"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
Brian has already waxed poetic about the seniors, so I'll stick to moving pictures and keep the words to a minimum. I've done my best to cover each member of the outgoing class. Let's just say it was hard to pick one moment for this guy:
He may make some cameo appearances later.
[For the rest of the gifs, hit THE JUMP.]
Updated. The depth chart by class has been updated. Let me know if there are errors. I believe Brandin Hawthorne is gunning for a medical redshirt and that Nick Sheridan is going the GA route this year. I put Baquer Sayed on it since he seems like he has a chance to contribute. By my count, Michigan has 13 to give right now, so a class of 18 or so is probably in the cards next year.
Jalen winners. The four winners of signed Jalen Rose t-shirts: Lauren Leb, Brandon Cox, Nathan McFeters, and Brooks Dunn. Congrats. As a bonus, Jalen roped in Jimmy King so your shirts have bonus signatures.
This happened, technically. There was a meeting about the NCAA thing:
The University of Michigan Board of Regents discussed the NCAA investigation into the football program on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the session confirmed the probe was part of the discussion. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the school is not disclosing any details of what it calls an informal meeting.
Really? Fascinating. Details?
The person did not discuss any details with the AP.
Outstanding. Obviously, if I hear anything that qualifies as information I will relay it.
Antonio Bass, in repose. Outstanding article in the Daily on Antonio Bass, a man with cojones:
Late that night, Carr’s phone rang.
“Coach, I just wanted to tell you,” Bass said in a slow, deliberate voice. “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to Michigan State.”
Bass today says he could feel Carr’s normally warm, welcoming personality, the one Carr reserved for all his players, stiffening up. His voice became cold, formal.
“Well, Antonio, I wish you luck up there,” Carr said.
Silence. Bass held in a chuckle as long as he could before blurting out, “Nah, coach, I’m just playing. I’m ready to be a Wolverine.”
If deadly silences could kill, eh? Bass is walking in May with a communications degree.
CONEOFF. The Coner has graduated, but there must be another goofy fan favorite backup quarterback who pwns Michigan's I-AA opponent. Candidate #1 is obvious: Conelius Jones. His name is Cone from the future.
Candidate #2 has the flow, though, and support from spectacularly named walk-on Ohene Opong-Owusu. Here's Jack Kennedy:
It's… kind of good. Isn't it? I mean, given your expectations going in it vastly exceeded them, right?
In the Times. Two(!) relevant items, one of them with a big honking picture of Michigan's new athletic director and quotes from Mary Sue Coleman. It, unsurprisingly, is a trend piece on athletic departments hiring corporate CEOs:
“That business experience is almost essential,” said Mary Sue Coleman, the Michigan president, who said she also hired Brandon because he had strong ties to the university, having played football for the Wolverines and served as a university regent.
Still, she said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a successful athletic director these days that doesn’t have a deep understanding and skills for the financial side of an athletic department.”
The other is an analysis of the possible ripple effects from Big Ten expansion. OSU's president is the guy most heavily quoted. This is the most disturbing quote:
“I do think the Big Ten holds a key, maybe the key, in terms of what is going to be the next phase of college athletics,” Ohio State’s Gee said. “We need to explore this carefully. The law of unintended consequences applies most specifically to college athletics.”
I hope that this does not imply one of those super conference things that ends up with 30-team Big Ten facing off with 30-team SEC.
(Brandon HT: The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)
In the year 2000. Mike Hart's ambition remains the same:
Hart has been through a lot in his first two NFL seasons, from a torn ACL as a rookie last year to being waived and re-signed by the Colts twice this season. And he admits he contemplated calling it a career last fall and getting started on "my real life."
And just what might that be?
"I want to coach," Hart said. "And hopefully I'll be the head coach at Michigan one day. That's my goal."
"No joke," Hart said, smiling. "That's ultimately what I want to do. I love Michigan. That's a big part of me."
When Fred Jackson retires (in four years?), every Michigan fan on the planet will want one guy. No matter if it makes any sense, which it might not.
That article also contains a by now standard response to the standard "so… Rich Rodriguez?" question posed all former Michigan football players kicking around the NFL: I support Rodriguez, but he has to win.