i like 'em both
I just finished watching most of the UM-OSU game from 1997 on BigTen Network. I was at that game and really only ever watched it on TV years later when ESPN had it on as one of the greatest games. I generally rewatch parts of it every year since then when our big rivalry game comes around. I was feeling especially nostalgic today when watching it.
Woodson was an absolute beast. The guy made so many plays in that game. He clinched the Heisman in that game. He was clutch all season long but on that biggest stage he had a huge game.
Unsung hero has to be Glen Steele. The guy was getting held all game long but had 3 sacks, all in OSU territory I believe, which really stalled their drives and gave us excellent field position even though we didn't do too much with it.
Our punter had 11(!) punts. That's insane.
OSU had the ball on their 16 with 1:xx to go. I remember thinking back in the day that if the opponent has to go that far with so little time, it's not going to happen. I miss those days. Now I sit there prairie-dogging, hoping and praying that the offense somehow screws something up. With 3rd and 17 and 1:10 to go, OSU down by 6, I don't think anyone in that stadium thought OSU had a chance to win, let alone get the first down.
I miss those days and I'm very eager for that feeling to come back, where we expect to win every game. Where we expect our team to physically outmatch our opponents. Griese even said during the telecast that UM ran about 5 basic offensive plays. Can you imagine if our guys show their talents on the field and our offense is so diversified the other team has no clue as to what play is being called? We saw some of it last year, but that was hopefully just the tip of the iceberg.
Our current team probably has the perception of being offense first, but with several highly touted recruits on D, I hope our defense will dominate as much as, or even as more as, our offense does. That 1997 team awesome. But you could argue that was one of the best defensive teams Michigan ever fielded. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't flashy, but it was dominating.
I hope 10 years from now I'm watching a throwback game from 2010, 2011, or 2012, and thinking "Damn, that team was SICK." But when I'm watching that game I hope I don't feel nostalgic, because I hope we're still destroying opponents 10 years from now as well.
EDIT: If you read all of this, I commend you. I had no idea how long it was gonna be. Sorry.
The 11th Annual Mock Rock will be held tonight (Tuesday February 16th) in Hill Auditorium at 7:30PM. For those who have never been, Mock Rock is basically Michigan athletes performing skits for charity. Proceeds from this year's Mock Rock will benefit the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 826michigan and Student-Athletes Leading Social Change (SALCS). Charles Woodson is the celebrity judge. Tickets range in price from $10 to $15
Michigan senior lacrosse player Zach Flauf during the 2009 Mock Rock
photo by Lon Horwedel
Arizona's going in for a put away score and Woodson makes the play to force the fumble and Green Bay is suddenly alive. Can we get him a fake birth certificate and maybe some plastic surgery and use him on Saturdays? It would be nice. 2 of my all time favorite Michigan players are in there today. Woodson and Breaston. Here's hoping they keep dominating the way they do.
Anyone else catch his pick-six in the Lion's game? He pulled a Desmond and struck a pose after the score. I like the Lions but it's good to see Woodson have a big day: two INTs, a TD, and a big feature on his philanthropy (with a Michigan helmet displayed behind him)
Not that I had any doubt, but on some occasions during CW's pro career some Michigan fans have grumbled about Woodson's reference to other schools in his life during pre-game introductions on TV. Some have even questioned his allegiance to Michigan as a result. There should be no doubt whatsoever now. The print version of AnnArbor.com is carrying a story this morning that Woodson is donating $2 million to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. The money is the first donation toward the $15 million needed to create space and purchase equipment for researchers doing early-stage work to help children with cancer, heart disease, kidney disorders, and autism.
(For a reason I can't fathom, I can't find the article online at AnnArbor.com, which is freaking ridiculous since they've allegedly embraced the internet, but I assume it will appear when their employees wake up from their naps.)
The subject of that diary was about how Cissoko looks to be the second coming of Todd Howard. In some ways that will give you nightmares and in others it might leave you feeling mildly content a couple of years from now. But that wasn't what struck me when I read that Diary.
What struck me was that in the past 15 years Michigan has always had a lock-down corner on the field in every year but three. Here's the rundown:
- '92 - '94 = Ty Law
- '95 - '97 = Charles Woodson
- '98 - '00 = ???
- '01 - '04 = Marlin Jackson
- '03 - '06 = Leon Hall
- '07 - ?? = Donovan Warren
The two primary corners during that gap in '98-'00 were James Whitley and Todd Howard. Whitley was supposed to be a stud recruit and I remember a quote from Woodson where he talked about Whitley potentially being better than he was. Well, that obviously didn't happen. Whitley will forever be known as a guy with decent speed and size who could run step for step with recievers but never make a play on the ball.
You'll also remember this era as when Plexico "Rikers" Buress dominated Michigan to the point where Carr desperately put David Terrell in the game at CB in an attempt to slow him down. This did not go well:
So why am I bringing this up? Well, there was an interesting Detroit Lions Notebook today in the Detroit News:
(Sidenote - Who knew that Carson Butler was only now being cut from an NFL practice squad? And who knew that he is still considered a defensive end instead of a tight end? Ahh Carson, what a weird trajectory your life has taken.)
But the shocking thing to me from this notebook is that the Lions starting corner named Will James is the former Will Peterson of the 1997 Michigan National Championship team. He left the program for reasons I can't recall (academics?) and went to Western Kentucky. Since then he's been in the NFL for 8 seasons and has been a starter for part of that time.
If you look at that original chart I put up you'll see that he would have been on the team during that post-Woodson void of a lock-down corner. Maybe he would have been that guy? It made me wonder what would have been different for Michigan had he been able to stay on the team. Whitley would have been a good #2 CB and Howard would have been an excellent nickel back.
So I end this diary with a challenge to the readers: What other former UM players can you think of who ended up having solid careers but didn't last at Michigan? Imagine how things could have been different if these players had stayed a full four years. I'll get you started with some classics:
- Trevor Pryce - He turned into a dominant NFL pass rusher after leaving Michigan. If you look at the lack of elite pass rushers in Michigan history you have to wonder how great he could have been had he stayed.
- Justin Fargas - Probably the most memorable Michigan defectors of all time, he's had a solid NFL career at RB after he could never figure it out at Michigan and actually spent time at safety before transferring to USC. I still can't figure out what happened (besides the injury) with his inability to be an effective RB for us.
- Jon Ritchie - Despite being somewhat of a tool (personal experience from living in West Quad at the same time as him), he became an excellent NFL fullback and would have been a valuable asset for Carr had he finished his career there.