Mike Lantry, 1972
So my wife and I were driving back to New York this weekend from Cape Cod, and wound up stopping by the Cabelas in Hartford, CT. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that across the street is Rentschler Field, the home of the UConn Huskies. Once I got over the fact that UConn's stadium is about 30 miles from their campus, I decided to take a quick look with my dog, Zoltan. Yes, that last part is important.
The stadium looks like your typical new-ish stadium - lots of glass, sharp angles, nice-ish seating, big screen, etc. It also features a rather large Husky head, something my pup noticed almost immediately. Normally she is very good with distractions - I guess a byproduct of living in New York City. But one of the few things that consistently annoys/bothers her are large, innanimate depictions of dogs (such as the Petsmart in Troy, MI, which has a 6-foot labrador retreiver statute that she barked at repeatedly). So when she saw the Husky, I thought she was going to freak out a bit. Instead, she eyeballed it, growled a little, peed on the grass facing it, and then proceeded to walk away as if she couldn't be bothered.
Now, I'm not big on metaphors, but I see something with the way she responded to the Huskies. She loves wearing her UM collar, will sit with me whenever the game is on, and though one of her best friends is a Buckeye, she is still about as true Wolverine fan you can find in a dog. Like her namesake, she truly is a master of space and time, able to clear mid-sized fences in a single bound, jump about 4 feet vertically from a sit, and (to paraphrase Fred Jackson) juking ability that would make a Barry Sanders-Mike Hart hybrid blush. So if she is not intimidated by the Huskies, then the rest of the Wolverines shouldn't either. Bring on Saturday - I know my dog is ready.
Just look at how many times Zoltan is mentioned here. The Boston media is already amazed at how much of a wave a fifth-round punter has made. If they only knew...
Not only that, but another article says that the Space Emperor is guaranteed a spot on the roster. But the most amazing part of the article (and arguably the most important moment in the history of the written word):
“It’s kind of weird to be known as a punter. Yeah, I have a weird name that’s easily recognizable or recallable. I’m just being myself, doing my thing. It’s just the fans kind of took to it. It wasn’t my doing in any way, shape or form. I was being myself. It kind of just happened on its own. I’m very thankful it happened because I’m accepting of all things that come my way.”
--Mesko, on his cult following in Michigan and (soon to be) New England. Mesko has been given a number of nicknames, and he says “The Space Emperor of Space” is his favorite.
Rich Garven of The Worcester Telegram recognizes the awesomeness that is Zoltan the Great.
Lastly, this was featured in today’s Sports section of The Boston Globe. I fear for the author’s life, for he has committed the egregious sin of referring to the Space Emperor by His last name. I don’t even want to know what the gods demand for his atonement. Sheesh, no wonder print journalism is dying.
I was down in New Orleans this weekend for the sugar bowl because my sister cheers for Cincinnati and thought everyone would enjoy to hear as I was wondering down the French Quarter I saw none other than the Space Emperor himself in his Michigan jump suite. I later found out at the game he was named to a team for the charity work he does but I thought I'd share that I saw Zoltan downn in the Big Easy as he grabbed another accomplishment.
The awards show is a joke. Zoltan didn't win because the awards went to....ahh never mind it doesn't even matter.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – ESPN and The Augusta Sports Council announced today (Monday, Nov. 23) that University of Michigan fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) is one of three finalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter. Mesko is joined as a finalist by Georgia’s Drew Butler and Florida’s Chaz Henry.
Mesko is the second Wolverine to be named a finalist for the award. Hayden Epstein was a finalist during the award’s inaugural season (2000). Mesko was a semifinalist last season. He looks to become the fourth punter in Big Ten history to win the award, joining Wisconsin’s Kevin Stemke (2000), Purdue’s Travis Dorsch (2001) and Ohio State’s B.J. Sanders (2003).
A preseason first-team All-American, Mesko is sixth nationally in punting with a U-M season record 44.5-yard average. He has helped the Wolverines list second nationally in net punting with a 40.9-yard average. Mesko has been extremely proficient in all phases, with 17 punts over 50 yards, 18 fair caught, three touchbacks and 15 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. He has punted 52 times for 2,312 yards, including a 66-yard season-long punt against Western Michigan.
Mesko has already been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy. He was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation, and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors after being selected CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team earlier this month.
The 10th annual award will be announced live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 10. The 2009 winner of the Ray Guy Award will be honored at a banquet by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle in late January 2010.