TBT: Catching up with Mike Reinhold

Submitted by readyourguard on July 21st, 2016 at 12:19 PM

This is the 5th installment of my TBT series where I catch up with former players to ask them about their recruitment and playing days at Michigan.

Previously: Clay Miller Tim Williams Mike Dames David Key

*********************

You want the most “Bo” story you’ll ever read? Here goes.
This next guy was a redshirt freshman when he saw his first game action on special teams in a game on the road against Washington. We were ranked in the top 10 and playing the 16th ranked Huskies. Our boy was playing guard on the punt team. One of the things we were coached to do on punt team was to point out exactly who you were blocking and yell it to the guy next to you and to the upback behind you. So, he points to a man and screams out his number. As the ball’s snapped, he inexplicably blocks the wrong man. The guy comes through the line and damn near blocks the punt.

During film sessions on Sunday evenings, we’d gather in the team room and Bo would talk about the game, discuss what we needed to work on, hand out some awards, then review special teams film with the whole team and all the coaches. The room is dark, Bo’s sitting in the front with his long wood pointer, breaking down each play as he runs it backwards and forwards. Bo took special teams extremely seriously. He knew it could be the difference between a win and a loss and he’d be damned if he was going to let that happen. That’s why we worked on it every day, and every man on every special teams unit was approved by Bo.

When the film played this particular punt play and the guy came through the line unblocked, Bo came unglued.  He stopped the film, flipped on the lights, and barked out, “Who is this man?” as he smacks the screen with his pointer. Mike was sitting in the back of the room with the rest of the freshman and the assistant coaches standing behind them, against the back wall. He raised his hand.

“Stand up, son.”

“What the hell were you thinking?”

This is the absolute last place on earth you want to be; standing in front of the entire team with Bo asking you a question that has no right answer. The naïve 2nd year player responded with “I don’t know”.

Oooof.  Wrong answer.

“WHAT? Are you shitting me? What do you mean ‘you don’t know’? How do we have a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing on the punt team? HOW DO WE HAVE A GUY WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING ON THE PUNT TEAM?!?”

Bo pauses and stares at Mike as the rest of the room sits in a deathly silence. Mike builds up the courage to take a breath, thinking the worst is over.

Stupid freshman.

“Reinhold, you have to be the dumbest player in the country. I want to know who recruited this son of a bitch. That coach has to be the dumbest SOB in America. Whoever recruited him is fired.”

Bo turns around, sits in his chair, barks “hit the lights” and continues breaking down the rest of the film.

*********************

Mike Reinhold grew up in Muskegon where he helped Muskegon Catholic Central win the 1980 Class B football title. His dad fostered his love for Michigan football when he took him to his first game at six years old. The young wannabe football player was in awe of the helmets, the fans, and the greatest fight song he'd ever heard. He knew right then he wanted to be a Michigan Wolverine. When he returned to school the following Monday, he told everyone who would listen that he was going to play for Michigan.

There was one guy who tried to derail those plans though: former Michigan State Spartan All-American and 3-time Super Bowl Champ Earl Morrall. Earl and Mike’s dad were best friends growing up.  Each time Earl visited the Reinholds, he'd tried to sell Mike on the Spartans.  Mike was always respectful and had great admiration for his dad's lifelong friend, but when he left, Mike's thoughts always returned to the Maize and Blue.

One day, word got back to Bo that Mike had committed to the Spartans. Bo called Mike's dad at work and told him, “Get your ass home and talk some sense into that kid, would you?” And Mr. Reinhold did just that.  He drove home and straightened his boy out.  Although, there really wasn't anything to straighten.  Mike didn't commit to MSU.  It was all a misunderstanding. 

Soon after, Mike and his dad took a visit to Ann Arbor. In Bo’s office, the two men lit up cigars to celebrate the young Reinhold's commitment to Michigan. For a couple guys who loved Michigan, sitting in the office, smoking a cigar with Bo was the greatest day ever!   Mr. Reinhold kept the the band to that very cigar for the remainder of his life. Today, Reiny keeps it in his top dresser drawer as a reminder of his dad, Bo, and the best decision he ever made.

On that same visit, Bo and Mike stood in the press box at the stadium and Bo made two promises. “Number 1, you’re gonna get your ass kicked every day for an entire year. Number 2, you come to me as a kid, but you’ll leave here as a man.” Mike had no idea how right Bo was.

Eight weeks after the blown punt in the Washington game, Michigan visited the Metrodome in Minneapolis for a night game against the Golden Gophers. It was the 4th quarter and Minnesota was getting clobbered. Mike was at linebacker when the Gophers attempted a screen pass to his right. He dropped back into his zone, and then reacted to the play. As he stopped to change direction to his right, his foot got caught in the turf.  He stumbled while trying to regain his balance.  At the same moment, a wide receiver came at him for a crack back block.  He threw his whole body at Mike's leg that was stuck in the turf.  SNAP!  Mike went down. He could tell by the look on the other player’s faces that it was serious. His right leg was crossed over his left, but not at the knee. He shattered his femur. An ambulance came onto the field and rushed him to the hospital. There, they cut off his uniform and immediately began drilling a steel rod into his shin bone. Mike was in shock but he watched as doctors passed the rod right through his lower leg. After that, he was put under anesthetics and had two more rods inserted – one right through the center of his femur and the other drilled perpendicular through the leg to hold the long one in place. That was Novermber 12, 1983.  He’d spend nearly a month in the hospital recovering. His leg swelled up to triple its normal size and the pain was excruciating. As you can imagine, it was the worst day of his young life.  He wondered if he'd ever use his leg again, no less play football.

Michigan fans who had watched the game and saw the gruesome injury drove to the hospital on Thanksgiving night to drop off turkey dinner for him.  We had just beat Ohio State the previous Saturday and were slated to play Bo JAckson and the Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.  It was a good day in that far away Minnesota hospital room.  And as Mike recalls, it was those people's kindness and compassion that helped him get through the days.

When he returned to campus, he was down 45 pounds so he’d wear two sweatshirts to training table just so he wouldn’t look so skinny. He used to bench 350 pounds. Now he couldn’t lift 135.  He wasn't sure he'd ever play football again.

For the next year and a half, he rehabbed and had surgery to remove two of the rods (the 21” long one in the center of the femur remained). He swam, biked, lifted, ate right, and got his ass kicked by Mike Gittleson every day. He was determined to come back.
In the summer of ’84 while hanging with friends back home in Muskegon, his buddies started to ask if he'd ever make it back to the field. He was doing everything he could, but this was a tough injury to come back from.  And he still had a rod in his leg.  All of it just got to be too much.  He went home and sat in his room, thinking about what was and what might be.  At 3am, he went for a run. A long run.  All along the way he smacked every overhead sign and mailbox he came across. He jumped, cut, skipped, shuffled, and every other move to test out his leg.  When he made it home, he was convinced he could do it. He could play football again.

The next step was convincing the doctors to remove the rod in his leg. Eventually they did, and when the surgery was complete, the steel rod came out bent.

In the spring of ’85, Reiny was back. He was in pads and ready to participate in spring ball. However, his days as a linebacker were over. He was moving to noseguard, splitting duty with the talented Billy Harris (RIP). Mike had to learn a new position, new techniques, and new responsibilities but none of that mattered.  He was back on the field with his teammates.   I’ll never forget one of his first days at Nose when he came off the field at a practice in the stadium and said, “Playing nose is like going to a party every day that you aren’t invited to.” (I used that line countless times whenever I talked to a player who wanted to play noseguard for me when I was coaching).

Obviously 1985 was a special year for Mike. He was playing again, his leg was holding up, and our defense was kicking everybody's ass. We didn’t allow a touchdown in the first 6 games. The only ones we did give up before the Ohio State game were late game, garbage time scores against the 2nd and 3rd stringers. Well after he had retired, Bo would proclaim the 1985 defense as the best unit he ever had.

(Last week, MGoBoard member Dr. Sap made a post titled “The Longest Goal Line Stand Ever”. It  features Mike prominently. You should definitely check it out if you haven't already.)

We ended the season with a big win against Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, and Mike had one of his best games ever as a Wolverine. With the Huskers trailing on their final possession, Mike came through the line and had a clear shot at a game-clinching sack on freshman QB Steve Taylor. But Taylor was too slippery, and he dodged the oncoming rush. The pressure, however, was enough to force an errant throw that landed in the hands of Garland Rivers. Game over. Michigan won 27-23 and finished ranked #2 in the country.

For 3 years, one of Mike’s roommate was some guy you might’ve heard of, former QB Jim Harbaugh. He says he could write a book chronicling their days in Ann Arbor. (I’m sure most of their free time was spent in the library and occasionally at church). Reiny also roomed with Clay Miller, Brad Cochran, Paul Jokish, Paul Schmerge, Ricker Peterson, Jerry Quaerna, Jim Scarcelli, and Jack Walker. All guys he keeps in touch with today. He also keeps in touch with Deiter Heren and Mike “Moose” Kraus. Mike recalls a particularly memorable play against Michigan State when Moose – an offensive guard - was on the backside of a sweep play going the other way. Nobody paid much attention until the whiste blew, and there was Kraus, 10 yards behind the play, throwing haymakers on a helpless Spartan he just obliterated. The sideline erupted in laughter and cheers as Bo glared from the sidelines while flags flew from every ref on the field.

Mike’s 5th year (1986) was plagued by more injuries, twice rupturing his Achilles and needing to have his kidney removed. Those surgeries would linger and wreak havoc on his life for years following graduation. Since his playing days, he's had knee surgery and 3 neck surgeries. And in 2006 while attending a game at the Big House, Mike needed immediate medical attention and was rushed to UofM hospital. While in the hospital, Bo and his wife Cathy visited. Bo hadn’t seen his former noseguard in 15 years but he never forgot a player and is known for being there when one of his own needed him most. Bo stood at Mike’s bedside and comforted him. They shared some laughs, talked about the time he and his dad smoked a cigar in his office, and asked, “if he could, would he do it all again?” Without hesitation, Mike said "yes". Bo looked at Cathy and said, “What did I tell you? To a man……”

Six weeks later, Bo was gone.

Mike has 3 adult kids now.  His oldest is in Tuscon AZ finishing his CPA certification.  His next son is in Chicago working in finance. And his daughter is a hell of a pitcher for Grand Valley State University.  All the kids were excellent students throughout high school and college.

It's Mike’s relationships with his former teammates, the dinners from the fans in that Minnesota hospital, and the visit from Bo and Cathy that serve as further affirmation that choosing Michigan wasn’t just the right decision. It was the only decision.
Those who stay….

*********************

Mike played from 1982-1986 and wore #45

His favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor is Gander Dancer and Bell's Pizza ("the best 2am meal EVER!")

The best dish he makes is Grandma Reinhold's Fried Chicken.

Yes he allowed his sons to play football.  "The life lessons learned in the game far outweigh any risks.  (And this is a man that knows a thing or two about the subject).

Comments

1974

July 21st, 2016 at 12:40 PM ^

"Bo took special teams extremely seriously. He knew it could be the difference between a win and a loss and he’d be damned if he was going to let that happen."

Except when kicking off to Rocket Ismail ... :)

Kidding! Partly, anyway. This is a great story and I've enjoyed the series.

ST3

July 21st, 2016 at 3:21 PM ^

In Bo's book, "Bo's Lasting Lessons" he talks about an undersized nose guard. He preferred quick guys at the nose who could get into the backfield and disrupt plays (hence the line about being at a party you weren't invited to) to space-eaters who could absorb a double-team.

Wolfman

July 22nd, 2016 at 7:55 AM ^

and worked his way up to around 190 because he loved the game so much. Every coach loves a NG that is impossible to block but in today's game a guy that size would get eaten alive. Reinhold, otoh, was a big man. He was at about 240 prior to his injury, so when he came back I am betting he was a solid 245 - 250 and it appears DD knows him well, and he can tell you he was strong as hell.

I bet you Dan Deirdorf was at no more than 240, maybe 250. Thus are changes. Who, back then, heard of a 270 lb DE that runs a 4.7 40? No one, but now we have one and he's the no. 1 recruit in the nation. In 10 years, the players will be even bigger. Th '61 All Big team has a couple of OGs at about 215-220 lbs. That is not going to happen today. 

Reinhold was a man at NG and had to be accounted for. Quick? Definitely. But don't undrestimate his strength.

Wolfman

July 21st, 2016 at 1:51 PM ^

Haven't seen Mike since Northside Days at the Beet Tent. He was home from MI for the summer. The first thing you noticed about him was the size he had put on since high school. 

He was one hell a a high school player. His high school, Frituport, always produced tough kides, i.e., Teeter who played NG at MI before Mike. During' Mike's senior year, Fruitport voted for a tax increase. It was defeated and as was common place back then, they did away with the program for a year and that is how he ended up at Catholic. 

He set, what I think is an area record, for a punt. He was deep in his end of the field.He got the punt off and it was decent. However, the wind and the roll allowed it to travel about 85 yards. Nice young man though. Sounds like he's had more  than his share of hard knocks over the years. He's built to withstand it though. 

Double-D

July 21st, 2016 at 7:20 PM ^

He played both ways at tight end and LB. He caught a ten yard pass over the middle and had to high point the ball which opened up his mid section. (He was much taller so that was as high as I could hit him) I was able to time a pretty hard hit which took him out of the game. It would likely be targeting today.

A couple of my buddies on the offensive line high fived me as the D and O changed field because he had been beating their heads in all day. He just had the wind knocked out and he came back in to finish us off as they moved on to win the State title.

ST3

July 21st, 2016 at 4:33 PM ^

I may have told this story before, but it fits with this diary. My brother and I used to play a backyard field-goal kicking game. The object was to see who could make more kicks between two conveniently grown trees. To make it more interesting, the one not kicking was allowed to rush and try to block the kick. I always chose to be Dieter Heren when trying to block the kick. I can't tell you what kicker I was, but I was always Dieter Heren, probably because he has such a fun name to pronounce when you are excited about a kick getting blocked. I'll blame Ufer for that.

EDIT: apparently, Ufer died a couple years before Heren started playing at UofM. That doesn't matter. He's still the voice of Michigan Football to me. You should have heard him calling Denard's 87 yard TD run against ND. Sounded like that Dennis Bergkamp guy.

Frank dee Bool, Frank dee Bool!

Mgodiscgolfer

July 21st, 2016 at 11:58 PM ^

DEENNNISS BEEERRRKAMPT, DEEEENNNIISSS BEEERRRRKKKEEEMMPPTT. Priceless absolutely priceless. I am gonna go out on a limb and say he is a huge Dennis berkampt fan. Michigan announcers can't even come close to match that. There he goes shoelaces flapping in the wind. was a nice try. But, NOT. 

Chaz_Smash

July 22nd, 2016 at 1:42 PM ^

Wasn't it Dieter Heren who blocked the field goal attempt on the last play of the '85 game at Illinois? Deflected ball fluttered toward goal post, landed on top of the cross bar and bounced backward, no good. Preserved a tie, not a win, unfortunately, but one of the craziest endings I've seen.

Victor Hale II

July 21st, 2016 at 9:31 PM ^

I'm to the point now where I upvote these first, read them later. Hasn't failed me yet.

RYG,
I recall watching that Nebraska Fiesta Bowl game way back when, as a 12 year old who had been enthralled with the full panoply of UM football for a good 8-9 years prior. Anyway, the only guy I recall from their team was a RB named "Keith" something (Jones?), who I think wore #6 maybe? The announcers said he was the fastest man in Nebraska history. I was scared to death of him that day, but didn't you guys pretty much shut him down? I could google it, but I'm testing my memory. And yours. ;-)

UMgradMSUdad

July 21st, 2016 at 7:25 PM ^

Great stuff.  I especially like stories of people overcoming obstacles, and it sounds like Reinhold had more than his share, especially with that gruesome leg break. 

And I can only imagine how he must have felt during that film session. Bo did go for the hyperbole at times, but those times often touch on the team concept as well, and I'm sure that made it sting all the more: Mark's blown assignment didn't just reflect on him, but others, including the coaches. It's one thing to know you screwed up; it makes it even worse when others get blamed when you know the mistake is all your own.

Mgodiscgolfer

July 21st, 2016 at 11:43 PM ^

I just love hearing about these guys. I had not known what hell Reinhold had to go through to stay and be a champion. As well as his medical issues later in life. I have had my share of steel inserted in my hips, as well as a 4xCabbage bad arteries around my ticker, but even though I have ate more than my share of pain pills I have been fortunate enough (so far) that I still have my kidneys. Oh when I say hips don't think grandpas or grandmas hip replacements my rt hip has been replaced 4xs due to infection and just plain wearing my first one out which I got at the age of 32. Anyway there I go again sorry.

I met Bo RIP in person at the hospital when he was visiting his wife Millie. That was probably the best place to meet any Michigan coach. I have seen Lloyd there and Gary Moeller. I didn't stop them they looked like they had places to be and I am sure people to meet. I was visiting my mom who was dying from throat cancer. But it was no suprise to me to see Bo being interviewed by some journalist in the Hospital Cafeteria the first time I met him in person. I am sure between his wife and players that place was his home away from home away from home, because he spent some time, ok the rest of his time with his team and family too.

Deiter Heren, Jim Scarcelli, Jerry Quaerna and Mike Kraus.  Those names shook some of the cob webs out of my memory banks. Paul Jokish and Brad Cochran those names are very popular, to most at least and so was Billy Harris RIP.. When you mentioned Deiter I about fell out of my chair I forgot all about him. Sorry Deiter if your reading this I sure loved watching you and each and everyone of these players play.

I miss those days probably almost as much as they do. I am one of those kids who would have given anything to be on the field with you guys. I was very close in age with all these players you mention. But my football "glory"days ended at least a couple years prior to these fellas taking the field. But I had a much better chance at playing at Yost than anywhere near your practice fields. Garland Rivers!? Wow, I just could read these over and over. Thanks once again RYG, please, please, keep em coming.

1VaBlue1

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:23 AM ^

I love this series - thank you, RYG, for the effort to do it!  

The thing that sparks my memories are the game callouts.  That Sugar Bowl vs Auburn, I remember the snow storm that NY Eve night in New Orleans.  They had cameras outside the Superdome showing traffic, and I LMAO!  Hardly any snow, maybe a few inches, but traffic was snarled as far as you could see.  That game was just a defensive barn-burner on both sides.  Bo Jackson was a threat everytime he looked at the field, but was pretty much contained.  Michigan got the ball back real late, trailing 9-7, and we hoped for the game winning drive.  Just get in FG position...  Somewhere around midfield, with, what 25 seconds left, a freshman WR came in - Triando Markray.  I remember hearing about his recruitment out of Floriduh (pretty sure), he had enough speed and slips to give some away.  But he was a true freshman.  He caught a pass and took off down the right sideline, then death.  Around the 20, with mere seconds left (and no time outs), he cut back inside instead of stepping out of bounds.  Thought he could get to the end zone.  I don't recall him ever getting much playing time after that...

I love the memories this series brings back, even the painful ones!

1VaBlue1

July 22nd, 2016 at 12:00 PM ^

That makes more sense!  Probably got today's recruiting regions mixed in...  I remember back in those days DePorres was the shit.  It seemed like thier football and bball teams were winning state championships every year.  It was a Class C school, but was forced, at some point, to play bball in Class B.  They had nothing but inner-city Detroit kids on academic scholarship on the sports teams.  They was good...

Wolfman

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:12 PM ^

If I have it right. Took over the Inkster team?  You are right. They were crazy ass good. I remember reading an article during the state championship weekend. They asked what he thought of the opponent. His reply cracked me up, "I don't watch tape of our opponents.  We will find out what we need to know."  In his case he was always (almost?) correct.

I recall watching his team get off the bus - must have been a short ride - and was so impressed with that small school and how many of the state's best wanted to play for them. Had so many great ball players over the years. 

grumbler

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:44 AM ^

Thanks for the series, RYG.  The writing is excellent and the stories always fascinating. It says something about the game that so many were willing to make so many sacrifices to stay in it.  That these stories are about Michigan Men is just icing on the cake.

matty blue

July 22nd, 2016 at 11:01 AM ^

what a nice surprise.

mike and i were high school teammates, me a 5'-8", 135-lb junior scout team defensive end still two years from a growth spurt, he a 6'-plus, 200-lb-plus future big ten linebacker and high school offensive end.  you can guess how that went.  but mike was also super-smart and 100% team-oriented. he wasn't interested in going through the motions - he pushed me to push him back, not only for his own improvement but (i suspect) for mine, too.  he wanted everyone around him to be the best, assuming (rightly) that the better each of us became, the better the whole team was.

he was as low-key a high school superstar as you will ever find, and i truly believe that's one of the reasons we made two state finals (winning one) with him as a starter.  we had some tremendously talented guys on those teams - several other guys went on to play d-1 (one of them - bobby morse - went to state and killed us on the day harbaugh broke his arm and later gritted his way to the nfl for four years), but mike was ALWAYS a team guy, first and foremost.  and when i joined him in ann arbor a year after he got there, he always had time to chat when we bumped into each other on campus, something that almost certainly meant more to me than to him.

tl/dr - mike was and is a true michigan man.

Mgodiscgolfer

September 23rd, 2016 at 9:19 PM ^

Insinuating that a sleep over could be anything more than what it was is so backwards thinking it infuriates me. So what they are saying is we should forgive St. Joe Pa because he was too chicken shit to hold his coach responsible for his pathetically sick actions. In doing so, he is protecting a very, very sick man and allowing him to rape childen in there locker room showers and destroying these kids lives to where they shake and cry as adults at any thought of what that coach was able to do to them for years. Jim spends the night at some kickers house and suddenly ew thats creepy. WTF?

What about Christian Hackenberg their QB last year calling this Queen James out after he left the program the same QB he was as a freshman in high school? Not a word? Nothing to say in James defense? Then after he fires his best friend well that took courage, he probably figured it's either him or me. Jim's best friends don't get fired they go on to be a head coach for other teams. Obviously these people wouldn't know how to act with a coach of Jim Harbaugh's caliber and to even compare the two is delusional. I was really beginning to wonder if we were ready to start the healing process and not belabor the fact that a man who brought so much good into peoples lives showed very very poor judgement and leadership qualities for his own self preservation. I mean the guy (Paterno) has passed on maybe we can move on.

I now say that the fan base needs to show the empathy the rest of the country has and feel the sadness that this man (Joe) hurt so many and not proliferate this ill designed we love our coach crap. Yes Harbaugh can be abrasive and if that was all this fan base, their coach and patsy sportswriters were guilty of than they would get the respect due to them. They are not just abrasive they are delusional as well. For that I just don't know when I can forgive them,or there weak minded coach. It looks like it may be longer than I could have imagined.