As kickoff for Team 133 approaches, our MGoHistory journey continues. Our past stops in 1986 and 1971 found pleasant memories of Michigan glory past. Now let’s set the Omni to a more recent time, a more familiar time. We’re arriving just 15 years past (no way it’s been 15 years!) and the Omni shows green, which means history is right….oh so right. We have arrived in 1997!
The 90’s are in full swing and the PC has become as ubiquitous a household item as the television. This coupled with the rise of the World Wide Web on the internet has spawned the Dot Com boom. Speculation into online businesses drives financial markets into huge gains worldwide, making countless computer geeks into millionaires overnight. Riding the wave of this economic boom, Bill Clinton begins his second term as president after a landslide victory over Bob Dole the previous November. On the surface, things seem to be running smooth for the president, but the turmoil of the Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment trial loom just a year away.
In Great Britain, Tony Blair wins the general election, becoming Prime Minister and sovereign control of Hong Kong is returned to China. The British also cause a stir when Scottish scientists announce the successful cloning of an adult sheep, Dolly; and a little known children’s author, J.K. Rowling publishes her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”. Britain stays center stage on a sadder note when hundreds of millions mourn the untimely death of Princess Diana.
The Earth sees the return of comet Hale-Bopp for the first time in over 4000 years and NASA successfully lands the Pathfinder probe on the surface of Mars. Justice is served for many in Oklahoma with the conviction and subsequent death sentence of Timothy McVeigh for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing. More positively, Steve Jobs returns to head a foundering Apple Computer where he will lead the next revolution in consumer technology that most of us take for granted today.
On the popular front, Americans line-up to see “Titanic” and Leonard DiCaprio becomes a star. Americans also line up to see “Batman and Robin” and it almost ruins George Clooney’s career. Young people the world over inexplicably go crazy for the Spice Girls and Hanson while fans of hip hop and rap mourn the passing of the Notorious B.I.G. We all flock to our television sets on Thursday to watch “Must See TV” on NBC and see Ellen DeGeneres come out of the closet on ABC. Animated TV achieves a few hallmarks when “The Simpsons” become the longest running animated primetime show while another animated cult classic, “South Park”, debuts on cable’s Comedy Central.
Brett Favre leads Green Bay to their first Super Bowl championship in 30 years, the Red Wings bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit for the first time in 40 years, and the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan win the NBA championship for the 5thtime in 7 years. Mike Tyson meets Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight championship, but rather than fight him, he tries to have him for supper.
For Michigan athletics, the 90’s were one of the great decades of the school’s history. By 1997 Jon Urbanchek has built Michigan Swimming into a powerhouse, winning his 11thBig 10 title in 12 years. Not to be outdone, the women’s swim team under Jim Richardson wins their 11thstraight Big 10 title. Women’s softball has also become the dominant program in the Big 10 under Carol Hutchins winning their 3rdstraight Big 10 tournament title and their making their 3rdstraight Super-Regional in the NCAA tourney. Mens Baseball under Geoff Zahn wins the Big 10 Conference title as well.
The men’s basketball team also continues to be one of the elite teams in the Big 10 under Steve Fischer Featuring notable players such as Robert Traylor (may he rest in peace), Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock; Michigan hoops follows up an NIT championship in March by winning the inaugural Big 10 Tournament at the end of the 1997-98 season. This all becomes overshadowed though with the breaking of the Ed Martin story in June which costs Steve Fischer his job, Michigan all of the banners it won during the decade, and creates a vacuum in Michigan basketball recruiting that allows MSU’s Tom Izzo to become a coaching legend.
In hockey, Red Berenson fields what is arguably one of the greatest hockey teams of all time. The 1997 Wolverines are the defending National Champions and sport a line-up that include All-Americans Brian Wiseman, John Madden, Marty Turco as well as Hobey Baker winner Brendan Morrison. The team also includes no less than 5 additional NHL players in Jason Botterill, Mike Legg, Bill Muckalt, Matt Herr, and Bubba Berenzweig.
The Michigan icers win both the CCHA regular season and tournament championships and are overwhelming favorites to repeat as NCAA champions going to into the tournament. Michigan cruised to the Frozen Four, dispatching Minnesota 7-4 only to lose in the semi-finals to Boston University in OT, 3-2 and illustrating the highlighting the frustrating fact about the NCAA hockey tournament, the best team doesn’t always win because pucks bounce. This is why you must always hate BU…always….so much. In terms of Michigan disappointments in athletics, the 1996-97 teams’ loss to BU has to rank near the top.
Michigan football in 1997 is lead by former assistant coach Lloyd Carr, who is in his third season as Michigan’s top guy. Unlike the rest of Michigan athletics, the football team is in the midst of a malaise which has seen them finish four straight seasons with four losses. Grumbling has begun amongst the Michigan faithful and some in the media snidely comment that the “M” in Michigan has come to mean mediocre. With former walk-on Brian Griese being the starter by Carr over the stronger-armed Scott Dreisbach and Tom Brady and a meh 14thranking in the AP poll coming into their opener with #8 Colorado, expectations are guarded to say the least.
Of course, we all know how this turns out. Michigan, lead by the legendary Charles Woodson and All-American Glen Steele never let anyone score…ever and Brian Griese heads a workmanlike Michigan offense to an undefeated season, it’s first Big 10 title since 1992. The regular season is highlighted by an epic shellacking of #2 Penn State and a defeat of #4 Ohio in Ann Arbor to clinch a Rose Bowl berth. Woodson goes on to win just about every award a player can earn, including becoming the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy, which Tennessee fans deem to be the greatest injustice ever….EVER! Coach Carr is named Walter Camp Coach of the Year and Defensive Coordinator Jim Herrmann wins the Frank Broyles Award as the top coaching assistant.
Michigan goes on to defeat Washington State, lead by future NFL super-bust Ryan Leaf, 21-16 in the 1998 Rose Bowl securing the AP Poll National Championship. Michigan enters the Rose Bowl the undisputed number one team in the country, but Nebraska splits the title off their impressive win over Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl and some strange final Coaches Poll shenanigans, prompting years of speculation from the Michigan fanbase over which coach screwed us. I’m not saying it was Phil Fulmer, but karma is a bitch and Tennessee has had a pretty precipitous slide in the past decade and a half…just sayin’.
1997 may seem too many to be not that long ago, but it was pre 9/11, pre-Google, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-Apple iPod/Phone/Pad, pre-reality TV, pre-Great Recession, pre-WiFi. The world has changed a LOT in the past 15 years. 1997 was the culmination of a dominant era for U of M sports. An era that saw the football program tower over Ohio and MSU, hockey rise to become the preeminent power in college, and basketball being one of the great programs in the Big 10*. Let’s hope that the current caretakers of our beloved Maize and Blue are ready to give birth to a new era of Michigan domination that will make our hearts soar and our enemies’ heads explode in frustration. Enjoy the season and we’ll pick this up again in the winter of 2013.
Today I walked with my kids to the local mall. At the Hallmark shop the workers were setting up this year's Christmas ornament display (already yep). I saw Michael Oher, the Ghostbusters doughboy (Charlie Weis?) and Darth Vader with a Santa hat on. Then, I saw that Charles Woodson has been honored with an ornament. He's wearing his Packers uniform, but who cares? Get the best CB in Michigan history on your tree. According to the salesperson, they go on sale this Sunday, but you can reserve them now.
Have a look:
#83- LaMarr Woodley, LB Pittsburgh Steelers
#77- Charles Woodson, CB Green Bay Packers
#41- Jake Long, OT Miami Dolphins
#1- Tom Brady, QB New England Patriots
#30- Matthew Stafford, QB
#24- Ndamukong Suh, DT
#9- Calvin Johnson, WR
Not sure of Schrager's credibility, but it's nice to have the number one spot locked down by a Wolverine.
As I read through this list on ESPN about the "Greatest Individual Seasons in Big Ten History", I started to think about who may have had the best individual single season performances for the Wolverines.
In my lifetime, obviously Charles Woodson is right up there, but there are many others who may make the list. Mike Hart, Chris Perry, Anthony Thomas, Steve Breaston, Braylon Edwards, Tacopants, Lloyd Brady, the list could go on and on.
Therefore, my question to you, MGoCitizens: what are some of the best single season performances by an individual Wolverine over the past 50 years?
Hey MGoBloggers, just got back from a really fun event at Sunda in Chicago, the Illinois launch of TwentyFour wines from Charles Woodson. He took pictures with everyone, chatted with people, and we all had 4 glasses of different wines from their label. A few notes follow:
He's just a really nice guy. He holds C.S. Mott as a special place (which we already know) but he truly seems touched by his experiences there when he was a player and afterward. The proceeds from dinner and from the silent auction are going to his foundation which is tied to C.S. Mott. I picked up a signed authetic helmet. Pretty sweet swag I must say.
During question and answer session (about 50 people there), he talked about his time as Michigan. He felt his greatest football moment was his punt return against Ohio. He was asked if he was going to do the Heisman pose in the endzone, and his honest answer was yes, he wanted to do it, but he got mobbed by his teammates before he could. He said it turned out to be better that way b/c he feels the pose really was Desmond's moment, and the rose in the teeth is his. I agree with him 100%, I'm glad he didn't give the pose, although had he done it I'm sure we'd all look back at it and call it some sort of tradition.
Questions asked about his eventual HOF induction for the NFL and his Green Bay jersey retirement (good # of Packers fans at the event), and he was extremely humble saying he would hopes it will happen and would relish the events. He said he'd be speechless if the Packers retired his #.
Questions about winning a National Championship vs. a Super Bowl; he said at the time, since he's in college, there's nothing better than a NC, but once you get to the NFL, at that level, winning the Super Bowl is the best reward. Obviously a PC answer with a bipartisan crowd (almost tripartisan with a couple Raiders fans), but it was clear to me he has a lot of pride in winning that Super Bowl, but Michigan obviously has a special place in his heart.
Obvious questions about current team and coach. He said that, bottom line, Coach Hoke just cares about people and cares about his players. He's a no nonsense guy when it comes to that. He loves the kids and it's completely clear to every family he recruits that he loves the kids. That's part of what makes him so special. He said the turnaround in the team, even without "Hoke's" recruits, speaks for itself, and the excuses for the previous coaches (re: Rodriguez) not winning with Carr's recruits is, well, a swear word that I won't write out for Charles' sake. He said the biggest difference between now and the previous coach is, simply, flat-out coaching. It's better now than it was the previous 3 years. As with many former players, it's clear he loves where the program is and where it's going. Jarrett Irons also showed up and seemed to agree with what Charles said.
Question about being the "last" defensive player to win the Heisman. He laughingly corrected the guy and said he's the first and last defensive player to win it. Then he said he's sure another defensive player will win it eventually, but he's honored that he's been the only one so far.
As far as concussions and stuff, he talked at length about how he played flag-football from age 7, then started tackle at 11 or 12, and that's all he's really known in life. He feels like maybe he didn't take his education seriously b/c he knew he had the talent to get to the NFL. He laughed when he said he just recently found out how much more work he has to do to get his degree. He said a lot of guys just don't have the planning WHILE they're playing football for life AFTER football, and he's fortunate to have the wine stuff, the foundation stuff, and some other things to let him easily transition when he's done. Irons chimed in again and said the lack of association in the football fraternity is what causes so many guys to become depressed afterwards, not necessarily the hardship from lack of income and money and things like that. Charles seemed upset about Junior Seau's demise and doesn't think he'll end up that way. He said all those hits he's given and taken, he can't get them back, so he absolutely advocates what the NFL is doing to limit concussions and protect players.
I asked him directly when we were talking about the infamous fire. He said mostly stuff we already knew, but Rick (his wine partner who was also at the function) was the guy sleeping. Charles was up til at least 4 am, then saw the smoke. He woke Rick up, woke up his friend sleeping in a bedroom, and got them out. Others had already ran out as well. Someone there knew exactly how many people were staying at this 17,000 sqft house (Charles and Rick didn't know as they were out and came back late), so as Charles and Rick were running back into the house to get more people out, they were told the count was correct and nobody else was left inside. They watched the entire thing burn to the ground.
I asked him to play for our flag football team playoffs and he laughingly said he can't. We talked about a couple NFL guys who've injured themselves in the off-season and are probably going to lose some money. He's got 2 years left on his deal, so if he makes it 2 more seasons he should get a pretty decent contract afterwards (I think he'll be fine).
When asked about his Michigan jersey "retirement," he basically said, while smiling, "I'm not supposed to be talking about that." This leads me to believe he's gonna follow in Desmond's footsteps, yet again. Nothing we probably couldn't have guessed, but I'm assuming it means something this season. Maybe MSU? Illinois for homecoming? Nothing else seems worthy this year.
tl;dr, I know. Diary if it's deemed worthy. Thanks. Also, pardon mistakes, I've had too much wine. Goodnight.
So what with Seth's front page post on Next-Woodsons and some previous board chatter about legend jerseys, combined with MGoUser Samsoccer7's meeting Charles, and claiming that Charles says he wasn't supposed to talk about legend jerseys (http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/charles-woodsons-twentyfour-wines-chicago-launch-sunda)... my money is on Charles getting a legend jersey patch this year.
But when? For Desmond it was easy. ND, at night, broadcast by Desmond's employer on national TV, a week he was going to be in Ann Arbor anyway. Now Charles? He's employed by the Green Bay Packers and his travel schedule in the fall isn't friendly. That said, I assume they're going to do it during a home game, of which we only have 6, so here are the options:
Sat Sept 8 - Air Force: NO, Woodson and the Packers start their NFL season the next day in San Fransisco.
Sat Sept 15th - UMass: POSSIBLE, Packers and Bears play on Thursday Night the 13th, so Charles has the actual weekend off. Kind of a let down game though.
Sat Oct 13th - Illinois: POSSIBLE, Packers are in Houston for SNF. Could Charles attend an afternoon game at the Big House on Saturday and then head to Houston for a night game on Sunday?
Sat Oct 20th - MSU: DOUBT IT, Charles and the Pack play at the Rams at 1pm the next day, I doubt he'd have the flexibility to be away on a Saturday before an early game. But, it is only going DTW to St Louis... so I won't say a 100% no.
Sat Nov 10th - Northwestern: PROBABLE, This is the Packers' bye week. Less than ideal opponent, but still a good chance. Most NFLers visit on their bye weeks anyway.
Sat Nov 17th - Iowa: PROBABLE, Pack vs. Lions on Sunday the 18th. He'll be in the area anyway for a game, last game of the year, bigger name opponent than Northwestern.
I'll have to ask Jamiemac for the odds, but were I a betting man, I'd guess the Iowa game.
Packers Schedule: http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/gb/green-bay-packers