Rules are the guy's Michigan career is irrelevant except he has to have at least been on the field for Michigan—this is all based on how good he was as a pro. Pro Bowls, starts, and longevity are more important than team success. It's also not simply a list of the greatest pros—I'm building a team. I already did the offense. Here's Part II.
Defensive Tackle: Tom Keating (1964-'75)
Start about 5:28 and watch #74
Tom Keating played nose tackle for some of the greatest teams of the '60s and '70s, and was the fulcrum for one of the nastiest (and most successful) defenses in the history of the game. Keating's claim to fame at Michigan is he was the first Michigan player to touch the banner while captaining the defensive line for Bump's worst two teams.
Keating's pro career started slowly. Drafted by the Vikings (NFL) and the Bills (AFL), Keating chose the latter as they were one of the premier teams in the game. That proved a mistake, as Keating relegated to a rotation spot on a stacked Bills roster (they were AFL Champions his first, second, and fourth years in the league).
Keating walked in 1966, and joined the Raiders. He was an immediate AFL All-Star, and by his second season in Oakland Keating was celebrated as the Aaron Donald of his time, anchoring a legendary Raiders defense that dominated the end of the 1960s. Except for the one season (1968) Keating missed with a leg injury, he was the premier DT in the league, and when the AFL merged with the NFL, he was the best in either. Their best defense was probably in 1970, the first year after the merger. But that was the year all of the Raiders' quarterbacks got injured and they had to re-sign kicker George Blanda to play quarterback. The injuries finally caught up in 1973 in one year mentoring what would become the front of the Steel Curtain. Keating's last great year was 1974 with the Chiefs, and he retired after 1975.
With Ty Law joining eight other Pro Football Hall of Famers from Michigan last week, and Tom Brady continuing to push the bar for greatest football player of all time past the outer reaches of the Virgo Cluster, I figured our next Michigan All-____ team should focus on who made the best pro players.
This one got long and took a lot of research so here's Part 1.
Today's Rules: I'm creating a 53-man NFL roster with Michigan alumni based on their total contributions in pro football (mostly the NFL). It's not about the greatest Michigan players to go pro; in fact I'm going to include a few transfers best known for playing elsewhere. I'm judging based on things like years in the pros, years as a starter, Pro Bowl/All-Pro selections, a little bit on team success, and their impact on the game, all relative to when they played.
The goal is a bit different than normal because the idea here is to build a team, not reward the best players. A guy had to play a position in the pros to be be eligible for it, within reason: I expect a career left guard to be able to play right guard (but not necessarily center), and a 1950 flanker to not feel totally out of place as a modern slot receiver.
A * means he's in the Hall of Fame already.
Quarterback: Tom Brady (2000-present)
It doesn't seem to get old. I think we can skip the career rundown because you've no doubt been on this Earth the last few weeks. At this point Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are past trying and just making up challenges to keep things interesting.
Tom: Okay guys, don't even block Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler for a quarter.
Bill: Betchya I can convince the whole league to go back to punting on 4th and short from the opponents' territory.
Tom: Oh yeah? Watch me make a short, bearded Jewish guy a Super Bowl MVP.
Bill: Ooh, that's a good one. Try this…I'm going to hold Jared Goff to the worst passing day of his career.
Bill: Using just zone defense!
Tom: That's good, but you know what would really be funny?
Tom: Okay, here it is: Not only do you have to hold the Rams under 7 points, but you also have to get McVay to forget he has the highest paid running back in the league for a half…
Tom: And then you've got to bust out your own 1st round RB from Georgia and salt the game away using nothing but double ISO and counter-trey.
Anyway the nice thing about the All-Michigan NFL Team is it will beat any other college's all-NFL team. I mean, what other school gets to put out a tweet like this every year?
Backups:Benny Friedman* (1927-'34) and Jim Harbaugh (1987-'00). What's more incredible about the greatest quarterback of all time is he pushed down the Most Important. Without Benny the NFL would have taken much longer to get out of the college game's shadow. Benny also provides depth at RB, the secondary, and special teams. Former 1st round pick Jim Harbaugh was 49-22-1 as an NFL starter, mostly for the Bears, but had a long second career as a backup who doubled as a mentor and coach for young prospects.
Honorable Mention: Elvis Grbac (1994-'01), Brian Griese (1998-'08), Chad Henne (2008-present), Todd Collins (1995-2010), Larry Cipa (1974-'75), Jake Rudock (2017-present)
[After THE JUMP: a position that isn't as deep, and one that's deeper]
Today's Rules: You must be in the bottom quartile of height for your position and get extra points for being shorter than that. Weight doesn't matter as much as height (because most of these guys had to add a lot of it). Also this has to be relative to the players of your era—with a heavy recency bias—because there was a time when a six-foot offensive tackle was considered huge. For example, here's 5'11" Anthony Carter with some of the other 1979 offensive starters (via a Dr. Sap article on MVictors):
I'm going to use my discretion as we go, but if a player wasn't remarkably tiny for his era, even if he would be in ours, he doesn't count.
The problem: Rosters lie, especially regarding these players, because listing a short guy at his real height could depress his pro future. Where I have knowledge of a guy's actual height I'll use that, and beyond that I'm just going to do my best.
Quarterback: Denard Robinson
Last listed size: 6'0"/197 (2012)
Strangely, 2019 recruit Cade McNamara, at 6'1", is the third-shortest Michigan scholarship quarterback since Bo, with Denard and 2008 proto-Denard Justin Feagin both listed at a straight six. Or maybe that's not so strange because height in a quarterback is so highly valued. In my opinion it's highly overrated; the last two Heisman winners were Oklahoma quarterbacks listed at 6'0" and 5'11", QED. Notably, despite Michigan's clear preference for tall guys, some of their best were all on the shorter side, including Chad Henne and Shea Patterson, both just 6'2". Anyway, the rosters lied about Denard's height, which was probably 5'11" or just under it. I should mention the 2011 roster lists Denard as 5'9", which is wrong but feels right. His height led to a few batted balls, but since his center also appears later on this list (and Ricky Barnum wasn't very tall either), and because defenders in space had to approach warily lest Denard escape the pocket, the % of batted balls from Denard in the UFRs is lower than that for Henne.
Honorable Mention: Dennis Brown (5'10"/175), Tate Forcier (6'1"/190), Harry Newman (5'7"/174), Boss Weeks (5'7"/161) lots of other old dudes. Michigan's first great quarterback (and college athletics' first great athletic director) Charles Baird was listed at 5'6". Michigan's shortest QB on the Bentley database was 1914-'16 bencher Harold Zeiger, at 5'4".
If by now you haven't clicked on the thread that says "Jim Harbaugh starred in a 1990's video game commercial" I don't know what to say to you. There's a thread on our board that promises a video game commercial from the '90s starring Jim Harbaugh. Presumably it links to a video of said commercial. Presumably this video is the source of those eyeglow memes you've come across. Presumably you have already clicked and I'm talking into space. Except Harbaugh's already blown that up:
9:35 a.m. Classroom revolts when Desmond is interrupted in the middle of his Green Bay career to introduce nutritionist.
Bringing the Heisman made sure he'd be memorable, but the Emmy too? That's just cold, man.
THE LOCKERS HAVE NUMBERS
The big reveal is Kekoa (Dylan) Crawford will wear #1 but the rest of the freshmen have also been tweeting their numbers. Many of them do not have numbers but have lockers with temporary 1s or 2s (or 9) on yellow sticky notes.
New ones I was able to turn up from that thread plus a run through the Twitters:
#1: Kekoa Crawford
#3: Rashan Gary
#7: Khaleke Hudson
#10: Nate Johnson
#22 David Long
Loving the Nate Johnson-Jeremy Gallon comparison. For the record, the yellow sticky notes were Eubanks (1), Mbem-Bosse (1), Asiasi (2), Lavert Hill (2), and Devin Gil (9). The other thing I noticed is the freshmen all have lockers separate from the rest of the team again. I believe Harbaugh reinstituted this last year to let the class form a bond.
As for #1, I'm glad someone will be wearing it again. It was cool that Lloyd made Braylon earn it but AC, McMurtry, Alexander, Butterfield, and Terrell all got to put it on as freshmen. And don't you dare say he's too small for it or I'll whip you with 40 gifs of Anthony Carter.
Of course none of them will ever be as great as the first receiver to wear #1 at Michigan, Tall Paul Goebel. If someone else doesn't beat me to it I'm going to write an HTTV special on him next year and calling it Number One. For now read his Wikipedia page.
Rawak got mixed reviews in Bacon's book. She came to Michigan on a swimming scholarship in 1988 and stayed after graduation as an assistant for six years, covering 10 of a 12-year Big Ten title run. She then came back in 2004 to run HR, and was a rising star in Martin's administration.
Under Brandon Chrissi' staff increased from five to 60, and her responsibilities expanded to just about everywhere, including notably, PR director—without any training—just in time for the Shane Morris Incident.
On one hand the masses can't feel too bad about losing Dave Brandon's top lieutenant/hatchet man. On the other, Bacon clearly had sympathy for this competent, Michigan-loving person who was constantly being put in positions to fail by a boss she felt loyalty to. This seems like a departure both sides win.
"These guys don't know how blessed they are to have this kind of facility. I mean, Florida State, we're a very prestigious school, we have nice stuff, but we don't have this. I'm sorry, I love Florida State. Go 'Noles till the day I die, but they're so much [more] advanced than us."
"This is bar none the best one that I've seen. We've got great ones in Waco, you know I love what we had at Baylor, and so it's cool to kind of see other places, and this is definitely by far one of the best I've seen."
"It was a blessing to meet a guy like that. It was an honor to meet him. All of his accomplishments, and the type of coach that he is, I wish I could have played for him."
"If there's anybody that you want to play for as a player, it's a coach like him. Just a fan, energetic guy, passionate about football. From the second he came over here he was sizing up Jameis and wanted to see his grip. He's just a quarterback. And that's the coolest part about playing the position and being coached by somebody that's been there and done that."
Can't hurt recruiting, that. Unless people think those pants are mandatory.
Doing what needs to be done. Note that this kind of thing did not happen under Hoke, who didn't have twitter at all. Harbaugh's firing off shade tweets at OSU and putting his mug on the internet with NFL stars, to wide publicity.
Michigan is—ugh no way around it—Leveraging Social Media much better than they did under the previous regime, during which they rarely did anything anyone would pay attention. Brandon (or rather his ghost-tweeter) tended to send out the kind of #hashtag tweets that make you sound like a broken robot. Hoke was invisible, and nothing that was interesting enough to pass around was constructed. The Winston/Petty stuff had some viral quality to it. That serves the program well.
Good to see goals other than incremental revenue being advanced these days.
“You’re Iggy Pop, man. I love your stuff. I’m from Michigan too,” I rambled on, sounding as moronic as the Pop is accused of being by some of his critics.
Iggy pointed to my t-shirt with the word Michigan splayed across my chest. “Meeschigan,” he said, holding his right arm in front of his slight chest in a 90-degree angle. “Meeschigan.”
After a minute or so of gushing and trying to open up a conversation with the man who’s music, with the Stooges anyway, was the soundtrack to much of my late adolescence and early adulthood, all I could get out of the guy was “Meeschigan.” As I turned to go back to the boys, I decided Iggy was either too burned out by the adulation of the years and hero worshiping kids like me or the critics were right. He was so sort of junkie savant. Either way, I was utterly confused by our meeting. …
Half an hour later, AMC had gone through a series of ballads that failed to alter the weird, contained rage from the mosh pit. I felt a tug at my shirt and turned around. I looked down right at Iggy Pop.
“Meeschigan,” he said, his arm cocked at that 90-degree angle.
“Meeschigan,” I answered him, my arm at the same angle. He turned and walked out with his Ginger look alike on his arm.
Iggy Pop, spreading the Ufer gospel wherever he goes. Confusingly. Demanding that people imbibe the spirit of Ufer before departing with his girlfriend. Following them around.
FWIW, my wife used to work at Cracker Barrel in high school. When I told her this, she expelled a sad, hurt sigh. The kind of sigh you expel when someone has told you something horrible. "Cracker Barrel isn't supposed to be anyone's favorite restaurant," she relates, "but if your main priority is getting out of the restaurant as fast as possible, Cracker Barrel is great at that."
I think we have found a reason.
(Also they make all their stuff from scratch instead of taking it off the SYSCO truck, so there's that.)
For the first time since 1978, Weis will spend a football offseason as a bystander and not a coach. And it might very well be for good.
“I think it’s highly doubtful that I will ever coach again,” said the 58-year-old former Notre Dame head coach whose five-year regime in South Bend, punctuated by extremes, launched 10 seasons ago.
"…because I will still be paid to coach until the sun engulfs the earth and would rather follow Bon Jovi around than deal with people who don't understand my schematic genius."
Weis was a bad football coach and a good enemy, and for that I thank him.
(By the way, never go to Shoney's. Never ever.)
The ineligibility gambit. This will never happen but hopefully the NCAA folk pushing it know that and are trying to leverage the NBA:
7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men's basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.
In today's lawsuit-rich environment that would be the equivalent of slapping a "SUE ME" sign on your own back, but anything that fixes one and done is a good idea. Increasing the age limit is the wrong direction, but anything is better than the current system.
Normally I would believe that this is just a leverage play but you never know with the NCAA. Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commisioner, makes a somewhat self-contradictory case for it:
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there is “almost a uniform acknowledgment that there's kids in college that don't have any interest in an education and don't have the proper education to take advantage of an education.” Bowlsby said freshman ineligibility would have a “profoundly positive effect” on football and men's basketball by easing the transition from high school without the distractions of competition.
“I think there's a growing interest in a robust debate, and I think we ought to drag it to the ground and consider it any way we can,” Bowlsby said. “I think it is the one change that could make an absolutely dramatic difference in college athletics.”
Kids who don't have interest in education aren't going to find it because they can't play. I don't think that helps much of anything. Maybe it sends more Mudiay types overseas as they cool their heels. It may help the guys who are behind educationally, but how much when they're participating in all the team activities anyway? They don't have more time. They will be prepped to play just as much as any freshman.
It's impractical for a ton of reasons and won't happen, but go ahead rattle that sword just in case you knock a concession loose. The NBA draft is the worst system out there. The NHL or MLB models would be much preferable.
Des updated. Wolverine Historian has released a revised Desmond Howard tribute video. Up to 20 minutes(!).
11/1/2014 – Michigan 34, Indiana 10 – 4-5, 2-3 Big Ten
This happened. The end. [Eric Upchurch]
Sometimes there's a game that does not have anything to say about it. This was that game. Michigan won 34-10, the same score they beat Miami (Not That Miami) by, and it felt a lot like a replay of that throwaway nonconference game.
The opposing offense wasn't going anywhere unless Michigan busted something. Michigan's running game alternated between frustrating lack of holes and lanes so open you could drive a truck through. The defensive backs could have spent the entire afternoon reading The Economist and sipping Kermit tea and nothing would have changed. Indiana had eight attempts. This game was almost literally none of their business.
Michigan thudded out to a 17-0 lead with the help of a couple fumbles that somehow benched Tevin Coleman, and then the game was over. Indiana turned a Gardner interception that ended up inside the Michigan ten into a doinked field goal. Thereupon a giant pig descended from the sky to proclaim the game state.
Brady Hoke knew it, so he ran the ball a couple times to end the first half instead of attempting to score.
I knew it, so I wasn't even a tiny bit peeved by that. Devin Gardner had just demonstrated the only way Indiana was going to get back in the game by not quite giftwrapping a pick six. Just before that Gardner had not quite giftwrapped another pick six. Michigan could have run the ball on every remaining down and won, and it was cold and I have to UFR these things. Run that clock down. Fine by me.
Everyone in the crowd knew it, so an awful lot of them left at halftime.
Non-student areas weren't a whole lot better. [Bryan Fuller]
At this point I'm not blaming anyone. It was cold, Michigan is playing for a berth in the kind of bowl where the gift bags include broken Swatches from 1985, and the game was already decided. I stayed because I write these columns and your soapbox is a little higher if you stayed like a True Fan™. I am enjoying the extra centimeter right now. Mighty fine view it's providing.
The game being what it was, about the only thing of interest over the weekend was a smattering of pissy comments from current and former players.
Desmond Howard decried Michigan's "mob mentality" on Gameday. Taylor Lewan called the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga a "moron" after Zuniga's appearance on BTN. Drew Dileo used air quotes around 'loyal' en route to stating that Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke weren't the problem—causing responders to respectfully ask what, then, the problem might be. Elliot Mealer referred to "the muggles that attend the University of Michigan" suddenly knowing something about the athletic department. Shane Morris provided a shout-out to the few students that made it to the end of the game and helpfully informed the ones who didn't that Michigan won.
It's like they went to bed and universal suffrage happened overnight.
INT. HOUSE OF COMMONS
A raucous scene, as a bill has just come up for vote. Enter AN ASSORTMENT OF LORDS.
EARL OF MEALER
Good heavens, what are they doing?
HOWARD, DUKE OF HEISMAN
They seem to be voicing their opinions.
MARQUIS DI LEO
EARL OF MEALER
Say, you, boy: what is all this ruckus?
The bill of attainder is up for vote; these are final arguments before a decision is made. Also, I don't think 'boy' is the preferred nomenclature.
HOWARD, DUKE OF HEISMAN
You have the vote? What nonsense!
MARQUIS DI LEO
/frantically dips snuff
EARL OF MEALER
Disaster! Woe! Surely we will topple like saplings in a typhoon!
HOWARD, DUKE OF HEISMAN
How long has… this been going on?
Approximately 600 years?
MARQUIS DI LEO
HOWARD, DUKE OF HEISMAN
WHY WEREN'T WE TOLD?!
We assumed you knew.
EARL OF MEALER
Our doom is at hand! Flee! I'll die on the squash courts if I can make it!
/exit MEALER, HOWARD
MARQUIS DI LEO
MARQUIS DI LEO
Michigan fans always had the vote; never before had they been pressed so hard as to think about using it. When there's an epic wait list you can find another team and the edifice doesn't notice. Not so much anymore.
It is true that we don't know the face Brandon showed to the student-athletes. I do know that one day he got in front of his department and quizzed them as to who their customers were. The answer: "student-athletes." So he probably acted like a human to them.
That's not enough when he is a six-foot phallus to everyone else. You just don't know that unless you're outside the program, looking at a 150-dollar ticket that you could have had for 20 bucks, watching grim quasi-football that means nothing in the freezing cold. Bon Jovi is playing, for some reason.
Here's the thing. This is a large group of people. Every large group of people is basically a bell curve. Michigan has pushed the prices up to the point where they're going to hit the downside of that bell curve without serious change.
That's a disaster that cannot be allowed to happen. Maybe it won't be for the people in the program right now, or the people who have been through it. It is one for the people who are thinking about 30 years from now, who are thinking about what it's going to be like for their kids.
Michigan, the program, can do little to change the group of people. They will remain the same people. They can only change themselves to fit the people. Step one is firing the coach, because the crushing blow to season ticket sales that results from his retention is unacceptable. Also he is not good at coaching.
Step two is not being dicks to people outside the program. I know y'all learned it from Brandon. Unlearn it. The next AD is going to be just as fantastic to increasingly pampered student-athletes without being loathed by everyone else on the planet. The Al Bundy patrol talking down to a fanbase on the edge of deserting in droves is hilariously out of touch. Michigan revenue vs Michigan performance. QED.
It's time to stop interpreting "The Team The Team The Team" as a moat between 115 players and 113,000 fans.
[After THE JUMP: hawt babes, and why are you trying to be a fey English twit]
What's the first Michigan game you remember going to, or if that pre-dates memory, your earliest impressions of going to a Michigan game? And what would that kid/adult kid take away if he went to his first one this year?
Ace: I can't talk about my first Michigan game without discussing what was scheduled to be my first Michigan game. My family moved to Michigan in 1993, and my dad, an alum, got us a pair of season tickets low in the North end zone for the 1994 season—we apparently bypassed much of the waiting list due to a clerical error. My brother and I would switch off going to games with my dad; Jack took the first game, a win over Boston College. I was crestfallen to learn a couple weeks later that my dad would be on a business trip for the next game, and my mom had zero interest in going—at six years old, I wasn't going solo. Instead of getting my first taste of the Big House, I got my first taste of the secondary ticket market when my mom drove as close to the stadium as she dared on the day of the game and sold our tickets for face value.
A few hours later, Kordell Stewart connected with Michael Westbrook, and while I had a good cry on my couch, not being at Michigan Stadium that day probably saved my budding fanhood.
For some reason (ill-timed Rec&Ed soccer game, most likely), I couldn't make the next home game, so my first game ended up being a titanic matchup between #5 Michigan and #3 Penn State. Most of what I remember of that game is everything but the actual game. Walking to the stadium, hugging my dad's hip so the the sea of people with stomachs at eye-level wouldn't whisk me away. Huddling at the main gate, wondering how all these people could possibly fit in a building that barely crested above ground level. The most memorable moment, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, was the breathtaking step through the gate and into the stadium; if you haven't been to the Big House, it's tough to describe walking through a concrete tunnel and seeing the vast majority of 105,000+ seats laid out below you, when from the outside—at that time, at least—Michigan Stadium looked downright understated.
Vague memories of going "Wheeeeeeeee!!!"
I vaguely remember Tyrone Wheatley and Ki-Jana Carter playing very well. I definitely remember my immediate fascination with Tshimanga Biakabutuka, whose name I would repeat while running through my backyard for years to come. I remember being somewhat disappointed with the loss, but not crushed, in large part because my dad let us walk on the bleachers to get back up to the gate and out of the stadium, and it felt like we were getting away with something even though half our section took the same tack. I'd say I remember the walk home, but the many walks I made with my dad to and from Stadium and Main over the years run together into a blur of walking across the railroad tracks, cutting through the athletic campus, and passing that ever-changing pizza place on Dewey and Packard.
Despite the loss, I loved it. I loved that everyone in our section seemed to know each other, and even if they didn't they sure acted like it after touchdowns. I loved the pure electricity of a hundred thousand strong singing the same song. (A song I actually knew, even!) I loved how the laws of society seemed to loosen just a bit on those fall Saturdays—crosswalks became irrelevant (at six, this was a major development), lines were navigated with little regard for who arrived before whom, and standing on the seats was encouraged, not something that would lose me dessert privileges.
I don't think much would change for me today. While the additions to the stadium take away from the "hole in the ground is far bigger than I imagined" effect while walking in, that effect is by no means gone, and both Kid Me and Adult Me would/does love the updated concourse and overall look and feel of the Big House. The walk is still the same. The song remains the same. The camaraderie and feeling of connection, while perhaps not as strong after a trying decade, is still a big part of the experience. Seeing 100+ winged helmets fly under the barrier of the M Club banner still sends chills down my spine.
Kid Me probably wouldn't pay much attention to Special K, but he'd have been fascinated by the hype videos. They should play more of those.
"...he has no idea Charles Woodson can jump 15 feet in the air." — actual call, not really hyperbole.
When I posted the above GIF on Twitter today, someone pointed out that the icing on the cake was Dhani Jones (#55) body-slamming the MSU receiver on the sideline. I've watched that play literally hundreds of times since it first happened (gulp) 16 years ago; this is the first time I've ever noticed Dhani's hit. Watching a purportedly-mortal human take flight can be distracting.
[Hit THE JUMP for Braylonfest.gif, Desmond Howard doing Desmond Howard things, Manningham FTW, and more.]
In case you missed Part One, we’re on the quest for the ultimate low point of the Michigan sports fan in recent history. I’ll present you with the terrible moment/period/whatever, as well as an argument or two in favor of it being the worst moment, and an argument or two for it not being as bad as you remember. I’ll also include the flip-side of the karma coin; if the ennui moment was the Yin, I’ll try to look on the bright side of life by finding the Yang.
We’re looking at the period starting in the 1990’s until today. We already looked at the ultimate killer dong-blows, as well as the I-coulda-been-a-contenda moments. Today, we consider the generally miserable experiences in the Well That Was Unpleasant Region, as well as the catch-all General FML Region. Read this, then vote HERE.
You’ll be happy to know that this will be the final front page of this here series. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the bracket in the Twitterverse posts in the coming weeks.