a terrible blight on our fine country
1985 south carolina
The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: After their season-opening triumph over Notre Dame, Michigan traveled to Williams-Brice Stadium to face 11th-ranked South Carolina, off to a 2-0 start after a breakout 10-2 season in 1984 under coach Joe Morrison. Morrison, who'd taken over in 1983, had quickly injected life into a mediocre program by introducing both a high-flying offense and an intimidating new tradition for home games, described by Bo Schembechler in Bo's Lasting Lessons:
Those men down in South Carolina, they know how to take the field. We were already on the field when I told my guys, "I want you to see this!"
The speakers boomed the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which builds really slowly. Then they started pumping a thick fog by the players' tunnel, and the crowd started going nuts as the anticipation built.
Our guys were getting jacked up just waiting for them to come out. "C'MON, WHATYA—SCARED? GET ON OUT HERE!" Until finally the Gamecocks came flying out of that tunnel—dressed all in black! I lost my hearing for a few minutes from that music blaring and the crowd screaming. God that was great. That is how you take the field. THAT is college football!
South Carolina's 1984 season was called the "Black Magic" year because Morrison would wear all black on gameday. The 1985 season wouldn't prove worthy of a nickname.
The Game: South Carolina opened the game with another proud Gamecock tradition: nearly decapitating diminutive Michigan running backs. Here's Bo again:
We started the game with the ball and sent Thomas Wilcher on our standard off-tackle play. Their linebacker came in from out of nowhere, and Wilcher's helmet flew off—and he was ready to go! I'm telling you, from the opening kickoff, the entire atmosphere in that stadium was electric.
While Willie Hill's hit didn't make WolverineHistorian's highlight reel, it's preserved elsewhere on YouTube:
Hill may have set the tone, but Michigan more than matched it. The defense shut down an SC offense featuring College Football Hall of Famer and five-time Pro Bowl selection Sterling Sharpe. When Jim Harbaugh opened the scoring with an option keeper near the goal line (GIF'd at top of post), Michigan led the yardage battle with 110 to SC's negative-one.
The triple-option offense would remain effective for the duration. Jamie Morris put the Wolverines up 14-0 when Harbaugh chose to pitch near the goal line; Morris would finish with 95 yards, Wilcher with 104, and Harbaugh with 45 on just seven carries. As a team, Michigan finished with 324 rushing yards on 5.3 YPC.
Michigan's defense proved every bit as dominant as the offense, limiting the Gamecocks to 202 total yards—including just 35 through the air—and forcing four turnovers. South Carolina mustered a field goal at the end of the first half. That would be their only score of the game. Four different Wolverines—Harbaugh, Morris, Wilcher, and Gerald White—tallied rushing touchdowns, and Mike Gillette's two field goals brought the final score to 34-3.
The Harbaugh: As you can tell from the above, Harbaugh didn't need to throw the ball a whole lot. When he did, he moved the ball in solid chunks, finishing 12/22 for 164 yards (7.5 YPA) and one pick. His primary target was 6'8", 240-pound receiver Paul Jokisch, who took advantage of mismatches to tally 115 yards on five catches, including this 41-yarder to set up the game's opening score:
Poor #29 is eye-level with Jokisch's armpit. Hell of a blitz pickup by Morris there, too.
The Most '80s Screencap of the Game:
White pants after Labor Day? Standard uniform in the age of Miami Vice.
RIP Charles Drake. I was on the road when news of Charles Drake's untimely death hit the internet. Drake was one of a legion of mid-90s players brought in at running back who eventually found their way to the field at another position. If Ian Gold was the most prominent, Drake was second, moving to free safety after finding running back crowded.
Free safeties who aren't once-in-a-generation good are kind of like longsnappers in that you're usually not happy when their name is splashed across your television. In the safety's case it means they're chasing someone else. The lack of a visceral "oh, THAT play" emotion when his name comes up speaks well to his play. He was a low-event guy in an era when safeties often weren't. Condolences to his family and teammates.
Holdin' The Rope has a perspective piece worth your time.
In other sunny news. ESPN reports that this consulting firm Penn State has hired is "expected to be tough on" one Joe Paterno:
"Much of the focus will be on the culture of the football program, with findings that go back more than a decade," said a Penn State official briefed on the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's going to be very tough on Joe (Paterno)."
The long-awaited report, compiled by Freeh Group International Solutions, the consulting firm led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, is the culmination of an eight-month investigation that examined whether university policies and culture were contributing factors to a lack of reports and action about abuse that occurred on campus. Investigators interviewed more than 400 people, including Penn State administrators, faculty members, trustees and former coaches, players and staff from Penn State's football team.
At this point it would be more of a surprise to find out that Paterno would come out of things looking okay. In retrospect that mid-aughts run of arrests that Paterno had little control over and seemed disinclined to care about seems symptomatic of the greater attitude that led to the decade-long Sandusky cover-up. History will not treat the "Grand Experiment" well.
Square hats and blasphemy. Jalen Rose, on the left, in his younger years:
Rose should show up in a Michigan-themed version something similar the next time he's on ESPN. I would pay a dollar for that.
Probably the final number. The number of current or former Michigan athletes who will be competing in the London Olympics: 18. And then there's Michael Phelps, who may not have actually attended Michigan but it something of an Ann Arbor institution if you've ever been in one of the diners he shoveled calories into himself at.
Points for sentiment. Not so much execution. From a reader, here is a tattoo:
This is not quite up to Lamarr Woodley standards.
The new guy. The News interviews Erik Bakich, Michigan's new baseball coach. There's not much that's not boilerplate, but I liked this:
When you're building a program based on pitching you need to have strong frontline pitching.
We'll see how it works out. Bakich has a thin track record but did relatively well at a tough place to win, is young, and has recruited well both as a head coach and an assistant. It's a reality check as to where Michigan's program stands.
Keith Jackson. The 1985 South Carolina game featured Jamie Morris hammering the Gamecocks and SC's "wide open, gambling offense" scoring three points:
Chesson hype: incremented. Sam Webb reports that Jehu Cheson ran a 4.4 40 at Michigan offseason workouts. If fast, will be intimidating.
CEASE PANIC. Our annual Cass Tech Commit Considers Taking Visits But Decides Not To After Panicking The Internet event has transpired:
Michigan football commit David Dawson turned some heads Friday when his plans to camp at Florida were revealed.
A day later, the trip is no more.
After speaking to Michigan coaches, the Detroit Cass Tech offensive lineman -- ranked by ESPN as the country's top guard -- no longer will attend the Gators' Friday Night Lights camp, according to GoBlueWolverine.com's Sam Webb.
Twitter warriors can stand down. Those inspirational quotes about loyalty can be re-directed to your significant others. I've found that condescending public tweets are what make a relationship go in this modern age of ours.
Extremely important abbreviation UPDATE! If you see "FINAO" on a football recruit's twitter, it stands for "failure is not an option." Thus sayeth Heiko in an act of investigative journalism unparalleled in the history of the site. You may all resume your day to day lives.
This is a man to have a drink with. Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson proposed a four-league, 33-team superconference combining CUSA, the Sun Belt, the WAC, and Mountain West. The slide on which this proposal was tendered was labeled "Makes Too Much Sense." Someone should get Karl Benson drunk and have him opine on the other conference commissioners.
Next year's defection worries. A couple of Michigan's 2013 hockey commits made the "A-list" of big time prospects the CSB puts out around this time every year. C JT Compher (expected) and D Michael Downing (maybe a bit of a surprise) are two of the five college-bound guys on that list. That generally means they're expected to go in the first couple rounds.
Big Ten hockey expansion: seeking 100 million or bust. New PSU coach Guy Gadowsky was interviewed by The Pipeline show and PSU hockey blog Thank You Terry transcribed interesting bits. From the non-PSU perspective, this is the most interesting bit:
Speaking of the Big Ten...
"I know for sure there’s been three other Big Ten schools that have contacted our administration and are very curious as to how [the transition to NCAA hockey] happened and what they needed to do. The reality is that the prerequisite to that is that you get a Mr. Pegula or Pegula family that’s going to give 100-odd million dollars. Those guys aren’t hanging off trees. So that’s the prerequisite and that’s hard to find. But I do think there’s a lot of interest – if they can get it done, I know there are Big Ten schools that would love to be a part of it."
Don't expect the Big Ten to get up to eight teams unless magic fairies with money bags descend on the right schools.
Etc.: Ace will no doubt cover LaQuon Treadwell's not-quite-itchy-enough trigger finger extensively in Tuesday Recruitin', but what you need to know now is he didn't commit and now plans to do so on a "random day($)," probably by rolling a d100 until it comes up 1. Yes, highly touted receivers have d100s. Loads of them.
Alex Anzalone has decided to avoid creeper-associated universities and will go to Notre Dame. Beilein is not calling recruits at midnight. Burke and Hardaway are among the 20 players at the Lebron Skills Academy.