I probably don't need to inform anybody here that these are actually going on (see http://alumni.umich.edu/events/big-house-tours if you need details) but we went with a big crowd of friends yesterday afternoon for the 1pm tour.
In a word: DAMN.
In another word: GO.
Seriously. Pony up the $25 a head ($35 for non AAUM members) and get your ass there. It's an absolutely astounding experience. A primer for those who have not attended previous years, or those who might need a little convincing...
We showed up about 11:45 to a small crowd of people outside the entry to the Champion's Center. Mostly, it was an older crowd due to a group of 50th Anniversary Alums gathering for Homecoming. We checked in, and all had our seats in the same room that the Monday pressers are held. After a quick introduction, we were given a primer on stadium history by Dr. Soderstrom (see link above). When he was done speaking, we headed back outside and around to the gates leading to The Tunnel.
Yes, THAT tunnel. It's hard to overstate the emotions you get walking (or, yes, running) down that tunnel, past the "GO BLUE" painted overhead, with the field at first a small patch of green, growing ever larger until you burst out into the sunlight and the enormity of it all.
We were down on the field for... oh, probably a good half-hour or so, just running around, soaking in the sights and sounds and atmosphere, throwing passes, running for touchdowns, kicking field goals, punting, and taking lots and lots and lots of pictures. The field is well-seeded at both ends with footballs from the practice field, so there's no need to bring your own.
He'll probably never remember it, but the images of my not-quite-2-year-old son "scoring his first touchdown" at Michigan Stadium is seared into my brain forever, and it's wonderful. At one point, I asked him, "Do you know what this (place) is, buddy?" His response: "Go go go!" (Yeah, he hears daddy yell that at the TV a lot.) "Go Blue?" I asked him... "Go Boo!" Yeah, that's my boy.
After a while, we were all ushered back up the tunnel, and into the home locker room. We were met there by Jamie Morris and Chris Graham, who each spoke to us for a few minutes, and then fielded questions from the crowd. (Morris is apparently their regular former-player speaker, and he brings along whoever's available on a given day.) Once the questions were done, we had free reign to ask either of them questions one-on-one, or to try on the helmets, shoulder pads and jerseys they had laying around.
Overall, we were there for a little over 90 minutes, and could've hung around a bit longer if we'd wished. It was simply an incredible experience, and one that I heartily recommend to anyone young or old.
Feel free to peruse the pictures I took at http://www.billwilliams.us/gallery/v/bighousetour/, but I think this is my new desktop image...
If anybody wants full-res versions of any of the pics, just drop me a line, I'm happy to circulate them (all rights reserved, non-commercial use, yada yada.)