Rob Lytle. Rob Lytle was before my time, so I can't offer anything personal in reaction to his death at the young age of 56. Wolverine Historian has dug through his archives and posted an interview with him from his playing days:
"He was special," Hanlon said Sunday. "He had a confidence about him which never showed up as cockiness. He was just always a team player: 'What can I do to help?'" …
"You would never have known he was a great Michigan football player or professional football player," [Bruce] Madej said. "He didn't talk about it. He was anything but a big-timer. He was a nice, unassuming good guy. He was truly a good guy."
The second thing I will remember about Rob Lytle was his helmet. He played alongside some really tough and mean customers like S Don Dufek, DT Greg "Mo" Morton, S Dwight Hicks and OLB Calvin O'Neal. Most of these guys had Wolverine helmet awards completely covering the surface of their striped, winged, Michigan football helmet. Lytle's Michigan helmet was loaded with helmet awards too, but he front of the helmet was a mess. I mean, the Maize paint was all screwed up, scratched and blended. Lytle's head covering was put through so much abuse, you couldn't tell where the Michigan wings ended and the stripes began.
Soccer triumphant. Unless you are a Wisconsin fan, if you missed Sunday's NCAA tourney game against UCF you missed the most entertaining sporting event on Michigan's campus last weekend. Michigan launched 30 shots before overtime kicked in, then finally got the goal to put them over the top on a zinged-in free kick from Hamoody Saad that glanced off Latif Alashe on its way in but was probably destined for the net anyway. Also one of UCF's best players was rocking a Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man high top fade. It was wicked.
In the aftermath, the team performed a reverse field rush by running into the student section. Justin Meram was shirtless and airborne:
#10 Michigan takes on #7 South Carolina in the third round. Unfortunately, they also scraped an overtime goal against Duke so the next game will be on the road. There doesn't appear to be any TV, which makes me cranky. Game is Sunday at 2.
BONUS: Yes, Meram does have a year of eligibility left for football if he wants to try his hand at kicker, but my friend exclaimed "he's better than Robbie Findley" in all seriousness and it was tough to disagree. A pro career probably beckons.
So about those incredibly obvious trends I got torn apart for mentioning. I got torn apart by rival fanbases for suggesting two things this offfseason. One: Penn State's quarterback situation is alarming and dismal. Two: Iowa wasn't all that great in 2009 and was overrated going into 2010. It was looking pretty good for thing one until Michigan's defense showed up to un-save the day and Matt McGloin experienced two and a half games in which he was Brett Favre before turning into Brett Favre in the second half against Ohio State. PSU's 71st in passer efficiency and while that's not good it's not as bad as I thought it would be before the season.
And I guess that's what is so sad about this. Because this is idiotic, and it is clueless, and it is so against character that it deserves to be called idiotic and clueless. Either Cook didn't realize it's moronic, which makes him the least likely moron I've ever met, or Cook knew it (the title gives it away), and that basically makes him Tom Dienhart this time. Regardless of the motivation, it's beneath him.
Iowa's now 7-4 and featuring in Doc Sat "Life on the Margins" posts about how Iowa's lost that old crunch-time feeling while Fight For Iowa should really be adding pictures of Henry The Otter of Ennui to a post titled "The Wastelands of Mediocrity" that went up even before the OSU game. They're headed for 8-4 since their last game is against Minnesota and will thus be at worst tied for fourth in the league (Penn State is also 4-3 and can match them by beating MSU in the season finale), but preseason skepticism about Iowa turned out to be something less than idiotic and clueless.
Something less than rabid careless monsters. Pierre Woods was chilling out in Ann Arbor, working as a groundskeeper and trying to keep in playing shape after the Patriots cut him earlier in the year. He did so by hanging out with Barwis, and is grateful:
“The guys at Michigan, man, they prepared me,” Woods told me. “Trust me. They prepared me. The head strength coach (Mike Barwis), the assistant (Parker Whiteman), I’m pretty sure they got tired of seeing my face up in there, but they allowed me to work out, use the facilities, go around, eat, everything. They treated me like family. You play at Michigan, you come back, they treat you like family. I got nothing but love for those guys and I appreciate what they did.”
Woods got back on the Patriots and is extending his NFL career somewhat. He did yoga with Mike Barwis and his family. Wolves doing yoga, basically.
Disappointingly, there is zero soccer TV coverage until the College Cup semis. That's the way it was last year, I assume it's that way again this year, I haven't seen anything that says otherwise. I mean, what the hell is ESPNU for, anyway? During football season it's completely useless except on Saturdays.
Michigan were in a conference that had its own network ... and if only that network were currrently bereft of programming on most days ...
I mean, hell, they show in-season soccer from time to time. Nobody else is showing these games. Why couldn't they get the rights to the ones involving Big Ten schools? Granted, this may or may not help fans outside the footprint, depending on whether or not it's on the main channel, but at least someone could watch.
I'm still not sure they're not top-15 nationally this year, their record aside. (EDIT: Sagarin's Predictor has them at #18).
They got some lucky bounces (figuratively) last year, and the fanbase assumed those wins were descended from God. They've gotten some unlucky bounces this year, and hopefully they've now learned that close wins and close losses are mostly luck and not some sort of earned fate that reflects a persistent skill.
If Michigan ever has a season like Iowa had last year, hopefully we'll be able to recognize the extent to which our record reflects the true quality of the team versus the extent to which we just got lucky. And hopefully we treat people well when they point out the difference.
I was amazed how Iowa fans last year didn't realize how lucky their team was, and I suspect MSU fans will act the exact same way next year when all of those last-second comebacks turn into, you know, 6-7 or 7-6. Losing a couple of close games doesn't mean your team is bad, but believing that going 11-1 because you just outworked the other team, despite all evidence pointing to some lucky breaks, is what is annoying. UM has had a couple of those seasons, and when another one comes around I hope that more people recognize it for what it is.
If a lot of our problems recruiting glenville kids stems from bitterness due to the coach Carr Pierre woods relationship do we think woods' new found barwis love might help loosen things up at least a bit.
Went to school from '74 to '78 and had Rob in a few classes. Very humble and unassuming, he was one of the few football players I ever saw in class. When Bo went to him and asked him to move to fullback (he started at tailback the previous year) so that he could get Gordie Bell into the backfield; Lytle could have said no, but he didn't. To him, it was always about the team. Even though he was from Fremont, OH, he absolutely loved Michigan. People have asked for years, just what exactly is a 'Michigan Man'? Look no further than the undersized fullback named Rob Lytle. RIP Rob, you will be missed.
"There is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark."
Thanks for the link to Rob Lytle and the 1976 team. As much as I miss defenses that can shut out teams, I miss Bob "Meeeechigan" Ufer, unabashedly a homer in all the best ways..."cotton-picking maize 'n' blue heart" and "I'm not Catholic, just careless" are teh awesome...
It's a long way to the top if you wanna rockinroll...
Life should not be a journey to the grave to arrive safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What A Ride!" HST
I remember watching the '77 Rose Bowl at 9 years old as the clocked ticked down to a 14-6 loss, and seeing Rob Lytle holding a little kid on the sidelines in his lap, about my age (not sure if he was a relative or coach's kid), who was just as distraught as I was. Even then I was impressed that he was able to comfort someone else given what he must have been going through. Never met him, but he seemed like a great guy and great Wolverine.
The Rob Lytle story made me realize something about Michigan football, and its role in, let's face it, all of our lives.
I'm a lawyer at one of the world's largest law firms, in my mid-40s, and occupy a position of some responsibility I guess.
And yet, in a meeting about three weeks ago, while someone was droning on fairly endlessly, I listed the initials of every UM QB that I can remember seeing play (not subs, I'm talking about QBs who started at least once), and later confirmed that I did so successfully starting with Denis Franklin. I was alive for some others, but I only listed the ones that I personally remember in person.
Not sure what that really means, other than that I would not have imagined when I was a kid that this is what lawyers did during apparently important meetings. My guess is that many of you have had similar experiences, when the juxtaposition of your role as fan has come up against the "reality" of some of your other roles. And the Lytle story is that kind of thing also, where we remember them as players of a certain age, but of course all those other players age along with the rest of us. Okay, enough ridiculous maudlin thoughts..
Few thoughts. I'm not old enough to have watched him play (29), but I've been a diehard UM fan since I can remember, with a diehard Michigan-born (and grad) dad, and a Fremont-native and UofM-loving mom.
Due to the Fremont connections (to the poster that said Lytle loved U of M despite being from Fremont, he played a big part in producing more than a few Fremont-born UM fans... even before Charles Woodson roamed the Big House), I know this: the family is and always has been all class. Unassuming, humble, intelligent, and hard working. It's why I've long carved Fremont, OH out of my "worst state ever" statements. I'm sad for the Lytle family's loss, for Fremont, OH's loss, and for the Michigan family's loss. He will always be a Michigan Man.
"Better than Robbie Finley"--does that mean Meram is a forward who can do more than run really fast? Or do more with his first touch than merely waste decent through balls? Sorry for the sarcasm--hope your friend was actually being sarcastic when he made the comment. Internet does not transmit sarcasm well.
I wasn't alive to see Lytle play either. He graduated four years before I was born. I really wish I could have found more clips for that video but that was it. Only 2 televised games per year for college football teams in the 70's. Man, that would have been torture.
From what I've heard and read, Lytle was a popular and beloved tailback. He had enough runs to make an impressive highlight reel. Just wish I had more to feature him.
Even more impressive than his runs was the way he touched people's lives. This is truly a great loss for the Wolverine family.
but not old enough to appreciate Lytle properly. I kind of remember him at Michigan (but definitely remember Leach) ... some vague thoughts about him playing in Denver, probably vague because this was still in the days where TV was a sports wasteland and if you lived far enough from an NFL team, you might not even get that much information about a team unless they played well enough to show up in SI.
Even when the Colts moved to Indy, the NFL coverage wasn't anything like it was now, and as a Lions fan, I didn't have much interest in the other conference.
That helmet shot expemplies Team intensive play during the Bo years. Rob could run, but just as importantly, he could and would block. There were none scrappier than Ron. Not sure that scrappy play should be considered retro -- although I'm old enough to think we played better ball back then.
Still, love, Love LOVE the helmet photo and the sentiments of your comment.
Disclaimer first: Penn State fan. But I read and enjoy this blog almost daily.
I'd suggest that the howling from the PSU camp was not about the claim that there would be a significant dip in QB play, but that the imagined results took us to Threet/Sheridan analogies.
I'm quite sure you can find Penn State blogs and posters who, hackles up, claimed the QB play would be great, but I really think most fans expected the QBs to be pedestrian. If there was delusion -- and this is one I shared -- it was that the rest of the squad would be good enough to make up for that, and allow McBolden to simply manage games.
That was revealed as delusion when it became painfully clear that the offensive line was the same offensive line, the defensive ends fell way short of their hype, and the linebacking corps had replaced Bowman-Hull-Lee with not Bowman-Hull-Lee.
If the other parts of the team would have lived up to expectations, merely average QB play could have made them a much better team (though, really, it doesn't conceivably change the outcome of any game except maybe Illinois).
Had season tix while still in High School. His family and supporters all sat in my section. Every time his name was announced after a play (which was a LOT!!), they would raise a "YaaAAAY Lytle!" cheer. He, Gordie Bell and Rick Leach were my favorite players then.
Rob truly exemplified a "Michigan Man" throughout his career. Fifty-six years young. Way too soon. RIP Rob.
Now, how come mlive did not pick up that story? I guess they prefer the ones from Brian VanCombover. I've pretty much given up on that site (almost always negative about UM football) and the forum (infested with trolls).
Thank you mgoblog for providing a safe haven for Michigan fans.