Wanted to get this in before the end of the OT season. It's my first in a long long time so be gentle. Sorry for the length, and any typos. I had to write this in a hurry during my lunch at work.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a private dinner with guest speakers Jarrod Bunch and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail.
For any of the unfamiliar, Jarrod Bunch played fullback for Michigan from 1987-90 and captained the 1990 team. He was drafted 27th overall in the first round to the New York Giants where he had 3 year career due to knee injuries. Bunch is now an actor making appearances in Django Unchained, and Entourage among many others.
Rocket Ismail was a star WR for Notre Dame from 88-91 where he finished runner up in the Heisman voting in 1990 losing to Ty Detmer. Ismail was projected as the top overall pick in the 1991 NFL draft, but decided to forgo the draft and sign with the Toronto Argonauts. He eventually moved back to the NFL playing for the LA(!) Raiders, Panthers, and Cowboys before retiring in 2001.
The dinner was very Michigan – Notre Dame centric obviously (a lot of chanting going on back and forth). The party I wanted to share with you guys however, came when Teddy Greenstein (B1G reporter for the Chicago Tribune) got to interview both Jarrod and Rocket. It was very entertaining to get insight into the rivalry between Bo and Lou Holtz.
The first topic they covered was the 1989 game (which sadly I was too young to see) between #1 ND and #2 Michigan. ND escaped with a win in the Big House by a score of 24-19 thanks to Rocket’s two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Jarrod was the first to speak about the game and just put his head down and smiled. He said that before the game Bo sat the team down and said “We are going to go out there and we are going to give them exactly what they want, and still stick it in their face be WE ARE MICHIGAN. We are going to kick it straight to this Rocket Ismail, and then we are going to run down the field and tackle him harder then he has ever been tackled because this is Michigan. This is our field. We aren’t afraid of them, or any player that they have. Nobody can come in here and be a star against us.” Jarrod then smiled and looked at the crowd and said “I think you know what happened after the first kickoff.” Bo then told the team to kick off to him again because there is no way somebody can do that to Michigan again. Jarrod then laughed and looked at Ismail and said “He did it again”. He then explained the reason that he isn’t mad about telling this story, is because it showed how much love and confidence Bo had for Michigan. He truly thought that every team he had was the best team he had ever coached, and had the best players in the nation. He then went on to say that his most memorable game in college was the 1990 loss to USC, as before the game Bo announced his retirement. He said it was the first and only time he will ever see Bo on the brink of tears. He said that game sticks with him still today because at the end of the game it started to get out of hand, and Jarrod and the offense were sitting on the sidelines watching the game and feeling worse ‘than he ever has in his life because they felt like they wanted to do something and would give anything to do something but couldn’t. They all loved Bo so much, and Bo loved them, and it killed them to not be able to send him out with a win.
I wont get into Rocket’s side of the story as this is already way to long of a post, but I will share some brief notes and comments that stuck out to me.
· When Jarrod was asked about Dave Brandon, he simply responded “WHO???”
· Jarrod thinks the reason Michigan has been down is the mis-interpretation of the ‘Michigan Man’.
o He said a Michigan Man is “a person who wants to win, but not by any means necessary. A person that wants to win on the field and in life. A develop men to have the same mentality.
o He said Harbaugh is a Michigan Man. He hold all of Bo’s principals but to a more modern standpoint. His father was a Bo coach and raised him under the same principals, which Bo then instilled in him during his time at Michigan.
· Bo was a Michigan man to the max. Bo never let past players come back to practice, because he only concentrated on current team. Only concentrated on the players that he was molding into Michigan men, not the ones that already were.
· Rocket mentioned that Holtz always said that Notre Dame wins the Big 10 every year.
· Jarrod and Rocket both think players should be compensated, but they didn’t when they played. But now with the longer practices
· and season they think they should. They said it used to be a sport but now it is a full-time job in college.
o Now coaches get paid more.
o Huge apparel contracts.
§ Not fair to players.
· Rocket said that ND is a CFB Playoff team this year, and if the QB play is good can win it all.
· Jarrod said that Harbaugh will bring this team to the top, but we have to be patient, as it won’t happen overnight but this team will be TOUGH.
· Rocket liked playing Miami the most because his freshmen year their was full team brawl between the teams that almost led to Holtz cancelling the game.