"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Wanted to get this in before the end of the OT season. It's my first in a long long time so be gentle. Sorry for the length, and any typos. I had to write this in a hurry during my lunch at work.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a private dinner with guest speakers Jarrod Bunch and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail.
For any of the unfamiliar, Jarrod Bunch played fullback for Michigan from 1987-90 and captained the 1990 team. He was drafted 27th overall in the first round to the New York Giants where he had 3 year career due to knee injuries. Bunch is now an actor making appearances in Django Unchained, and Entourage among many others.
Rocket Ismail was a star WR for Notre Dame from 88-91 where he finished runner up in the Heisman voting in 1990 losing to Ty Detmer. Ismail was projected as the top overall pick in the 1991 NFL draft, but decided to forgo the draft and sign with the Toronto Argonauts. He eventually moved back to the NFL playing for the LA(!) Raiders, Panthers, and Cowboys before retiring in 2001.
The dinner was very Michigan – Notre Dame centric obviously (a lot of chanting going on back and forth). The party I wanted to share with you guys however, came when Teddy Greenstein (B1G reporter for the Chicago Tribune) got to interview both Jarrod and Rocket. It was very entertaining to get insight into the rivalry between Bo and Lou Holtz.
The first topic they covered was the 1989 game (which sadly I was too young to see) between #1 ND and #2 Michigan. ND escaped with a win in the Big House by a score of 24-19 thanks to Rocket’s two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Jarrod was the first to speak about the game and just put his head down and smiled. He said that before the game Bo sat the team down and said “We are going to go out there and we are going to give them exactly what they want, and still stick it in their face be WE ARE MICHIGAN. We are going to kick it straight to this Rocket Ismail, and then we are going to run down the field and tackle him harder then he has ever been tackled because this is Michigan. This is our field. We aren’t afraid of them, or any player that they have. Nobody can come in here and be a star against us.” Jarrod then smiled and looked at the crowd and said “I think you know what happened after the first kickoff.” Bo then told the team to kick off to him again because there is no way somebody can do that to Michigan again. Jarrod then laughed and looked at Ismail and said “He did it again”. He then explained the reason that he isn’t mad about telling this story, is because it showed how much love and confidence Bo had for Michigan. He truly thought that every team he had was the best team he had ever coached, and had the best players in the nation. He then went on to say that his most memorable game in college was the 1990 loss to USC, as before the game Bo announced his retirement. He said it was the first and only time he will ever see Bo on the brink of tears. He said that game sticks with him still today because at the end of the game it started to get out of hand, and Jarrod and the offense were sitting on the sidelines watching the game and feeling worse ‘than he ever has in his life because they felt like they wanted to do something and would give anything to do something but couldn’t. They all loved Bo so much, and Bo loved them, and it killed them to not be able to send him out with a win.
I wont get into Rocket’s side of the story as this is already way to long of a post, but I will share some brief notes and comments that stuck out to me.
· When Jarrod was asked about Dave Brandon, he simply responded “WHO???”
· Jarrod thinks the reason Michigan has been down is the mis-interpretation of the ‘Michigan Man’.
o He said a Michigan Man is “a person who wants to win, but not by any means necessary. A person that wants to win on the field and in life. A develop men to have the same mentality.
o He said Harbaugh is a Michigan Man. He hold all of Bo’s principals but to a more modern standpoint. His father was a Bo coach and raised him under the same principals, which Bo then instilled in him during his time at Michigan.
· Bo was a Michigan man to the max. Bo never let past players come back to practice, because he only concentrated on current team. Only concentrated on the players that he was molding into Michigan men, not the ones that already were.
· Rocket mentioned that Holtz always said that Notre Dame wins the Big 10 every year.
· Jarrod and Rocket both think players should be compensated, but they didn’t when they played. But now with the longer practices
· and season they think they should. They said it used to be a sport but now it is a full-time job in college.
o Now coaches get paid more.
o Huge apparel contracts.
§ Not fair to players.
· Rocket said that ND is a CFB Playoff team this year, and if the QB play is good can win it all.
· Jarrod said that Harbaugh will bring this team to the top, but we have to be patient, as it won’t happen overnight but this team will be TOUGH.
· Rocket liked playing Miami the most because his freshmen year their was full team brawl between the teams that almost led to Holtz cancelling the game.
Elliot Uzelac was the Michigan OL Coach when Harbaugh was playing. He also did stints at Western and Navy.
He's out of retirement at 74 to help turn around Benton Harbor, a team that hasn't won a game in two years. Their last winning season was in 1989.
He's pretty fired up about the Harbaugh hire too.
"Jimmy will do great at Michigan," Uzelac said. "He was a great player and fierce competitor. Michigan needs physical toughness and mental discipline, and Jimmy will make sure they get it."
MGoBloggers -- Just FYSA, I received an update from Amazon referencing Jon Falk's new book, "Forty Years.."
The new expected delivery date is now Wednesday, 29 July!
This should help subside the offseason blues, albeit briefly. I'm really looking forward to his first-hand stories and will probably fly through this by Friday the 31st. Jon Falk is a living legend.
Brother Rice had an awesome TBT photo on their Facebook page yesterday from 2006:
(From Left to Right: Steve Mariucci, retired Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa, Bo)
The mention of Michael Taylor's potential presence on Saturday by a poster in the "Former Players Show of Support" led me to Wiki to review Michael's career at UM.
Michael's Wiki bio reveals very detailed discussion of his shoulder injury by Bo, a discussion which may help in the compare/contrast with the current Michigan HC's handling of injury issues.
The following is Ctrl+c/Ctrl+p from Wiki:
EDIT: This post nowehere discusses merits of handling concussion vs. other injuries, rather an interesting case study of how Bo handled a rather serious injury to the QB versus how the current HC can't even elocute minor player items.
In the weeks before the season opener, the press focused on Taylor's physical condition. He had been nursing a sore shoulder in his throwing arm two weeks before the opener and missed the first week of practice. Coach Schembechler called it "the great Michael Taylor scare," and with news that Taylor would play, the Associated Press reported, "The Michael Taylor scare is over." Taylor noted, "I can throw freely and it doesn't hurt. I'm close to 100 percent and never even thought of not playing." Assistant coach Gary Moeller explained that Taylor's injury problem had been caused by the fact that "he didn't know how to throw properly until he came to Michigan." Taylor had been "flinging the ball with his arm," Moeller noted, instead of using his whole body and sometimes reverted to that habit. Despite the pain, Taylor vowed to give it his best effort against Notre Dame, saying, "I was raised to play football only one way, and that's giving 110 percent."
Michigan and Notre Dame entered the season opener as the No.1 and No. 2 ranked teams in college football. Taylor started the game against Notre Dame and completed 5 of 6 passes, including a touchdown, but he left the game after injuring his back. Taylor was replaced with freshman Elvis Grbac in the Notre Dame game.
After the loss of Taylor, Schembechler questioned his decision to let the injured Taylor play: "I suppose if I had to do it all over again, I probably should have started Elvis and let the chips fall where they may. To be honest with you, Taylor didn't throw a pass all week. He's got a bad arm right now. But he's a great competitor. He wanted to go. He felt he'd be able to throw the ball all right." Schembechler added, "Michael Taylor is a fifth-year quarterback. He's the leader of our team. Hell's afire, we send him out there with a bad arm. If Michael's healthy, you'll see a difference."
Enlightening to see how Bo handled the discussion of Michael's physical issues.