in town for free camps
This is going to be long. It will contain a lot of elements that are probably only personally important and may at times be only slightly related to the title of the Diary. So, I apologize in advance for that (but, hey, it's a diary), and offer up front a link to the auctions. It begins with Lot 261 and ends with 290. Contained within is the greatest collection of Michigan Football programs in the world. More extensive than even the Bentley Historical Library. Even if you have no intention of bidding, it is a fascinating look at a collection that, for at least a few more days, I can proudly claim is a party of my family.
This post has three purposes, I suppose. First, I would like to recognize and honor my father's uncle for compiling this amazing collection. Secondly, as mentioned above, I want to share the digital likeness of the collection to those interested in Michigan football enough read diary entries composed by complete strangers on a blog dedicated to a collective passion. Finally, I'd like to simply mark this as a somber turning point in my relationship with Michigan Football (or rather, Michigan Football's relationship with me). Note: that last point has nothing to do with on-field results.
The reason I am here now, typing this, is because my father carried me into Michigan Stadium on his shoulders before I was able to walk up all those steps myself and continued to bring me along for the following 16 years. The reason he did that was because his father did the same for him.
My grandfather and his brother had been going to games for 60+ years each until their minds and bodies failed to allow them to continue. Throughout this time, my great-uncle took up collecting programs. I'm not sure if he started with the intent of amassing a Michigan Football Program Collection and in the process branched out into other sports and events, or if he started with a broad focus and decided to pay particularly close attention to the Michigan Football programs. Either way, he ended up with a program collection to rival any other, private or public. A couple of stories to illustrate just how impressive it is:
- There are only two copies of this program known to be in existence. At one point, he had both of them. He gave the other to a friend of his who also collected programs, and that friend still has it.
- I remember walking through Crisler, probably about 15 years ago now, and they always had those somewhat cheesy museum-like display cases in the concourse. There was one with the Little Brown Jug and a program from the game where that legend was born. The University borrowed that program from my great-uncle.
- He had duplicates of many of his programs. On one occassion, someone inquired about a 1950s Red Wings/Maple Leafs program, and since my great-uncle had two of them, he was willing to sell. They had not yet discussed a price when gentleman came to his house to pick up and pay for the program. My great-uncle allowed the man to name his own price, which he did, at "seven fifty." He wrote a check and left. My great-uncle was shocked when he looked at the check and saw $750.00, as he was happy to let the guy buy it for $7.50.
Even after he stopped going to games several years ago, his connections in the M community and the program collecting community were such that people would buy and mail him copies to ensure that the collection continued to grow. It had long been a hope of mine that when he decided he could not keep up with it, he would entrust my father and I with its upkeep. I probably laid waste to those hopes when I decided to leave the state for college. Despite his own daughters attempting to dissuade him from selling the collection, even putting in a good word for me without my solicitation, he has, obviously, decided to sell. While this saddens me deeply, my respect and reverence for him will not allow me to question his decision. But it does sever the last special tie to the Michigan program and community that my family had.
The first in a series of unfortunate events was my great-uncles fraternity brother committing suicide around 1999-2000. Mr. Calhoun and his bus doubling as a mural to honor the vast history of Michigan football (parked in front of Crisler, right by the main entrance, I'm sure some of you were familiar with it) was the epicenter of my Michigan tailgating experience. It was never the same tailgating without "The Bus."
A few years later, when I moved south for college, my parents shortly followed and my dad was forced to give up our Section 18, Row 20, Seats 9-10. The ones where I cheered for Jamie Morris and learned more players' names at age 4 than most of the grown ups around me; The ones I cried in when Miami came back to win in '88; The ones I watched some other team from Florida tear us apart a couple years later; The ones where I saw Kordell's prayer answered in '94; And the ones where I saw Desmond streak down the sideline against OSU in '91 and Charles do his finest recreation six years later.
That was difficult enough to let go of, but when my gradnfather gave up his season tickets a few years later, after sixty-some-odd years of going to games, it was nearly devastating.
And now, with the program collection being auctioned off, my special connection with Michgan football has probably come to a close. Now, I'll just have to be happy being a "normal" obsessed fan and be content with sharing stories of days gone by.
Lo! Praise and heraldry of the glorious Wolverines has been heard far and wide. Our standard is bright among stars and without peer on this earth! Bring forth your ears with great intent as tales of majesty resound in your mind, for darkness endeavors to consume it. Whence does this commendation arrive in most timely fashion? Reason spake thus: None of humanity but the glorious spirit of Michigan is worthy of praise.
The power and virtue of these lofty Michigan Men has driven them far and wide. Compassionate stewards of Prometheus's flame, into lands most foul they bring glory and greatness unto the unwashed hordes of our vulgar cousins. Though by the nature of those vile knaves who dwell in pestilence shall our heroes' offerings be rejected. Wherefore, then, traverse they thus? Reason spake anew: That which is noble shall ever drive itself into the wicked; light shall proceed into darkness and vanquish it with hasty abandon.
Through battles in sight of the eternal sun and under shadow of cloud or cover have our heroes made their mark. Forsooth! Many a time have they triumphed o’er the profane masses of otherlings. The most recent siege and assault having ceased at Columbus, the Great Rodriguez returned our heroes from the darkest absence of civilization known to man—yet darkness persists therein. Verily, oh brothers and sisters, have the blackened hearts of the weak become many and, by virtue of their numbers alone, grown strong.
And now we, the witnesses to those mighty Michigan Wolverines, in their pride and prime, who, albeit untriumphantly, gave their greatness to the worthy cause of forwarding the Michigan spirit face a dilemma of our own. Shall we despair and flounder at the enormity of the loss? Though we writhe rightly in agony, there is no need to let the shadow into your soul. Though some have already, by corruption’s cruel forces, crashed ruinously into shambles and scattered as sheep with smote shepherd—though they have perished, shall we follow suit and plunge headlong into the void? No! I implore you, though the skies may crumble around you, stand tall and with proud heart! Thus shall we remain ever-full of vitality. Yet a doubt persists—what to do with those emptied husks of the once-proud?
We must strive against those agents of contagion, who seek to undermine the Michigan spirit! Combat their villainy at every turn! Let not fools with the minds of embittered servants tarnish what we know to be ultima virtus. We, the proud and mighty Wolverines, are not creatures of reaction! No! For we are masters of our own destiny, and masters of our values, too, so none but ourselves must define for us our worth among men—we alone are worthy! Our great leaders of yore boast peerless influence among the unfallen in what this greatest of enterprises, this collegiate football, has been and has become, that those who challenge our greatness must also challenge that by which they endeavor to glorify themselves. Fools! Their scorn is akin to a child’s cursing of the gods or a shallow man’s quest to conquer nature itself—enterprises doomed from the start and amounting to nothing but desolation of petty souls.
With these words I bid you farewell, oh brothers and sisters. We are one in our glory, made strong by the spirit that binds us; that bind made strong by the noble ones who came before us; and those noble ones made strong by the merit of their actions performed for one sake—the glory of Michigan! Be swayed not by the doubters and the haters, those envious spirits who mock us in their forged vanity. We remain now and forever worthy of pride and glory, we Michigan Men!
Hail! Hail to Michigan!
Drew Sharp is at it again. http://www.freep.com/article/20081201/COL08/81201092/1048/SPORTS
The gist of the article: RichRod better watch the ND situation closely and learn something from it, otherwise he will be out the door sooner rather than later.
Let's examine the claims. On RichRod:
"He came to Michigan a year ago extraordinarily confident in his role as a revolutionary. He scoffed at those who questioned his strategic intellect because he never doubted for an instant that he was the smartest football guy in any room he entered."
Huh? Where was the scoffing? Where does the claim about him thinking he is the smartest football guy in the room come from? Sure, he is confident; would you hire him if he weren't?. But beyond that?
"Rodriguez passed the buck. He indirectly blamed Lloyd Carr’s suspect recruiting — in what were, nonetheless, highly ranked classes the previous two years — for his first-year transitional difficulties. He chastised fans for what he deemed unrealistic expectations for a new coach stripping a program of its reliable, though staid, personality. Even though he was pretty much correct on both counts, it nonetheless comes across as arrogantly selfish and unaccountable."
Why does the press do this? If Sharp had listened to any one of RichRod's press conferences, he would have heard him repeatedly saying the coaches have to do better and that at the end of the day, he is the head person and most accountable for what has taken place. Repeatedly.
One time, he made the mistake of saying he thought they were short a few players (they are). And perhaps he chastised some fans by saying that people who say awful things to coaches should "get a life". The press takes these comments and blows them up to make news, repeating the untruths until they believe them themselves, distorting reality such that it is little wonder why people bother speaking to them. Journalists complained about lack of access in the Lloyd era, and then, given more access, utilize it to invent this type of tripe about the subject of their venom.
The result of all of this criticism will soon be clear: RichRod will slowly provide less and less access to the press. Who wouldn't? And then we'll soon see an article from Drew Sharp about how RichRod has changed.
And the final dumb quote:
"Michigan should watch closely how Notre Dame resolves the Weis conflict because it’ll next make that same determination — perhaps as early as next year if Rodriguez doesn’t reverse this season’s slide."
Why should Michigan watch closely as Notre Dame fires a coach they overpaid who, in his fourth year, has shown an inability to build a consistent winner? That frankly did much better when his players were trained by another coach? And the thought that Michigan would fire RichRod after two years is so asinine that it should not find its way into print. Why does the Freep keep paying for this substitute for journalism? Or perhaps this is just what journalism is, and always will be: sensational instead of informative, extreme instead of intelligent.
What an ass.
I know that yet another retrospective/plea for patience with Rich Rodriguez is probably overkill, but after continuing to read comments to the effect that RR is “on notice” if he doesn’t turn this team around by the end of next year or, at the most generous, year 3, I couldn’t help but put these thoughts down. If you’ve had enough with this debate and want to instead focus on recruiting, UM Hoops, or playing more Literati, by all means skip this article.
Notre Dame and Nebraska, two schools that hold special places in UM’s fans spleens (Nebraska because of the MNC, Notre Dame because disliking arrogant, overly-pious Midwesterners never goes out of style). Both used to dominate college football, and yet now both are middling through a near-decade of abject mediocrity and irrelevance. And the one aspect that really stuck out to me was the diminished patience both teams have had with their head coaches, especially when said coaches are trying to install new systems or, at the very least, transition away from an ultra-conservative one currently installed.
First take a look at Nebraska – They won 3 NCs under Tom Osborne, who then retired and ushered in the Frank Solich era. Though he had some notable flameouts (against Miami in 2001, 2003 against, well, everyone at the end of the year), the guy still went 58-19 but was canned for not winning “enough.” So in comes Bill Callahan, a hot-shot NFL OC who tries to drag Nebraska into the 21st century with the introduction of the forward pass on 1st and 2nd down. With virtually no viable receivers on the team, difficult recruiting hurdles (Lincoln is a nice city, but no picnic), and an administration/fan base unaccustomed to such sweeping change, he was let go after going 27-22. Now they have Bo Pelini, who has gone 8-4 this season and, I am sure, will start hearing the cries for his removal if he continues the team’s struggles against OU, Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri, etc.
Now let’s look at Notre Dame – They won a butt load of NCs under Rockne, Leahy, and Parseghian (a butt load defined as 9), then 1 each under Devine and Holtz. Holtz retires, though, and is replaced by Bob Davie, who proceeds to go 35-25 but loses too many games against ranked opponents (even though his seasons were pretty consistent with respect to Holtz’s last few years), and Ty Willingham steps in. Bringing in a West Coast offense that many NFL players have trouble adapting to, he was given all of 3 seasons to implement this system with players previously culled for an option attack, and not surprisingly went 21-15. So then comes Charlie Weis, who is currently 28-21 in 4 seasons but who also tried to implement a completely new pro-style offense (which worked with an NFL-quality QB and at least some players recruited to play a similar style of offense) with a horrendous offensive line and a freshman quarterback who may be one of the more overrated high school “phenoms” in recent memory. In all likelihood, Weis will be gone before you finish reading this article.
Notice a theme here – a new coach comes in for a retired “legend”, and after trying to win using the old system is replaced by someone with a “hot” new system that is strikingly different from past regimes. After some initial success with a veteran team, though, fans become disillusioned and charge that this coach needs to go because his system doesn't work, even though in the most generous of circumstances it would take at least 2 years for the right types of players to be integrated into the new system. Yet, instead of employing well-rationed patience, the coaches are let go, a new coach is entrusted to step in an employ a new, “better” system, and the fan base lines up for another spin on the Carousel of Mediocrity.
So what does all of this mean for UM? I'm deathly afraid that a similar fate will befall the UM program and its faithful. Sure, UM wasn’t running the option under Carr, but the conservative pro-style offense he employed never meshed well with the spread, especially the one run by RR. Next year, this offense will either be run by a second-year player with Exploding Elbow problems or a true freshman, and the defense will suffer losses at its one consistently good area (DL). So miracles probably won’t happen. That brings us to the aforementioned 3rd Year of Judgment, and with it cries that RR's system doesn't “work” in the Big Ten, that the experiment has failed and some new coach, with some new system, should step in. Of course, that new coach, let's call him “Smes Smiles”, will step into a program with a bunch of midget WRs, a scrambling QB, and a bunch of scatter backs and try to run a pro-style offense. You see where I'm going with this? Heck, at least above-named coaches enjoyed some early success because they inherited veterans teams; RR was left with a relatively bare cupboard, especially on offense.
Now, I'm sure there are holes with my argument. Heck, I know one already – Weis never was an HC in either college or the pros, Willingham is a horrible recruiter, Davie couldn't coach himself out of an awkward first date, Solich couldn't recruit or coach like Tom Osborne, and Callahan was an unmitigated disaster both because of the type of offense he was trying to install and his abject failure in maintaining the strength of Nebraska (its defense). And, yes, RR has already proven to be a better coach than all of these men before he even stepped into Schembechler Hall. But my point isn't that RR isn't a good coach; it is that I worry the AD and the fans won't give him the time and support necessary to really transform this program into one that can succeed. As we have seen with Nebraska and Notre Dame, a school and fan base has to be willing to accept a transition fully and without reservations, and give it proper time to take hold. If, after 4 or 5 years UM is still going 7-5, 8-4, or 9-3 and they haven't made The Leap, then by all means look in another direction. But aborting a transition, no matter how painful it may initially be, before it has a chance to occur doesn't end the pain – it just changes the source.
Is it just me…
The audio and video equipment at Michigan Stadium seems to have been left in the pre-HD era…Why is this? I took a trip to the Texas vs. Oklahoma game this year and spent four hours at the world’s largest trailer (Cotton Bowl) with one of the best “jumbotrons” I had ever seen. [So, was this game a waste of my time since the “regular season” games don’t matter anymore? As I recall Texas did win this game!] Next, I took a trip over to Tuscaloosa to see Nick Satan and Alabama. They have a top notch stadium with three HD video boards and an impeccable sound system. Texas takes the top prize with its Godzilla inspired video board down in Austin.
If you look close enough at pictures of Michigan’s video boards you can see the rabbit ears sticking out of the top right corners! With all the construction going on why not replace both endzone boards with a solid HD video screen? The area is wide open beneath for concrete pillars to support the structure and it would provide Michigan with a fantastic game time experience.
Take a look around the college football world:
Michigan: [Half of it is a fixed template for time and score!!!]
Am I asking too much for a decent replay and the ability to see the game without watching pixels tackle each other on the video board?
Someone call the W.L.A and tell them their Soviet era technology needs to go! It’s time the revolution transitions to HD.
[And I don't want to hear it's because we play in the cold/snow/north]
Devin Gardner is the quarterback for Inkster, and is looking to win a State Championship this weekend, as a junior. [Note: Inkster lost to EGR 43-24 in the state finals; this interview took place before that. –ed]
His team is obviously having a great year, but Gardner's individual stats stick out as well. He has 47 total TD's, 25 passing and 22 running, with only 6 INT's. He looks to take that success to a State Championship against East Grand Rapids. He hasn't been able to put 100% into his recruitment yet, but says he'll be able to narrow things down after his basketball season. Here's what he had to say.
TOM: What do you think has lead to your improvement from last year to this year?
DEVIN: Coach Carter helped me, he didn’t accept anything but perfection. We focused on throwing, decision making, and running. We run a mixture of a spread, the read option and pass, so it’s important to make good decisions.
TOM: What have you focused on when trying to improve?
DEVIN: I can always improve my decision making. I’m over 60% with my completion percentage, so that’s good. I just practice every play hard, so when game time comes, I know where my teams going to be. So in time it’s going to get better, and easier.
TOM: What goals do you want to accomplish for your senior year?
DEVIN: I want to win a state championship this year. Next year, I want to do the same thing. I don’t really want the individual award. If we win state then that means I did a good job.
TOM: When do you think you’ll really start to get into the recruiting process, and start to analyze schools?
DEVIN: I took a few visits, but haven’t really gotten into it yet, I’m still focused on state championships. I’m going to focus more during basketball season.
TOM: Are there already some schools that have you thinking about them?
DEVIN: Not really, all the schools are equal right now. I guess if I had to name the top right now it’s Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, those are a few that have been in contact with me.
TOM: I heard that you said Ohio State is a school you really like, what about them sticks out to you?
DEVIN: When I was younger, I didn’t pay attention to the actual football game, but my favorite color was red, and they always won. I never knew about the Michigan, Ohio state rivalry, but they’ve always been good. They just continue to win, that’s what sticks out.
TOM: So does playing early factor into your decision?
DEVIN: Possibly. Anywhere I go there’s going to be competition, but it may come into play.
TOM: What about the style of offensive scheme, will that matter?
DEVIN: It doesn’t matter, because I’m getting better at throwing so it doesn’t matter. Plays are always going to break down, so if I’m in pro I can show my athleticism. Whether it’s designed to run or not, I’ll still be able to run.
TOM: Have you started building any relationships with coaches?
DEVIN: I talk to a lot of coaches, everyone that’s offered me. Most of the coaches talk about my family, and how I’m doing in school, they all are trying to build personal relationship.
TOM: Lately, there’s been some comparison with yourself and Robert Bolden, what do you bring to the field that he doesn’t? What sets you apart from the quarterbacks in your class?
DEVIN: I’m more athletic, and I’ve got great speed. My determination, I just want to win. I can’t speak for them, but I know I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. There are also a lot of athletes, not just quarterbacks, and I’m a quarterback that’s athletic.
TOM: Have you gotten to take any unofficial visits to any schools yet?
DEVIN: Yea, I went to Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Toledo, Michigan, MSU, and Ohio State for the Nike camp.
TOM: As a quarterback, how do you decide what school is really best for you?
DEVIN: That’s the toughest part, because that’s the most important decision of my life. My mom, brother, and coach Carter talk about what school is best. Ultimately it’s my decision, but they’ll help.
TOM: Do you want to try to go where any of your teammates go?
DEVIN: It would be nice if they could, but I want them to go where is best for them. That would be selfish of me. I tell coaches about them, because they work hard. From my class we have a really good wide receiver, Jonathon Taylor.
TOM: A question that a lot of people having been asking is about Michigan’s losing season. Can you weigh in on it? From a recruits point of view, how does this season, and the losing record factor in?
DEVIN: It really doesn’t bother me that much, because I saw Michigan last year, and it was totally different. They haven’t gotten their players yet. I can see the system will work, it’s just not working because the players aren’t doing the right things, or plays are breaking down. Once they get the right players, and the others used to it, they’ll be good.
TOM: Have you developed any relationships with other recruits yet?
DEVIN: Yea, Austin White, Nick Hill, we met at the Notre Dame game, Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Robert Bolden, and Joe Boyster.