I'll continue with the TBT series as long as the mods are ok with it and I have subjects to write about. I have a response for next week's subject, but it's also that time of year to get the kids back off to college so I might have to miss a week.
This next guy was someone I considered the most consistent guy on the team. Like all the other subjects I've written about, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them because they were really good football players but even better students. He was one of those guys that earned the complete and unwavering confidence of all his teammates and every coach because of the way he carried himself and went about his business . He was Mr. Reliable - steady, solid, smart, and unshakeable. He wasn’t the biggest receiver, and he’ll be the first to tell you he wasn’t the fastest but damn, he showed up for work every single day.
Ken “Pinky” Higgins comes from a long line of Michigan Wolverines: his grandfather, his mom, his dad, an uncle, an aunt, and two of his three brothers all attended the University of Michigan. It seemed liked the least surprising decision in the history of recruiting when he ultimately chose the Wolverines, but it wasn’t as cut and dried as you might think.
He played high school football for Coach Jim Ritter at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, Michigan. He was lightly recruited as a junior and considered a MAC-level talent by his own coaches. However, one of his dad’s friends, Hugh Wright – a former golfer at Michigan – believed Kenny was the caliber of student-athlete that would excel at UofM. It was Mr. Wright who sent Bo his high school game film. Bo must have liked what he saw because he sent assistant coach Paul Schudel out to his next game. And what a game he had: 9 receptions for almost 250 yards in the first half alone. Coach Schudel had seen enough. His performance sealed the deal. A short time later, a scholarship offer was extended.
Although Michigan was his favorite team, Bo’s grind it out offense wasn’t exactly a wide receiver’s dream scenario. The other schools recruiting him – Purdue (with QB Chris/Jim Everett, Michigan State (Dave Yarema), Boston College (Doug Flutie), and Stanford (some really smart guy, probably)– liked to throw the ball around the field a hell of a lot more than the old man. There was also a pretty big stable of receivers on the roster: Vince Bean, Paul Jokisch, Gilvanni Johnson, Triando Markray, and Steve Johnson to name a few. In the end though, the choice came down to winning a lot of wins, continuing the family legacy, and maybe catch a few passes from some guy named Harbaugh.
Ironically, the very first pass thrown to Mr. Reliable, he dropped. It was against Michigan State in 1983 and the true freshmen found himself forced into action a lot sooner than he anticipated (two upperclassmen served disciplinary action for violations the week before). “I was pretty nervous, and looking back, entirely unprepared to play.” But everything went pretty well, and in the 4th quarter with the game well in hand, backup QB Dave Hall threw a pass to Higgins on an “I” route. As freshman receivers tend to do, he waited for the ball to come to him rather coming back to meet it. As the ball arrived, so did the State’s DB and the ball fell incomplete. To this day, Hall doesn’t let Kenny forget his first pass.
Things would get better and Ken would settle into his role as a clutch receiver who only rarely got yelled at by Bo and Jerry Hanlon. He had his best game in 1986 in a night game against Wisconsin at Camp Randall. He was sick all day with a fever and nausea, but with Paul Jokisch out with an injury, Ken was the next man up and he damn sure wasn't going to call in sick. That turned out to be a good decision as he caught 8 passes from Harbs for 150 yards in the Wolverines victory – Bo’s 200th career win.
In his 4 years at Michigan, Ken would be a part of 36 wins, a Big 10 Championship and Rose Bowl, and go a combined 6-2 against MSU and OSU. He caught 36 passes for 621 yards his senior year, including 1 touchdown and an 18.8 yards per catch average. The touchdown was memorable for me personlly because it was the first game I made the travel squad. Pinky’s touchdown gave us a 35-0 nothing lead going into the half. As we walked to the locker room, Coach Moeller told me to be ready to go in the second half. I wasn’t 2nd string, but with a 35 point lead, even the 3rd (or 4th) stringers would get some significant playing time. Something, something, something about the best laid plans and, well... The 2nd stringers played like ass and Moeller saw it as a teaching moment, so he kept them in the game. I totally understood. I wasn’t owed anything and if the backups needed work, so be it. The Hoosier fans, on the other hand, weren’t quite as understanding. You won’t live through a more humbling experience than when INDIANA FANS (!) start busting your balls about playing time. From the fan in the stands, “Sooooo, how many points do you have to be up before they put you in?” So yea, I vividly remember Ken’s first and only TD that year.
You might have asked yourself where Ken got the nickname “Pinky.” Bo called him that almost from the first day he stepped on campus. Ken would askn who Pinky Higgins was but Bo would just smirk and walk away. In his four years on campus, he never got an answer. It would be decades later before the answer revealed itself. Ken’s brother was at a baseball game, thumbing through the program and what do you know – there’s a former player/coach/general manager named Frank “Pinky” Higgins whose career in baseball spanned the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Bo was a huge baseball fan and loved pulling obscure names from the distant past. I am fairly certain Bo nicknamed backup QB Wilbur Odom “Blue Moon” long before UM Alum James Earl Jones mentioned that name in “A Field of Dreams”.
In one particularly memorable game his junior year in 1985, we were playing South Carolina at their place in the second game of the season. We had just beat Notre Dame the week before but South Carolina was ranked #11 and the favorite to win this game. If you recall, 1985 was Bo’s best defense and we put the clamps on the Gamecocks that day. Up to this point, Ken was playing sparingly and mostly when the games were out of hand. Anyway, Bo called a pass play and Jim threw to Kenny who hauled in his first career reception. He trotted off the field wearing a huge smile while resuming his place next to Bo, waiting for the next time he’d get called in. After a minute or so, Bo finally noticed the enormous grin on Pinky’s face, and asked, “was that your first catch?” Ken replied in the affirmative. Bo smiled, turned around, and resumed calling plays. As the drive matriculated down the field and we entered the red zone, Bo put Kenny back in the game and called a fade route. If you’re young or aren’t familiar with Bo’s penchant for running the ball, a fade route was literally the last play on the last page of his play sheet. But he called it nonetheless. It was incomplete (underthrown according to Ken. I’m still waiting for Harbaugh to confirm), but that moment stood out for Ken. Bo didn’t make a big production out of it. He didn’t announce it or set it up. He called it matter-of-factly as sort of salute to a player he had tremendous respect for. That’s the kind of thing he’d do reward a player for his hard work and dedication. It’s one of Bo’s many attributes that player’s carried with them for the rest of their lives.
While at Michigan, Ken roomed with defensive tackle Dave Folkersma and the Schulte brothers – Todd and Tim. He lived in a fraternity his junior year, and then across the street from the Blue Front (“may it rest in peace”) his senior year.
Despite playing his freshman year, he was redshirted his sophomore season and therefore eligible for a 5th year in 1987. Ken faced an almost identical decision that Tim Williams recounted in his story: return for a final season or head off to law school. In Ken’s case, professional football wasn’t a realistic opportunity but playing for Bo and his teammates was tough to leave behind. He talked with Bo and also consulted with the admissions people at UM Law about the possibility of starting school in the summer, then taking a lighter load during the season. In the end, Ken felt the best choice was to hang up the cleats and move onto the next stage of his life. Only, it wouldn’t be in Ann Arbor, but rather on the famed campus in Cambridge Massachusetts. Ken earned his JD from Harvard and entered private practice upon graduation. After 5 years, he joined a private equity firm and ultimately became a partner at Greene Holcomb Fisher in Minneapolis, a boutique investment bank focused on Mergers and Acquisitions and advisory work specializing in the healthcare industry. Recently, his company was purchased by BMO Financial Group, a large financial institution out of Canada. Ken will remain with the new company and continue leading M&As.
He’s been married to his wife Laura – also a Michigan alum – for 26 years. They have two daughters, the oldest of which starts her first year at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the youngest begins her senior year at Penn. She’s also the captain of swim team and sports editor of the school newspaper. (Are you reading this, Brian?). Ken tried his best to get his girls to go to Michigan, but they wanted to blaze their own paths. Despite shunning the Maize and Blue, the girls are still big Michigan fans and will probably do just fine.
Ken still stays in touch with some of his older teammates: Phil Logas, a wide receiver who is now an attorney in Florida. Russ Rein, QB that took over for Harbaugh when he broke his arm in the ’84 MSU game and is now an executive at the Mayo Clinic. John Balourdos, a lineman who is a commercial real estate in Chicago. Clay Miller and also the Schulte brothers who were originally from Kentucky. Also, punter Monty Robbins who runs a mortgage bank back home in Kansas.
When he’s not busy with work or taking care of his girls, Ken and Laura devote their time and resources to Wilderness inquiry, a program that sponsors inner city youth and individuals with disabilities on camping, hiking, canoeing and other shared outdoor activities. They’re also active donors to the University of Michigan, endowing a scholarship for the swim team in honor of Ken’s parents who put so much emphasis on education and willingly funded Ken and his 3 brother’s education. Ken and Laura chose swimming because they appreciate how hard the swimmers work, and as a small tribute to their girls who are both participated in the sport. And, true to his character, he wanted to recognize a sport at Michigan that doesn’t have the highest profile but has been tremendously successful. Sounds an awful lot like Mr. Reliable.
Those who stay…
Ken played from 1983-1986 and wore #31
His favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor is Zingerman’s
The best dish he cooks is his mom Spaghetti Sauce recipe.
If he had a son he would allow him to play football. Like a lot of former players, football teaches young men a lot of valuable lessons: hard work, dedication, and the sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.
Ken's memorable TD catch against Indiana in 1985. Yours truly was on the sidelines...the entire game. Did I mention it was 35-0 at the half?
Was just reviewing some video on Mike McCray and thought I would share my observations.
MGoVideo has the spring game broken down into every snap taken by each QB. Since McCray wore white, I just pulled up the O'Korn footage (as O’Korn played for the blue team) and trained my eyes on #9. I didn’t see him do anything amazing, but he looked competent and physical.
Here’s how I saw it:
Play #1: a handoff to Drake Johnson; McCray has the backside B-gap; he reads, then rallies to the ball after Johnson commits to the frontside
Play #2: McCray feigns a blitz, but doesn’t come; Blue hands off to Johnson again; McCray reads, bounces off some trash, then comes free to help finish a tackle Charlton started
Play #3: Michigan in the shotgun, it’s a pass; McCray drops into a short zone and may be spying O’Korn, who winds up scrambling; McCray comes up to tackle and O’Korn gives himself up short of the sticks. Grade: =; McCray looked competent but this was a routine play.
Play #4: Play-action pass to the far side of the field; McCray in zone coverage, not really involved in the play
Play #5: Outside run to Drake Johnson; McCray checks his gap, maybe a false step or two; when Johnson heads outside, McCray has backside pursuit responsibility; McCray takes a bad angle and isn’t able to help. Grade: -1
Play #6: White in some kind of formation with eight defenders at the LOS; can’t find McCray and don’t think he’s in on this play.
Play #7: Passing play; McCray defending the short middle and definitely looks to be spying O’Korn, who throws an incomplete pass to the left sideline
Play #8: Passing play; McCray covering his middle zone; O’Korn hits a receiver to McCray’s left, the DB tackled immediately but McCray had come over and was in position to clean up if the DB hadn’t
Play #9: Play blown dead for a false start
Play #10: McCray fakes a blitz, doesn’t come; it’s a pass, McCray drops into his middle zone; O’Korn pump fakes to a receiver running an out to the left sideline, and McCray flows hard to that side; O’Korn then tucks and scrambles right, is pulled down by Charlton after a short gain. Grade: =; am tempted to give a minus here for biting so hard on the pump fake but I don’t think McCray would have been relevant to the outcome of this play anyway.
Play #11: Weird play. Looks like a screen as the offensive line blocks momentarily, then three release downfield and look for blocks—but there is no receiver to be found. Pass drop is too deep and too extended to be a QB draw. Maybe a bust by whoever was supposed to catch the screen pass? Whatever it was, O’Korn bugs out to his left. McCray has an offensive lineman coming to get him. McCray goes outside the block, closes on O’Korn, and tackles for loss. Grade: may have been a broken play but McCray looked good; +1.
Play #12: McCray does not appear to be in; Blue completes a bomb to Drake Harris.
Play #13: handoff to Drake Johnson, running off tackle to the far side of the formation from McCray; McCray reads it quickly, shoots a gap and gets an arm in on the tackle.
Play #14: McCray sent on blitz; several white defenders into the backfield, and the pressure (not McCray’s) forces a throwaway
Play #15: The double-pass. McCray blitzes through the A-gap and gets a shove on O’Korn, just as he releases the backward pass to Morris. McCray then bugs out for Drake Johnson, who is all alone in the end zone. Morris hits him for the score. I’m assuming Johnson wasn’t McCray’s responsibility, since McCray was blitzing; with that in mind, I appreciate McCray’s hustle on the play. Grade: = (would be -1,000 if the blitz was an ad lib, but I don’t think it was)
Play #16: Passing play; McCray one of three defenders near the LOS; ball thrown deep and McCray not relevant
Play #17: Blue running Power-O to McCray’s side of the formation. McCray flows to the point of attack and stands up the fullback, constricting the hole. Winds up being irrelevant as the back tries to bounce outside the kick-block on the EMLOS and trips over his teammate’s feet. Grade: + 0.5
Play #18: Passing play; McCray drops into a curl/hook zone and picks up Shane Morris; O’Korn scrambles, McCray ignores a feeble blocking attempt by Morris and tackles at the sticks. Grade: =; don’t like all the yards O’Korn got but probably not realistic to expect McCray to have done better with this.
Play #19: Another passing play, McCray in a curl/hook zone again, picks up Morris again; O’Korn steps up in the pocket, has running room; McCray closes quickly—and O’Korn flicks a beautiful deep bomb to Jack Wangler—which glances off Wangler’s fingertips and goes incomplete. Grade: + 0.5; McCray did his job here, even if the coverage (and the WR) did not. Impressive closing speed when O’Korn escaped the pocket.
Play #20: Blue in the shotgun; McCray heads to pick up a back releasing to the flat, O’Korn scrambles in the opposite direction making McCray irrelevant.
Play #21: Shotgun passing play again, McCray in zone coverage; O’Korn throws to a receiver blankeded by Jeremy Clark; McCray comes over to help but not needed as Clark gets the PBU
Play #22: Same play, but ball goes to Wangler in the zone to McCray’s right; the walk-on DB can’t get Wangler down, so McCray comes over to finish the job. Grade: =
Play #23: Passing play,McCray picks up the RB and chases him off the screen (assuming man coverage); O’Korn throws in the opposite direction.
Play #24: Passing play, McCray picks up the RB headed to the flat (to McCray’s right) O’Korn hits Shane Morris on the other side of the field.
Play #25: Passing play, McCray covering the short middle and may be spying O’Korn again; O’Korn has time, reads out his progressions, then throws it away. Grade: =; not going to award a plus but McCray had ensured no scramble yardage was available.
Play #26: McCray blitzing through the B-gap. Blue runs the waggle, trapping McCray inside. O’Korn rolls right into plenty of space, tries to connect with Drake Harris for a TD but Harris is covered and it’s incomplete. Grade: =; I think white just got RPS’d on the waggle call here
Play #27: O’Korn under center, drops back to pass; McCray is in short middle zone coverage, definitely spying; O’Korn has Kareem Walker open in the flat, doesn’t see him; white getting no pressure and O’Korn has all day to survey the field but can’t find anyone; finally throw, but arm hit on the release and ball bounces incomplete.
Play #28: Shotgun this time, passing play again; McCray in short middle zone, spying O’Korn, who scrambles; McCray comes up to tackle, but is out of control; O’Korn pump fakes and cuts back inside McCray, who whiffs; OKorn lurches forward and dives into the end zone. Grade -2; open field tackling is tough but you’re a linebacker, and this isn’t Vincent Young.
Play #29: 2-point conversion; white jumps offside and the ball inches closer.
Play #30: white teams stuffs the blue fullback at the goal line for the victory; McCray somewhere in the pile, probably did something to help. Grade: oh hell, +0.5
Overall grade: -0.5. Again, not amazing, but definitely the type of performance you can live with when you have a fire-breathing defensive line and lights-out secondary. Go Blue.
August 2 - Wednesday
The dream is over. Brian is indeed out of the World Series of Poker.
As I exited the Rio, still stunned, I hear not one but two "pssts" from what turns out to be an attractive-in-a-way woman who asks me to come over to her. Despite being the picture of midwest innocence, hooker alarms go off in my head and I mumble something along the lines of "um, er, no... I have to go... over here. Over here."
August 3 - Thursday
August 4 - Friday
Hello David Molk. This is impressive:
Not blessed with the natural ginormity that most offensive linemen have, Molkworked his way up from pipsqueak:
As a freshman, Lemont's David Molk was a 5-6, 175-pounder who bench-pressed only 110 pounds and squatted 250.
As he prepares for his senior season, Molk is a 6-2, 270-pounder who bench-presses 370, squats 550 and power-cleans 320.
Unverified Voracity: Catch Up gives a recap of everything that has gone on while Brian was in Vegas. Ben Winnett has committed to the hockey team, and the NCAA is going away from I-A and I-AA designations to FBS and FCS.
August 5 - Saturday
A request for the blogpoll members to check in.
August 7 - Monday
The recap of the current recruiting picture for the offense. There isn’t a lot of surprising information here, but this is an interesting era to examine. This was definitely part of the “bare cupboard” issue going into the Rodriguez tenure. Take Tight End for instance:
Needs Going In: Major. Instate sleeper Quintin Woods is the only tight end in last year's class and he hardly played varsity football until his senior year, when he starred... at defensive end. He's a project and with only Carson Butler in the year ahead of him Michigan needs a couple tight ends to make up the numbers.
Commitments To Date: Michigan jumped on sleeper Martell Webb before anyone got wind of his freakish 6'5" self, then picked up a second commitment from Denver's Steve Watson, son of current Broncos receivers coach and former Broncos reciever Steve Watson. Webb is the huge HS wide receiver with serious mismatch potential; Watson is the heady coach's son who might be a bit plodding.
Potential Commitments: Two tight ends should do it.
You Should Panic This Much: A little. Three straight years Michigan has swung for the fences with utterly raw, outrageously athletic basketball players and has only Watson in the "safe bet" category. With three cracks at a breakout player Michigan has a good chance of getting one, but it's still something of a risk. And it doesn't seem likely that Butler, Woods, and Webb are going to be crushing, Spaethian blockers.
I realize that this position wasn’t going to be utilized under Rodriguez, but look at those names, would this group have excelled under Carr or another coach of a similar philosophy?
Apparently, Go Blue Wolverine employed a guy who said of OSU commit and likely ‘M’ commit WR Taurian Washington…
Let us pray Washington goes elsewhere. Will never start here... doesn't affect Allen. He isn't that good.
Way to go Scout.
Bullet points from media day (I guess it was the first of fall camp). Highlights:
DT Marques Slocum is also not on campus, having failed to get a qualifying test score after a long struggle. Slocum is in the process of an appeal, but he is a longshot to enroll at this point.
First player out of Carr's mouth when asked about the WRs was "underrated" Carl Tabb.
Kevin Grady is going to be "much improved," having lost a bit of weight. Carr expects him to "hit the hole quicker and be better in the secondary."
Somewhat frighteningly, Ryan Mundy's name keeps popping up as a candidate for playing time. I suppose it's good if he can wade his way through the four guys who started games a year ago, but the dread spectre of Yards After Mundy lurks.
August 8 - Tuesday
Unverified Voracity: Media Day. Morgan Trent is moving to CB, lots of weight loss across the whole team, and Mike DeBord says:
"In `97, our whole thing was we want to control the ball and really continue to get first downs, three yards here, four yards here, five yards here. We were really trying to control it. But now you have to score. You have to put the ball down the field a little bit more than what we did then."
A video of Braylon catching balls blindfolded.
South Bend Tribune reporter Jeff Carroll attacks ND and the recruitment of Jimmy Clausen; he then gets banned from asking Weis any further questions. Brian sides with Weis, offering this should-have-been-heeded-sometime-in-the-next-three-years pieces of advice:
I've often wondered why Drew Sharp doesn't get the same treatment from the Michigan program. Even though he's a columnist and therefore not beholden to said facts, his relentless negativity is a drag on both Detroit-area fans and the teams they support. Lloyd Carr hates the guy -- and can you find someone who doesn't? Personally, if I was AD I would ban all Free Press reporters from press conferences and give the News unprecedented access until Sharp was sent packing. But I have been told I'm somewhat combative.
August 9 - Wednesday
Copying a research tool that Carroll (from the previous post) used, Brian settles various arguments based on the number of Google search results.
Apparently, a ‘M’ football fantasy camp used to be a thing. This post includes a long recounting of the recent camp from Jon Chait who attended as a camper. This is a fascinating read.
Unverified Voracity: Coke Geyser. Antonio Bass is optimistic he can come back in 2007, and Anthony Thomas might have found new light with the Buffalo Bills.
The picture says it all, but Maurice Clarett has been arrested.
August 10 - Thursday
Larry Harrison will not be allowed to play a second year at North Carolina A&T. This was due largely because of attack pieces by the local newspaper.
Northwestern team preview. The season looks bleak after the death of Randy Walker and the graduation of starting QB Brett Basanez. Brian predicts 4-8. They would indeed finish 4-8.
August 11 - Friday
Snapshot of the defensive recruiting. I didn’t realize that Ronald Johnson was primarily considered a DB.
Allen's FSU commitment removes Michigan's margin for error. Insiders are confident on both Johnson and (Michael) Williams but were also making assurances that (Dionte) Allen would end up at Michigan right up until he committed to FSU. As long as Johnson continues looking good things will be all right, but you should be spooked.
Also this bit of hindsight:
Ryan Kerrigan from Indiana and Eric Thomas from Ohio were mentioned as Michigan possibilities a while ago but are marginal prospects who may not get offers.
Unverified Voracity: USC USC USC tells about Pete Carroll antics.
As an assistant coach gave the Trojans a tongue-lashing while watching video of a lackluster afternoon practice, Carroll--complete in an official Wonder Bread NASCAR racing uniform and helmet--appeared from the back of the room, accompanied by the roar of an engine and shrouded by the smoke of a fog machine. Carroll raced to the front of the room and, as the team howled in laughter, informed the Trojans that they were going to take a break from football and go to the campus theater to watch the nation's hottest movie, "Talladega Nights, The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby."
August 14 - Monday
Unverified Voracity: Stare at the Watch. Pat Kane is still trying to decide between college and the OHL.
A link to an interview with Zoltan Mesko which sadly doesn’t seem to exist any more.
Continuing a series from last month, here is the most loathsome people in sports 30-21. Highlights are 30. Dick Vitale, 24. Steve Spurrier, and 21. Larry Brown.
This year, Brown's morose press conferences were context appropriate as Brown openly wondered whether he should kill Stephon Marbury or himself.
And no wonder since -- estimating conservatively by pegging his average at, say, 32 and giving him 40 or 50 days off per year for Christmas, Lent, and days when Boone was so drunk from the night before he slept for 30 hours -- over the past two years Boone has consumed approximately 20,000 beers. That's approximately 1,875gallons, enough to drown a small Vietnamese village. Since Budwesier is 5% alcohol by weight, Boone has consumed 94 gallons of alcohol alone over the past two years.
But wait! There's more! At 140 calories per beer, that's a staggering 280,000 calories; at 3500 calories per pound, Alex Boone has ingested 800 pounds worth of beer in the past two years. Alex Boone would not exist if he did not drink beer. He would be -450 pounds.
Brian takes on Tom Dienhart’s Sporting News article about how Lloyd Carr is on the hot seat.
August 15 - Tuesday
Rumors that Justin Boren has a broken ankle and Mike Kolodziej has a career-threatening condition.
August 16 - Wednesday
Blogpoll coming after Brian kills bugs…
And the actual Blogpoll...which no longer has its useful parts.
Unverified Voracity: Man Fun which is what Terrance Taylor and Jason Kates are having.
August 17 - Thursday
Confirmation on the Boren and Kolodziej rumors, though Boren’s sounds more like a sprain.
Unverified Voracity: Simmons is a Donkey. Bill Simmons has written a story on his own experiences in the WSOP.
A post about a video that no longer exists.
August 18 - Friday
Hello AL WR Marquis Maze. Seems like he would have been a nice player to have during the Rodriguez years.
Purdue team preview. They had a terrible year in ‘05 and lost several NFL players off their defense, so things don’t look great heading into this season. Everything hangs on the progress of Curtis Painter. Brian predicts 8-5. They would finish 8-6 with a bowl game loss to Maryland.
The Maurice Clarett saga turns humorous again. Apparently, he’s been bankrolled by Israeli gangsters.
Unverified Voracity: Hoep Cares. IU coach Terry Hoeppner has to use a media guide to identify his players.
August 21 - Monday
Highlights of a 13 play, 81 yard drive the from the 1989 OSU game, all running plays. It went Hoard, Bunch, Bunch, Bunch, Hoard, Bunch, Hoard, Bunch, Bunch, Taylor, Jefferson, Taylor, and finally Jefferson with the touchdown.
Brian’s answers to the blogger roundtable.
Unverified Voracity: Vote Zolton. Lamarr Woodley feels that his career has only been good, not great so far.
August 22 - Tuesday
Brian is rejoicing that a helpful reader has identified the Across 110th Street music.
Recap of a Carr press conference. Long and Woodley will be captains. Alex Mitchell is likely the RG, and Jamar Adams is likely the SS. True freshmen Mathews, Minor, and Carlos Brown are likely play.
Brian goes after print journalists who attack blogs. Watching how Detroit media interacts with MGoBlog and other blogs now, I think we have come a long way in the last ten years. Of course, print media has taken some major hits. I think they’re more contrite these days.
August 23 - Wednesday
Unverified Voracity: Jaren Hayes Returns. MSU’s defensive backfield is getting beaten up.
Brian references some ND piece of clothing, but the link is broken so who knows.
Already an update to the available shirts.
August 24 - Thursday
Brian fights against more “Carr is on the hotseat/there’s a coaching controversy in Ann Arbor” articles.
Tyler Swystun has left the hockey team.
Hello Junior Hemingway. Kind of rough career for him (injury, coaching changes, etc.), but there are such good memories of him in the Sugar Bowl.
Marques Slocum is on campus and enrolled. Let’s have a little primer on where things stand with him at this point in time.
For those not intimately familiar with the bizarre saga of Marques Slocum, he was a near-five star defensive tackle recruit who commited to Michigan for the '05 class, but he did not qualify academically. He then spent a semester at Milford Academy attempting to get his grades and test scores up, then another when the first semester didn't take. He spent this summer taking and retaking standardized tests, never quite getting the score he needed. All hope appeared to be lost after his last score came back, but Slocum appealed on grounds that some of his answers weren't counted or didn't show up or were misgraded or something. It's all very vague. Now he's around, but with a catch.
August 25 - Friday
Ohio St. team preview. Coming off a 10-2 season, OSU is commonly ranked #1. However, they have lost nine starters on defense, two 1st round picks on offense, and their kicker, so they can’t possibly be that good again this year (hmm, sounds familiar). Lots of familiar names here that have littered the NFL in the years since. Brian predicts 10-2; they would, of course, go undefeated until losing to Florida in the national championship game.
Unverified Voracity: Literally Shirtless referring to a shirtless picture of Braylon. Also, NU’s QB is out for the season so Mike Kafka is the starter.
August 26 - Saturday
MGoBlog will receive its one millionth hit at some point today.
Changes are a comin' to this space but they're made in the hope that this thing can become something of a profession. Perhaps this is a foolish goal but damn if it doesn't sound romantic, at least to me. We -- and I do mean "we" -- are going to give this a go. As anyone who saw "Michigan" placed in the tossup category of the OSU preview knows, I'm something of a romantic and I hope that this is but the beginning.
Second star to the right and straight on 'till morning. Go Blue.
I wonder how many hits it’s at today?
August 28 - Monday
Unverified Voracity: OL Ees Better. More “Carr is on the hot seat” articles with which Brian takes umbrage. This time Pat Forde claims that Carr, Larry Coker, Tubby Smith, and Phil Fulmer should all be worried about their jobs. Ironically, none of these would be coaching at the same school a little more than two years later. To Brian’s point though, Carr would leave on the best terms of any of these.
Hello Avery Horn (who I’m struggling not to confuse with Avery Queen). This is a 3-star RB disappointment for fans hoping for John Clay or Robert Hughes.
Brian got a job! He will now be the lead Big Ten blogger for AOL Fanhouse. These are interesting details related to the history of the blog.
Also, this marks a transition point. Selling out is going to occur. A few months ago my job and I agreed to not have each other any more, partially due to the fact that instead of doing "things" I was "supposed to be doing" I was "posting on my blog." In the subsequent months I've come to two conclusions:
I like blogging.
I don't like engineering.
August 29 - Tuesday
Information on Avery Horn from someone connected to his high school.
Michigan team preview: Offense. This is the normal copious preview we’ve come to expect from Brian each August. It is long, but essentially, there are lot of questions about the offense coming out of 2005.
No idea on this one. (ed. the link within the link is NSFW)
August 30 - Wednesday
Michigan team preview: Defense. Again, a lot of content here. I didn’t remember that there was this much concern surrounding Leon Hall:
Magazines and Mel Kiper tell us that Leon Hall is an excellent player worthy of accolades, though he doesn't seem like Marlin Jackson to me. He enters his third year as a full-time starter on All-American lists and NFL mock drafts as the top corner in the country, which is something of a surprise since he's never exactly dominated.
August 31 - Thursday
Brian wants to know why the Northwestern vs. Miami OH game is on ESPNU. Yes, a post just to ask that question.
Prediction of how the members of the Big Ten will finish.
To recap: everything should be better and I have totally reasonable reasons for thinking so. Everyone we liked except Avant, Stenavich, and about a third of Watson returns, plus we get our best two players back and healthy. Incremental improvement from many plus wild improvement from a few -- my bets are Manningham, Crable, and Jamar Adams -- should see Michigan re-assert itself. On the other hand, this team is flawed on the offensive line, at linebacker, and in corner depth.
...but you know and I know that the key to the season wears #7 and has a goofy haircut. If he plays like he did last year, we have a season similar to last year but slightly better. From 8-4 to 9-3. If he plays like he did at the tail end of last year, um, yeah. There's a chance.
Wins: Vandy, CMU, Ball State, @Indiana, Northwestern
Probable Wins: @ Minnesota, Drew Stanton, @ PSU, Wisconsin
Tossups: @ ND, @ OSU, Iowa
Split the difference: 10-2.
The first game is three days away, so here are highlights of the 2004 MSU game to get you in the mood.
Sorry I didn’t post a story last Thursday. I tried to line up enough guys in advance so I wouldn’t run out of subjects but summer plans take over and guys have obligations far more important than answering my questions. I have an idea for next week’s entry, but that’ll probably be it for the year since fall camp starts and OT season officially ends. We’ll see how it goes with the remaining responses I’m waiting on.
Previously: Clay Miller Tim Williams Mike Dames David Key Mike Reinhold
If I told you Harbaugh just beat out MSU and OSU for a 6’ 5” 4-star defensive tackle out of Ohio who could run like a rabbit, you’d probably be reading daily tweets and threads about this new star recruit. But if I also told you he weighed 213 pounds, you’d either think it was a typo or something was wrong. 213 pound defensive tackles don’t exist. Not good ones, anyway. Well, it wasn’t a typo, and it’s exactly what Bo did. He snagged one of the best out of Ohio, and when heard that he landed the "skinny minny" from Dayton, he ran up and down the halls of the coach’s offices like he just won the lottery.
Brent White grew up in Dayton Ohio. He was a highly recruited athlete who was heavily pursued by his home state Buckeyes and George Perles’ Michigan State Spartans, among others. As the intensity of recruiting amped up, Brent and his family were feeling the pressure every day. Coaches would call the house or drop by the school, classmates would throw in their two cents, and co-workers of his parents would ask every day, “Where’s Brent going to school?” As you can imagine, it got to be a little too much.
All of the schools provided excellent opportunities and first class educations (some more than others, of course). It was going to be a tough decision. Brent always sort of assumed he'd end up at Ohio State. It was a good school, great football tradition, and close enough for all his friends and family to see him play.
The pressure from everyone got to the point where Brent asked all the schools to take a step back for two weeks so he could gather his thoughts, talk it over with his family and make a choice. His dad fielded all the calls and acted as a buffer between Brent and the suitors. Despite his pleas, coaches from every school disregarded Brent’s wishes and continued to call. Every school except one. The only time Michigan called was when Mr. White requested a call on a specific day at a specific time. Sure enough, Bo dialed the phone at the exact moment. He didn’t speak to Brent. He only talked to dad to see how everyone was holding up. It was cordial, polite, respectful, and most of all, sincere. As Mr. White spoke to Bo, Brent asked if he could ask some questions of the old man. Bo obliged and the two had an excellent conversation about what Michigan could offer in terms of academics and life after football.
A couple days later, a snow storm would shut down schools in Dayton for the day. Brent woke up and had come to a decision. He phoned the two other schools that were finalists to thank them for their interest but he was choosing another school. One of the coaches wished him well while the other spouted off something about being able to do more for Brent than any other school and blah blah blah disrespekt. Brent then called the Michigan coaches office to inform him of his decision. Longtime executive assistant (and greatest lady of Michigan football) Mary Passink answered the phone and immediately recognized the caller. “Hi Brent!” (this was before caller ID). Mary got Bo on the line and Brent asked, “Do you still want me?” to which Bo replied, “Can I still get you?” When Bo got his answer he set the phone down and went up and down the coach’s hallway hootin and hollering to all the other coaches that they landed Brent White. It was one of those moments a person never, ever forgets.
There was one coach who was slightly less enthused about the new addition to the family. Speed, skill, technique, number of tackles, TFLs, sacks….. none of that matter to this guy as much as one glaring number: 213. Mike Gittleson was beside himself. A 213 pound defensive lineman? “Are you *&^%$#@ kidding me?” Mike didn’t wait until Brent got on campus before he launched into his crusade. He unloaded both barrels on him when he came for his official visit. “Who the hell are you? How can you possibly think you’re able to play in the Big 10? I’ve seen skeletons with more meat on them.” Mike Gittleson was an intimidating guy. To this day he scares the hell out of me. He could be a fun guy to be around after workouts but when it was time to go to work, that dude was all business. You did not want to be on his wrong side unless you enjoyed puking and being wobbly. Brent White was gonna be Mike’s pet project for the next 5 years.
Once Brent was on campus, Mike would stalk him before and after every practice. He’d wait for him outside the football building in his old, restored pickup truck. As we’d leave the building we’d warn Brent to take a side door to avoid Gittleson, who was ready to pounce. It was to no avail. As we came out the door, Mike would bark at Brent to “get in” and then he’d launch into another tirade about not gaining weight. I’m telling you, man, it was relentless. (If I’m being 100% honest, a weaker man probably would have quit).
Brent was able to find his way and slowly gain the necessary muscle and weight to be effective. His first game action was on special teams against Notre Dame. He was amped up to make a play. He was what they used to call the “wedge buster”. He came flying down the field and split two would-be blockers and made a bee line for Tim Brown. Brent’s eyes lit up as he put the cross-hairs on the eventual Heisman winner. As his adrenaline rose and the gap closed, White prepared for impact. Unfortunately, Brown was just a little more shifty and he was able to easily slip the tackle of the out-of-control gunner. The result was a 35 yard return for the Irish. The next day, as Bo reviewed the special team’s film, he scolded his young ham-and-egger for not knowing how to run properly. “You’d have done more good standing on the sideline.”
In the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Brent suffered a horrible accident while driving home from teammate and close friend, Matt McCoy’s house (RIP). It was late, and an old lady ran a red light and broadsided his car. As Brent woke up from emergency surgery, Bo stood over him with that glaring look. “Nothing good ever happens after 10 o’clock.” Brent tried to explain but Bo wasn’t keen to hear what happened late at night. After some sincere pleading and a few choice words, Bo was able to come around and find that compassion that he’s become famous for. He told Brent they’d get through it together and get him back on the field.
Over the course of his career at Michigan, Brent would be a part of 3 Big Ten Champion teams, 3 Rose Bowls, 3 Top 10 finishes, and ultimately become an 11th round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. The team would go a combined 48-11-2. He would graduate with a degree in Sports Management and Communications while trying his hand at pro football. After a training camp cut from the Bears, he went to Barcelona Spain where he led the Dragons in tackles for loss and sacks. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs (and reunited with former Wolverine teammates Mike Evans and Erick Anderson) but was cut after training camp again. From there he hooked up with the CFL expansion Sacramento Goldminers, then finished his football career in the Arena League with the San Jose SaberCats. Following football, he remained in northern California to take care of his young family.
He’s got two great kids with his ex-wife whom he still shares a strong relationship with. His daughter is one of those “left brain” types who enjoys art, music, and singing. She has a wonderful voice and performs with an ensemble that sings at various venues. She’s also taking guitar lessons.
His son is playing football at the junior college level, where he’s become a heck of a running back. He doesn’t have his dad’s size but he certainly has the talent and speed. Brent has coached football ever since he stopped playing. Although, not making it in the NFL was a little disappointing, he had an opportunity to suit up next to some of his childhoold idols – guys from the Super Bowl Champion 85 Bears who were still with the team when he got drafted in 1990.
Brent still resides in California where he recently took a position with a pharmaceutical device manufacturer. His experience at Michigan and beyond taught him how to effectively interact with people of different skill and communication levels. Everyone who ever played for Bo remembers his uncanny knack for dealing with different players from different backgrounds. One minute, he could help a freshman from the inner city, and the next, have a rip roaring conversation with a millionaire businessman from New York City. You can’t help but take certain things away from that.
Brent tells one particular story that he’s never forgotten and even made it part of his senior speech. While he was recovering from his surgery, he had to crutch on over to the stadium on game day from the training room at the practice facility. Back in those days, the stadium locker room was super small and cramped. There really wasn’t enough room for all the guys on the team. To help alleviate the cramp, some of the walk ons had to dress over at the practice facility and walked to the stadium. One of those guys was defensive back, Mark Gutzwiller. Mark was probably one of the smallest guys on the team -even some of the kickers were bigger. Anyway, while fans heaped encouraging words on the hobbled Brent, they weren’t quite so kind to short little kid walking over to the stadium in full gear. Some fans can be so goddamn cruel. They have no idea how much effort, toughness, and resolve it takes to go to practice every day against some of the best college players in the country, knowing you’re going to lose nearly every single battle, receive little to no recognition, AND pay for the privilege to do it. It takes a special person to do that.
As they reached the stadium, Brent asked Gutz if that happened often. With glassy eyes, Mark replied, “Every. Single. Time.”
That stuck with Brent for the remainder of his career. He apologized on behalf of those “fans” and vowed to use that experience as a learning lesson to never take anything for granted. “You don’t see the struggles of others until it hits you right in the face.”
That walk to the stadium still hits Brent right in his soul. Unless you see it in person, you’d never understand what each man goes through. Brent says that still inspires him. Think about that for a second. Few, if any, fans remember who Mark Gutzweiler is, yet here’s a heralded recruit and multi-year starter who was drafted by the Bears that still credits him for keeping him grounded and humble 25 years later.
There were a lot of other people Brent wishes to acknowledge. Coaches and teammates who helped keep his feet planted firmly on the ground while never taking anything for granted and always putting the team first. First and foremost is the late Matt McCoy. He and his family took Brent in while he recovered from his surgery. They were family and Matt was like a brother. Sadly, Matt was taken way too early from Lymphatic Cancer. There's also 3 other important people in Brent's life who left this earth entirely too soon: Billy Harris, Trey Walker, and Vada Murray. Brent thinks of those 4 often.
Gerald "G" White took Brent under his wing as a young kid trying to find his way. JJ Grant, Bobby Abrams, Jeff Brown, Anthony Mitchell, Rick Hassell, Mike Hammerstein, TJ Osman, Tim Williams, Alex Marshall, and Warde Manuel. All close friends to this day, and all great Michigan Men who helped this skinny kid from Dayton Ohio become one of the Leaders and Best.
Those who stay…..
Brent played from 1985 to 1989 and wore #88
His favorite restaurant was Cottage Inn Pizza. I suspect it was because we used to get coupons for every Friday and Saturday night dinner because training table was closed.
The best dish he makes Chicken Spaghetti and chili.
Obviously he would let his son play football since he’s a defensive back for Sacramento City College. Thanfully the only inuries so far have been an ankle and a hand.
Front: Warde Manuel, Mike Teeter
Back: Brent, Mark Messner, John Hermann, Billy Harris, Dave Folkersma, Jack Walker
Trey Walker and Matt McCoy. Rest in Peace, fellas.
Jehu Chesson had an outstanding Citrus Bowl, torching Vernon Hargreaves several times throughout the game and looking like a future Biletnikoff winner and first-round NFL pick.
But somehow, somewhere, in the course of that game, Chesson also suffered an injury that apparently still lingers nearly nine months later.
I have found the play where his injury occurs. It was on a blocking assignment, which is perhaps why it wasn't immediately obvious during or after the game.
If you watch the Citrus Bowl from 1:29:22, you'll start at Chesson's 47-yard post route catch against Hargreaves. On the very next play, Chesson lines up wide to the right and his blocking assignment is Hargreaves.
The play takes the camera away from Chesson's side of the field, but you can see him spring into his block and then do a hop.
As he comes off the field, Harbaugh looks at him and says "Cramp? Did you get a cramp?"
The broadcast then makes note of Chesson on the sideline. He's walking on two feet, but something clearly feels weird. Chesson does not take the field again after that play.
At Signing of the Stars, almost exactly one month later, Chesson was on crutches.
He was not at full strength (obviously) at the start of spring practice, and by some account did not participate at all but Harbaugh said he competed with Darboh all spring for the role of top receiver.
In March, Chesson was off crutches and in a brace fielding darts from the Juggs machine.
He still wasn't practicing at the end of March.
Then there was no news for three months.
Asked if Chesson has been a full participant in voluntary offseason 7 on 7 drills, Michigan corner Jourdan Lewis says he's been able to do some things.
"He's doing a little something," Lewis said. "He's still trying to rehab. But he's still fast, if that's what (people) are worried about. But he's going out there and running those routes with us now."
But at the August 3 Jumpman press conference, Harbaugh was noncommital about Chesson's status to begin camp.
Some educated guesses:
1. The injury was to his knee (as opposed to foot or ankle).
2. It was not a devastating, Marcus Lattimore-type injury.
3. Chesson is in the submarine.
Hopefully the prognosis is full strength by the end of the nonconference schedule, at the latest.