
Recruiting Board Update. Mike Martin has been added to the board, but he might have to wait until camp to get an offer.
April 18 - Wednesday
Maybe there’s still hope with Legion. His mom is giving interviews about how terrible his handler (Tim Green) is.
April 19 - Thursday
Richard Bernstein and disabled veterans are suing ‘M’ because of the lack of disabled seating in the plans for the renovations at Michigan Stadium. After talking with future Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bernstein, Brian’s feelings on the matter are still mixed. Somehow he isn’t sure if Bernstein is related to Sam; apparently, the kids weren’t on all the commercials yet at that point. The post ends with another diatribe against luxury-suite hater John Pollack.
April 20 - Friday
The post doesn’t say it directly, but I assume the colors were changed to orange and maroon in solidarity with VT after their campus shooting.
An emailer asks for Brian’s explanation on why he is pro-luxury suites. He refutes several popular arguments, and then states his case for them.
April 23 - Monday
Unverified Voracity...A New Car! Legion is down to ‘M’, UCLA, and Kentucky. Also, Scott Dreisbach is a backup QB in the Arena League...and playing some LB.
April 24 - Tuesday
Recruiting Board Update. Elliott Mealer has committed.
A recap of the PSU, ND, and OSU spring games. How did Ohio State do so well with QB recruiting this bad (obviously Pryor comes in 2008):
2007: no recruits.
2006: Antonio Henton, a three star who was Rivals #9 "dual-threat QB" and only the 25th best recruit in Georgia. Committed to OSU over Illinois, Maryland, and Louisville.
2005: Rob Schoenhoft. Four-star who was Rivals' #6 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Michigan.
2004: no recruits.
2003: Todd Boeckman, a three-star and Rivals #19 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Pitt and Maryland.
April 25 - Wednesday
Rumors are coming out of Texarkana that Mallett is going to transfer and won’t be in Ann Arbor for the upcoming season. Hindsight says this was probably very close to becoming reality.
Unverified Voracity is Like That’s My Dad’s Name. Matt Gutierrez is getting some draft hype, but no, he is not the next Tom Brady.
April 26 - Thursday
The 2006 class one year retrospect. The results are fairly accurate so far. Perry Dorrestein probably performed better than expected, and Justin Boren, well… Overall not much out of this class aside from Brandon Graham. But it would be a rough next few years for these guys.
Unverified Voracity Craves Gel. Mallett is staying put, Ryan Mundy is using the grand transfer program to go to WVU, and James Ferentz has committed to Iowa. Why is that big news? The thought is this will keep Father Ferentz in Iowa and not allow him to succeed Lloyd at ‘M’.
April 27 - Friday
Unverified Voracity and Such and Such. John Beilein has managed to avoid 40% of his buyout. Also, coaches have been banned from using text messages to recruit.
April 30 - Monday
Recruiting Board Update. ‘M’ is looking very strong for OH TE Kevin Koger.
Brian is working on a new football annual (essentially the first HTTV), so posting will be light the next few weeks.
And to end the month...we have two football players caught in a car with drugs. Brian has a strong enough source to say that one of them is Mario Manningham. Details are still very sketchy.
I didn't watch the UF spring game. It ended up a landslide as McElwain played his 1s vs 2s. He did that in 2016 as well with similar onslaught. I don't see the point of that but I'm not a highly paid college football coach. What I have below is a collection of thoughts after reading through about 8 websites/blogs that are devoted to Florida Gators stuff, along with some "2017 football season preview" stuff from non UF devoted sites.
- UF offense has sucked since McElwain/Nuss arrived. To be fair they have not had a QB. To be unfair Nuss walked on water at Bama and since leaving there has delivered his normal boring stuff at both stops. This guy is the equivalent of "Brett Favre QB coach"... making a lot of money based on being in the right place at the right time once in his career.
- UF defense has been very good, but lost a lot of talent. "Eight defensive starters lost!!" Sound familiar? That said it will be older and more experienced than UM's defense.
- Overall these teams sound VERY familiar going into the year actually - with a lot of similar holes and questions.
- UF has won 2 divisional champions in McElwain's first 2 years - so there's that. But it's sort of late Lloyd Carr or always Mark Richt stuff. 9-4 and getting outclassed when playing the top end competition. Many expect Georgia to "be back" and UF to now fall to 2nd in the division.
- Projection for the game - 2 defenses doing a lot of foiling of offenses. Two OL making fanbases sad. Some talented running backs. QB who makes less mistakes and 2-3 big plays probably wins.
- QB - Felipe Franks is the #1 right now. He played with the 1s and the backup QB played with the 2s (vs the 1s) and as could be expected Franks looked a lot better. Guy is high ceiling/low floor type of player - will wow, then do stupid things. Accuracy is a concern. But can throw a 40 yard rope over your young safety and corner. Franks seems to be the QB unless Zaire shows up in Rudock fashion this summer. Luke Del Rio seems like the backup.
- RB - in good hands. Despite an awful OL, starter Jordan Scarlett averaged 5.0 yds per carry last year which is Mike Hart like. He could be punishing behind a real OL. He should be a 1K+ type back even with sharing carries. Smith averaged 4.7 behind a superior OL last year for comparison. He has a good understudy in Lamical (!) Perine, who averaged 4.6. A 3rd guy - Mark Thompson - seems to impress everyone when he runs; the only problem is he can't protect the ball so seems destined for Ty Isaac usage.
- WR - return #1 WR Antonio Callaway with his 700 yds. Which in a normal offense would be 900 yds but since this is Nuss offense with a LOL QB was only 700 yds. Slot guy Brandon Powell is a SR and a nice "possession" type. Outside of that, UF has a normal array of "Florida WR types" who could pop if they get a QB to throw them the ball. Otherwise they will just run around a lot to no avail.
- Potential special player - Kadarius Toney aka Denard Robinson. Toney went into the spring game in the 2nd half as a "QB" but essentially a "RB who throws" - he went 3/5 for 24 yds...then ran 5 times for 74 yds. So potential wildcat, scatback, change of pace QB etc.
- OL - reading about UF 2017 OL makes me think of "something between 2015 and 2016 UM OL". 2015 OL would be the floor, 2016 OL would be the ceiling. Junior Martez Ivey is their one good guy (stronger Mason Cole), he is moving out from inside to left tackle as their left tackle is off to the NFL. They have 3 other returning starters of the Braden, Kalis variety. They feel like SO Jawaan Taylor will be a decent RT, and center seems to be RS SO TJ McCoy. So they have experience - but a bunch of meh in their history. Then they need to fill the guard spots - they have experienced meh choices or could go young. So not unlike us entering 2016 with 3 established starters and looking for a LT and guard. (New OL coach by the way)
- TE -They have a senior there named Goolsby. 3rd on the team last year with 38 catches, 342 yds (Butt comparables = 46 for 546)
- Pep/Drevno >>>> Nuss. Borges v Nuss? Tough one man.
This was McElwein's quote about the OL post spring
“I thought they did okay. Disappointed with a couple guys that didn’t compete. We got kind of after them at half time a little bit about competing. Sure enough, they came out in that second half and did a much better job.”
Overall it smells a lot like UM's offense. Playmakers are out there at the skill positions. Can the QB deliver? Can the OL keep QB upright. UF has more experience coming back esp at WR, and OL but we are probably going to say that relative to all 12 opponents we face this year in the regular season (and the opponent in the BT championship game, and 2 playoff games - woo hoo)
- DL - Lost some very good talent in the interior of the line but they seem happy with what they have back. They also seem happy about the defensive ends - top 4 guys... Antonneous Clayton, Jabari Zuniga (started uber hot last year before cooling), Luke Ancrum and CeCe Jefferson.
Antonneous Clayton, Jabari Zuniga, and Luke Ancrum recorded one sack apiece. Clayton had a chance to tack on a couple more but was held back by spring game rules. He was in the backfield all night long. Cece Jefferson, the most experienced of the defensive ends, tied Joseph for the Orange team-high three tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss.
- Carbon copy of UM - with losses to the NFL (Anzalone, Davis) they are about 3 deep they feel good about and then they are counting on youngins to flash. One young guy they got very excited about is RS FR Jeremiah Moon. Vosean Joseph also impressed. SO David Reese (wrist) didn't play in the spring game but will be a contributor. So they are excited about these guys in the way we are about Hudson and Bush.
“Jeremiah Moon? Pshhh, the guy’s athletic,” said sophomore defensive back Chauncey Gardner. “He’s a freak. Last year we didn’t see it because of the injury, but this year Jeremiah is definitely gonna be a factor. He’s a great player. He can cover, he can also come off the edge and he can also get off blocks. That’s the key playing in the SEC.”
- DB - Again sounds familiar; a very loaded 2016 defense saw a lot of people depart to the NFL. "3 of 4 starters gone" But their understudies are older guys unlike the fresh faces UM is rolling out. Certainly much more experience back there than UM will have. At corner Tabor and Quincy Wilson depart, senior Duke Dawson & SO Chauncy Gardner Jr replace them. Both projected safeties are 5th year seniors - so maybe they are boring in a Jarrod Wilson way but as we say here, boring safeties can be a good thing. They are adding 6 freshman 'crootz so you imagine 1-2 will be involved in the 2 deep by fall.
Tough to tell who is better on paper on defense, especially with almost the entire UM 2 deep rarely being tested in a real game. Both teams feel like top 20 types when all is said and done. UM might be a bit more thin (i.e. DT) but that shouldn't come into play in game 1.
- They are very excited about their support staff.
- They don't rebuild, they just reload.
One thing I did not know regarding Zaire:
The Gators are currently prohibited from taking a grad transfer because of an SEC restriction stemming from 2 previous Florida grad transfers falling short of academic requirements. The SEC could yet soften that rule, though no change is expected before the SEC spring meetings in a month and a half.
After noticing that both of our Big Ten West road trips this season (to Purdue and Wisconsin) are a long time coming, I wanted to take some time to examine which of the conference's teams will be meeting for the first time in a long time, particularly with regards to playing in a given team's home stadium. I probably should be doing this closer to September, but it is content-lacking OT season.
Longest Location-Specific Hiatuses Set to End in 2017:
For this category, I included teams that have not visited their upcoming opponent since 2012 or longer, meaning seniors who are about to graduate after 4 years never had a chance to visit that Big Ten Stadium. All of these teams (except Michigan and Purdue) have played more recently than the gap listed here; this category focuses on home/road specific games.
· Michigan at Wisconsin (8 years): The Wolverines will return to Madison for the first time in 8 years on November 18th, with our last visit to Camp Randall being a 45-24 loss in 2009 during Rich Rod’s 5-7 year.
· Ohio State at Iowa (7 years): The Scarlet and Grey last visited Iowa City 7 years ago in 2010, a narrow 20-17 win for the Buckeyes. Their Kinnick drought will end on November 4th.
· Ohio State at Nebraska (6 years): Along with the Iowa game, this year OSU will visit the only two Big Ten opponents’ stadiums Urban Meyer has yet to lead a Buckeye team into during his 5 years as head coach. The Buckeyes last played in Lincoln in 2011, a 34-27 win for the Huskers over Luke Fickell’s squad.
· Michigan State at Minnesota (5 years): The Spartans last visited the Twin Cities in 2012, a 26-10 win for the Green and White.
· Penn State at Iowa (5 years): The Nittany Lions beat the Hawkeyes in Kinnick 38-14 during 2012; PSU’s Big Ten opener is at Iowa on September 23rd.
· Iowa at Michigan State (5 years): The Hawkeyes have not paid a visit to MSU since 2012, a 19-16 win for the Fighting Ferentz’s. Iowa actually has won two in a row in Spartan Stadium (with the other being in 2009). They will return for MSU’s Big Ten opener on September 30th to try to extend their EL win streak to 3 in a row.
· Michigan at Purdue (5 years): We have not made the trip to West Lafayette since 2012, a 44-13 blowout win for the Maize and Blue (as you’ll see in the section below, that was also the last time we’ve played the Boilermakers in any locale as they have not been to Ann Arbor since 2011).
· Indiana at Illinois (5 years): The Hoosiers last visited Champaign (a school they are very in close geographic proximity to) in 2012, a 31-17 victory for IU.
· Wisconsin at Indiana (5 years): The Badgers last visited Bloomington in 2012, a 62-14 win for Bret Bielma’s final Wisconsin team.
Longest Hiatuses Set to End, Regardless of Location:
The criteria I used for determining this category of 2017 games was teams that haven't played at either of each others' home stadium, or a neutral site, since 2013 or longer (the latter removes MSU vs. Iowa from this list, who haven't played in the regular season in 4 years). If two teams have not played since 2013, that means 4th year seniors this upcoming season will be facing a new conference foe for the first time.
· Michigan vs. Purdue (5 years)
· Ohio State vs. Iowa (4 years)
· Penn State vs. Nebraska (4 years)
· Michigan State vs. Minnesota (4 years)
· Indiana vs. Illinois (4 years)
· Indiana vs. Wisconsin (4 years)
· Rutgers vs. Purdue (have not played since RU joined in 2014)
· Maryland vs. Northwestern (have not played since MD joined in 2014)
Very interesting to say the least that Michigan is involved in the longest hiatus on both lists.
That's all for now, but I have already started compiling two other lists (that are arguably more interesting) that I hope to publish in subseqeunt diaries some other time this week:
- Long Term Location Specific Hiatuses with determined end dates in 2018 or 2019
- Location Specific Hiatuses that will not end until 2020 at the earliest (the Big Ten has only released schedules through 2019 to this point).
I began this diary about 4 years ago when it became clear that there were far fewer seasons ahead for Red Berenson at Michigan than behind. In my early drafts, this is not how the story ends; Red retiring on the heels of his most disappointing season since he first took this job 30+ years ago. The story was supposed to end with Red announcing his plans to retire while his team competed for another conference title. On Senior Night he’d receive a 12 minute standing ovation with legions of grown men weeping bittersweet tears, and nobody thinking less of them for doing so. The season would end with Michigan in the NCAA tournament and maybe making another Frozen Four and perhaps even capturing that elusive 3rd National Title for Coach.
Alas, that is not how this story ended, but if you’re expecting a tribute riddled with qualifiers based on how his career finished out, prepare to be disappointed. This diary will not be that, because Red’s legacy is far more than just the past few years. Red’s legacy is that he was the greatest Michigan coach of our generation. With all due respect to Schembechler, Urbanchek, Carr, and Hutchins; Red didn’t just create a state dynasty, or a conference dynasty. Red built Michigan into a national dynasty. For 25 years, when college hockey pundits talked about the great college hockey powers, the Minnesotas, Boston Colleges, and North Dakotas, Michigan was always in that conversation as well. Michigan was to hockey what Duke is to college basketball, what Alabama is to college football. Red made us that good, that dominant. When we look ahead for the football program, we’re not hoping that Jim Harbaugh duplicates Bo’s success, we are hoping he duplicates Red’s.
But his legacy isn’t just about his tenure as Michigan hockey coach. Red Berenson was a Michigan Man before Bo invented the concept. Red Berenson, as a 19 year old kid, rode a train for days from Regina, Saskatchewan to see if he wanted to play college hockey for Michigan in an era where no Canadian hockey player with any promise would even think of that as path to the NHL. Yet, Red Berenson arrived in Ann Arbor, took a look around, and sent word back to his teammates in Regina with the simple phrase, “This is the place.”1
Four simple words that should become the unofficial motto for The University. Who among us haven’t strolled through on The Diag in early October with the leaves crunching under our feet and felt similar? Michigan is special and Red recognized that. Why else would a 45 year old coach leave a promising future in the NHL to return to his alma mater to assume control of a program that had cratered into nothing? It’s doubtful that it was the money, because Michigan didn’t pay coaches all that much in 1984. No, my conclusion is that Red came back to Ann Arbor because “This is the place” was still in him, because Michigan gets inside us, and when Michigan needs you, you answer the call.
Of course, the rest is history. Red took over a program in shambles, rolled up his sleeves, and built the greatest program Michigan Athletics has seen since Fielding Yost. When the dust settled we’d collected 11 CCHA regular season and 9 tourney titles, 13 GLI titles, 23 NCAA tourney appearances, 11 Frozen Fours, and 2 National Championships. There’s a lot of laundry hanging from the rafters in Yost Ice Arena, and most of it is due to him. Our helmets will forevermore have wings. Yost will continue to be one of the toughest road games to play for any visiting team. Fuck the Horseshoe. Fuck Cameron. At its peak, NOBODY wanted to play Michigan in Yost Ice Arena. Ask 2003 Colorado College for their feelings on the experience. Or Denver in 2002. Or Michigan State. Or Miami (NTM). Or Notre Dame.
Soon, Michigan will bring on board a new caretaker for this thing that Red created, this tiny hockey miracle born in the middle of a football-crazed fanbase. Red didn’t have the impact on our fan culture to the degree that Bo did, but Red showed us what being an elite program at Michigan looked and felt like. Not just competitive, not just good, not just great, ELITE. For us hockey fans, Red was our Sinatra, performing his version of “My Way” with a hockey team, and bringing down the house night after night. Monday afternoon was not the way this story was supposed to end, but life usually doesn’t provide fairy tale endings. Still we have the memories, so many great memories; along with the swagger, so much swagger, just waiting to emerge for the next guy.
Thank you Gordon “Red” Berenson for choosing Michigan, for seeing that “This is the place”. We will always be grateful.
1 Blue Ice, John U. Bacon
The record attendance of 60,000 in 2016 (MLive)
So two years ago, I posted a diary called the Cloudy History of the Michigan Spring Game.
For years--for some reason--I've had a strange thing where I've really wanted to know what the history of our spring game was. This started back in 2010 when it had been years since we had played an actual, watchable spring GAME.
Google wasn't giving me anything back in those days. So I waited and kept digging. I eventually found Google Newspaper Archive which had a decent collection of Michigan Daily articles where past spring games where searchable.
But there wasn't enough to do a complete and 100%, double-checked accurate history. Plus, the Daily stopped publishing after the semester ended in April beginning in the 70s, so sometimes there was no way to view these results.
That's where a subscription to Newspapers.com helped. I had access to the Detroit Free Press history, which was a great and searchable option that helped this project move along tremendously.
But it wasn't until January of 2017 when the long-awaited Michigan Daily Digital Archive went live. An absolute GAME-CHANGER for my research not just for this small portion of what I do, but for the entire Michigan SuperGuide Project Collections.
What I am very proud to post on here, after 7 years of digging and searching and piecing together information, is a 100% accurate and COMPLETE history of the Michigan Football Spring Game.
Let's take a look-
The First Games: Strange colors
The first public Michigan Spring Game was on May 14, 1925 at Ferry Field.
Already-graduated (apparently graduated seniors could still play in spring practice) Edliff Slaughter's Blues defeated the Reds, by a 13-6 score. The first touchdown in a Michigan Spring Game was scored by Ralph Baer on a 15-yard fumble return TD.
Marty Garber would score a Red TD to tie the game at 6-6. Enid, Oklahoma native Bus Haskins would score the game-winning TD by rumbling through the entire Red line and plowing into the endzone to give the Blue team the win. Further painting a picture for future Michigan games.
Strange to see Michigan players on a Red team? The next season the Blues would take on the Green team (and lose 3-0).
In 1928, it got really weird. The spring game became a tournament. The team was divided up into multiple teams during practices and would compete for the title of Spring Grid Champions. The only thing was that the team names were named after other Big Ten schools.
The 1928 Spring Game on May 13th would feature "Illinois" beating "Ohio State" for the Spring Game Championship, the first and only.
Two years later in 1930, 3 teams were divided up. Team 1 was captained by Al Bovard, Team 2 by Joe Gembis and Team 3 by Howard Poe. They each played a game against the other, with Team Gembis winning on the day overall.
This was also the first Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Despite the stadium being built in 1927, the previous two games were played at Ferry Field which still very much was a stadium.
1931: Blue vs Yellow/White/Maize rivalry begins
The modern spring game matchup first took place in 1931. Blue vs Yellow...........yup, Yellow. The great ancestors of today's Maize team that won on a goal line stand last year.
The first Blue vs Yellow game was on May 9, 1931 and was a 6-0 win by Blue.
The game was played in a driving rain. The winning and only score was a long TD pass from Harry Newman to Herman Everhardus.
After 5 straight Blue wins over Yellow where Blue outscored their counterpart 155-25, Yellow finally broke through with their first win in 1938 after two previous years of coming away with ties.
The following year, Yellow would be renamed the "White team" to reflect the color jerseys the team wore. This actually came a decade before Michigan wore white jerseys for a road game so they must have used special white jerseys just for the Spring Game.
New name, same results. After dropping the 1940 contest, White would hand Blue two more defeats the next two years, going on a 4-1 run against the Blue.
Wartime guts college football
All across the country during World War II, teams were losing players at a moments notice in the draft for the war effort. The 1942 spring game was months after the US entered the war, and it would be the last spring game scheduled until the Allies won the war and things went back to normal.
During the war era, players were listed on the roster by their military designation (N for Navy, C for Civilian, M for Marine and R for Reserves) as opposed to their academic standing. There were actually rumors on campus that Michigan would not have a Football team in 1943. Other schools across the country simply didn't have enough men to field a team like Michigan State, who dropped their athletic program during the war.
There was no spring practice during WWII. There were Spring drills instead, and they were basically an open tryout to help fill the roster out in the Fall for depth purposes.
1950-1983: Blue dominance
1953 Spring Game
There was a spring game scheduled for 1946, but it was cancelled and instead a closed practice. There would not be a traditional Blue-White game again until 1950, but this time by choice as Bennie Oosterbaan had non-scoring scrimmages at The Big House from 1947-1949. Similar to ones that would unfortunately return 60 years later.
In 1950--the first Blue-White game since 1942--the Blue team smashed the White composed of reserves by a score of 50-0. The Blue run of dominance would continue for 9 years with the closest game being a 6 point win over White in 1957 where a "5th quarter" was played after the upstart White squad had a 25-24 lead over the Blues at the end of regulation. The Daily speculated this was done to help salvage some morale for the starters.
It would be a telling sign as Michigan would have a mediocre 5-3-1 season that Fall.
White finally broke through two years later in 1959, coming back from down 21-8 in the 3rd quarter to win. A TD on a fumbled QB sneak, safety and TD gave the young White team the upset win.
White upset of Blue in 1959 Spring Game
1961 Spring Game
The Spring Game would feature the Blue team as the starters and the White team as the reserves until Bo took over in 1969. The teams were then split evenly into two squads.
Didn't matter very much, though. The Blue went on a run of dominance, winning 27 of 34 spring games from 1950-1983. Even continuing their run when evenly split. Pretty impressive.
Also, something else to note. The month the game would be played in changed because U-M apparently changed its semester format. The semester ended in May at U-M until 1965, which the Daily publishings reflect because once the semester ended, no papers would be printed. In the old days, the papers printed through late May.
1975 Spring Game
The Legend of Mike Walker
Walker signing autographs after the 1983 Spring Game
In the 1983 game, it was a very low-scoring and dull affair by all accounts for most of the game.
White led Blue, 8-3 with just seconds left before halftime. That's before an unknown mystery man wearing #15 entered the game at QB.
With just one second left before halftime and his team down, the unknown Blue QB threw a 69-yard TD pass as the time expired to give Blue the lead at halftime, 10-8. It would prove to be crucial as Blue would go on and win the game, 16-8 after two insurance FGs by Mike Melnyk and Pat Moons. Some freshman QB named Harbaugh scored all of White's points on a TD pass and 2pt pass.
But the QB of the game was the mystery man that had almost everyone in the stadium--including the head coach--asking "who is that guy?"
His name was Mike Walker. He was the backup QB at DePauw in 1982, a Division III school in Greencastle, Indiana. He transferred to Michigan for academic purposes because he wanted to become an architect and DePauw's program wasn't in the same category as Michigan's.
When Bo was asked about who the mystery man was in the postgame press conference, he said this in an AP article from 1983-
"I really don't know," Schembechler said. "Mike Walker is a nice kid. As I understand it, he transferred here from a small school in Indiana for academic reasons. That's all I know about it. That's the first time he's ever scrimmaged. We just stuck him in because a couple of other guys were hurt"
That was Mike Walker's one and only pass in that spring game, and ever in a Michigan uniform.
He doesn't even officially exist since spring game walk ons aren't added to the all-time roster database at Bentley unless they make it on the Fall roster.
Bo would actually offer Mike Walker a walk on tryout in the Fall, but he declined, instead opting to focus on academics that he transferred to Michigan for in the first place.
1984: Turning of the tide
White team celebrates in the 1986 game, their 2nd win in 3 years over Blue
After years of taking punishment from Blues, the Whites finally got to dish it back. The run that continues to this day started back on April 14, 1984.
And that run was started by none other than a young QB named Jim Harbaugh. Seriously-
Detroit Free Press account
Harbaugh led the White to an 18-15 win and impressed Bo in the process. He would go on to start that 1984 season, but not finish it as he suffered a broken arm which killed the season that ended in a 6-6 record, Bo's worst.
Harbaugh would switch sides the following year in 1985, and lead the Blues to a 27-20 win over the Whites. Bo was angry about the defense in the postgame.
Harbaugh would lose his final game to the resurging White squad in 1986, 18-13.
White would go on to win 4 of 5 from the Blue for their best run since the early 40s.
1991-2003: Torn up grass
This period of time would be marred by multiple things that added turbulence to the tradition of the Spring Game.
In 1991, the game was scheduled to be played on April 13th, but was cancelled due to "injuries and renovations". Michigan Stadium would undergo the removal of the artificial All-Pro (astroturf) surface and a lowering of the field during the offseason.
The game returned in 1992, and the White continued their newfound success against the Blue, winning every single game in the 90s.
1995 was a first for the spring game. It was scored scrimmage with a point system. The White team was the offense and the Blue team was the defense. It wasn't taken very seriously, as Gary Moeller gave the Blue 10 points at halftime to make the "game" closer. White prevailed 45-44.
1996, the game was cancelled again. This time due to poor field conditions on the Michigan Stadium grass field.
4,000 fans braved the weather and saw arguably the best spring game in Michigan history in 1997. White trailed 14-0 before scoring a rushing TD and a TD on 57-yard fumble return to cut the lead to 1, but missed the PAT on the slippery field.
White kicked a FG to take the 16-14 lead and then went up 22-14 when LeAundre Brown picked off Scott Dreisbach and took it back 62 yards for what appeared to be the game-clinching touchdown with 14 seconds remaining. But another missed PAT provided Blue with one small chance left.
Blue marched right down the field in just 16 seconds and Dreisbach hit Tai Streets in the endzone for a TD as time expired. Blue went for the 2-point conversion to tie the game and send it OT, but the pass was no good and White escaped with a wild 22-20 victory.
1997 Spring Game
Coming off of a National Championship in 1997, you would think the crowd would be better than ever in 1998. Not a chance. This small crowd of diehards watched White win their 7th straight Spring Game, 20-17.
Only the media coverage on ESPN and the rise of the internet has increased Spring Game attendance and attention.
1999 was the first Non-Scoring scrimmage in exactly 50 years. Scrimmages would become the norm, as the 2000 tilt was a scored scrimmage (A 23-22 White win) and 2001 would be the final Spring GAME until the man who turned the tide in the series took over as head coach in 2015.
And to cap things off with the lovely grass field, the 2003 game was yet again cancelled due to poor field conditions. The grass field would be torn out during the summer and replaced with FieldTurf.
2004-2014: Scrimmages & Punt Exhibitions
Under Lloyd, the frequency of traditional spring games significantly decreased.
Most of them were scrimmages with crazy scoring systems, not much care was put to it. Which meant not very entertaining action.
No more steak for the winners and beans and hotdogs for the losers of the game.
From 2004-2006, all of the Spring Games would be non-scoring scrimmages. In 2007, a weird and complicated scoring system was in place where (who else?) the White team would beat the Blue in a 42-41 final. No one knew the scoring system in the crowd, and by my memory no one explained it.
Stadium renovations were actually taking place during that April. I believe it was replacing bleacher seats. MVictors said it was foundational construction.
The 2008 Spring Game was the last one I personally did not get to go to. It was invitation-only at Saline High School, due to the massive renovations taking place at The Big House.
I'm sure it was a good thing the new offense and the horrors that took place on the field at Saline were hidden only to donors and parents.
2008 Spring Game at Saline High School
2009 was the first advertised, promoted and ballyhooed Spring Game.
MGoBlue broadcasted it and it smashed any and all previous attendance marks. An estimated 50,000 people showed up on April 11, 2009 on a sun soaked day that felt more like a May Spring Game in the old days rather than early April.
True freshman Tate Forcier who had been in high school just 4 months earlier carved up the defense in a non-scoring scrimmage. Quite an omen.
2009 Spring Game (WD)
The following year would be another scrimmage, this time a scored one where no one knew the rules. Defense could score points.
The Blue team was the 1st team offense and 2nd team defense and the newly-reanmed MAIZE team was the 2nd team offense and 1st team defense. Denard carved up the 1st team defense and Blue won 49-37.
It was the first win by a Blue team in the Spring Game since 1989 in Bo's last Spring Game, snapping Maize/White's 10 game win streak.
2011 and 2012 under Hoke were also scored scrimmages with the same team concept, but there was no scoring method for the defense for stops, turnovers etc.
2013 and 2014 were played in freezing conditions and were non-scoring scrimmages. Basically, they were an hour of stretching and punting with an hour scrimmage. Like watching paint dry. Thankfully, change was on the horizon in many ways...
2015-present: Return of Harbaugh
2015 Spring Game. Harbaugh.
The biggest blockbuster hire in college football history happened. It Happened.
The man who does not get sick or observe major holidays and has a burning desire for winning competitions, brought back the traditional Michigan Spring Game.
Teams were drafted in a formal Spring Game Draft at the Junge Center, and the game would happen.
On April 4, 2015 before a new Michigan Spring Game record crowd of an estimated 60,000 fans on a beautiful day, the Tim Drevno's Blues defeated DJ Durkin's Maizes in a 7-0 offensive struggle.
The winning TD was a pass from Shane Morris to Jaron Dukes who caught the ball over 5'7 Dennis Norfleet.
Last year was the most exciting Spring Game many people can remember.
The Maize team stonewalled the Blue team on the goaline with no time left on the clock as Blue attempted to win the game on a 2-point conversion. Wilton Speight and the Maize defeated John O'Korn and the Blue, 14-13 in a thriller.
The 2017 Spring Game is on April 15th at 1pm.
Will Maize win their second straight and continue their 15 of 21 run over Blue? Will Blue re-establish the dominance it once had over its counterparts before Harbaugh changed it?
Only the future will tell.
Here is the result of every Michigan Spring Game in history.
Since the Maize-Blue series began in 1931, Blue holds the all-time edge 39-26-2.
|Date||Winning Team||Losing Team||Score||Format|
|5/9/1936||Yellow vs Blue: Tie||0-0||Game|
|5/1/1937||Yellow vs Blue: Tie||6-6||Game|
|1943||No Spring Practice (WWII)|
|1944||No Spring Practice (WWII)|
|1945||No Spring Practice (WWII)|
|5/16/1947||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|5/15/1948||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|5/14/1949||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/13/1991||Cancelled due to poor field conditions|
|1996||Cancelled due to poor field conditions|
|4/17/1999||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/13/2002||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|2003||Cancelled due to poor field conditions|
|4/10/2004||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/16/2005||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/17/2006||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/12/2008||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/11/2009||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/13/2013||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
|4/5/2014||No Score Kept||Scrimmage|
It is that painful time of year for Michigan fans where the basketball season has ended and we’re still a long 4+ months away from the start of football season. During this time we are left scrounging for scraps of information out of spring practice or projecting ahead to the next season of basketball. It is the latter of those two things that this post will focus on.
One annual tradition for just about all of us that follow the basketball team closely is to project the rotation for the following season. Almost everyone who does so falls into the same trap – predicting that the upcoming season will feature more depth in the rotation than the prior season. We stare at the roster, we look at the recruits coming in, and we extrapolate the freshmen who barely played into their future roles. This time of year we end up predicting a rotation of 10+ people depending on the season – and I’m just as guilty as anyone else. In this post I’m going to try to explain the outlook for next year as we see it today, then throw it to the readers to share their predictions….
Based on all of the post-season basketball content on the site this week (mailbag, podcast, WTKA) I have tried to compile a list of what I think would be the minutes predictions for Brian and Ace. For purposes of this discussion I’m going to assume that we don’t win the Mo Bamba lottery*, that everyone from the rotation with eligibility returns, and that there is no surprise grad transfer. I’m also going to split up the minutes in chunks of 5 to make the exercise easier to follow. Here’s how I interpreted the predictions from Ace & Brian for next season:
- PG = Simpson (25min), Brooks (10), Rahk (5)
- SG = Rahk (30), Poole (10)
- SF = Matthews (25), Robinson (15)
- PF = Wilson (25), Robinson (5), Livers (10)
- C = Wagner (25), Wilson (5), Davis/Teske (10)
We can all agree that we know the six primary rotation players next year – Simpson, Rahk, Matthews, Robinson, Wilson, and Wagner. Looking at the prediction above, we see that there are four additional players predicted to have about 10 minutes per game – Brooks, Poole, Livers, and the winner of the Teske/Davis battle for back-up center. (I suppose if you are a member of Ibi Watson’s fan club you could switch his name for Poole’s if you want.) What you see there sounds like a deep and healthy rotation that has a backup at every position, allows all of the recruits to get a few minutes, and has plenty of versatility with guys like Rahk, Robinson, and Wilson who can play multiple positions. I’m guessing that you’ll see similar predictions on other Michigan blogs. Sounds like a great plan, right? Let’s start writing up the season-preview for next year with that as our baseline!
NOT SO FAST….. That prediction is assured to be wrong.
I can promise you right now that there is no way Beilein is going to play 10 guys that many minutes. I went back and looked at the numbers for all of the years that Beilein has been at Michigan. On average, the number of players who play 25% of available minutes (i.e. 10mpg) is just eight per season for his teams:
- 2007-2008: 9 players
- 2008-2009: 9 players
- 2009-2010: 7 players (rounding Zak Gibson’s 24.9% to 25%)
- 2010-2011: 7 players
- 2011-2012: 7 players
- 2012-2013: 6 players (though Spike, Caris, and Horford were all in the 18-23% range)
- 2013-2014: 8 players
- 2014-2015: 9 players (Donnal was also at 24%)
- 2015-2016: 8 players
- 2016-2017: 7 players (for reference, Xavier Simpson finished at 22%)
Only three times since he’s been at Michigan has Beilein played more than 8 players at least 10mpg. Never has he had ten players reach that threshold, which is what we had in our prediction. So what’s more likely to happen? Let’s break down those seasons where more than 8 players contributed to see if any of those would support something closer to our prediction of 10 contributing players.
This was the miserable first year of Beilein’s tenure at Michigan. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims started all 32 games and three other players (Ekpe Udoh, Kelvin Grady, Ron Coleman) started at least 21 and averaged over 20mpg. Then there were several bench players that kept bouncing in and out of the rotation and ended up reaching the >10mpg threshold – Zack Gibson, Jevohn Shepherd, and CJ Lee. I think it is safe to say that we can’t learn much from this season as it was the transition from the Amaker to Beilein era and he was trying to find out what he had while losing a ton of games.
This was the year we got back into the tournament with an unheralded group of players. Once again Manny and DeShawn played about 80% of available minutes, but there was a ton of rotational depth perhaps unlike any other season in Beilein’s tenure. Zack Novak, Stu Douglas, Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Gibson, Kelvin Grady, CJ Lee, and David Merritt all averaged 10-25mpg and even Jevohn Shepherd and Anthony Wright were close behind. That’s a full 9 man rotation with two more still seeing more than just garbage time. I suppose this would indicate that Beilein is willing to use a deep bench, but what I see in this roster is that he had a lot of role players and not a lot of guys he felt he could truly count on. He kept trying to find the right mix of players that season and adjusted from game to game without playing hardly anyone a majority of minutes.
This was the season that started the grumbling about Beilein’s job security because they missed the post-season, in large part to the fact that their two best players were injured. In fact, because Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert only played in 19 and 18 games respectively, it actually skews the minutes higher for other players. Do we think that Kam Chatman, Rahk, or Aubrey Dawkins play as many minutes as they did that year if both starting guards are healthy? Not likely. But maybe it is possible that this could be a blueprint for next year as Michigan did go deep at every spot:
- PG: Walton / Spike
- SG: LeVert / Rahkman
- SF: Irvin
- PF: Chatman / Dawkins
- C: Doyle / Bielfeldt / Donnal
However, if they were healthy that season it seems far more likely that Walton and LeVert eat up a lot of minutes that were going to inconsistent freshmen like Rahk, Dawkins, and Chatman. We also know entering next year that Wagner is going to play as many minutes as possible at center, which isn’t the same as playing a three-headed monster of mediocrity shown here.
So where does this leave us? While it seems that Michigan has about 10 players who could potentially earn meaningful time next year, we also know that only 8 of them likely will. I’d like to throw it out to the reader at this point – rank these four players with regard to how likely they are to have a role within the rotation next season:
- Eli Brooks (PG) – We need another ball handler and Simpson has yet to prove himself. Then again, it is very rare for a Beilein point guard to contribute in his first season.
- Jordon Poole (SG) – As the guys said on the podcast, there’s always room for a pure shooter to find minutes for Beilein, especially if Rahk has to moonlight some at PG and/or Matthews isn’t living up to the practice hype. But if Rahk, Matthews, and Robinson are playing major minutes on the wing, where does he fit in?
- Isaiah Livers (PF) – The most heralded of the incoming recruits and a lock to become DJ Wilson 2.0. He would help compensate for the loss of Irvin’s ability to defend the PF spot. Except that Michigan already has three guys who can play the forward spots for major minutes.
- Teske/Davis (C) – Michigan has to have a back-up center to spell Wagner when he gets tired or in foul trouble. Despite his struggles this year, Donnal was still comfortably above the 25% of minutes played mark. Then again…..what if those back-up minutes go to Wilson in a small-ball lineup? Or what if both Teske and Davis split these few available minutes between them?
How does everyone see this playing out? I’ll share my prediction in the comments.
*My feeling with Bamba is that Michigan has a chance. He has a unique personality, not unlike Mitch McGary. I think he’s looking at more than just the typical blue-blood NBA factories and doesn’t see himself as a 1-and-done player. However, when you start reading into the minutes available I’m not as sure I see more than 10mpg available for him at Michigan and that might be a turnoff for him. I know UMHoops and others think that Bamba is an instant-impact player on defense who has to play right away, but would he really force Wagner to the bench as a true freshman who is extremely raw on the offensive end? I think he'd be in the rotation, but not in a major way.