I should have known you were temptation. [WH]
What's the first Michigan game you remember going to, or if that pre-dates memory, your earliest impressions of going to a Michigan game? And what would that kid/adult kid take away if he went to his first one this year?
Ace: I can't talk about my first Michigan game without discussing what was scheduled to be my first Michigan game. My family moved to Michigan in 1993, and my dad, an alum, got us a pair of season tickets low in the North end zone for the 1994 season—we apparently bypassed much of the waiting list due to a clerical error. My brother and I would switch off going to games with my dad; Jack took the first game, a win over Boston College. I was crestfallen to learn a couple weeks later that my dad would be on a business trip for the next game, and my mom had zero interest in going—at six years old, I wasn't going solo. Instead of getting my first taste of the Big House, I got my first taste of the secondary ticket market when my mom drove as close to the stadium as she dared on the day of the game and sold our tickets for face value.
A few hours later, Kordell Stewart connected with Michael Westbrook, and while I had a good cry on my couch, not being at Michigan Stadium that day probably saved my budding fanhood.
For some reason (ill-timed Rec&Ed soccer game, most likely), I couldn't make the next home game, so my first game ended up being a titanic matchup between #5 Michigan and #3 Penn State. Most of what I remember of that game is everything but the actual game. Walking to the stadium, hugging my dad's hip so the the sea of people with stomachs at eye-level wouldn't whisk me away. Huddling at the main gate, wondering how all these people could possibly fit in a building that barely crested above ground level. The most memorable moment, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, was the breathtaking step through the gate and into the stadium; if you haven't been to the Big House, it's tough to describe walking through a concrete tunnel and seeing the vast majority of 105,000+ seats laid out below you, when from the outside—at that time, at least—Michigan Stadium looked downright understated.
|Vague memories of going "Wheeeeeeeee!!!"|
I vaguely remember Tyrone Wheatley and Ki-Jana Carter playing very well. I definitely remember my immediate fascination with Tshimanga Biakabutuka, whose name I would repeat while running through my backyard for years to come. I remember being somewhat disappointed with the loss, but not crushed, in large part because my dad let us walk on the bleachers to get back up to the gate and out of the stadium, and it felt like we were getting away with something even though half our section took the same tack. I'd say I remember the walk home, but the many walks I made with my dad to and from Stadium and Main over the years run together into a blur of walking across the railroad tracks, cutting through the athletic campus, and passing that ever-changing pizza place on Dewey and Packard.
Despite the loss, I loved it. I loved that everyone in our section seemed to know each other, and even if they didn't they sure acted like it after touchdowns. I loved the pure electricity of a hundred thousand strong singing the same song. (A song I actually knew, even!) I loved how the laws of society seemed to loosen just a bit on those fall Saturdays—crosswalks became irrelevant (at six, this was a major development), lines were navigated with little regard for who arrived before whom, and standing on the seats was encouraged, not something that would lose me dessert privileges.
I don't think much would change for me today. While the additions to the stadium take away from the "hole in the ground is far bigger than I imagined" effect while walking in, that effect is by no means gone, and both Kid Me and Adult Me would/does love the updated concourse and overall look and feel of the Big House. The walk is still the same. The song remains the same. The camaraderie and feeling of connection, while perhaps not as strong after a trying decade, is still a big part of the experience. Seeing 100+ winged helmets fly under the barrier of the M Club banner still sends chills down my spine.
Kid Me probably wouldn't pay much attention to Special K, but he'd have been fascinated by the hype videos. They should play more of those.
[After the jump: fuzziness]
"...he has no idea Charles Woodson can jump 15 feet in the air." — actual call, not really hyperbole.
When I posted the above GIF on Twitter today, someone pointed out that the icing on the cake was Dhani Jones (#55) body-slamming the MSU receiver on the sideline. I've watched that play literally hundreds of times since it first happened (gulp) 16 years ago; this is the first time I've ever noticed Dhani's hit. Watching a purportedly-mortal human take flight can be distracting.
[Hit THE JUMP for Braylonfest.gif, Desmond Howard doing Desmond Howard things, Manningham FTW, and more.]
When we last met, Jeremy Gallon had rocket boots...
...and Devin Gardner made that "run around forever until somebody gets open" thing work out pretty, pretty well:
Also, Jake Ryan single-handedly destroyed a reverse. Get well soon, please.
[For a veritable stampede of GIFs from Minnesota games past, hit THE JUMP.]
We’re back. No need to thank us.
Henri, I’m not sure we’re welcome here anymore…
In case you missed Part One, we’re on the quest for the ultimate low point of the Michigan sports fan in recent history. I’ll present you with the terrible moment/period/whatever, as well as an argument or two in favor of it being the worst moment, and an argument or two for it not being as bad as you remember. I’ll also include the flip-side of the karma coin; if the ennui moment was the Yin, I’ll try to look on the bright side of life by finding the Yang.
We’re looking at the period starting in the 1990’s until today. We already looked at the ultimate killer dong-blows, as well as the I-coulda-been-a-contenda moments. Today, we consider the generally miserable experiences in the Well That Was Unpleasant Region, as well as the catch-all General FML Region. Read this, then vote HERE.
You’ll be happy to know that this will be the final front page of this here series. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the bracket in the Twitterverse posts in the coming weeks.
Again, remember to vote your pain here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PN9LXST
[For the protection of the childrens, all the gore after the jump].
Appreciate + Reciprocate. The student organization that puts on the Appreciate + Reciprocate dinner has snagged Desmond Howard this year. Nice.
They're raising money for the LSA Emergency Student Aid Fund, which supports students facing unexpected financial crises at home.
Get yer tickets. Details:
Date: Friday, April 12, 2012
Location: Great Lakes Room, Palmer Commons
Speakers: Desmond Howard and others to be announced!
Time: Appetizers at 6:30, dinner served at 7:15, event conclusion at 9:30
Tickets (partially tax-deductible): $100 for individuals, $50 for recent graduates, $200 to sit with a speaker
Silent auction offerings will include items signed by Coach Hoke and Desmond Howard, a tour of the new Player Development Center with Assistant Coach Bacari Alexander, a skating lesson with US Olympian Emily Samuelson, and more.
Women play tonight. The women's basketball team has made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in a while; they take on one-seed Stanford at 9:50 tonight on ESPN2. They're obviously the underdog; Swish Appeal has keys to the upset. It would be Michigan's first ever Sweet 16 on the women's side.
Yes, this is the same time as USA-Mexico. I get complaints whenever I mention soccer, so you guys who complain about soccer should watch the basketball.
Projected spring practice content levels drop 85%. What am I supposed to write about now that Brennen Beyer has been moved back to SAM? I can't write about someone moving to SAM… or can I?
Brennen Beyer could move to SAM.
This isn't working at all. Dammit. Wait a minute…
Mattison said the move is not permanent, and that Beyer likely will shuffle back to the line once Ryan returns.
BRENNEN BEYER COULD MOVE TO WDE BOOM
I thought you guys were short newshole. How many words do you think an article about John Beilein's relationship with his former equipment manager at LeMoyne would be? Where in the country would this article originate? When would this article be published?
Bafflingly, the answers to these questions are "one butt ton," "Syracuse, New York," and "not 1980; in fact, right now." What a country.
Merph. I have a powerful desire to stick my fingers in my ears and go LA LA LA LA whenever the topic of the NBA draft comes up and understand entirely if you do this while reading this section. Let's not dwell on the pointlessness of this operation.
Anyway, Trey Burke is destined for the top ten and everyone expects him to be gone. The news on Glenn Robinson III is the thing that keeps varying. He's gone from off the radar to hyped to less hyped and now the hype is returning:
"Robinson may have helped his draft stock more than anyone on our Big Board this week," Ford wrote. "He's still raw offensively and depends on (Trey) Burke to set him up, but he has all the physical tools of a NBA small forward and is showing increased confidence at the right time.
"Someone will roll the dice on him in the 10-to-20 range if he decides to declare."
I don't know man. I'd think NBA teams would want to see him develop into a guy who can create his own offense and defend NBA threes. Robinson is noncommital about returning.
Ford also talks up McGary as a potential second-round pick, which doesn't seem like much of a threat.
Hockey departure update. Red:
Berenson on Trouba: "We'll have to wait and see how that works out with Winnipeg. He's done as much as he can do for a freshman."
Berenson says he doesn't expect anybody else besides Merrill or Trouba to consider leaving, but that he's been surprised before.
That qualifies as good news, I think. Hopefully at least one of the two defensmen won't want to leave Michigan after that season.
Inside South Dakota State. Grantland was embedded with the Jackrabbits and their offensive desire to get Michigan instead of Michigan State:
Moments later, Michigan State is announced as the third seed, and a chorus of gasps echoes through the room. "Oh no," I hear a player say. "Oh no oh no oh no." Like the Baylor team that eliminated SDSU last year, the Spartans' strength is their frontcourt, and the Jackrabbits don't match up well against big, athletic front lines. Yet they are spared from the bruising that MSU's Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix would lay on them, and instead Valparaiso will face the Spartans.
When Gumbel reaches the South bracket, he announces that the 4-seed is Michigan. "I'll play Michigan," says Jordan Dykstra, a sweet-shooting big man and the Jacks' second-leading scorer. "Let's play Michigan." Gumbel announces the 13-seed. It's South Dakota State.
They'll play Michigan.
This would be better if it was VCU. The whole thing is worth a read in any case.
Swing, pendulum, swing. Michigan's VCU blowout has earned them a ton of cred with the talking heads that were generally dismissive just one week ago. All four of CBS's basketball writers go with Michigan in the KU-M matchup. Andy Staples picks Michigan to win the regional. Myron Medcalf of ESPN picks Michigan just behind Louisville in a re-seed of the teams. Goodman say Michigan was the most impressive team of the opening weekend, and Kenpom's computer says Michigan has a… uh. Oh. A 3.2 percent chance to win the whole thing. That's up from 1.9 percent, though. Sweet.
The problem there is being in the same region as a Florida team taking on FGCU in the other matchup, so if you think the computers are vastly overrating the Gators you can up your optimism accordingly.
Anyway, I'm more on the Kenpom side of things. Whereas before the tournament people were extrapolating that the OHIO upset would always happen forever now they're assuming the VCU dismantling will always happen forever. As a guy who thought Michigan had a great draw the first weekend I'm looking at the Kansas game as a coinflip at best.
I guess. It's looking like Northwestern will hire Duke assistant Chris Collins. He's from the Chicago area and has experience in the kind of circles that might send a kid to Northwestern but it seems like hiring an assistant when you have 200-some mid-major coaches to choose from is risky.
DANTONIO UPDATE: STILL DANTONIO. Someone probably asked him if he'd watched the VCU game.
Dantonio abruptly ends scheduled media interview after five minutes, 30 seconds. Questions were harmless. Bizarre.
Etc.: Scouting Kansas. Pat Forde complains about coaches' complaints when coaches get fired. I'm with him, though I do like seeing Tom Izzo collapse into the fetal position when asked about it. Michigan needs Russell Bellomy to be viable if they're going to redshirt Morris.
Denard signed the Shredder's photoshops. For the first time since 1979, no Michigan team will play in the NCAA hockey tourney. The Daily on Hunwick's rise and the end of the streak. Will Leitch is more understanding of referees than I am.
Last fall, Michigan introduced the "Michigan Football Legends" as an alternative to retiring uniform numbers, honoring Desmond Howard before the Under The Lights game with a patch that now adorns the #21 jersey. As one of three Heisman Trophy winners to don the Maize and Blue, Howard was more than deserving of such an honor, and I'd wager that one Charles Woodson is due for a patch of his own in the near future.
I'm a fan of this, and hope that the families of players whose jerseys are currently retired—the Wistert brothers (#11), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47), Gerald Ford (#48), Ron Kramer (#87), and Tom Harmon (#98)—eventually decide it's better to see those jerseys once again placed in the rotation, their accomplishments recognized in a way the fans actually see every week during the fall*. If that happens, however, we'll quickly face the issue of diluting the honor; if all the retired jerseys become "Legends" and you add Woodson to the mix, all of a sudden you have seven jerseys with patches before getting to guys like Anthony Carter, Bennie Friedman, and (eventually) Jake Long.
Where do you draw the line? On one hand, there are a multitude of players who could merit such an honor; it isn't difficult to make the case for such players as Dan Dierdorf, Mark Messner, Braylon Edwards, Mike Hart, Willie Heston (though he didn't wear a jersey number, making it rather implausible that he'll be celebrated in this fashion), Bob Chappuis... the list goes on. On the other hand, the awarding of a Legend jersey loses some of its luster if half of the starting 22 is rocking a patch every year. The way I see it, there are two ways to handle this issue.
The first is simple and obvious: only give out Legend status to a very select few. Edwards and Hart, for example, were remarkable to watch on the field, made their mark on the record books, were wildly popular amongst fans, and in Braylon's case had an indelible signature moment ('04 MSU). Still, I don't think either merits inclusion among the pantheon of Michigan legends, even if the focus is solely on on-field accomplishments; this would be an honor reserved for truly once-in-a-generation athletes. Edwards is probably closer than Hart in this regard, but the shadow of three-time All-American Anthony Carter looms large. If we're going by this method, I'd give out Legend jerseys for the retired numbers, Howard, Woodson, AC, Chappuis, and Friedman. That's it, at least for now.
The second option, which I find preferable, is to be a little more generous with the Legend distinction, but be relatively selective when it comes to handing out those jerseys. While I realize this brings about the same problem as retired uniforms—if nobody merits a Legend jersey, you start running out of numbers in a hurry—there's also an easy solution for that: keep using the honored numbers, but only affix the Legend patch for a player who plays the same position as the legendary player in question. Raymon Taylor wore #21 last year even after the Notre Dame game, but the defensive back's jersey was patchless. With Roy Roundtree wearing Howard's number this year, however, Taylor switched over to #6 in the spring. [EDIT: Taylor actually switched before the SDSU game last year, but the point remains—this can be done.]
Using this method, you have a real drawing point for players from each position group—we saw this week with Leon McQuay III how much of a recruiting pitch these jerseys can potentially be—and also get the chance to recognize even more of Michigan's rich football history. It isn't hard to find a player worth remembering at each position group:
QB: Bennie Friedman (#27)
RB: Tom Harmon (#98), Bob Chappuis (#49)
WR: Desmond Howard (#21), Anthony Carter (#1)
TE: Bennie Oosterbaan (#47)
OT: Dan Dierdorf (#72) or Jake Long (#77) (I'd probably lean towards Long)
OG: Steve Hutchinson (#76)
C: Gerald Ford (#48) (Not sure if coaches would want a lineman wearing a number that low, but I'd love to see it)
DT: The Wistert brothers (#11)
DE: Ron Kramer (#87) (Fudged a little, but Kramer played just about everything)
LB: Ron Simpkins (#40)
DB: Charles Woodson (#2)
Again, not all of these would be given out every year, especially since you might be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who wants to wear #27 or a running back ready to rock a number most commonly found on the defensive line. I really enjoy seeing college players wear numbers that don't traditionally fit their position, however, so I'd love to see some of these, especially a star defensive tackle wearing #11.
Honoring Carter could also help Michigan finally free the #1 jersey from the grasp of Edwards. I realize Edwards funds a scholarship, which makes this a tricky situtation, but I'd hope he would understand the historical impact of Carter and his status as the patriarch of the #1 jersey tradition for Michigan receivers. Or, now that I'm done laughing, Michigan just does it anyway because it's the right thing to do.
This may be spreading the Legend concept a little thin this early in its existence—what happens, say, when we're far enough past the careers of Denard, Woodley, and the next generation of Wolverines?—but it does a great job of acknowledging players of every era, a point I find important for such a historically-driven endeavor. Now, has anybody asked Denard how he feels about wearing #27?
*I doubt your average Michigan fan knows about the Wisterts, which is criminal when you realize that three brothers all were All-American tackles at the same school. That's just ridiculous, and we should be reminded of this fact every time a Wolverine trots out onto the field wearing #11.