Banner Day

Submitted by Brian on March 5th, 2012 at 12:25 PM

3/3/2012 – Michigan 71, Penn State 65 – 23-8, 13-5 Big Ten
3/3/2012 – Michigan State 70, Ohio State 72 – both teams finish 13-5 in conference



A few days ago Jalen Rose did color for the Illinois game. Before he did so he took the opportunity to say "I bleed maize and blue" and that he wants the Fab Five's banners back up in 2013, when the NCAA-mandated dissociation with that era ends. I get why. From his perspective, those banners symbolize a fun time he had when he was young and some baggy pants and black socks took the nation by storm.

I don't want those banners back up. Even if you believe that Michigan got screwed over by the NCAA, that Ed Martin had tickets a bunch of different places, etc., the banners still mean not only that Michigan won some games in March 20 years ago but that they didn't win any for a long time after that. Those banners are not only about the four unsullied members of the Fab Five and the enigma that is Chris Webber but Taylor and Traylor and Bullock and what those teams represented.

Not to pick on a guy with obvious problems, but this is the quickest way to get that across:


Dom Ingerson coming out of a lake naked, about to be arrested. That's where the Fab Five era ended.

Even if it's thanks largely to things out of their control, that's a fact. Steve Fisher had tenuous control over the Fab Five. He was see-no-evil about Ed Martin, and that attitude eventually turned malignant. This had obvious off-court effects, but even worse than the flesh wound issued by the NCAA years after the fact was the way Fisher's abdication showed up on the court. Even as they were playing, I hated them. They invented being Terrelle Pryor. When we talk about how easy it is to root for Michigan's teams these days, the unstated subtext is always thank God they're nothing like Maurice Taylor.

Yes yes: socioeconomic something something, The Wire, Bomani Jones and Jason Whitlock, etc. Doesn't change the fact that Denard Robinson is a joy and Taylor sulked around the court putting in just enough effort to get a B- while taking a bunch of money from a guy he'd been told to stay away from, then rolled his SUV with Mateen Cleaves in it.

While I feel bad for Jalen Rose in the limited way a civilian can feel bad for a famous multimillionaire former NBA star, those banners are the seed of a poisonous tree. I'd rather leave it in the past. I'd rather never think about Maurice Taylor again.


I don't think we have to worry about this one coming down. John Beilein heads the ethics committee; when he's taped giving a pregame speech he invariably comes off like a high school chemistry teacher who got lost on his way to work and would rather be talking about pipettes but is making a go of this whole basketball-coaching business.


You may remember me from such characters as Bryan Cranston in the Breaking Bad pilot

Michigan's players run the gamut from lightly recruited to literally un-recruited. Zack Novak once knew 62 digits of pi. Michigan yoinked its starters away from Harvard, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Xavier, and nobody.* If someone has done something outside of the NCAA guidelines to assemble this team they have chosen poorly and are aging into dust as we speak.

When I wrote the Webber piece linked above I noted that it was a little stomach-churning that Michigan's reaction to the Martin scandal was to go from a basketball team Ice Cube thought was cool to Opie In The Sky With Diamonds:

I don't understand Jalen Rose, don't understand Webber, don't understand the lady in the gas station on the South Side of Chicago I asked directions of who responded "I don't know about any damn directions." I do understand the visceral thrill of those bald heads and black socks, but only vicariously, like a kid from Troy buying an NWA cassette. I can't say why I thought Jim Nantz's obviously racist distaste for the Fab Five was obviously racist, but I had a Nantz-like reaction to that lady in Chicago. I understand why my fiancée continually mishears Duke's mascot as the "white devils" and simultaneously have less than zero sympathy for Robert Traylor and would want to punch him in the face if I ever met him and he was tied to a rock and he had no idea who I was and I could definitely run away before he got loose.

Webber's redemption never happened with him or Taylor or Bullock, and while Bullock was from some suburb in Maryland and cannot be redeemed—seriously, he can die in a fire for all I care—maybe if Chris Webber said something brutally honest it would help me be less confused and sad about Michigan basketball in the 90s, and maybe a bunch of other things of greater significance.

It bothers me that Michigan's response to the NCAA scandal was to go from culturally black enough to have Ice Cube in your documentary to Duke Lite, but goddammit I also wanted some directions.

This remains true but is of limited application outside of moody pieces about things better left buried.

What yesterday did is bury that, permanently. I doubt I'm ever going to grapple with what the Fab Five means to Michigan's program again. It's not a looming anchor or propellant or injustice or cautionary tale anymore. It's not really anything. It's not relevant, finally finally finally. It took 20 years, a Big Ten championship, and Michigan's best recruiting class since the Fab Five to do it but now it's in the past.

This program has been arriving for just over a year now. For months I've had to tamp down the "what about next year!" urge many of us feel when surveying the roster and recruiting class. The great thing is: it arrived before Novak and Douglass aged out. Instead of trying to keep themselves together on the radio like David Merritt or not having to but not being out there like CJ Lee, Novak and Douglass will come back next year for a banner-raising ceremony. They'll watch a really good basketball team play afterwards, and they'll know that whenever anyone looks up in the Crisler rafters they'll be there even if their name isn't.

This program is not going away, and the culture is set. This one is not going to end up with a naked guy coming out of a lake. With all due respect to Jalen Rose, that's where the focus should be. This is Michigan: pi-memorizing, expectation-exceeding, Opie-headed, three-bombing, AP-chemistry-teacher basketball. Oh, and champions.


*[Respectively: Douglass, Burke, Hardaway, Morgan, Novak.]


The official site put together a react video that is up there amongst the best items in their brief history doing this*:

I think Vogrich is exclaiming "that's what I'd doooooooo" as Buford hits his ridiculous game winner. Zack Novak's slo-mo abs are for you, ladies. ESPN highlights:

*["Louie Caporusso: Love Expert" is still #1 in my book.]


Oh, right, the game. It was mostly notable for a couple of frustrating Penn State surges after Michigan pushed out to near-20 point leads. The first one was just one of those things, the second a frustrating combination of pity refereeing (a real phenomenon) and Michigan getting lax.

If there's any concern to be pulled from the game it's the unexpected softness of Michigan's generally quality D against a team that is terrible offensively. Penn State got to the basket far too often for a team of their stature. Some of that is Smotrycz, who is still uncomfortable as a 5. Some of that was Morgan not playing up to his usual standard. It's likely those issues get worked out before the Big Ten Tourney.

Shooting shootists alert. Dakich brought this up every time Smotrycz or Hardaway hit a shot, and he's right: if Smotrycz and Hardaway are hitting shots, look out. The two combined to hit 6 of 10 from three. If that's happening and Burke is nailing those mid-range shots off the hedge, Michigan will cruise by anyone they can D up.

Unfortunately, a couple games can't erase the a conference-schedule long slump. Hardaway's stretch of efficient play is now six games long, though. At some point it will cross over into expectation. (Until he misses a couple to start the game.)

Meanwhile, Douglass. Douglass had nine points on five shots, six assists, just one turnover, and zero fouls despite having a plurality of the Tim Frazier duty. He's almost a second point guard on the floor.

I've said this before but Douglass's improvement this year is a lot like Will Heininger's: it gives you a ton of faith in Michigan's player development. If Lavall Jordan can just tighten up Hardaway's handle a little bit…

The tournament. Michigan plays the Iowa-Northwestern winner at 6:30 Friday; if they win they'll draw either Purdue, Nebraska, or Ohio State in the semis. Full bracket from Inside The Hall:


U MAD, BRAH? Derrick Nix:

"It's tough, even though we're the Big Ten champs. It really means nothing because we had to share it with two other teams."

The worst part about sharing?

"We had to share it with our little nephews, and that sucks. So now they're happy because we lost. We got to just try to win this Big Ten tournament."

The top teams went 1-1 against each other and Michigan's one-plays were Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Adventures in poor timing. This is the saddest banner unfurling ever:


Even if they lost they're completely crushed they shared the title with Michigan. Sparty gonna Spart.


This RCMB thread posts the M celebration video; OP says he "wants to punch the nearest SCummer" but is named "Dong Forest," which is a dead giveaway. Troll on, troller. Sparty in a nutshell: "I'd rather o$u win the title outright than um get to share it."

HSR suggests a banner design:

B1G Champs[1]

I already have my request in for bleeding, but if that doesn't take I'd actually like to see the sign have a listing of  the seniors on the team with it.

Quotes and whatnot from UMHoops. Burke got in a good Yogi Berra-ism:

On watching the final seconds of the game: “It’s indescribable. As soon as he shot it, the ball was in the air. It was silent the whole time the ball was in the air. Before he inbounded the ball, they had showed Buford, and he had a look in his eye, and it just looked like he was going to take this last shot and he was going to hit it. Once he got the ball, went left and shot it, Appling played great D. Once it went in, everybody just flooded the hallway, jumping up and down. My biggest fear was that they were going to hit a half court shot or something, but once they missed that, it was great.”


On the emotion of winning a Big Ten title: “The most rewarding part of what just happened is watching our young men’s faces. When you’ve coached this long, and our staff knows this, it’s not about the W’s. It’s about the journey. And while it’s not the end of the journey, it’s certainly a highlight in this year’s journey, and for some guys a four-year journey.”Latest bracketology still has M on the three-line in Nashville… with Vandy a potential second round matchup. Protected seeds, Lunardi?

He continued, "now if you'll open your textbooks to chapter eight we can start talking about covalent bonds."

The Daily datelines its piece "BUFFALO WILD WINGS." NYT:

“I never could have imagined this when I came here,” the senior guard Zack Novak said. “It’s like Christmas every day, having a great place to practice and play, all the fan support, and we’re working hard and getting the wins.

“We’ve all had our hearts broken here, so we really appreciate things we’re getting and how they’re coming to us. It’s setting us up for even bigger successes now and in the future.”

Baumgardner is all like "a banner is a banner is a banner." Agreed.



March 5th, 2012 at 4:24 PM ^…

Not that Rumeal is the most trustworthy guy in the world...but he doesn't seem to kill any notions that they had their hands out.

And frankly, the Freep and others printed the numbers, but no one has actually proven how much money exchanged hands. They reported hundreds of thousands of dollars, but even in court Webber never admitted to taking THAT much. So I'm not sure the "handouts" weren't all that comparable.

I mean, Antoine Joubert and his fur coats (and blow, but that's a whole other expense) is almost to the point of meme.

Bando Calrissian

March 5th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

Martin did have a relationship with Bill Frieder, and was a known entity in the Michigan program in the (mostly) late 80s.  Don't know where 1981 comes from, because that's far earlier than any date I've ever seen.  Martin was mostly a Soutwestern guy, but between Antoine Joubert and Jalen Rose, Michigan didn't get a single kid from Southwestern.  Yet Martin was a guy to know and keep in your good graces if you expected to recruit Detroit, as was Perry Watson. 

The reason why the April 1992 date is important isn't because of the "booster" designation, but rather the exact moment when a paper trail for benefits between Ed Martin and the Webber family could be made.  Michigan gave Ed Martin two rooms in the team hotel.  Martin gave one of those rooms to the Webbers.  The moment the Webbers took possession of the room, Chris lost his eligibility.  Hence why the 1991-2 season was only vacated from the Final Four onward.


March 5th, 2012 at 9:54 PM ^

comes from a misreading of the wikipedia article he's citing.

At this time, he began a close friendship with Bill Frieder, Michigan's coach from 1981 to 1989.

1981 is the year Frieder became coach of Michigan, not the date the friendship began. Put a comma after "coach" and it becomes what he's claiming--easy enough mistake to make I suppose.


March 5th, 2012 at 7:39 PM ^

knows a lot more about what was going down in those years than the NCAA could ever have dug up. Citing what the NCAA was able to prove as "the fact of the matter" and trying to pretend Ed Martin wasn't a known commodity around the program long before he was formally found to be a booster is a bit like what I read, and scorn, when any other school is able to sidestep an investigation.


March 5th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

and having to share the title with little nephew, he should be thinking about how they were up 2 with 2 to go and they blew it.

As for what to do about the banners, we should just ask ourselves "What would Tressel do?"


March 5th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

I meant to comment on the original Webber piece when it was originally posted as I was struck by some of the "cultural" considerations Brian wrote somewhat dignifying racism; or at least rationalizing it. I obviously don't think that was Brian's intent or reflective of his true personal beliefs. For the record, I'm a big fan of his and of this blog. But I think it does bear inspection some of the conclusions he drew in trying to understand his conflicted feelings about the Fab Five.

As a person of color who grew up in the suburbs and attended Michigan during the Fab Five era, I am not at all naive to the fact that these types of conversations exist. My problem with that piece is that he sketched a comparative cultural analysis from an extremely small sample of grievances to explain cultural divides. As if a (presumably) black woman being rude to him at a gas station is tantamount to understanding an entire race, or even a section of it. It's somewhat akin to watching Tyler Perry movies and getting all you need to know about black culture (god help us). In the least, it doesn't explain Jim Nantz or others having to find racial subtext for something that doesn't agree with them.

I totally get he was somewhat  trying to juxtapose experiences and project them on his feelings about the Fab Five, et al. I fear that his only interaction - and maybe some on this board - with African Americans is solely through the athletes they follow: Totally possible and no big deal. But it is hardly a representative capture of the breadth of people of color and quite frankly, glorified athletes may have less in common with all of us regardless of their ethnicity.

I don't mean to soap box here. As a Michigan grad ('94), I am equally disappointed in Webber and Maurice Taylor or anyone who brings shame to our good name. Their race or cultural background notwithstanding, I wish we had a time machine that would go back to 1991 and wipe the slate clean with what we know now -  at least with Webber. The banners should stay in that same room where the Ark of the Covenant is.

I only want to point out that in the larger context of Brian's well-intentioned, but I think off-the-mark, racial/cultural context. Sure, it cannot be avoided in some way because our society is still rather fragmented and talking about the character of athletes will involve talking about some black people in a negative light. And it's not to say some those caricatures aren't realized in some of the individuals we're talking about.

But I don't know that old black woman and I'm pretty sure she isn't a relative of mine. So, what does that say about anything? Not much.

Go Blue. Happy to just talk about how awesome Novak and our current team is from here on out...


March 5th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

I have mixed feelings on the banners. I get some of what Brian is saying, but I also think there is some naivete at work here. A former Kinesiology Lecturer and assistant Hockey Coach at Michigan, and also Sports radio announcer, Dave Strand, had this to say in a brilliant must read interview at MVictors,

I always admire the ability of Michigan fans to blow smoke up their own ass.

If you are interested in an insider perspective from someone who both taught and coached at Michigan, who worked to see teams succeed and to recruit athletes who were academically challenged, who has his own perspective on Fisher, the Fab Five, Ohio, and Rodriguez, you owe it to yourself to read this interview. It is dated, being written in 2008, but gives a great perspective on a lot of behind the scenes issues. LINK:  Dave Shand Interview.

Seriously, I agree completely with Strand about the la la land so many of us Michigan Alumni are in regarding academics and many athletes. You have to be very creative to get Division 1 level athletes accepted to a school like Michigan, and many of these guys are just in a different place than most of us students academically. This is neither bad nor good, but it is the reality. We have this stupid debate about the majors of football students at Ohio and Michigan, and as Strand says,

The conventional wisdom is that Michigan is better than anybody else at academics and athletics. We are good at it. We are not better than everybody else at it. We have to cut corners and we have to make accommodations, we have to set different standards to recruit student athletes, as every other elite program in the country has to do. It’s the nature of the business.

I did it at Michigan. I did it as a coach when I was coaching with Red Berenson. Did we have some student athletes on the team that would not be admitted under normal Michigan standards? Absolutely. Did I get them in? You’re damn right I did.

Everybody thinks we’re better than Ohio State. We’re not. We’re the same. And the reason we’re the same is that’s the only way we can compete athletically. If you want to be different, be Notre Dame when Bob Davie was down there and they raised academic levels on all admissions and you watched Notre Dame football go in the freakin’ toilet. Do you want that to happen at Michigan? We try to do the best job we can, to give the kids that get in here the best support we could possibly give. And in some cases we give them remedial courses to get them up to speed to be legitimate college students.

I am not happy about some things that happened with the Fab Five, and even more so afterwards. But I think it is naive at best and duplicitous at worst to blame the Fab Five for all that went wrong with Basketball at Michigan, and to make them the scapegoats for the whole system, doesn't make sense.


March 6th, 2012 at 12:35 AM ^

There's a world of difference between the argument that Michigan is better because it never fudges its academic standards for athletes, and the relevant argument that Michigan is better than some schools because it doesn't pay its players under the table, doesn't arrange for fraud on a prospect's SAT, doesn't arrange for prostitutes to be delivered to a player's room on road trips. (Not to name names or anything....)

What was going on with Michigan basketball in the 80s and 90s has nothing whatsoever to do with whether academic standards were relaxed a bit for athletes or whether they were offered remedial courses so they could pursue a legitimate college education.

The Truth Hurts

March 5th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

simultaneously have less than zero sympathy for Robert Traylor and would want to punch him in the face if I ever met him and he was tied to a rock and he had no idea who I was and I could definitely run away before he got loose 

that would be a hard thing to do nowadays  considering the tractor is no longer with us.  


El Jeffe

March 5th, 2012 at 3:42 PM ^

Very interesting post and discussion. I consider this to be a high-water mark on the blog for the polite, thoughtful exchange, even in disagreement.

That said, to those of you who don't understand how Brian can be emo when we just won a B1G champeenship (fuck yeah!), I say, "hello, person. I would like to introduce you to Brian Cook. He is far too young to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Smiths the way I do, but he does."

I mean, come on. I think it's fine to debate the rhetorical effectiveness of juxtaposing the FF era with the current team's triumphs, but if you're surprised or outraged that Brian would find the cloud in the silver lining, then I guess you like reading blogs that surprise or outrage you. I personally like MGoBlog for just this reason--it allows me simultaneously to cheer like a madman for M but also indulge my inner Gen Xer, which I am.


March 5th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

I guess some of us just thought Brian was an emo guy who was REALLY emo because the times he's been blogging have been pretty dark times, filled with a lot of failure.  Reason to be emo. But when things turned, when there's no need to be emo, it'd be some joy with maybe a smattering of emo.  We had the best basketball weekend in 20 years, and as a Michigan Blog, if you can't find joy in that ....well.....


March 5th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

A point of clarification needs to be made: the 10-year ban and the vacating of games are two separate issues.  The games are not going to stop being vacated after 10 years.  They'll always be vacated.  The 10-year thing is just how long Webber, Taylor and Bullock (and Traylor, if he were alive) were forbidden from visiting the U-M campus. 



March 5th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

I am with you Brian.  I hope the banners never go up again. 

The Chris Webber/Ed Martin scandal tarnished the image of the one thing that brings us all together - the University of Michigan.   For that alone, the banners should be kept in mothballs forever.

I do, however, hope Rose, Howard, King, and Jackson are honored in a special way at the new Crisler Center.


March 5th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^


I hope you stop talking about the Fab 5 altogether.  It's been evident forever, but now at least your bias and hatred is explicitly stated on the record.

Juwan Howard is as far from Terrell Pryor as it gets. Ray Jackson isn't to blame for Mo Taylor or all the terrible people Ellerbe brought in. The Fab 5, Steve Fisher, and most of the people associated with the program at that time have continued to live productive, generous, positive lives.  They are not to blame for the vacum of program ethics that followed their time in Ann Arbor.  They were a part of the process, they're in the timeline, were Bo Schembechler, Gary Grant, anyone who ever gives athletes free meals, drinks, or haircuts. 

The mention of Breaking Bad is ironic because that chemistry teacher, it has become evident, is a very very bad guy.  He didn't start of that way maybe, but he felt pressures, made terrible choices, and one thing leads to another.  Maybe you're a few seasons behind, but you just compared Bielien to a guy who murders children.

Tim Hardaway didn't even know Juwan Howard played for Michigan.  You think this is a good thing, I think it's a tragedy (one that Chris Webber deserves blame for, but a tragedy nonetheless.)

Thanks for crapping negativity on what is otherwise a celebratory event.  This is your worst post since you ravaged Carr for no real good reason a few years back. The only part I liked was this:  "I doubt I'm ever going to grapple with what the Fab Five means to Michigan's program again." 

That's for the best.  I think you should take your own advice and focus on the current team.  Maybe leave the past reflections for people who actually liked Michigan basketball before career self-interest forced them to cover it.







March 5th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

It might have been a good comparison for Fisher...kindly teacher type who's really falling and dealing drugs behind everyone's back....

But to compare your head coach to that character borders on self-abuse. (And is Beilein still the head of the committee? I think he's still on it, but I think is rotation as the head is done with...)


March 5th, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

Tim Hardaway didn't even know Juwan Howard played for Michigan. You think this is a good thing, I think it's a tragedy (one that Chris Webber deserves blame for, but a tragedy nonetheless.)

This word does not mean what you think it means. A tragedy is Hurricane Katrina destroying New Orleans, not someone not knowing early 90's college basketball trivia.


March 5th, 2012 at 6:20 PM ^

Everyone on here would flip out if OSU or USC kept banners/whatever for the seasons they had to vacate.  Michigan broke the rules and the penalty was vacating the games.  The games weren't temporarily vacated, they were vacated.  That means we didn't win shit during those seasons.  We might as well put up a banner for the 2004-05 national chamionship, because that would be just as legitimate. 


The whining from Jalen and other is just whining.  It's a refusal to accept punishment for breaking the rules.  Even if only Webber was ineligible, he ruined it for his whole team.  Teams win together and lose together, and in this case Webber ensured that they lost.  I don't feel bad for them, because they cheated to win.  It's no different from USC or OSU, and thinking otherwise is just pure homerism. 


March 5th, 2012 at 6:47 PM ^

A few points in response.  

First, I think that part of the reason there are so many questions still lingering about the Fab Five is that the school absolutely abandoned them.  I'm surprised you don't recognize that the dynamic is so similar to some of the fallout we just saw with Rich Rod: a new athletic director came in and wanted to clean house; the coach had significant baggage and was ripe to take the fall for everything; the players from past teams had no one to defend them.  Unlike most NCAA investigations, there were no real opposing interests in the Michigan basketball inquiry: everyone who was still around had something to gain from throwing the book at the Fab Five (and at the recruiting classes that followed).  What we ended up with is exactly what you'd think would result from a one-sided inquisition: the book was thrown, but no real smoking gun emerged.  All signs point to Ed Martin giving cash to lots of kids in Detroit, some who "made it," and many more who didn't.  All signs indicate that Chris Webber never got substantial money until his NCAA career was over.  Louis Bullock is a douch bag (and seems to be the only person not from Detroit who received money from Ed Martin), but I never saw anything that suggested that Robert Traylor or Jerod Ward or Maceo Baston did anything to deserve your scorn.  The same way that Rich Rod is a sympathetic figure when you see his (slash Bacon's) perspective, I think there is a lot to be said for the characters that you ignored who came to Michigan, gave their hearts and souls for the school, put Michigan well on the way to being a NCAA regular, lost some heartbreaking games, and then were kicked out on the curb for a "clean house" and Brian Ellerbe.  

Second, the Fab Five and everyone else on those teams - people like Eric Riley, Rob Pelinka, James Voskuil to name a few - lived and breathed maize and blue every bit as much as these teams do today.  That Chris Webber was and is sort of a baby doesn't change that fact.  If you saw him crying after their loss to Duke in 1992, you would have though, and remember: wow, there's a big baby who loves Michigan.  That Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock were much much less than tremendous individuals has nothing to do with the teams that played 1991-1995, your over blown narrative of last night aside.  You think Jimmy King and Ray Jackson deserve to be asterisked from the record books for sticking around for four years, fighting their way into four straight NCAA tournaments? You think Jalen Rose, who by my memory played all but 30 or so seconds of the NCAA tournament in 1993, didn't and doesn't love the University of Michigan?  I disagree.

I wish Chris Webber would come forward and tell the truth; I bet he never will, given that perjury cloud.  I wish Steve Fisher would have cleared the air on a lot of the issues; I understand why he wouldn't given that he wanted to coach again, and why he probably doesn't want to say more now.  Mainly, I wish people would remember the excitement, enthusiasm and spirit that those Fab Five teams had, their truly tenacious defense, their team offense, Jalen's leadership on the floor, Juwan Howard dancing on the on the way to the finals, Chip Armer chearing from the end of the bench, etc etc.  When I hear Jalen Rose saying he wants the banners up, I feel like I'm listening to the only person who was around and has a platform to make that argument; I hope he keeps making it, and that Michigan fans like you, at very least, give it a little more thought and make a few less sweeping generalizations.

In summary: I think you paint an innaccurate and unfair picture of the Fab Five teams by portraying them as the evil opposite to the Big Ten Champs this year.  By piling on to the old story line you're perpetuating a very unfortunate myth that hurts the team, past and present.



March 5th, 2012 at 7:49 PM ^

"All signs indicate that Chris Webber never got substantial money until his NCAA career was over."

From the Daily article at the time of Martin's plea bargain:

"The total amount of monetary gifts adds up to over $600,000, with Webber receiving $280,000 between his freshman year at Detroit Country-Day and his sophomore year at Michigan."

Yours is the first comment I've ever seen that implied that Webber wasn't already receiving significant gifts before his arrival at Michigan. In fact that was always an important part of the narrative--the connection was with Webber, not primarily with the school, as it long predated any hint that Michigan was where he would wind up.


March 5th, 2012 at 8:19 PM ^

I am not at all saying that Webber didn't receive anything before coming to Michigan.  Everyone knows Martin had a relationship with Webber and many other Detroit kids long when they were in middle school and high school.  The 280k figure is exactly the sort of thing that has never been properly contested or examined.  Mitch Albom described to us almost contemporaneously all the signs that Chris Webber didn't have hundreds or thousands (let alone hundreds OF thousands) of dollars lining his pockets while he was a player at Michigan.  Martin loaned a bunch of money to Webber after Michigan's 1993 season ended (ie after his NCAA career was over) but before he was free of the NCAA rules.  That shouldn't be a stain on the program, but it is.


March 5th, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

But he did die and much of the case collapsed. That collapse is the reason that the $280K figure has "never been properly contested or examined". Then there is Webber's silence and the various monies that went to other Michigan players after Webber. 

Further you suggest that Webber recieved "things" from Martin before he came to Michigan and then it stopped until after his NCAA career was over. While not impossible that seems absurd on its face. 


March 5th, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

Before Tractor died, he was the object of a lot of Brian's ire for the Ed Martin mess. Now that he's dead, suddenly Mo Taylor is everything that is wrong with the world. One of only a few reasons why this is such a chickenshit column.



March 5th, 2012 at 7:56 PM ^

I am usually extremely critical of Brian but I agree completely with this post.  Who care's if the object of his derision switched from Traylor to Taylor, they were both responsible for taking the program into the Dark Ages for over a decade.  It's a little tacky to pick on dead guys so I can see a valid reason to switch it up here. 


March 5th, 2012 at 7:57 PM ^

Good article, Brian.  But I am one of many who disagree on the Fab Five banners.  I was their age and came into basketball and particularly Michigan basketball obsession during that era.  I loved Glen Rice and the Nat'l Championship.  I had the Rice SI cover on my bedroom wall until I went to University.

But the Fab Five was a different story for me.  I bled maize and blue during those days.  That is the only time I remember feeling quite the same passion watching basketball as I might watching UM vs OSU football.  It was crazy.  And I loved it.

And I feel the Fab Four (and maybe one more) plus other members of those teams deserve that banner.  But even moreso, I feel I deserve those banners.  THAT IS MY MICHIGAN BASKETBALL - and I love it and want it remembered and honored for the positives, not ignored for the negatives.


March 5th, 2012 at 9:46 PM ^

I bleed blue like the rest of you. I realize that era was something special. I used to go back to the office every night after work and watch these boys play ball in the brothers back yard. Truly an honor to watch them bend the rim.

However as young men in the eye of the public as they were, you should lead by setting the example. Even with my history with them, I'm sorry but it was by their poor judgement it has taken this long to get back to the national spot light. It takes away from all those who played it by the book. Zack and stu have stood tall when no one noticed and have led by setting the new standard. I feel it would be a terrible injustice to this team and the seniors to raise the old banner. It no longer has its place.


March 5th, 2012 at 10:32 PM ^

I'm coming into this too late to read all of the posts, and what I'm saying may be as a result repeating someone else's point, but I really don't think you can conflate the 1990s into one narrative.  I agree the Taylor, Traylor, Albert White, Jerod Ward etc. teams underachieved, and weren't much fun to watch.  Their predecessors, he Fab Five teams, made two NCAA finals, and an elite 8 game after Webber left and were a lot of fun to watch.

In terms of culture, I agree that there has been a welcome overall change, but that said you can't convince me that Juwan Howard wouldn't fit in fine on a Beilein coached team.


March 6th, 2012 at 2:38 AM ^

I don't understand why any of the three teams would have an issue sharing the title. 50 years from now it will just be another data point when totalling claimed championships.