wearing #1. He deserves it.
This Week's Obsession: Leaders Numbers
If they're going to do it, might as well be Gardner. [Fuller]
Schedule for roundtable Legends jerseys:
Akron: Brian Cook switches to #1
Minnesota: Seth Fisher will wear #2
Nebraska: Mathlete shall don #77
Ohio State: Blue in South Bend changes to #7
30 seconds before the end of the season: Ace Anbender will change to #32
Brian started to mention this in the game column but I thought it warranted some obsession. So now that ol' 98 is unretired and #12 has once again been abandoned before reaching its seniority* I'd like your thoughts on the Luminaries Numbers. Would you run the Interesting Integer program differently? Which have you been happy with, and which annoyed you the most?
|To infinitely weird numbers and beyond!
[Photo sent in by Scott Rains]
Brian: I would cleave as closely to the old numbers' origins as I could. 98 would be a skill guy, as would 47 and 21, 11 would be on the defensive line, 2 would be a defensive back. Ford's number would be some sort of DL/LB since it can't be an OL and the front seven on D is a little thing. I'd avoid switching anyone to those numbers after they'd been established. You can get it after your freshman or sophomore year, but after that your number is your number. Kovacs is 32, dammit, and Gallon is 10.
I was most happy with Gardner as 98, because that is weird and weird is good. Weird makes Michigan not Generic Sporting Experience. I am least happy with Funchess switching to 87, because who has any association with 19? Well, you would have. And shouldn't 87 be a lot more rough and tumble? Yes. To get the 87 you should have to sass the president.
Wait. No. I was least happy with Kovacs switching to 11 with two games left in his career because I think Kovacs should have his jersey legend'd right now and handed to any walk-on who finds playing time outside of the offensive line. 32, man. 32.
Actually it was Ford who sassed the tight end.
[Photo from HTTV Kramer article, courtesy of Gerald R Ford Presidential Library]
[After the jump: Un-retire 77!]
|Seth's plan: earn it by being the #1 wide-
out at the break of fall camp, and earn a
spot on the patch forever by being a 3-
time All-American like Carter.
[MGoBlue image bank]
Seth: I can't get past 32 as A-Train's number. And Kovacs but that kind of demonstrates the problem: Michigan has been wearing numbers for a good century, and has been very good for most of that, meaning there's been hundreds of great players here. What about Kevin Dudley and Jarrod Bunch? Can 32 be the number we put on fullbacks who arrive at 6'1 and graduate at 5'11?
I don't mind putting the numbers back into circulation since retiring jerseys is unoriginal. What I don't like about the program (other than changing established numbers) is they've stripped all meaning from it by not matching the player. Michigan ought to ask for special dispensation to allow a tackle or DL to wear #11, and a center to wear 48, and there should be very Gerald Ford things you do before you get to wear it.
The model for this is what grew up organically here around #1 (and to a lesser degree #7). It was Carter's number, and it was special because it made him easy to spot. It meant something, and that's why Alexander wore it, and that's why Terrell wore it, and that's why Braylon asked to switch to it (and Carr tacked on some academic qualifiers because Carr).
I'd start them young and make the whole thing goal-oriented: freshmen or sophomores can apply to the coaches for a Legend's number, and there's a set of things you must do in spring or fall practice to earn the right to wear it that exemplify the guy who set that number. For each I would also set list of accomplishments comparable to those of the Legend which if you achieve them in your career you earn the right to have your name added to that patch, for example Devin can get his name added to the 98 patch if he wins the Heisman and leads the nation in scoring, and Ryan would need to be a three-time All-American and two-time captain to have his name added to 47. Have a wall at the stadium somewhere that honors all of them and lists the accomplishments, and open it up a bit so there are easier numbers to attain (#7 for a QB who beats OSU three times as the starter, #46 for a QB who leads his team to an undefeated season and national championship, #77 for an OT who's a 4-year starter and two-time All-American, 60 for a DL who does the same, 76 for a guard).
|Demonstrating safety competence is
good enough to earn Jamar Adams's 22.
[MGoBlue image bank]
Most annoying: #11 to Avery and #87 to Moore. At least Funchess has time to grow more Kramer-like and maybe it'll motivate him to be a better blocker if he's wearing the digit of the all-time best. And honestly Kovacs was just a few games at the end of his career; it was a mild annoyance I can easily overlook. But in the hands of the coaches these are just becoming things to reward seniors who stuck around only to have their senior seasons damaged (or lost Moore's case) to injury. You're doing it wrong!
Mathlete: This week's Gardner as 98 unveiling was easily the best application of the new number process. Big time player, had a core identity that matched as the most dynamic/important offensive player on the team. And the QB as #98 was so strange it made the whole concept stand out in a way that grabbed attention and was really reminiscent of the past. Everything prior to Gardner's change was just an absolute mess. I think it's a great concept but the first round seemed to be haphazardly thrown together.
I don't think you can throw too many rules or narrow definitions on it or they will never be used. They'll turn into the #1 jersey which isn't technically retired, but might as well be at this point. The most important thing to me is that they catch a player on the way up. If you make the change too soon then you run the risk of giving them to big time recruits without production or guarantee of future exposure. If you give them too late, then have a Kovacs situation where the player already has an identity in a number and it just becomes disconcerting. Ideally, it would be after a freshman or sophomore season when the jersey gets assigned so there is some track record but also plenty of time for the jersey to stay in one place.
|Our consensus: Gallon is the right kind
of guy to wear #21 but not after he has
already established himself as #10
In terms of who should get which jersey, I think each Legend can probably be loosely defined with one or two characteristics. Usually it's position, sometimes it's personality. 98 should be a dynamic offensive player, 21 an undersized offensive weapon, 48 may be defined more by a player showing outstanding leadership rather than a position. 2 should obviously be for a great defensive back, perhaps one who could some damage in the return game or on offense, we should recruit a guy like that this year. If 1 comes into the Legends fold, as well, that's the classic Michigan outside receiver. Understand the identity of what you want the jersey to represent, give it to a matching player who is somewhat proven but will have at least two years to be a part of the legacy.
BiSB: I do generally like the idea of the Legends jerseys. By putting the numbers back in rotation, you bring the legends' stories back into the public eye. And while that might not be necessary for someone like Desmond Howard, the Wistert brothers have gotten more attention and praise than they otherwise would have. It's also a nice public nod to the This Is Michigan-ness of the program. I don't know how recruits feel about that kind of stuff, but it probably can't hurt.
I agree with everyone that said that the numbers should roughly match up with the position. Where I think I'd like to see a change is in how often they are deployed. You can't have all the legacy numbers on a player all the time and expect people to attach the same kind of importance to it. This year, it was simply a press release and a few photos saying, "this year the open legends jerseys go to Avery, Funchess, and Gallon." You're not always going to have exactly six guys on a given team for whom the jerseys make any sense. We all like Courtney Avery, but putting the #11 is pretty clearly not about the Wisterts' football legacies. There has to be a happy medium between the #1 jersey's "we will only give it to Neo, and only after he learns kung fu and has two extremely productive years," and the current legend jersey policy of "well, three guys in legends jerseys graduated, so let's find three new guys." If a jersey sits a couple of years waiting for an appropriate fit, it'll be that much more important and meaningful when it gets dusted off again.
|B-Will was rather excited about how
many people were wearing his jersey
around the stadium last Saturday. I mean,
he is the last guy to graduate wearing it.
They also need to stop making every freeking senior wide receiver wear #21, as I find myself cheering for Junior Gallontree pretty regularly. There is a part of me that is relieved we have no junior wide receivers, because it means that for once I'll probably get to watch two straight years with the same person wearing that jersey.
On a somewhat related note, would anyone object to just giving Jabrill Peppers #2 from the get-go? I know, I know, you have to earn everything nothing is given The Team The Team The Team. But I say we address the elephant in the room from day one.
Ace: I have very little to add, so here's a Jordan Kovacs quote from right after the number switch:
“I’ve worn 32 for quite some time, and I think I’ll always be 32.”
I loved watching Devin Gardner play quarterback as #98 last weekend, and Gardner—who changed his Twitter handle to @qu9rterb8ck, so he's clearly cool with the switch—will be instantly recognizable both at Michigan and around the country as the QB with a number you'd normally see on the D-line. With Kovacs, seeing him wear #11 was just jarring.
I do think in the future they'll start using these legacy jerseys as more of a recruiting tool; as BiSB suggested, Jabrill Peppers wearing #2 from the get-go (if he wants it) seems like a grand idea.
* [Gardner (switched to 98), Roundtree (switched to 21), JT Floyd (switched to 8), Cone (switched to 17), Gutierrez (transferred). Who wants to bet Gant ends up with a linebacker number sometime in the future? Last guy to wear #12 all the way to graduation: Brandon Williams.]
I think he will earn it this year, but he hasn't yet produced to the level of a #1, IMO.
This offense just came too late for him.
You realize that only one player has "earned" #1 in it's entire existence, right? Everyone else - Carter, Alexander, Terrell, Marcus Knight - wore it as a freshman. This whole "earn the right" nonsense has effectively retired it.
I don't think Marcus Knight wore the #1 jersey (he overlapped with Terrell), but your point is well-taken.
Yeah, Knight wore #85.
I believe the complete list of guys to wear #1 (besides a couple of placekickers in the '70s) is Anthony Carter, Greg McMurtry, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Butterfield, David Terrell and Braylon Edwards.
Butterfield is who I was thinking.
had the greatest "intentional" drop in Michigan history, setting up Driesbach to Hayes against UVA in 95.
Knight overlapped with Streets, I think (#86 legends patch for above average receivers who are horrendous additions to the basketball team!)
Ha. Not a bad idea. Although let's call Streets a "non-factor" in terms of his contributions to the basketball team. Streets was always my favorite player on the football team based upon the fact that Streets' high school basketball team beat Kevin Garnett's in the Illinois state playoffs in 1995. That provided no rational basis for me to be such a big fan of his, but no one ever said fandom was rational.
Coincidence/cosign. I watched that game in 1995. They also had Antwaan Randle-El and Melvin Ely. Garnett had Ronnie Fields and a freshman Michael Wright (went on to play at Arizona). Tai Streets was actually a pretty darn good player on that team (Thornton) and there was a lot of talent on the floor that day. I always followed Randle-El after that as well, only learning he played football when I saw him suiting up at IU.
If his performance against ND didn't earn it...then what in the hell will?
Knight never wore it...Alexander did have #40 as a freshman, because McMurtry was a senior. Point understood though. SIAP of course.
Strangely, no one wore it for 50 straight years. (all per Bentley)
1919-23 : worn by four different players
1973-75: DB/S Dave Whiteford (Traverse City) - note: 1974 listed as jv
1976-78: K Gregg Willner (Miami Beach, FL)
1977: SE Christopher Grieves (Peoria, MI)
1979-82: WR Anthony Carter (Riviera Beach, FL)
1986-89: WR Greg McMurtry (Brockton, MA)
1990-93: WR Derrick Alexander (Detroit) - was #40 as FR in 89
1994-96: WR Tyrone Butterfield (Miami, FL)
1998-2000: WR David Terrell (Richmond, VA)
2003-04: WR Braylon Edwards (Detroit) - was #80 as FR/SO in 01/02
YEARS WORN: 31
YEARS NOT WORN (since 1919): 64
YEARS WORN BY WR: 21
FIRST WR TO WEAR #1: Christopher Grieves, a converted JV placekicker
I think at this point, #1 and #21 are functionally equal in prestige.
Peppers has already said he doesn't want #2. He wants to form his own legacy.
HIs catch and run at the end of UTL 1 is practically an iconic Michigan play, one that will be replayed for.......well, a really long time. So he already put his 10 into the lore of Michigan football, he's always going be #10 running across the field with Don Criqui freaking.
I don't know that you can have two 'iconic' plays back-to-back.
When you go 80 yards in two plays, you can.
with the Legends numbers and assignments is how will the numbers of new legends ever be made given the people that get those numbers? It's a bit of a "what if", but suppose Devin wins a Heisman. The Legend of Devin will be 98 forever more, as opposed to recognizing him with his own number and identity.
I think the Legends numbers should be awarded to seniors only - players that meet the qualities and characteristics of the original legend - so it affords time to see if players will be legends in their own time. If Funchess becomes a better blocker or Jake Ryan continues being Jake Ryan, maybe they would have established additional numbers to Legend status.
If Gardner wins the Heisman in #98 this is all to the good. Then #98 will be associated with Harmon AND Gardner. And some up can coming QB will want to be a part of that -- to add to that tradition of excellence. This idea that a guy needs his own number to make an impact is misguided. Michigan football existed for a hundred years before they got here and will exist a hundred years after. The best they can hope for is to add to the legacy that’s been established. Nobody owns a number because nobody is bigger than the program. Case in point: just because Anthony Carter made a huge impact in #1 doesn't mean we don't remember Braylon.
...I'd happily forget Braylon.
The Legend of Devin will be 98 forever more, as opposed to recognizing him with his own number and identity.
Do you legitimately think that if Gardner wins the Heisman, his "identity" will be confused because of 98?
Do you think Lewan has not established a unique identity because he wears 77?
Michigan has had a ton of good players, wearing virtually all numbers.
See, to me the "Legend of Gardner" is his name, not the number he wears during a night game with Eminem in the booth and Beyonce earning a quick paycheck by introducing the MMB. I'm apparently the only person in the UM world that doesn't give a crap about numbers; sure it is nice shorthand for legends, but Woodson was a great player who happened to wear #2, and if another player gets that number I'd be fine with him building his own legend without people saying "OMG, he's wearing a former Heisman winner's number; he'll never live up to that expectation!" Because to me, the expectation at corner has always been about guys like Woodson, Jackson, and Hall manning that spot in recent years, not what numbers they wore doing it.
I agree 100%, people remember the names much more than the jersey. Nobody is confusing Morgan with Ford or Gardner with Harmon, it's just silly to argue that. I guess if you bought a new jersey for the beginning of the season for say gardner and they switched him to 98 you'd probably be kinda pissed but is it really a bid deal at all?
Because Gardner would be recognized as #98, it would be his identity. And at the same time, we'll all know that Gardner was wearing it to honor harmon. So look at it this way...should Gardner hypothetically get to that point, we'll not only remember his legendariness, but also the original guy Harmon at the same time. I don't think it would diminish it at all.
We're a program that has been playing for over 100 years. Nobody has "their own" number and identity. Sure, we've never had a top-level QB wear #12 before (sorry, Scott), but what if Gardner had stayed wearing #7 and won the Heisman? Then when people thought of #7 they would have thought of Gardner... but also Henne, Henson, and Leach. Some numbers are going to be more "mythical" than others for any school, so why not officially recognize those numbers and make them even more special?
Just three Michigan players have won the Heisman, so the odds are pretty low. In the rare case where a guy wins the Heisman while wearing a Legends jersey, that's a good problem to have. I'll take it any day.
Meanwhile, 99 percent of the guys wearing legends jerseys won't win the Heisman, simply because it's such a rare achievement. Probably half of them will be on defense, and no purely defensive player has ever won the Heisman.
So I'd rather solve for the 99 percent, rather than 'worry' about what to do if a guy happens to win the Heisman.
I'm almost positive they said right from the start that they will add multiple names to the patches as necessary. If Devin wins the Heisman this year, there's a good chance that in a few years his name will be added to that jersey. Much in the same way there are 3 names on the #11 jersey (obviously for a different reason, but same concept).
We also all need to realize that Denard, Gardner, Funchess, Gallon, Touissant, and Kovacs are not likely to become Michigan legends. What I mean by that is that #21 became a Legends jersey 20 years after Desmond Howard won the Heisman. #2 is still not a legends jersey. Really good players that are on the team right now is not the same as somone who was the absolute best in the country, or top 10 in Michigan history. Once one of these players wins a Heisman (or becomes President), I think we should start talking about a new Legend.
I loved it when Desmond Howard ran for 313 yards vs. Ohio State in 1995. Who could forget that?
Involved in the return game, you say? Norfleet sounds like the next 21 to me.
I been wearing this thing since Martin's sailboat was hot news round here.
Sorry. 60 will always be Mark Messner.
Agree with you 100%.
IF it was me there's no way I'm changing numbers, to me there was a special bond to the numbers I chose or were given and to change would be a Jinx.
You win again.
If a jersey sits a couple of years waiting for an appropriate fit, it'll be that much more important and meaningful when it gets dusted off again.
There is no reason these have to be given out every single year. And to be honest, I don't think they have to be given to someone who is 100% going to be a stud as an upperclassman. Hemmingway wore 21 his whole career. Granted, it was before the Legend thing, and he ended up recieving the honor, but as a Freshman we weren't sure of what his career would be. It could have been Braylon, it could have been Jeremy Jackson, but he would have wore the iconic number, and people would be reminded of Desmond's legacy any time he saw the field.
[Edit]: I had no clue Mark Harmon was Tom Harmon's son until last weekend.
My issue with placing requirements on getting the numbers is that, as Seth noted, it puts quite a bit of pressure to "match up" to legendary production that, honestly, doesn't really apply in today's game. You look back at some of these legends and the game has changed so much, with significantly more parrity and medica coverage for all games, that I'm not sure you could have those types of careers in today's game. Carter was an amazing WR but the game was different in 1980-82; teams didn't throw that much and weren't as equipped to defend against it, there were fewer "big name" programs so his exposure was more pronounced than today, and (I'm guessing) voting for many of the post-season awards tracked heavily with "name" programs (if you check out those 1980's teams, you see the same couple of dominant programs).
My point is that if the standard for the legends numbers is "walk on water", I'm not sure anyone will be doning one. Personally, I'm fine with the numbers being used with players that harken back to an earlier generation regardless of when that honor is bestowed upon him. Yes, it would be nice if Gallon had kept #10 because, personally, I though it fit him and I always love a good binary joke (he's the #2 of offense), but I tend to remember the name on the pack of the jersey way more than the number. And this is definitely my post-UM distaste for Braylon showing through, but I'm fine if we give the #1 jersey controversy a bit of a break since the last guy who wore it "proudly" is kind of an ass.
Wasn't he stating that if you meet certain requirements over the course of your career, you would have your name added to the legend patch? So players can still have the honor of wearing a legend jersey/patch, but if they truly become UM legends themselves, players after them will support patches with their name on it. I personally LOVE the idea. It could also help us potentially keep great players and extra year if they really want to earn the right to have their name on the patch. Very cool idea IMO.
I like the Gardner switch because of a number of reasons, but partly because I still associate him with #7. I always thought the #12 was really weird on him.
I liked Seth's point about just how many years and numbers the program encompasses. While a number might have a special connection to one fan, it's going to have 20 other connections to 20 other fans. When I see a number on the field, and I don't immediately remember the current player, my mnd often reverts back to some obscure player from the 90s (#27 = Steve King, always). So, while I agree the current plan seems to have some flaws, I do like the idea, and I think it would be difficult to prefect completely.
Best title since... aw crap, the last article was Goofballs
(but actually an awesome title)
I don't see the problem with players' switching numbers mid-career since numbers are irrelevant because no one makes any money off of selling jerseys with famous players' numbers anyway.
Srsly, though, I guess I don't see the problem with, say, Gallon's switching from 10 to 21 for a season. It's not like I won't love him any less as a M football player in five years because of it. And if he makes money in league he'll make it regardless of number and he'll have a chance to burnish his rep there.
I guess one could argue that we are limiting the potential for new Legends numbers to be made. Like, assuming Peppers wanted #2 (which I understand he does not), and assuming he wins 2 or 3 Heismans, the Legends #2 won't be his or just his. I'm not sure that matters all that much, but it is something, I think.
Overall, I kind of like the Legends numbers, and I even like the patches. I'm for the idea of not handing them out willy-nilly, but I generally like the addition to M culture.
my fav line in this whole thing.
Seth is funny.
Can we do a legends number for Willie Heston? Blank would be even better.
#21 > #1
The Seniors last home game is usually a big honor. Maybe the only time the legends/retired number can be worn is for a Senior’s last home game. Usually pretty emotional game and I think that would be cool for them to have legend jersey in their locker when they enter locker room for their final home game. You don’t risk giving that number to a Freshman who may not perform like you would expect (aka Butterfield). Then the player will be associated with one number his whole career (except for final game) enough to possibly establish a legacy with one number.
Has the #1 in any way been tainted by Butterfield wearing it?
Give it to freshmen, and use it as a recruiting tool. They don't all have to be min-legends in their own right. Heck, half the guys who have worn theses numbers under the program aren't really even close.
Does anyone know why Gardner moved from 7 to 12? I was always puzzled by this, since I thought he was 7 in high school (where, given his status, he could have had any number he wanted). I don't think I ever heard a reason, and I'd find it hard to believe that in addition to temporarily moving him to WR, the coaches would have also made him change his number. 7 might be more of a QB than WR number here, but it's in a range that's certainly not out of place for WRs (think 1, 4 (Marquise Walker), 8 (Avant), 9 (Odoms/Dileo), etc...).
Basically this has always puzzled me, so does anyone know the store there?
In a couple years, maybe even next, nobody outside of the hardcore michigan fans are going to be talking about the legend jersyes. There won't be an "un-retirement" ceremony to prompt the TV folks to talk about each number and who wore it before. At best it'll be the occasional mention. Then a few years after that, even the hardcore michigan fans won't care any more. There will be the annual "here's the guys with new numbers" post, and maybe the occasional grumble from a fan who can't remember that so-and-so is now number 21.
Since that's the end game, I think they should not try too hard and force the issue. Let incoming freshman who want the numbers or current players that want to change numbers have them. Restricting the numbers to certain positions is ok, and maybe have the coaching staff force the player to learn the history of the number before awarding it. If a number has gone unused for a while or hasn't been on a starter, maybe a little encouragement is in order for an up and coming player. But that should be the end. Let the tradition simply be a neat little patch on certain jerseys that prompts fans to remember and occasionally prompts a tv commentator to rehash the story. Doing too much with it sort of ruins it, in my opinion.
Man, you guys should have been around Ottawa Hills HS in 1989 when my hockey number was changed from #5 to #23. There was outrage and umbrage......coming mostly from my mom
You went to Ottawa Hills? Not too often you hear that...
(Ouch sounds like a BTN ad) ... is great. But every kid that dreams of playing for Michigan also dreams about being the NEXT legend. If every great player is wearing someone else's Legend jersey ... well its going to be a mess. I love the concept ... but maybe it needs to be a "Home jersey tradition" and on the road they retain their original number ... or we have Legend day when each Michigan Legend is honored and that's the day the kid wears the jersey .... if Devin were to go on and become a Michigan Legend, then I hope it is his old #12. Sorry ... #98 Legend jersey belongs to just 1 player.
I don't think they had that hard a time giving out the #1, #2, or #21 jerseys over time.
...but it also serves to reduce the emergence of future Legacies. Let's say Gardner goes all-world over the next two seasons--wouldn't it have been nice to give #12 that new love?! Same for #10.
Seeing them in 98 and 21 was great for all the reasons mentioned; not sure about the career switch, though.
*Now see that Indiana Blue (just above) was pretty much making the same case while I was writing.