"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Putting this up here so I have a link instead of a many-paragraphed email to respond to the question "How do I buy your book?"
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Hail to the Victors 2015 is our latest annual preview and feature magazine. You can now have this. If you are Kickstarter supporter see the FAQ (updated 7/1).
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"Time is a Flat Football" is a series of posts which will explore players from Michigan football history members of the 2015 team resembles the most. Tackled in these posts will be the offensive "skill" position groups: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Receivers/Tight Ends. My apologies go out to the offensive line, but it's very difficult to get o-line statistics, and more difficult to compare the groups.
Disclaimer: Obviously caveats do apply here. These are namely the effects of other position groups, coaching, and style of offense on the players being analyzed. I plan to deal with these issues by completely ignoring them. It's the off season, people.
This year's QB race appears to be between RS Sr transfer Jake Rudock and true Jr Shane Morris. We've watched Morris for the last few years and have become acquainted with Rudock's work thanks to a number of front page and board posts on the newly minted Wolverine. Let's take a look at their stats, gathered from sports-reference.com.
Before we get going, here's a list of a few of explanations for statistics shown above (and a few that are included later).
- Cls - Class (1 - Freshman, 2 - Sophomore, etc)
- Pct - Completion Percentage (Cmp/Att)
- Y/A - Passing Yards per Attempt
- AY/A - Adjusted Yards per Attempt ( [Yds + 20 * TD - 45 * Int] / Att)
- Rate - QB Rating ( [8.4 * Yds + 330 * TD - 200 * Int + 100 * Cmp] / Att)
- TD/Int - (TD - Int)
Rudock is the more experienced of the two, with a full season's worth of starter snaps to look at. Let's fire up the time machine and see who looks similar statistically.
(Rudock and Kirk Ferentz, whose right hand is reserved for things other than high fives.)
Like Rudock, each of these players completed their RS Jr season and stuck around for their RS Sr year. As has been covered by others, an apt comparison for RS Junior Rudock is RS Junior Gardner from the 2013 season. Attempts, completion percentages, and TD/Int ratio are very similar. The major difference between 2013 Gardner and 2014 Rudock is in the yardage, where Gardner averaged about 1.5 more Yds/Att and 1.1 more Adjusted Yds/Att. This can be interpreted in two ways: either Gardner threw downfield more often or Rudock's receivers were lousy at picking up yards after the catch.
Beyond the Gardner comparisons, Rudock appears to be a less turnover prone version of 1998 RS Junior Tom Brady, which is nice. Rudock had 22 more attempts than Brady and 5 less INTs with a TD/Int ratio of +11 to Brady's +4. The Y/Att and Adjusted Y/Att are very similar, and the QB Ratings are damn near identical. Let's see how these RS Junior QBs (and more specifically Brady) progressed between their final years.
The overwhelming evidence here suggests that Michigan quarterbacks have already reached their full potential by the 4 year mark. There are a few major outliers here, with guys like Jim Harbaugh and Devin Gardner taking a major step back in their TD/Int ratio. Generally fifth year senior QBs have higher completion percentages compared to their RS junior years, while also throwing a few more interceptions.
As far as what we can expect from Rudock based on this data, we should see him remain largely the same. If he is Tom Brady 2.0 he might see a bump in his TD/Int ratio, but given that Tom Brady was operating at a much less efficient pace than Rudock, I wouldn't expect much change there. Insert the mitigating factors such as a new school, new coach, and new system, and I'd expect Rudock to operate at a lower level this year, perhaps only due to a limited playbook and increased reliance on a running game I expect Harbaugh to be pretty stubborn on getting to work.
Bottom Line: Jake Rudock should have a season similar to RS Sr Tom Brady (1999).
The 1999 team went 10-2 and most notably beat OSU and Alabama. Brady had help in the form of Anthony Thomas and David Terrell, both of which compare very favorably to guys on the 2015 roster. If you're a glass half full kinda guy Rudock will be drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots and should ditch Tinder for a Victoria's Secret catalog. If you're like me you might be worried about Rudock's supporting cast. Still, a guy like Rudock should be able to come in and Alabama QB the 2015 Michigan squad to a decent offensive season.
(from @umichfootball, for some reason)
Now let's say Shane Morris wins the starting job come September. In this case we'll want to compare him to other players with limited playing experience. Below is a list of Michigan QBs who took on either the starting role or a significant portion of the QB snaps after seeing a similar amount of game experience to Shane Morris. Note that many of these QBs have a little more experience in terms of Attempts. Also, keep in mind that these comparisons have only been made for QBs who started or played significant portions of their upperclassmen careers. Morris may become one of these guys or he could spend the season as the backup and get another chance at the starting gig next year.
At this point Morris has seen two seasons of limited action. His stats from last year look...rough, so I'll mostly be using his 2013 stats in comparisons. I believe (hope) his 2013 stats more accurately represent what he's capable of doing. The table above also shows other Michigan QBs since 1975 with similar experience who went on to start as upperclassmen. I made the cutoff at no more than 110 Attempts in a season and no less than 20, which did include starter Rick Leach who showed up just as the forward pass was gaining traction.
A couple things stick out right away here: Morris looks similar to a number of QBs who were fairly successful. Rick Leach (who started both the 1975 and 1976 seasons) had one similarly uninspiring season to Morris' 2014, as far as Completion Percentage goes, and also a tough time with turnovers. The best comparison to Morris' freshman season might actually be Todd Collins' 1991 sophomore campaign. The completion percentages are nearly identical, as are the Yards/Attempt. Sample sizes are obviously small, but these are guys who were primarily coming off the bench at that point in their career.
The more troubling thing that sticks out here is that Morris' sophomore season was significantly less promising than his freshman season. Every important stat went in the wrong direction. His TD/Int ratio is similar to Denard's 2009 freshman campaign. Morris may be mobile for a quarterback who isn't known for his speed, but he does not have Robinson's running ability to make up for his passing. What does this mean? I don't know exactly. Let's see how each of these guys turned out the next season.
Todd Collins, arguably the most similar QB to Morris, put up the most impressive next season. After seeing a moderate number of snaps during his Sophomore and Junior years, he made an important leap from his to his Senior year in Adjusted Y/Att, jumping from 6.9 to 8.6. Morris is in a similar situation this year, after seeing limited action his Freshman and Sophomore years.
Based on the rest of these seasons, it appears that we should expect a small degree of improvement in nearly all important statistics if we see a JR Shane Morris starting this season. A "Todd Collins"-like jump is best case scenario, and at that point we'd be looking at a relatively efficient and effective QB.
However, if we apply the average improvement numbers for newly minted starting QBs entering their third year of play to Morris' freshman (best) season, we're looking at a guy averaging about 5.9 Y/A and 4.0 AY/A, which is most comparable to a RS Sophomore John Navarre (6.3 Y/A, 5.8 AY/A). Morris' numbers are obviously significantly lower, which is in part due to Ints making up a decent proportion of his Attempts. Hopefully he's a victim of a small sample size and not poor decision making.
Bottom Line: Should he start, Shane Morris could have a season similar to RS Sophomore John Navarre (2001).
While Navarre was not the most efficient QB in terms of Completion Percentage (just 53.8%), he was asked to shoulder a lot of the offensive load that year, attempting 346(!) passes on a team with both B.J. Askew and Chris Perry on the roster. Somehow this team didn't have a 1,000 yd rusher. The 2001 team went 8-4, which seems like a reasonable expectation for this year. The major caveat to this comparison is that John Navarre's supporting cast included All-American WR Marquise Walker, a luxury Morris will have to do without.
What Does It All Mean?
Whether Rudock or Morris wins the starting spot, we're probably going to be looking at a borderline competent starter at worst and a pretty damn good one at best. Not very comforting, I know. Let me know what you guys think, and what I missed!
I was like many Mgobloggers yesterday in being unhappy to learn of the acrimonious end of Ondre Pipkins’ career at Michigan but also uncertain of whether the coaching staff did anything wrong. Regardless of the specifics of Pipkins’ situation, it raises this difficult question:
When is it appropriate to for a player to take a medical hardship? Edit: I presented the question I addressed below poorly. The question is: When - if ever - is it appropriate for a program to try to impose a medical hardship on a player? The analysis below is from the point of view of the school. I thought that was obvious, but it was not.
I think we can all agree that a medical hardship is appropriate when a player, his doctor(s), and the coaching staff all determine that the player cannot or should not play football again. This is the Platonic ideal of medical hardships. It doesn’t require discussion, because of what I assume to be a consensus on its propriety.
Reality rarely fits, though, so neatly into such a category. It is uncommon, as far as I know, that a player becomes incapable of playing football in the most literal sense. Antonio Bass stands out to me as the only player I know to have left Michigan while being truly unable to carry out the basic functions of a football player. We are accordingly left to sort out what a program ought to do regarding a medical hardship when faced with various shades of grey.
To help think about medical hardship situations, I refer below to an imaginary player, Player X, who plays wide receiver for State University (“SU”), a major-conference Division 1 team. When uninjured, he has the speed to be a deep threat, runs good routes, has good hands, and is a willing and capable blocker. It is realistic to believe that he can catch 75 passes for 1,200 yards. To make this all easier, assume that he is neither a positive nor a negative presence in the locker room.
To further help think about medical hardships, I list below a series of situations in which Player X suffers an increasing accumulation of injuries but – crucially – does not want to leave the team. I’ve done this because I think considering plausible scenarios – but not real players who played for schools we may like or dislike – keeps us grounded in reality but not so grounded that we make choices based on our fandom. Many injured players will not fit exactly into the situations I describe, but I believe I’ve broadly covered the possibilities.
A final thought before we start: When thinking about what SU should do when Player X has suffered an injury or injuries, we have to consider SU’s ethical duty to Player X, to its competitors, and to its own program. The need for SU to consider its duty to Player X is obvious. It may be less obvious (to an Alabama fan) that SU has to consider the rightness of its actions in relations to its competitors, but it does. A team that removes injured players from its 85 man roster more liberally than its competitors will likely have an advantage over them in terms of talent (thus the long-time complaints about Nick Saban). Finally, I think SU has at least some ethical duty to its program – its coaches, players, etc. – when considering whether to give a player a medical hardship. We can at least imagine a player or players who insist they can still play despite the fact that they have no realistic chance of contributing and who become, at the risk of being crude, dead weight that takes up reps, time in the weight room, scholarships, and fall camp slots* that could go to players who can help the team win.
*Poster Reader 71 pointed out yesterday that the NCAA limits you to having 105 total players – scholarship or walk-on – in fall camp.
All of that having been said, on to the hypothetical situations:
Situation No. 1: Player X suffers an ACL tear, and he can now realistically be expected post-recovery to catch 50 balls for 500 yards in a season.
I think the vast majority of us will agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him on the team here. 50 catches for 500 yards are the numbers of a very valuable player even if they are not as good as those Player X could have produced pre-injury. And we have to assume that he still takes satisfaction of some sort in playing football. We can hardly say that he has broken any obligation to the program by “only” gaining 500 yards or that he is not still benefitting from being on the team.
I think the vast majority of us will also agree that SU would be violating an ethical duty to its competitors by pushing Player X out the door in this case if it did so to replace him with a better player. I’m not sure anyother program would cut Player X here (maybe Tom Crean if this were basketball), but we can certainly say that most would not and that pushing him out here would violate the intent of the medical hardship rule. SU, then, would at least potentially gain an unfair competitive advantage by cutting Player X to make room for, say, an all-everything high school wide receiver or an All-American wide receiver transferring from another school.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this case, Player X could possibly be replaced by a better player, but he is hardly a non-contributor. Cutting him and replacing him with a better player would improve the talent on SU’s team but also likely hurt team chemistry and player morale.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this case, it’s easy to say that they should keep Player X. Using a medical hardship in this instance would be wrong.
Situation No. 2: Player X suffers yet another knee injury and can now realistically only be expected to catch 25 passes for 250 yards.
I think the vast majority of us will still agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him here just as they did in Situation No. 1. The same reasoning applies despite the fact that Player X is less valuable than he was before. 25 catches for 250 yards is a nice contribution even if it likely won’t get you on an honorable mention all-conference list. It’s also still the sort of contribution a player presumably takes pride in making. Player X has not broken any duty to SU that would allow them to impose the end of his playing days, and football is likely still rewarding to him.
I think the vast majority of us will also still agree that SU owes a duty to its competitors not to cut Player X to make room for a better player in this instance. The same reasoning that applied in Situation No. 1 makes sense here. Rule-abiding teams do not get rid of guys who can catch 25 passes.
As for SU’s duty to its program here, the same reasoning applies as applied in Situation No. 1, though I think we have to concede that – all things being equal – team morale will take less of a hit when a player who catches 25 balls is pushed off the team than when a player who catches 50 balls is pushed off the team. The player with 25 catches is less obviously succeeding, and so it is easier to find logic in getting rid of him (even if that logic seems more misguided than not). And I think we have to concede that a potential replacement of the 25-catch player has a better chance of improving the production of SU’s wide receiver position than would a replacement of a 50-catch player (the replacement of the 25-catch player only has to catch 26 passes for there to be an improvement). So the team is more likely to lose out on increased production by keeping the 25-catch player than it is by keeping the 50-catch player.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this second situation, it is still fairly easy to say that SU should keep Player X on its roster here. A replacement of Player X who is better than him could be found somewhat easily, but that consideration is trumped by all the others by a wide margin.
Situation No. 3: Now things get a little harder. Player X tears an Achilles. He can only be expected post-injury to catch 10 passes for 75 yards, serve as a decent blocker, and play a bit on special teams.
My guess is that Mgobloggers are somewhat divided over a case like this. I believe, though, that the reasoning of Situations 1 & 2 still applies here as far as SU’s duty to Player X. 10 catches for 75 yards is not a lot, but it’s still a contribution. And Player X made no promise when he accepted a scholarship that he would play football with any particular degree of success. He also likely feels some satisfaction in what he provides to the team.
As to SU’s duty to its competitors here, I believe it would still be an unfair competitive advantage to dump Player X in this situation. We might say that a player who is only going to grab 10 passes for 75 yards didn’t pan out, but not all players pan out. And the medical hardship rule was not designed – nor is it generally used – to allow teams to cut a player simply because he might be considered a bust.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this situation, I think we have to conclude that dropping 10-catch Player X will hurt team morale but – all things again being equal – not hurt it as much as dropping 25-catch Player X would. It is relatively easy to see 10-catch Player X as having failed and therefore to rationalize his departure. It is also the case that replacing him with a wide receiver who can out-perform him will be that much easier than it was for 25-catch Player X.
Balancing all of SU’s ethical duties here, I believe SU must keep Player X on the roster. He is not giving SU a great deal, and he could likely be replaced by someone who would help the team more. But SU would be violating the agreement it made with Player X when it offered him a scholarship to play football, robbing him of a still-rewarding experience, and gaining an unfair advantage over other schools.
Situation No. 4: Now we will certainly be divided. Player X tears a hamstring and suffers an MCL tear and ACL tear to his other knee. He is capable of running routes in only the most literal sense, and he is a poor blocker. He gives 100% effort at all times, but he produces no more than a good intramural player off the street could.
SU’s duty to Player X in this instance is difficult to pin down. They offered him a scholarship to play D1 football. He can now do so in a literal sense, but he will never contribute to a win. We could thus arguably say that Player X now has – through no fault of his own – reached a point at which he is failing to live up to his end of the scholarship-for-play bargain. And it also becomes fair to question how rewarding football could still be for Player X, though it is ultimately only Player X who can make that determination.
SU’s duty to its competitors here is also hard to determine. Is the medical hardship rule generally taken to mean that a player like Player X can be pushed into leaving the roster? My sense is that it is, and this is partly informed by posts by Reader 71, who played at Michigan.
SU’s duty to its program, when considered in isolation, points toward pushing Player X to take a medical hardship. Every practice rep that he takes could go to a player who might help the team win. And his scholarship could be used for a player who could help the team win. There would presumably be some morale loss by pressuring him into a medical hardship, but it would be relatively easy for players to rationalize this action.
When balancing the above considerations, I still lean toward believing SU would be wrong to force Player X to take a medicalhardship. As I noted regarding Situation No. 3, Player X never promised to play football with any particular success. And we have to assume that being on the team is still rewarding for him even if an outside observer might question that, because the cost to him of staying on the team in terms of time and energy spent is very high. He is being rewarded – at least in a subjective sense – by remaining on the roster, or he is self-destructive, and we have no right to assume the latter.
SU seemingly wouldn’t gain a competitive advantage by cutting Player X, and the program as a whole would benefit from removing him from the roster. But my instinct – and I admit this is a conclusory statement – is that SU’s ethical duty to Player X is more important than its ethical duty to the rest of its program within the context of considering his scholarship. I do not feel particularly strongly about this, though, and readily admit that I may be discounting the wellbeing of the program as whole.
Another thought: The question of whether Player X has a duty to his teammates to take the medical hardship here is an interesting one, though one I don’t have time to take up.
Situation No. 5: Player X suffers multiple concussions, a neck injury, or something similarly serious. He can play post-recovery, but his doctors tell him he is at risk of experiencing a lifetime of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms if he endures another injury of the same type.
I believe SU is free to take a paternalistic approach here and tell Player X that, while he is free to transfer and risk his health with another program, they are not going to watch him leave the field on a cart in an SU uniform. If the coach of SU wants no part of Player X having to spend years sitting in a dark room because, like former New York Jet Al Toon, he becomes dizzy and experiences terrible pain if he stands or sees light, then the coach is free to tell Player X that he has to play elsewhere if he is to play at all.
If SU is willing to keep Player X on the roster, then I think they at least owe him a duty to explain to him the potential risks and the potential rewards of continuing to play football. Perhaps a potential top-10 pick could rationally choose to continue to play even if he faced, say, a 25% chance of paralysis. But he should make that decision with as must information as possible.
There is no problem here as far as SU’s duty to its competitors. A great many programs would, I think, push Player X into a medical hardship here.
As far as the program as a whole, the question hinges in part on how well Player X can play. Can he still gain 1,200 yards? Then the program obviously benefits from keeping him around. Can he only gain 75 yards? Then the program might gain by being rid of him. But regardless of his remaining ability, it is worth considering the potential damage to the program in terms of morale and image that would result from having a player seriously hurt (consider the Shane Morris incident last year).
The issue of how well Player X can play, though, is very small in relation the potential that he suffers a debilitating injury. The consideration that dwarfs all others is whether he ought to risk his health in order to gain from remaining on the team and potentially playing professional football.
Summary: This isn’t an easy issue. Some cases will be black and white, but the right answer is often unclear – and arriving at it requires a good deal of detailed information about the given situation. I lean toward believing programs should keep players on their rosters in almost all instances, but there is room for reasonable argument as to when exactly they are not required to do so. And there may even be cases in which a program should force a player to take a medical hardship.
Using the Composite 247sports rankings, here is every player Michigan has signed in the modern recruiting rankings era that was the #1 ranked prospect in their respective state.
|2002||Gabe Watson||DT||5 star||MI||Southfield||Southfield|
|2003||Prescott Burgess||S||5 star||OH||Warren||Harding|
|2003||Will Paul||TE||4 star||MO||Ballwin||West|
|2003||Clayton Richard||QB||4 star||IN||Lafayette||McCutcheon|
|2003||LaMarr Woodley||LB||5 star||MI||Saginaw||Saginaw|
|2004||Adrian Arrington||WR||4 star||IA||Cedar Rapids||George Washington|
|2004||Doug Dutch||WR||4 star||DC||Washington||Gonzaga|
|2004||Brett Gallimore||OT||4 star||MO||Riverside||Park Hill South|
|2004||Will Johnson||DT||4 star||MI||Lake Orion||Lake Orion|
|2005||Kevin Grady||RB||5 star||MI||Grand Rapids||East Grand Rapids|
|2005||James McKinney||DT||4 star||KY||Louisville||Central|
|2006||Brandon Graham||LB||5 star||MI||Detroit||Crockett|
|2007||Ryan Mallett||QB||5 star||TX||Texarkana||Texas|
|2007||Renaldo Sagesse||DT||3 star||QUE||Montreal||Alma|
|2011||Blake Countess||CB||4 star||MD||Olney||Good Counsel|
|2012||Amara Darboh||WR||4 star||IA||West Des Moines||Dowling Catholic|
|2013||Chris Fox||OT||4 star||CO||Parker||Ponderosa|
|2013||Shane Morris||QB||4 star||MI||Warren||De La Salle|
|2014||Jabrill Peppers||CB||5 star||NJ||Paramus||Catholic|
|2015||Brian Cole||ATH||4 star||MI||Saginaw||Heritage|
|2015||Zach Gentry||QB||4 star||NM||Albuquerque||Eldorado|
|2015||Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.||TE||4 star||NY||Buffalo||Canisius|
- Some, uh, massive busts but some pretty great players.
- Prescott Burgess was a beast.
- Kind of hard to believe D.Green wasn't #1 in Virginia in 2013.
- Pierre Rembert was #2 in Wisconsin in 2002. If things hold up and Bredeson follows through with his commitment and signs with Michigan in February, Michigan will grab WI's top ranked player for the first time.
Many Michigan fans are mystified by the current recruiting strategy of taking so many low-rated (or unrated) players at this early stage in the process. ‘Does JH know what he is doing?’ ‘Why not wait, as you can scoop up these guys later if the bigger fish don’t come on board.’ Even those of us who totally trust JH must admit to being a bit boggled when he took the 2 star DE; notwithstanding that he had worked him out personally at camp. However, when you look at the numbers - in light of Harbaugh’s track record - his madness makes more than just sense... it is genius.
2015: I believe that we will take Jhonny Williams as a transfer so will need to make some room to get down to 85. That should be no problem with the rumored medicals and other natural attrition.
2016: It looks like we are going for 25 recruits (#Fab 25)... or even more. There are 15 - 16 spots open at present which means that 10 or so more are expected. We do not name names on this site (and I fully agree with that policy), but looking at the roster it is fairly easy to see where the 10+ openings will come from. Medicals, un-offered 5th years and transfers for PT or other reasons could open at least 25 spots for the 2016 class. In fact, 28 (the league maximum if you have at least 3 early enrolees) is a very plausible number. This makes the spate of offers - and the less-than-sexy commitments - more understandable.
The bottom line is that JH is Confident that with his track record, and an EUTM, he can spot the right kind of athletes and mold them into Winners. To get 25 - 28 of those guys you can't sit on your butt waiting for high rated prima donnas to sign your dance card. This is why the 'Swarm' camps were such a stroke of genius. They gave JH the opportunity to see athletes from all over the country up close and personal. All of the ones who checked out as potential winners were offered. Never mind the star ratings of the armchair experts; one of the best talent evaluators in all of football worked these guys out in person. There is absolutely no way that he could have seen the vast majority of these kids if he had just waited for the Michigan camp... Genius!
We've got the Right guy in the Right Place at the Right time... Enjoy!
Sometimes I feel my abilities to contribute to this blog are limited. I didn’t grow up playing organized sports, so I can contribute very little technical data. I spent much of my time learning nonessential sports information by studying books, magazines, and sports cards. I tried my hand at writing a diary about this kind of off the wall material once and enjoyed the experience. However, WolverineDevotee has admirably cornered the market on these types of posts, so I must look for something else to add.
Last summer, I happened to be in an antique store in Carson City (MI not NV) because of a rather bizarre part of my job in my former career as legislative staff. While there, I saw old department store catalogues for sale. They were surprisingly expensive, so I didn’t buy any, but as with most things in life, the internet answered my needs and scanned copies were easily found.
As I looked through them, I noticed that many displayed Michigan apparel in some form, and that gave me the idea to add some fashion perspective to the blog. With all the hubbub about Nike vs. Adidas and shades of Maize, I thought this would be a good time to collect these pictures and provide a laugh for some and memories for others. I hope you enjoy this brief look at ‘M’ fashion from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
First a quick disclaimer…my source for this post does not have an exhaustive list of catalogues, so there could be a many other images out there that would be good to add. Also, I may have missed some within these catalogues; scrolling through 500-600 pages in one catalogue can get tedious. However, I will add that the catalogues are fascinating, not only for the price and styles but the breadth of what they sold.
1970 Montgomery Ward
I started looking at the catalogues in the mid-to late 1960s, but there was very little sports apparel of any kind. Some NFL, but no NCAA until the late 70s. The NFL gear could be another post, but I couldn’t help including this gem. I realize Joe Namath was a big thing in this era, but I saw nothing else like this. A few team shirts and jackets each year, but then along comes a doll complete with 12 different outfits. Incredible.
Here we have our first instance of ‘M’ apparel. Unfortunately, the actual clothing isn’t shown, but the logo to be used on the jacket is in the second column from the left, second from the bottom. For this they stayed all business and used the traditional university seal. It’s also interesting to see the variety of teams offered, including schools like Maryland, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and California. In later years, options would be very limited to major schools like ‘M’, Notre Dame (who is surprisingly not offered here), and Penn State.
Another offering from same catalogue is the “sport carry all”. Unfortunately, no ‘M’ logo is pictured, but it was an option (with colors navy and gold, really?), so I thought I would include it here. Interestingly, here Notre Dame is offered, along with very odd choices in Boston and Delaware.
Here is a t-shirt with a very large ‘M’ on it. It’s an interesting variation of the split M. But hey, at least it’s not that Gopher or the UCLA Bruin.
A slew of interesting takes on various logos here. Again, a unique version of the split M. This time with university seal doing the splitting. I have certainly never seen this variation anywhere else.
I’m kinda liking this varsity sweater, though I’m not sure I would have occasion to wear it. This is an interesting rendering of the block M. Skinnier than usual, and it seems like the middle portion doesn’t come as low as it should.
These short, mesh jerseys were pretty popular in this era, at least they sold NFL versions in a number of different years. I thought it was interesting that they used Ron Kramer’s number here, but then I realized that they were each number 87…and this was Christmas 1986, right before 1987.
Again with the number 87. Who wants to wear a jersey with the year on it?
Preppy collegiate sweatshirt? Sure, I guess. It’s interesting that apparel with the University’s seal was popular enough to be offered several times. Also, your nation’s rugby shirt if you’d like; I assume in anticipation of the Olympics the following year.
Here’s another offering from 1987. Apparently, they felt kids would be disappointed if they got a Penn State helmet and it was blank, so they added an emblem.
Quite the large wolverine we’ve got here. But again, it could be worse; at least it’s not the cartoon Bruin of UCLA. Also, Hawaii with a rare appearance. Was that a normal logo for them? If so, it’s terrible.
Mesh jerseys with another appearance in 1988. It’s pretty tough to see what is on the ‘M’ set. It looks like a typical split M on the shorts.
“In case anyone has any doubts or has terrible eyesight, I cheer for the Wolverines” says the fan with a massive split M on his sweater. In all fairness though, if there was a year to wear this sweater, 1989 was the year.
While we’re on the subject of apparel from the great year of 1989, I’m going to make a quick interlude to insert a couple of personal pictures of ‘M’ clothing from that year. Though I probably should have included these in this post your own apparel thread. I found this t-shirt at a thrift store a couple years ago. Oh that there might be occasion for a similar shirt to be produced again.
This sweatshirt was my older sister’s, but it ended up in a bag of clothing repatriated by my parents to my house several years ago. I don’t know what a teddy bear had to do with ‘M’ or with the Rose Bowl, but it was available if you wanted it.
Here we have “team jackets by Chalkline.” And another logo variation with the words Michigan and Wolverine down each side of the block M. I can’t say I’m sad that this style of jacket has passed on.
Back to the large wolverine here, also large stripes. Maybe this was the impetus for the “throwback” jerseys of 2011?
Finally from 1989, another version of the mesh jersey. Unfortunately, only displayed with Notre Dame. But some pretty awesome socks down in the corner.
Here the apparel with the university seals is offered on kid’s clothing. Again, I don’t picture this conversation happening “Hey Tommy, that’s an awesome garland around the lamp on your sweatshirt.” Also, does Notre Dame still use that Leprechaun? It seems very familiar from that era, but not so much lately. Maybe I just haven’t paid attention recently.
And here is an adult option of the clothing from the last page. Also, Zubaz. I’m young enough or sheltered enough that I associate these with the 2014 Tigers, but I guess they were quite the thing in 1991. The logo looks like the split M with “Wolverines” across it, an interesting twist.
And Zubaz hats to go with those pants. I realize this is just like, my opinion, but these jackets are awful. Again, the ‘M’ offering isn’t the worst (I would say that goes to Georgetown). I would like to think that if I was a functioning adult (and not just a 6 year old) at the time, I would have had the same opinion in 1991, but who knows…
Here the M is split by a…wolverine? Might as well. It looks like they have two different shades of maize going here, but when has that ever worried anyone?
Replica helmet for sale, not much of note here. Unless you want a Super Bowl helmet with the score on it. I guess if you were a fan of the Cowboys this would be nice, but it doesn’t seem like there would be a wider appeal.
And a duffel bag, again nothing too unique or interesting. I like the basketball court rugs. That’s an item that could do with a revival, if it’s not still available in some form.
Ah, the Starter jackets of the mid-90s, certainly an iconic look. From a marketing standpoint, things seems fairly standardized by this point. It’s interesting that the split M has been dropped, it was such a ubiquitous symbol for quite a while.
To complete 1994, a couple of seating options. It looks like they solved the multiple colors of maize from 1991 by going with blue, but interestingly they kept the wolverine. Maybe I haven’t noticed, but I don’t remember seeing a wolverine image used in marketing at all recently. You also had the option of buying an “ABC Wide World of Sports” beanbag if you didn’t feel like supporting a specific team.
Finally, a couple bonuses. I had to include this page from the 1975 Montgomery Ward catalogue because it reminded me of Graham Glasgow.
And this offering from the 1976 JCPenney catalogue. I suppose I should mark this last one as NSFW or at least OT, but for those of you who were around and conscious of such things in 1976, were his and hers matching underwear really a thing? Like did people coordinate each day? Would you plan out your whole week in advance? I’m not sure I even want to know the answers to these questions.