Hello everyone, Six Zero back with a very special installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH WOLVERINE HISTORIAN
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Some journalists are like deer hunters, stalking and begging their elusive prey
for even years before finally hitting paydirt. Others, it seems, are just lucky,
and inexplicably have those home run interviews fall into their lap without
any rhyme or reason as to why.
So then, if you are to consider me anything close to a journalist, please feel free to consider me one of the lucky ones today. Gentlemen, and ladies, it is my distinct pleasure to offer you this exclusive MGoProfile of the preeminent filmmaker
of the Michigan fanbase. Yes-- Please welcome Wolverine Historian!!
1. The one and only Wolverine Historian, maker of over 280 moments and three years of pure Michigan cinematic awesomeness. Tell us the story of how your legendary work came to be-- what was your first movie, what motivated you to create it, and did you ever think it would have exploded to become what it is today?
ESPN Classic started featuring old college football games in the late 90’s and at the time, I thought it was a great idea. I started tuning in to the station all the time just hoping they would feature old Michigan games. As time passed, I discovered that showing old Michigan football games was very common on Classic. But 70% of the games featured were losses. And these weren’t just any losses. These were the most heartbreaking, bone chilling, vomit-inducing, pull your hair out and scream kind of losses. They showed Kordell Stewart throwing that Hail-Mary so many times I’m surprised they didn’t wear out the footage. The same went for those two kickoff returns by Rocket Ismail. As the years passed, it just got worse and worse. One day, I added up all of the UM games I had ever seen on Classic just to see what our record was on that station and I found out we were a whopping 34 games below .500. Not exactly a balanced and fair representation for the winningest program in college football history. At that point, I washed my hands of Classic forever and hoped that I could someday repair the psychological damage that station had done to my fellow Wolverine fans.
YouTube exploded around 2006. Once I discovered it, I went looking through YouTube and found out there wasn’t many Michigan football related videos on there at the time and that disappointed me. I knew I had a ton of games on VHS tapes stored away so I thought I would try to learn how to make highlight videos myself and start an account. (It was very confusing at first. I am by no means a computer whiz). Once I eventually got the account going, I decided to make victories the obvious center point. No losses were allowed, not that I keep them anyway. And the rest is history. Even though my channel is just a YouTube account, I still like to think of it as the anti-ESPN Classic.
The first video I uploaded to my account was a portion of the ‘Big Ten Ticket’ from 1997 where Don Shane of Channel 7 news in Detroit and Bo Schembechler previewed the Penn State game in Happy Valley. There was no real motivation behind making that the first video. I just happened to be watching it shortly before.
The channel “exploding” is just what I hoped would happen for the fans. I wanted to create a place where Wolverine fans could watch memorable football moments and be happy. That was my main intent and it worked. But there have been extra bonuses along the way. I’ve been contacted by a few former players (Billy Taylor, Alfie Burch, Tony Henderson, Rasheed Simmons and Woodrow Hankins) who have shown appreciation for the videos. I had a long retired Michigan alum (class of 1948) from down in Florida send me a thank you note for uploading the ‘48 Rose Bowl because he never knew the footage existed. I’ve received compliments from fans of Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia, Florida and Texas who would like to start their own ‘Historian’ accounts. And I am proud to say that I am despised in Ohio. One of my closest friends got transferred to Columbus last year for work and she called me up one night to tell me how often she hears of fellow residents complaining about that WolverineHistorian jerk on YouTube. According to them, Michigan fans don’t deserve such a resource. Hearing stories like that are the gifts that keep on giving.
2. Sir, you make us all wish to be more “despised in Ohio.” Your videos span the entire history of Michigan football, and basketball as well. Where do you get all of this footage from in the first place? How is a typical Michigan Historian video created, and how long does it take to pull a finished piece out of the fire?
I started taping games here and there in 1996. Any victories would just be saved and throw in to a bin which I could go back and watch whenever I needed a football fix. Eventually, I wanted to start collecting games from the Moeller years, the Schembechler years and before so I went online and found many Michigan contacts who could hook me up or trade games with me. Ten years later, I’m still doing that.
A typical Historian video is created through the “magic” of Windows Movie Maker. I have a VCR/DVD player connected to my computer which is how I transfer the footage. When I want to upload a game, I copy the necessary plays from a scoring drive - as well as the often retro introductions and endings - I splice them together on to one file which is then ready to be uploaded to YouTube. Copying all the plays is the most time consuming, especially for the extra special games like rivalry and bowl victories that I want to split into parts. That process alone can take over an hour which is why making a video is not always a one day project. The actual uploading of a 10 minute video usually takes around 25 minutes.
Wangler to Carter. Hello Heisman. Bo singing the Victors. In your expert opinion, what is the single most iconic video clip of Michigan football?
There have been many, many memorable moments over the years. But I think Wangler to Carter from Homecoming 1979 is probably the most iconic video clip of Michigan football. I was born 4 months after that game was played so I obviously have no personal memories of it. But the video speaks for itself. One last play, Carter dancing into the end zone, the crowd going insane, Bo jumping up and down, Bob Ufer screaming, “Oh my GOD!!! Carter scored!!!” and Lee Corso having a stroke on the Indiana sideline. There is nothing that is not perfect about that clip. I could watch it a million times and never get tired of it. If I had a time machine, I would go back to this game just so I could be a part of the atmosphere on that last play.
3. Despite your own shout-out to MGoBlog, your own YouTube channel has certainly gathered some steam as a legitimate Michigan web site, with a healthy, growing fan base to boot. Where do you see the Wolverine Historian brand going in the future?
I like the thought of my channel being a legitimate Michigan web site. Although, with only 1,815 subscribers, that might not be accurate exactly. But regardless of what is considered truly legitimate, it’s good to see the other M football sites on the internet linked to my channel.
Despite the fact that we have the most televised football team in college football history, some day I’m going to run out of games to upload. When that day comes, I’ll be fine with “retirement,” and just keeping my channel up for the fans. I could always continue doing current games but they won’t be as good as others picture quality wise since I don’t have an HD TV. And yes, I know it’s pretty lame that in the year 2010, I still use a VCR to tape games. But it gets the job done.
Of course it does… and it’s not like the video quality of a game from 1975 would look any better in hi-def anway. Pouring over all that game film must reveal some insight into the program as a whole over so many years. What do you see (besides losing, hrmph) that makes the Rodriguez-era Wolverines so different than previous incarnations?
The Rodriguez-era has been like nothing I have ever seen before and unfortunately, that includes many losses. I never thought I’d be seeing Michigan run a spread offense, yet here we are. The current era also makes me miss the days where we had stifling defenses. With the exception of a few obvious years, that became a major problem during the Lloyd Carr era and it’s looked even worse during RichRod’s first two seasons. I just hate the thought of knowing that you have to hope your offense will win you games because the defense won’t be of any help. That’s not the way football should be.
Other than the wins/losses, the Rodriguez-era Wolverines just have a very modern feel to them. Besides running the spread, we have the player introductions and pump up videos (which is nice) and piped in music at the Big House (which is not so nice.) It’s all a matter of taste. To me, less is more like in the old days. I don’t need Michigan football to be flashy. I just want us to start winning again. And if we do, I’m sure I will have an easier time embracing the Rodriguez-era.
4. When you’re not creating the best darn Michigan content on Youtube, what do you like to do for fun on your own time?
I’ve always considered myself a laid back kind of guy. That sounds better than outright calling myself lazy which is what I tend to be sometimes. But my favorite type of free time involves a quiet evening just hanging out with my friends for dinner, a movie or just chilling with them in front of the TV. The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park are almost always can’t miss shows when I’m with them or alone.
During the Spring and Summer, I force myself to be more active. I often go for walks in the evening if I have the time and shoot hoops at the park. I like to bowl and play tennis even though I’m pretty mediocre at both. I like to watch Pistons, Red Wings and Tiger games with my dad. I’ve never been to a game at Comerica Park and I’m going to try to get out there for a game sometime in July.
And, to continue in the spirit of learning more about the man behind the lens, describe the perfect meal.
I am a very meat and potatoes kind of guy…literally. I’m happiest with a steak cooked medium well, seasoned mashed potatoes and/or French fries, bread and a
coca-cola. Outback Steakhouse is one of my favorite restaurants but I have several family members who can grill a mean steak as well. And that works out fine for me since I can’t cook to save my life. For dessert, nothing beats a homemade vanilla cheesecake with fresh strawberries. That’s been my favorite dessert since I was a kid. My tastes are not very original, obviously. But that’s the perfect meal for me.
I wish I had a favorite original game day tailgate menu but I don’t. And that’s mostly because I’ve never tailgated before. Ever. I’ve been to many games at the Big House over the years but I’ve never once tailgated. I hope to do that one day and finally feel the full game day experience, food and all.
5. So you’re not in it just for the food. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
Other than the fact that I just have good taste? Sure. As a little kid, I became a Michigan fan because my side of the family were Michigan fans. My cousin’s side of the family were State fans. Thank GOD I was born on the right side. My parents took my sister and I to my first ever game in 1985 against Indiana. I was 5 years old and I will never forget that feeling of walking inside that stadium for the first time. At that age, 100,000 people looks no different than 1,000,000. That was all I could concentrate on. We won 42-15 that day but I don’t remember a single thing about the game itself. I don’t know who scored all those touchdowns or who made the big defensive plays. All I remember is looking at all the fans sitting around me and being in awe. I’m ashamed to admit it, but at that age, I didn’t care what was going on down on the field because the sport just didn’t interest me. I was too young to truly understand the beauty that is football. (Luckily, I found someone online who has a copy of this game and I should be getting it in the mail next week. I can’t wait to sit down and watch it so, for the first time in 25 years, I’ll know what happened.)
Eventually, as I got a little older and figured out how great football was, I wised up and that’s when the Wolverine Football bug consumed me. Bo Schembechler, Desmond Howard and Tyrone Wheatley just added to that. By the time I was 13, I was officially obsessed. It’s hard to come up with the exact words to explain why I am a Michigan fan. But Bob Wojnowski made a quote many years ago that sums it up better than I ever could have…
“You see it on the helmet, hear it in the song, smell it in the big old stadium. It’s the winged stripe and the high-stepping band and the mingled scents of old cigars and fresh cider. It’s Michigan tradition. You don’t know exactly when it starts or when it ends, but you know it when you see it, feel it, smell it.”
I was already a fan but once I was exposed to all of that, there was no going back.
6. Some of my favorite videos of yours are the player tributes-- the Tom Harmon piece should simply be required viewing for any UM fan, and the Grbac one brought back some great memories as well. So, finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
It has to be Anthony Carter. I was in my crib when he was making magic in Ann Arbor so I do not have any first-hand memories of him. But I have more than a dozen of his games on DVD, I’ve seen his most memorable highlights, read articles and recaps and I’ve watched every interview with him or about him. He was just a freak of nature any time he got on the football field. He was quick. He played smart. No matter how hard the ball was thrown, he could adjust his body and time it perfectly to make the catch. He could burn defenders with ease in double coverage. A 50+ yard kickoff or punt return for him was common. Having him run a reverse netted at least a 30 yard gain. He was the ultimate weapon and I would have given anything to be able to see him play in person. AC started a new age for Michigan football where, yes, it was O.K. to pass the ball. And many spectacular receivers followed in his footsteps.
I’m glad you love the player tributes, by the way. This summer, I plan on making tributes to Henne, Hart, Manningham, Desmond Howard and updating new ones for Tom Brady and Tyrone Wheatley. Just a heads up for you and anyone else who dig the tributes.
I’m sure you all can relate to that feeling in late July, when you find yourself literally claimed—no, consumed-- by that insatiable hunger for the coming season of Michigan football. For years I remember sitting and playing NCAA impatiently while waiting for Labor Day weekend to finally arrive, when my beloved Wolverines would embark on another quest for a magical year. For a long time I believed
there was no remedy for this ailment.
Of course, Wolverine Historian’s work is that medicine.
I was, admittedly, a bit late to the WH party on Youtube. To my recollection I remember Brian referencing his work for months before finally going over to see what all the fuss was about. And then… satisfaction!! I would often pull up the vids at work, and tuck the window away somewhere beneath some random Photoshop palette, and keep one headphone in my ear to hear Keith Jackson or Musburger
call the heroics of names like Harbaugh, Grbac, Collins and Brady.
And of course, Woodson. I dare you to watch Historian’s classic
97 Dream Season series and not feel compelled to run down the nearest
hallway and jump to touch an imaginary Go Blue banner.
I must admit, my pulse has risen a bit since writing that last paragraph.
When it comes to bringing the glory of the Maize and Blue to the masses, Wolverine Historian is in a league reserved for very few. He’s more Brian than he is us, and yet he’s clearly just a regular dude, and I mean that in as complimentary a way as I possibly can. And as we exorcise the ghosts of the past two years this fall, I am sure he’ll be there every step of the way, recording it all one victory at a time.
I’d like to personally thank the proprietor of this here blog for making this interview possible, and I’ll see you guys next week for another edition of MGoProfile!