Bob Ufer and The Michigan Spirit

Submitted by Eric on August 5th, 2009 at 12:47 PM
I posted this last year and some people liked it, so I thought I'd post it again.  This was from a speech that Bob Ufer gave when President Gerald Ford was in Ann Arbor in 1976. Enjoy!

    "There run's through the core of all Michigan activities both on and off this campus, a certain intangible thing. We call it "The Michigan Spirit". Maybe you can relate to it. It's the atmosphere that permeates that stadium every Saturday afternoon in the fall where over a hundred thousand fans patiently wait to see whether Bo Schembechler is going to continue his winning ways. You know what I mean! You can feel the tension, the excitement, the charisma that surrounds that stadium every Saturday afternoon. Especially ten to fourteen minutes before kickoff. When a hush settles over that stadium and we all anxiously wait for that simple 4 word command to eminate out of the P.A. system. I can hear it now! "Band take the field!" and out of that eastern tunnel pour 215 well drilled, well disciplined Michigan bandsmen. They pour over the Eastern sideline and they form the big block M and they play the greatest college fight song ever written! The Michigan Victors!! That's when the chills go up and down your spine! You get goose pimples all over, your blood turns maize and blue and everyone out there becomes part of the winningest tradition in the history of Big Ten football as well as the winningest tradition in the history of Big Ten athletics. Folks lets join in and sing the song that the late and great John Phillip Sousa claimed was the greatest college fight song ever written. The Michigan Victors!!!"



August 5th, 2009 at 1:46 PM ^

Awesome. One month from today, it begins.

Also, that's the only time I've ever heard someone use the phrase "goose pimples" besides Mr. Bean in Rat Race.


August 5th, 2009 at 4:55 PM ^

In the five seasons before this speech Michigan went 52-3-1 (the one tie was the infamous 10-10 game with OSU in 1973). We had not lost at home since 1969. We outscored our opponents in those five seasons 1106-165. After nearly 20 years of being average or worse, Michigan was once again a dominant football power. And this speech by Bob Ufer, which I heard him give a number of times, really gives a feel for what it was like to be there.

Hopefully this fall will be a step back to that kind of spirit.


August 5th, 2009 at 6:22 PM ^

Slight correction to your stats: We went 49-5-3 from 1971-1975: 11-1 in 1971, 10-1 in 1972, 10-0-1 in 1973, 10-1 in 1974, and 8-2-2 in 1975. We lost one home game in that period, the 1975 Ohio State game 21-14. We also tied 3, the 1973 OSU game that you mentioned and the back-to-back ties in 1975, 19-19 with Stanford and 14-14 with Baylor.

We outscored our opponents 1663-413, for an average game score of 29-7. Also, our lowest national ranking at the end of the season during that span was #8 in 1975. Our highest was #3 in the AP in 1974 (#5 in the UPI that year).


August 6th, 2009 at 5:25 PM ^

Thanks - I was off a year when I pulled those numbers together. But it really doesn't matter, the real point is those were dominant teams that you just expected to win every time you went to the game. It would be nice to get back to those days again, and I suspect/hope we can start down that road this year.

Like a lot of others who commented on this one, I'm ready to start the season.

Go Blue!


August 5th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

My Mom took me to Crisler for the Gerald Ford rally. As a 12 year old, I still remember it like it was yesterday. As you would expect, Ufer had the crowd in a frenzy....thanks for rekindling the memories.

There was a post a couple days ago about our greatest Michigan Stadium games...i mentioned several, but left out the moment of silence after Bob Ufer's passing in 1981.... As i kid, I didn't start attending games regularly until I was 14, so i grew up on Meeechigan football with Ufer on the radio.

For you youngsters....a little background on the late great Bob Ufer....


August 5th, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

President Ford, who took office after Nixon resigned, kicked off his '76 campaign against Jimmy Carter in Ann Arbor. Even though Ford had been on the team in the thirties, it was strange to hear Michigan football used in such a partisan manner. The introduction did get the packed arena fired up!

The FannMan

August 5th, 2009 at 6:53 PM ^

Thank you for the post. I actually got chills reading it.

I remember listing to Uffer as a kid. He was amazing. He would get so damn excited he would just yell and start honking that horn. You would have to wait for him to calm down so he could tell you what the hell had happened.

For many people, Uffer was Michigan football. This was back in the days when Michigan wasn't on TV every game. (Neither ESPN nor cable TV had been invented.) If you weren't at the game, you had to listen on the radio and that meant Uffer. When they were on the TV, many people turned the TV down and the radio up so they could still listen to Bob. A true Meeechigan Man.

Man, I want the season to start!


August 5th, 2009 at 7:57 PM ^

Back then, the NCAA had a rule that a team could only be on TV 3 times every two years! For Michigan that meant OSU every year and MSU the year the game was in East Lansing. (Supposedly, the rule was to protect ticket sales and to make sure lots of teams got a chance to be on TV)

So yes, Ufer was Michigan football. Even if you had season tickets, you still listened to Ufer for the away games. And the horn, it was supposedly from George Patton's jeep.


August 5th, 2009 at 7:31 PM ^

Wow. I just graduated and decided to stick around ann arbor working for a few years, and in this moment...

I realize it was one of the greatest choices I have ever made.


August 5th, 2009 at 9:19 PM ^

Good post.

What people are not mentioning about that event is that a great majority of the crowd--at least those around me--were Michigan students there to heckle Ford. He was giving an important campaign speech in front of a mostly hostile crowd, something you would never, ever see today.

All the usual dignitaries who show up at events like this gave their speeches--Congressman Esch, Governor William Millikin, Senator Griffin, some other local Republican bigwigs. The boos got louder as the speechifying went on and on.

I don't know who decided to have Ufer, rather than the Governor or some other bigshot, introduce the President. The choice was absolutely perfect from Ford's perspective. These booing Michigan students sat silently as Ufer started, and then he started by talking about Michigan being #1 in the nation in both football and basketball (they were #2 in the hockey poll as well, but he didn't mention that).

Then he went into the part that Chewer quotes above, about the greatness of Michigan, and by the time he ended and the Michigan band started playing The Victors, the hecklers were on their feet with everybody else cheering as Ford walked onto the stage. Not that they cheered Ford's speech, of course, but I have never seen anybody turn a crowd the way Ufer did that evening.

Huckleby Deep

August 6th, 2009 at 11:59 AM ^

God bless his cotton pickin' maize and blue heart.

It brings back memories of a certain Saturday in 1979. My father wanted to beat the crowd out of the golf course, so we left a couple minutes early. "Indiana has this one," he said. So on that golf course, with a sudden distant roar across the street behind me, I heard that special voice from a steadfast tailgater's radio along with Gen. Patton's horn.

I missed The Play.

Had I missed The Call perhaps this would be a bitter memory. But I guess there are no bad memories when Mr. Ufer is involved. Indeed, the Spirit of Meechigan Football.

Thanks for reposting this great speech!


August 6th, 2009 at 12:19 PM ^

you never know what you might miss. In 2006, the Tigers were trailing in the bottom of the 9th of a game in May (at this time, people still didn't think the Tigers were more than a decent start) when I convinced him to stay. With 2 outs in the 9th, Curtis Granderson hit a game-tying homer to left field. The Tigers won in the 10th. Lesson is? Never leave a game. Especially when I go back to Comerica and the SAME THING happens the next time, except with 1 out in the 9th and Marcus Thames batting. Again, Tigers won in the 10th. Ironically, the scores were identical 7-6. End ramble.