Saturday, November 29, 2014

Brady Hoke, Chris Cristie,Vitamins and Job Security

  Brady Hoke, Chris Christie and vitamins
  Well, today started with a bang. Early this morning, I was interviewed by Warren Pierce of radio station W JR -760 on your dial. During that interview, I talked about Bo Schembechler’s competitiveness during the tumultuous 1960s. Warren was not aware of Michigan’s Mellow Men (Thom Darden, Reggie McKenzie, Mike Oldham and Glenn Doughty, Butch Carpenter, Billy Taylor and Mike Taylor    ) and the fact that Coach Bump Elliott facilitated the rental of that house for these players. I also mentioned that this group of seven men, with Coach Schembechler’s approval, blocked the entrance to the engineering building on campus. The interview time went by so quickly but it was so much fun.

WJR has very special meaning for me. For me, a good portion of my time in early childhood was spent listening to the radio since we didn’t have a TV. As a youngster, listening to the radio, i.e. Lone Ranger, the Shadow, and The Green Hornet etc. was very important in my developing years. Aside from these programs, I also listened to sports, and grew up with announcer Van Patrick.  Patrick was an honorary member of my family. I was a fan of the Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers, and Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit Pistons were not in town yet.

So thinking about WJR brought back special memories about growing up in Detroit. Even then, sports were extremely important to me. In fact, reading John R Tunis, the author of stories about sports, was also a favorite activity of mine. I read about sports, I listened on the radio to professional sports, and I played unorganized sports in and around my neighborhood. Having the opportunity to go back to my roots, so to speak, was terrific and that started my day.

Then, the stage was set for the Ohio State and Michigan, big game held in Columbus, Ohio. On Michigan’s first possession, Gardner, threw an interception and the Buckeyes scored quickly. Michigan then scored two touchdowns and held the lead until about two minutes, going into the half. However, Ohio State’s quarterback ran for a touchdown, tying the score, leaving little time on the clock. In the third quarter, the Buckeyes received the ball and scored, taking the lead. Michigan came back to score, making it a game until the Buckeyes put the game away in the fourth quarter.

ABC’s announcers were talking about that more than likely this is Brady Hoke’s last game as Michigan’s coach. Maybe Brady Hoke should have taken Chris Christie’s advice. According to an article in The New York Times Magazine November 23, 2014, Christie takes vitamins and lap- band surgery for his health. Brady, if you had done as Chris Christie, perhaps your health and job security would be more secure.

Well, I just completed another 6 ½ miles today and thus totaled a little more than 75 miles of running this past seven day week. I take vitamins, but I also exercise, rest and utilize recreation for my health. And as I say in closing, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Go Blue! There is always next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Born in Detroit

"Living well and beautifully and justly are all one thing."
– Socrates

  My 75th Birthday

Tuesday was my last trail run in my first 74 years. My trail run today was about 12 ½ miles. I decided to take Tony’s advice and run for at least 57(reversing number 75) miles for the week. On Sunday, I ran a little over 21 miles and a little over 6 miles on Monday. So in my first three days of the week, I totaled over 40 miles. My birthday run today will total 8 to 10 miles with Madhu. That means, I will easily reach my goal of over 57 miles on “Turkey Day.”

After a good couple months of easy running, I’m starting to increase my mileage for 2015. On New Year’s Day,  I have registered for a 10 mile trail run (Resolution Run). I also registered for a 50 K (Jed Smith) for February 7, 2015. In December, I plan to register for a 50 K (Way Too Cool) held March 2015.

I must admit I been somewhat distracted as a result of the marketing of Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football. There have been presentations to the University of Michigan Alumni Association, radio interviews, etc. But now I have to get more serious with my running.

Activities associated with my book have been fun, but simply running on the trail has been a way of life for me. It has provided me with excellent health, friendship and pleasure. In other words, it’s been good for my physical and mental health.

Life has been good as I figured out what works for me. In closing, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating. Further, beat Ohio State.
   Go Blue!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Warren Pierce Show -WJR Radio

While watching Monday night football with Chris and Tony, I brought up the fact that I beat Tony to Cool the day before, even though he took a slightly longer running route. Both Chris and I were delighted that I beat him. After that discussion was over, Tony told me the trail he wanted to run for the next day and I agreed.

Tuesday is our typical running day. As we were heading out to run this morning, he told me he would race me to the wooden bridge at Brown’s bar. Again, he knew that I would likely take a shorter trail. I asked him why he didn’t tell me the night before that he wanted to race. He replied that he didn’t want me to worry and lose a night’s sleep over it. Then he admitted that he wanted to see how he would feel in the morning.

Well, on our race, I heard him coming up behind me, and he caught me prior to the wooden bridge. He was pleased and I was less pleased. I might add that there was plenty of laughter on Monday evening and Tuesday morning regarding our discussion. In essence, we laugh a lot at our idiosyncrasies. Further, Chris was about a 2: 25 marathoner; and Tony and I are still waiting to experience the “runners high.” As far as we are concerned, it’s simply a myth. We all laugh about that also.

On Another note, I was pleasantly informed that I was invited to be on The Warren Pierce Show, Saturday, November 29th at 7:50 AM on station WJR. For those that don’t know, I’ll be talking about my book “Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” prior to the Michigan, Ohio State rivalry game. Hopefully, Michigan will pull the upset like they did 45 years ago against the Buckeyes. Make sure you tune in Saturday morning to the show.

 I must admit that I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, listening to WJR, since my family didn’t receive a television set until I was roughly an adolescent. So, I listened to the radio stations WJR, WWJ and WXYZ. Anyway, I’m likely to have many dreams this week that pertain to Detroit.

In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating. Don’t forget, Go Blue!

Monday, November 24, 2014

What do the Oakland Raiders and Michigan Wolverines have in Common ?

One might say that the Wolverine offense is offensive

 Congratulations go to the Oakland Raiders for their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday. Prior to that game, the Oakland Raiders ranked number 32 in the league as far as the yards gained on the ground (rushing). They were simply last in the entire league. The first string running back was Darren McFadden whom they a re-signed with a one-year contract.  They paid a lot of money for free agent Maurice Jones-Drew their second string running back.  Some faulted the offensive line for not providing the holes for these two outstanding running backs. Another interesting statistic was that first year quarterback Derek Carr was not sacked very often. The reason given was that Carr released the ball quickly, making it difficult for the defense to sack him. There were not many that credited the offensive line play of Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin, Howard or Khalif Barnes. The Raiders won loss record was 0-10.

Then, last Thursday they played the Chiefs. In the second quarter, they inserted third string running back Latavius Murray. Well, Murray scored the first rushing touchdown that the Chiefs had allowed this season. Then, he ran 90 yards for another touchdown against the Chiefs. Murray scored two touchdowns and the Chiefs then allowed their first two touchdowns. All in all, Murray ran for 112 yards in four carries before going out of the game as a result of a concussion.

Now, did the Raiders offensive line play just get better against the number one ranked defense in the NFL? Or, perhaps, Murray has a better skill set that fits with the Raiders line play. If Murray becomes eligible to play next week, I’ll bet we’ll see more of that third string running back.

Some might say, what does this have to do with the offensive woes of the Michigan Wolverines? I’m suggesting, that the Wolverine coaches have not utilized quarterback Devin Gardner’s skill set. Statistically, there are 128 Division I teams playing football.  The Wolverines rank 113 in passing yards; 114 in total yards; 111 scoring and 116 in passing efficiency (whatever that means).

Devin Funchess played liked an All-American wide receiver early in the season but whose play lately has been disappointing. Early on, the magazine, The Wolverine, had on the cover Funchess catching a pass.  On the side, had the title “One to Watch.” Underneath was the following description: Junior Devin Funchess Is a Big Part of U of M’s Young Emerging Wide Receiver Group.  That was the October 2014, edition. I’ll bet the December 2014 cover would have a different picture with a different story. I’m still waiting for wide receivers to emerge. How about you?

All in all, there are additional problems as evidenced by the record. Perhaps a new A.D. and a different head coach might right the sinking ship. Bo Schembechler did it in his first season with players, recruited by Bump Elliott. Can lightning strike twice in the same spot? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Go Blue Go!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jimmy Hackett,Brady Hoke and Michigan Football

Jimmy Hackett the interim athletic director at University Michigan is reported to have said that he will decide on Brady Hoke’s future. And that decision would likely come after the end of the season, or after a bowl game. Well, if one is pounding nails into Brady Hoke’s coffin, one less nail is left. Today, the Wolverines in front of a few of the fans were tied at halftime 9-9 with the Maryland Terrapins. The Wolverines took the lead, in the third-quarter, but lost the game on a fourth quarter score 23-16.

It would seem that it would take a miracle victory against Ohio State next week at the Big House in order to save Brady Hoke’s job. Although a football miracle happened 45 years ago on this date, I don’t expect it to happen next week. In 1969, the Wolverines were on a roll as they were demolishing their opponents after a mediocre 3-2 start under first-year head coach Bo Schembechler. That team came together in the second half of the Minnesota game, and nothing could stop them, not even the undefeated number one ranked Buckeyes. That special Wolverines team had marvelous talent, the will, and players with great character. Coach Schembechler’s team was very cohesive when they played those Buckeyes. Bo also had the unconditional support of the first year A.D. Don Canham. And with that victory, it started the transformation of Michigan football
The 2014 team under Coach Brady Hoke does not have that A.D.’s support. This year’s team against good teams have not looked very impressive offensively. In fact, last year, the team could score some points as evidenced by their scores in the Indiana, and Ohio State game. Brady Hoke is a good human being and a well-liked. His team has practiced and played hard according to Coach Gary Moeller. But, obviously something is missing. Coach Hoke needs some sort of miracles and/or divine intervention to keep his job.

I support him, but would fully understand if he was let go. Good luck Brady and your Wolverines next week. Hopefully the ball bounces your way.

Go Blue Go!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Win for the Raiders, Charles Woodson and Rich Eisen

  Oakland Raiders, Charles Woodson and Rich Eisen
I just finished watching the Oakland Raiders play the Kansas City Chiefs. Coming into the game, the Raiders had a 0-10 won loss record while Kansas City had a 7-3 record. The Chiefs were heavily favored to win that game, even though it was played in Oakland, California. Although Oakland had not won a game this year, I thought their play had improved. I even believed they might upset the Chiefs. The game was mostly played in rain like conditions.

The Raiders had not won a game in about a year. And this was the first time they had the lead (14 – 3) at halftime in quite some time. The Chiefs tied the game and took the lead in the second half until the Raiders scored, giving them the lead, with approximately 2   minutes left to play. The Raiders won the game and the players and crowd erupted in joy. There were a lot of smiling faces.  It was neat to see the victory since I am a Raider fan.

I was pleased 17 seasons ago when the Raiders selected Charles Woodson as their first pick in the draft. I especially enjoy seeing Michigan players doing well in the NFL, especially with the Raiders. During this game, the play-by-play announcers talked about Charles Woodson’s skill as a player and marveled.

After the game, Charles Woodson came on the set and was interviewed by Marshall Falk, Dion  Sanders, Michael Irvin and Rich Eisen. For those of you who do not know, Rich Eisen is a Michigan fan and plugs the Wolverines with every opportunity. He loves talking about Woodson and of course, Tom Brady.

Rich Eisen asked Charles Woodson If he thought Wolverines had a chance to beat the Buckeyes as Woodson’s Raiders beat the Chiefs. And Woodson said the affirmative. The Wolverines could use Woodson in their defensive backfield against Ohio State.

In any event, it was great viewing your underdog team become victorious. Hopefully, that’ll happen at the end of the month against the Buckeyes. Remember what happened in 1969.

Go Blue!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recruiting Charles Woodson,Tom Brady and Steve Hutchinson

  Recruiting Charles Woodson and Tom Brady
 Perhaps one of the significant reasons for the University of Michigan’s lack of success on the gridiron relates to its recruits since 1997. In 1997, Lloyd Carr’s third year as head coach, Michigan won the Big Ten, won the Rose Bowl, and was the number one ranked team in the country, according to the AP. On that team, 31, of its players went on to play in the NFL. Of those 31, Tom Brady, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson are likely to wind up in the NFL Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean that players like Jeff Backus, Brian Griese, Dhani Jones, Anthony Thomas among others didn’t have successful careers.

So it’s safe to say that Coach Carr had a wealth of talent on that team just  like Coach Bo Schembechler had on his 1969 team. Nowadays, ESPN rates ,by position, high school football players. Just read the Bleacher report to find out about all the recruits not attending the University of Michigan. It’s also safe to say, that there will not be a plethora of this year’s players on the current roster that will make it to the NFL.

It appears that Michigan is losing the recruiting battle for the top recruits in football, and likely basketball as well. So, the athletic department has its work to do and must do a better job with its  recruiting program. That means not only the AD and staff but to enlist the assistance of alumni all over the country.

When Bo was coach, he had the athletic department and important alumni members in various states reaching out to the recruits. Not only that, Pres. Gerald Ford also reached out to young potential Wolverines. It seems to me that the alumni have to get on the same page, and work in concert with the athletic department. That means coordination and  things like persistence and utilizing social media as well as all other available resources. Let’s get top-notch players with good character.

In the delightful movie Field of Dreams a line from the movie was “build the field and they will come.” We have the Big House, we have to build and improve the message and utilize all the resources of our great institution. Let’s do it.

Go Blue!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jon Gruden,The Big Game, and Magical Thinking

Just last week, while running on the trail with Tony, we talked about motivational strategies that were meant to improve running ability. The following are ideas that I’ve used over the years, my friends have used or I have observed. Some might call it magical thinking.

We can call the strategies an affirmation. For example, when I ran the Western States 100 and I was simply tired and exhausted, at times I said to myself “I can.” That expression was positive self-talk and used to facilitate and help me to keep going and continue running. Well, I did complete the run, but I don’t know for sure whether or not that affirmation was the sole reason for my success. The dictionary defines affirmation, as the assertion that something is true. I wouldn’t hesitate to give that advice to anyone. However, it’s an interesting research question.

In medicine, placebos are used and the dictionary defines placebo as a medicine given merely to please the patient. I can think of a few research examples by Helen Langer. In her research, Dr. Langer told hotel workers that cleaning rooms was exercise. The women in the study, lost weight, as well as having better BMI scores. In another study, she had eight men in their 70s stay in a decorated 1959 style facility with black-and-white televisions, Perry Como, and Frank Sinatra records, etc. for five days. At the end of five days, these men had lower blood pressure scores and walked more effortlessly likely the way they did in 1959.

I bought a pair of compression socks that are supposedly beneficial and therapeutic to assist in my running. The first time that I wore the socks, I thought they helped. I see many people wearing them during running events, but I can’t say whether or not they work. I also make a morning smoothie after first being introduced to it by my ride and tie and running partner friend Jonathan Jordan. I have a professional blender and put in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. I even add Green Vibrance for additional nutritional benefits. Just think of all the nutritional bars, gels available on the market designed to give you that extra. Heck, you can get a five hour energy drink. That might be great for a trail ultramarathon.

The running shoe manufacturers have developed all types of running shoes designed to give you that edge. Currently I use Brooks as the shoe of my choice. Tony has gone to a shoe that he claims reduces his painful feet after a run. He also has special socks that he uses for races. I prefer tights and Tony wears shorts.

Watching baseball, Johnny Gomes comes to mind. He steps in the batter’s box. Gomes adjusts his gloves as well as his batting helmet (2-3 times) prior to every pitch. Sometimes it looks as if the batting helmet adjustment covers his eyes even though I know it doesn’t. He’s not the only one who has a pattern of behaviors before every pitch. They all seem to have their style.
A number of years ago, I got it in my head that I had to total about 50 miles or more of running a week. That number could be accomplished over seven days, six days, five days or whatever. I was not stuck on the number of running days per week, but only stuck on the number of total miles. Well I’m still continuing that behavior. Some might say that I’m nuts, superstitious, or I even use those numbers as placebos.

Affirmations (the assertion that something is true), placebos, superstitious behavior (a belief entertained, regardless of reason or knowledge), self-deception (deceiving oneself), or even rationalization (justifying the behavior after it happens), all have one thing in common, in that they’re not based on scientific proof, reason or knowledge. So we can all fool ourselves in regards to our behavior or the behavior of others. However, individuals that use the strategies have faith in them. And more than likely no rational argument can convince them otherwise. It’s amazing what goes on between our ears, and hopefully what you believe is beneficial for you
I must admit that I’m still looking for that edge. On the other hand, I can assert, but I can’t prove that at age 75, I can continue to run ultra-marathons because of my superstitious behaviors. I must admit that writing this piece brings a smile to my face. What brings a smile to your face?

What you think the Wolverines need as far as their thinking in order to beat Ohio State on November 29? And, whether or not that will be good enough to be victorious? Based on the season’s performance so far, they need all the help they can get. Good luck Wolverines.

I think that Jon Gruden might be an excellent choice and should be considered as the next football coach at Michigan. What do you think?

Go Blue!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Michigan and Ohio State Rivalry-Orange County

 Michigan and Ohio State University

I’d like to thank Shelly Komer for inviting me to attend and present on November 12, 2014 to the Orange County Chapter of the University of Michigan Alumni Association.  I invited my wife Linda and my good friend Jonathan Jordan (my 100 mile Ride and Tie partner) to the breakfast presentation and book signing.

I gave some explanations to the group as to why and how the young Michigan Wolverines were victorious over the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 22, 1969. Some of my reasons included: 1. Frank Gusich mentioned about the extreme conditioning tactics of coach Schembechler and he thought he would be in suburb physical condition in the fourth quarter of every game. And because of this superior conditioning, his team would be victorious. 2. Reggie McKenzie claimed that the Mellow Men watched the 1968, Michigan and Ohio State game when Michigan got slaughtered and lost 50 to 14. He said his teammates vowed never to let that happen again. 3. The players stated that they marveled when their coaches shoveled off the snow on the practice field prior to Monday’s practice of that Ohio State game. They knew the coaches were totally behind them. 4. Coach Schembechler, coach Moeller, and other coaches and players i.e. Frank Gusich, Tom Curtis, Jim Betts, and Thom Darden were all from Ohio. In the communities in which they grew up, it was simply Buckeye territory. Not only did these men not go to the most prestigious school in Ohio, they left and went to its archrival. So for bragging rights it was important for a win. 5. Reggie McKenzie remembered Mad Dog Jim Mandich in the tunnel with his fists clenched, tears running down his face, spitting out unintelligible words-he will never forget Capt. Mandich’s passion. 6. Thom Darden remembered Bo slamming the blackboard and the seniors throwing and breaking chairs as they left before going to the tunnel. Darden will never forget that either. 7. During the season’s practices, coach Schembechler ran Ohio State’s basic plays so the defense would know what likely was coming on that Saturday. They were prepared. 8. Also, prior to that Ohio State game, the practice squad had a number 50 on their helmets signifying the year be fore’s humiliation. 9 On the blackboard, the Michigan state and Ohio State games were circled. Everyone knew, without a word being spoken, the importance of those rivalry games. And 10.

The week before the Ohio State game, the Wolverines were in Iowa City and they demolished Iowa convincingly. After the game, on the way back to Ann Arbor, the players wanted to play Ohio State, right then and there. In other words, they were ready in their own minds. The group ego expected to win that game, and it didn’t matter when or where that game was played. The power of positive thinking/expectation was so immense that nothing would diminish it.

Ohio State scored first, but missed the extra point; Michigan scored, and kicked the extra point; Ohio State scored again and missed the extra point; Michigan scored, and kicked the extra point. Michigan went on to score 10 more points. Final score Michigan 24 Ohio State 12.

Not only did the 10 year war start between Bo and Woody, but the transformation of Michigan football began.

Go Blue !

Saturday, November 15, 2014

President Obama, CTE and the NFL

President Obama, Adrian Peterson, Reggie McKenzie, Jim Brandstatter and Thom Darden

An article published in the November 9, 2014 edition of The New York Times Magazine, focused on the coming settlement over brain injuries in the NFL and suggested the likelihood of forthcoming legal and regulatory nightmares. For a few facts: 1. There are 1.2 7 million lawyers in the US or one for every 300 Americans 2. Dr. Omalu performed an autopsy on Mike Webster and found that he suffered from a degeneration of tissue and other markers of decline usually present only in people much younger. 3. In this doctors published study, he found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – football, caused irreversible brain damage. 4. The NFL filed documents in federal court and estimated that 28% of retired players eligible for settlement will develop long-term cognitive deficiencies, many of them at a statistically younger age. 5. Current NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, college player Jameis Winston, high school players from Sayreville, New Jersey are all in the news for their inappropriate behaviors. 6. A proposed settlement with the NFL has set aside about $765 million for brain injured players-NFL’s total liability paid out over decades may not rise much beyond 1 billion.

Perhaps, as result of research regarding brain injuries in football even Pres. Obama said that if he had boy children, and he would not allow them to play football. And in California, a law was passed barring state middle school and high school teams from conducting full contact practices for more than three hours a week during the season. Physical contact is not allowed at all in the off-season. And between 2010 and 2012, Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football program lost about 10% participation. An unnamed family member said he would not allow his 10-year-old play football but has him involved in club wrestling and raves when his son wrestles older and bigger kids. I just had to add that fact.

The New York Times writer went on to suggest that football might become like the tobacco industry .This industry it’s lost many US smokers (about 18% of American adults smoke) and that there are very few places or locations where an individual can smoke. He’s suggesting there are going to be more regulations and lawsuits, which is good for the attorneys.

Currently, as far as the number of people watching TV programs on the 2013 list, only the Academy Awards broadcast at number 7 broke into the top 10. The other nine most-watched TV programs were NFL related.

Joe DeLamielleure was mentioned as a client of one of the attorneys in the article. Joe was a teammate of Reggie McKenzie of the Buffalo Bills. Reggie and I talked at length about his life, both past and current. Although, Reggie has some physical problems, he never mentioned other symptoms.  I did not conduct a mental status evaluation with him.

Thom Darden played with the Cleveland Browns. Thom and I spoke about physical impairments and conditioning only. Once again I did not conduct a mental status evaluation with him. If the reader is at all concerned about the dangers of football, I especially refer you to the chapters on Reggie and Thom. Although Jim Brandstatter did not play professional football, he is still the radio voice for the Detroit Lions and the Michigan Wolverines. Just listen to him on the radio to determine if he still has it.

From the players that I have interviewed, not one has said that they wouldn’t have played the game of football. So if they had, do overs, football would be on the list.

This is a bye week for the Wolverines. Practice well and prepare for Maryland on November 22, 2014. Do you remember what happened on November 22, 1969?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Valor,Band of Brothers,Bo,and Peyton Manning

 Valor, Band of Brothers, Bo Schembechler and Peyton Manning

While I was on my elliptical this morning, I was watching a taped program from a Veterans Day program “Concert of Valor.” While watching this concert, I was moved by the Spirit of the entertainers as well as the audience. It was very patriotic to say the least and that was neat. Early on in the program, an orthopedic surgeon from Truckee, California story was told. After losing one of his two military sons, this surgeon at age 60, wanted to enlist. Initially, he was turned down because of his age, but an intervention by President Bush facilitated his serving. The word valor fits for him and all his fellow comrade veterans.

Valor is defined as exhibiting bravery, especially in battle. The word also suggest heroic courage, being strong and boldness in braving danger. While I was interviewing Mike Keller for my book “Bo’s Warriors” he commented on how he felt connected to his Wolverine teammates and referred to them as “Band of Brothers” Keller made it clear that while playing for Michigan, it felt like being in the military as far as the bonding and love for his teammates was concerned. He was not associating practices and games with actual battle conditions like in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler had no difficulty in providing examples of military generals and historic battles in motivating their players. A key component in forming a band of brothers is the cohesiveness of the group and working for a common goal. Their love, they’re not wanting to let their comrades or teammates down, and submerging their individual egos for the will of the group is unprecedented. Coach Bo Schembechler was a genius at bringing the group and narrowing its focus on the team. For him it was the team, team, and team.

Related to being part of the group is the following: “when you find your trail, keep on it, because that will allow you to know your destination.” This simply means that it may take a while to find your path, your trail or your way before you know where you’re going. Commercials like Joe Montana for the correct shoe; Brett Favre for the correct sock; Peyton Manning for the correct pizza; or some correct drink; or some correct compression device; or some correct exercise equipment may work as a placebo to assist while on your journey. Placebos are fine and good motivators. However, remember that motivation, drive, goal, or valor is found from within. When you have found “your trail,” it’ll be perfectly clear, and I mean perfectly clear. Although the journey may have bumps and turns, the path will become clearer and clearer. You’ll know that you found your own pathway.

 For me, some of those early side trails, intersections, etc. included being part of the football team, becoming a PhD psychologist, finding Ride and Tie, ultra running and connecting. It took a while for me to find my way and I’m sure you will too. Remember the trail is not always clear because our goals change. And it may take a while to know or realize that you’re on the right path. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding and appreciating.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Looking for Bill Gates

Just recently I read an article in the October 26, 2014 edition of The New York Times. The statistics quoted in the article was alarming and brought reality home. It seemed to me that the “American Public” was not getting any smarter and that people just seem more opinionated. In the article, the writer talked about his father, a World War II refugee who did not speak English when he arrived in the United States In 1951. His father, purchased a copy of the New York Times and began to teach himself to read and speak English. Not only that, he graduated from college and eventually earned a PhD and became a university professor. This man bought into the American dream that was possible back then. However, today’s statistics suggest that economic and educational mobility are now greater in Europe than in America. Well, that’s sobering and here are some statistics cited as to why America has fallen behind.

America, at one time, led the world in mass education. By the mid-1800s most American states provided a free elementary education to the great majority of white children. While in Great Britain, in 1870, only 2% of British 14-year-olds were in school. And by the 1930’s, the US was the first major country in which the majority of children attended a high school. And in 1957, only 9% of 17-year-olds in Great Britain were in school. Until the 1970s, we were preeminent in mass education and some believe that was the secret to America’s economic rise. Since 1970s, things have changed dramatically.

For example: 1. currently, more young men in America have less education than their parents (20 versus 29% 2. If your parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5% of you made it through college. While if you lived in another industrialized country, about 23% of you made it through college. 3. Russia, leads the way and has the largest percentage of adults with a University education. At one time we were first. 4. In 2000, the US ranked a respectable second to the share of the population with a college degree. Currently, we have dropped to fifth place. And, among 25 to 34-year-olds, we are in 12th place behind South Korea in first place. 5. Among industrialized countries, 70% of their three-year-olds are enrolled in educational programs. However, in the United States, the figure is 38%. 6. Although American teachers work longer hours, they earned 68% as much is the average American college educated worker. In industrialized countries, their teachers average, a respectable 88% .7. Our educational system is dependent on local property taxes. That’s great for rich kids in the suburbs and disastrous for inner-city kids who need more assistance.

We have heard for years about economic inequality and maybe something to do with that is related to this negative educational trend. While we have a number of private colleges, we know they are creative in attempting to entice students to enroll. However, that doesn’t seem to solve the diminishing educational enrollment problem in our country.

The priorities in our culture seem to center around the military, homeland security, or in economic terms-guns versus butter as was pointed out by Pres. Eisenhower when he talked about the great military-industrial complex. The government and especially social media, radio and TV have done a great job in promoting fear. Too bad other than Bill Gates were not putting more effort into fixing educational inequality in our country.

Have we lost our way?  And you think the Wolverines have problems?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

U of M Expectations

A previous post covered the power of positive thinking as related to Michigan’s historic 1969 win over the Buckeyes. For me, positive thinking, has to do with one’s level of aspiration based upon previous experiences. It’s not just a wish or a fantasy that’s going to make it happen, it relates to goals, achievements and failures over a period of time.

To contrast, there was a recent article in the New York Times, October 26, 2014 that dealt with positive thinking. This University professor challenged the notion that the key to success is to cultivate and maintain an optimistic outlook. And she went on to suggest that affirmations or eliminating self-talk might not be enough.

Professor Oettingen conducted a study that was related to weight reduction. Briefly, the women in the study were involved in several short open-ended scenarios about future events. Simply put, the researchers asked these women to imagine how they would fare in each scenario. Some of the women were asked to imagine that they successfully completed a weight loss program; others asked to imagine situations in which they were tempted to cheat on their diets. Afterwards, these women were asked to rate how positive or negative their thinking, thoughts and images were. The results were that the more positively women had imagined themselves in their scenario, the fewer pounds that they lost.

Additional research by the professor centered around various kinds of wishes, such as wanting a date, hip replacement for patients hoping to get back on their feet, graduate students looking for a job, etc. Once again, fantasizing about happy outcomes, dreaming about them or just wishing didn’t affect the outcome. And, this positive thinking seemed to hinder people from realizing their dreams. This professor believes that positive thinking and/or fantasizing just fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained the goal, and that slackens or reduces our energy to pursue it.

So, the Wolverines in 1969 just didn’t have positive fantasies about that game. The nine games proceeding this big one, which included mental and physical conditioning, practice, practice, practice, along with real game experience resulted in a series of self-appraisals related to aspirations based on real life events-behavior. So I agree, just fantasizing about an event doesn’t make it happen. The event has to be an important goal, which means that there’s plenty of hard, difficult work involved to attain it. Each success or failure, generally can raise or lower ones expectancy.  Simply put, these Wolverines had a series of positive practice and game day experiences. And as a consequence, their level of aspiration or expectancy was raised, so they believed they were invincible. This team had numerous positive reinforcements coupled with coach Schembechler putting them in a favorable position to win that game. Just ask these players about “the game.” And that victory helped to bond the players for life.

Check your thoughts and wishes and see if they are in any way related to your goals. Thoughts and behavior need to be in concert. Are yours?

Go Blue!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Michigan 24- Ohio State 12

This is almost the 45th anniversary of the University of Michigan’s terrific victory over the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes In 1969. Back then, I remember some of the game as I was with a number of grad students studying psychology for the upcoming preliminary exams.

There are number of explanations and reasons of how and why the young Wolverines were victors on that cold November day. These are some of things that players told me in the writing of Bo’s Warriors: 1. Frank Gusich mentioned about the extreme conditioning tactics of coach Schembechler and that he thought he would be in superb physical condition in the fourth quarter. And because of this conditioning, his team would be victorious. 2. Reggie McKenzie claimed about being with the Mellow Men watching the 1968, Michigan and Ohio State game. In that game, Michigan got slaughtered and lost 50-14. He said his teammates vowed never to let that happen again. 3. A number of the players stated about the coaches shoveling off the snow prior to Monday’s practice and that impressed these players. 4. Coach Schembechler, Coach Moeller, and other coaches and players Frank Gusich, Tom Curtis, Jim Betts, and Thom Darden were all from Ohio. In the communities in which they grew up, it was simply Buckeye territory. Not only did these men not go to the most prestigious school in Ohio, they left and went to its archrival. So for bragging rights it was important for a win. 5. Reggie McKenzie remembered Mad Dog Jim Mandich in the tunnel with fists clenched, tears running down his face spitting out unintelligible words-he will never forget Captain Mandich’s passion. 6. Thom Darden remembered Bo slamming the blackboard and the seniors throwing and breaking chairs as they left before going to the tunnel. Darden will never forget that either.  7. During the season’s practices, Coach Schembechler ran Ohio State’s basic plays so that the defense would know what would be coming on that Saturday. They were prepared.  8. Also, prior to that Ohio State game, the practice squad had a number 50 on their helmets signifying the year before humiliation. 9. On the black board, the Michigan State and Ohio State games were circled. Everyone knew, without a word being spoken, the importance of those rivalry games. 10. The importance of number 10 cannot be overstated:

The week before the Ohio State game, the Wolverines were in Iowa City and they demolished Iowa convincingly. After the game on the way back to Ann Arbor, the players wanted to play Ohio State, right then and there. In other words, they were ready in their own minds. The group ego expected to win that game, and it didn’t matter when or where that game was played. The power of positive thinking /expectation was immense and nothing would diminish it.

In that classic game, Ohio State went down the field and scored, but not the extra point. Michigan received the ball and scored kicking the extra point. Ohio State got the ball and went down the field and scored. They didn’t get the extra point, nor did they shake, Michigan’s confidence. The Wolverines scored three more times to win the game 24 to 12. A large part of that victory was related to the players thinking they were invincible. And, Coach Bo had a lot to do with that tremendous upset.

The moral of the story is about expectations. For more about the power of expectations, visit my other blog.

Go Blue!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chris Christie would say"shut up" Wolverine Complainers

  As Chris Christie would say,” shut up,” Wolverine complainers
There was terrific news in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The University President Mark Schlissel, interim A.D. Jimmy Hackett, Coach Brady Hoke and the University of Michigan Wolverines all won. Maybe more importantly, it was a win for the current students as well as the alumni. In a perfect world, some of the controversy surrounding Michigan football would die down. However, in today’s world, the” boo “birds are perched just waiting to pounce on any opportunity to criticize.

Corrective criticism is one thing and can be appropriate. However, for many, criticism (whether it be politics, sports, entertainment, etc.), has more to do with displeasure of self. At times criticism seems more like hate, anger and /or irrational prejudice and that suggests to me that the expression is likely based on unconscious dynamics. In other words, an individual’s unhappiness of self gets projected and displaced on some person, thing, or object.

It’s so easy to find fault in someone else, especially because being perfect, or perfection hardly exists in reality. And, in sports, we see so much imperfection, mistakes -dropping the ball, overthrowing the receiver, jumping off sides, etc. Even though the players practice and practice that doesn’t result in the elimination of mistakes. Practice might not make it perfect, but hopefully it can reduce the number of errors. When that special moment or perfection happens, it is beautiful to watch as in a touchdown run or the quarterback throwing a touchdown pass. But in a 60 minute football game, how often do we see perfection?

In essence, we live in a world of criticism as there are so many unhappy people. And, the social media technology makes it too easy for these individuals. Perfection does happen but maybe not often enough, since we are all human and make mistakes. I know I have made mistakes (Mike Keller, Thom Darden, and Jim Betts told me about their chapters In Bo’s Warriors) and likely you have as well. So when you put together 11 men on offense and 11 men on defense, they’re going to be mistakes. And the team that makes fewer mistakes often wins.

Hopefully, the imperfect President Schlissel, Jimmy Hackett and his advisers will minimize mistakes and find one terrific athletic director. Time will tell.

 Go Blue!