Friday, January 30, 2015

Bo Schembechler's Greatest Victory -Part I

I pondered for a moment and then replied the following. It was November 22, 1969 at the Big House. The Mighty Ohio State Buckeyes unbeaten in 22 games arrived in Ann Arbor with Rex Kern, Jack Tatum, John Brockington, Jim Stillwagon, Jim Otis and others. Coach Woody Hayes, not one to mince words, believed this was his greatest team ever. In fact, Ohio State was the number one team in the country and favored by 17 points. The Detroit Free Press had a cartoon depicting Woody on a steamroller with Kern, Tatum and others rolling over the Wolverines. It was obvious to the media, the outcome of the game.

Let’s go back in time to this to depict this event in the tumultuous 1960s. In November 23, 1968 the Wolverines traveled to the Shoe in Columbus, Ohio. At the half, Michigan was trailing the Buckeyes 21 to 14. The Wolverines were still in the game. However, in the next half, Ohio State scored 29 straight points. On their final scoring possession, Woody went for a two-point conversion [the score is 48 to 14]. With a two-point conversion, final score was Ohio State 50 and Michigan 14. Asked by the media, Woody, why did you go for two? Woody replied, “Because I couldn’t go for three.”
This humiliation was witnessed by Michigan’s Mellow Men [Reggie McKenzie, Thom Darden, Butch Carpenter, Mike Oldham and Glenn Doughty, Mike Taylor, Billy Taylor]. These freshman sat watching the game on TV made a pledge “Never to allow that to happen again.” In December, the following month, head coach Bump Elliott was dismissed, and replaced by an Ohio native, Bo Schembechler.

Head coach Bo Schembechler inherited Bump Elliott’s recruits. Coach Schembechler also brought with him many Ohio assistant coaches, including Gary Moeller, Dick Connor, Jerry Hanlon, Jim Young and others from Ohio. A few players from Ohio included Jim Mandich, Dan Dierdorf, Don Moorehead, Billy Taylor, Barry Pierson, Jim Betts, Thom Darden, Frank Gusich, Tom Curtis and others. Were these players and coaches from Ohio turncoats; were these Michigan men; and were they out for revenge and bragging rights? Further, Bo Schembechler played and coached under Woody Hayes and Gary Moeller played as a co-captain for Woody Hayes. This meeting in 1969 set the stage for the rivalry of the century.

After five games during the 1969 season, the Wolverines had three victories and two defeats. Missouri blew them out 45-7 and they lost to arch rival Michigan State 23- 12. Then they beat Minnesota 35-9; Wisconsin 35-7; Illinois 57-0 and Iowa 51-6. After the Iowa game, returning to Ann Arbor, the team joyfully shouted “Bring on Ohio State.” These Wolverines were ready to play Ohio State, right then and there.

This brings us up to November 15, 1968. More to follow about the following week and “The Game.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Can Learn from Bump Elliott

In today’s competitive recruiting for college football players, notably absent from the discussion is the character of the young recruit. We have no trouble learning about touchdowns, yards gained, high school wins, which are easily measured. Those statistics are concrete. Let’s return to the late 1960s, when Bump Elliott was head coach at the University Michigan and was then replaced by Bo Schembechler. In my book, Bo’s Warriors all the players interviewed were recruited by Bump Elliott. A lot of Bo Schembechler’s initial  success can be attributed to Bump.

Bump recruited players that were terrific athletes, intelligent, coachable, and mentally tough. These young man came from strong or discipline- athletically oriented families. For instance, Thom Darden came from Sandusky, Ohio. Darden excelled in baseball, basketball, in addition to football. Thom was placed in a college prep curriculum and expected to excel in the classroom and on the field. His father, according to Thom was a terrific athlete himself. He had his young son practicing over and over until he got it right. [Throwing that hard ball, so it cut the corners of the plate]. He supported his son’s athletics, making sure in the process, that Thom did not get a big head; and he wouldn’t tolerate any excuses nor a poor me attitude. Thom’s mother led the choir in church and had a mirror placed on her piano, so she could watch the young singers. Darden stated that all she had to do was give that expression on her face, and he was quick to comply. Both parents gave him clear messages about taking responsibility for behavior. He was not given mixed messages. His instruction and messaging were clear. No shortcuts allowed. In fact, both parents were hard-working, both in and outside the home. In addition, the elder Darden was a pastor so, spirituality, played a significant part as well in his rearing.

Mike Keller was reared in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mike excelled in every sport such as swimming, golf, basketball and football. In fact, he didn’t believe that football was his best sport. Mike grew up attending parochial school and knew about the discipline required for academic success. He learned not to mess with the nuns. Mike’s father was a hard worker, and played college football. Even though he was away a lot [because of his work], he supported his family in a healthy style. He didn’t hesitate to get up early on a Sunday to go to church and then take Mike to an athletic event.

Mike’s mother was described as the drill sergeant and she had to manage her large family. She was organized and had them keeping their large house spec and span. In fact, she even had the kids cleaning the neighbors. Mike was no stranger to hard work, discipline, and doing things the right way. He had to please his mother who also taught college literature. She had him reading the classics to learn the morals and messages of the past. Even though, his family was very comfortable, he learned to work [had a newspaper route and an early age], save and purchase things that he wanted. Things were not given to him on a silver platter.

Both of these defensive stars at the University Michigan, were recruited by Bump, and played on the freshman team together. When Schembechler became coach, both were coachable and familiar with strict rules, male aggressiveness, do it my way or the highway, becoming a team member, rough and difficult physical practices, and being with an authoritarian leader.
These players character was grounded in hard work [getting your hands dirty], abasement [accepting criticism and feedback], affiliation [loyalty to teammates], deference [admiring a coach] dominance [controlling one’s environment to achieve desired outcome] order [achieving precision by practice] succorance [wanting to be admired and loved]. Thom and Mike also exhibited mental toughness and the desire to achieve and overcome hurdles, regardless of the obstacles. 

Jim Harbaugh do not forget about the character of the players, recruited. That’s another legacy you want to leave.

Go Blue Go!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tom Brady, Win on Super Bowl Sunday

I happened to turn on CNN on my television set today and this is what I saw and heard. Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots was talking to the media [jury] about footballs. From what I saw, Coach Bill Belichick reported that his organization evaluated various footballs. He talked about the feel and roughing up the football; about air pressure; atmospheric conditions; and about the components of the football. He reported that the Patriot’s pick out and hand the footballs to the referee before the game, and ask them to inflate the footballs to 12.5 pounds. He added that this is their procedure, and that he knows nothing about any so-called tampering after the fact.

Coach Bill was smart and limited the cross-examination by the media. He responded by telling them he had  answered the question; has no knowledge of what the NFL is going to do; and stated that the Patriots talked to many people. He didn’t identify any individuals outside of the organization that may have helped in the study. He wouldn’t talk about his feelings, but was clearly not happy about spending all this time on an inflated or deflated football. Belichick Indicated that he was through talking about this issue.

After he left the podium, then CNN brought in their experts [I didn’t hear what made them experts or scientists regarding a football or football]. One so-called expert couldn’t wait until next week’s media day prior to the Super Bowl. Just think of all the questions regarding the football that can be asked to all those 100 or so players on the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.

Another so-called expert said that when he plays basketball, he can tell if the ball is improperly inflated or when playing tennis whether or not his strings need to be tightened. I missed the point regarding whether or not a 12 pound football makes a difference in a game of 22 men where maybe three players of the 22 actually touch the ball. The so-called expert also suggested that because the Patriot coach and organization, were fined in the past, they were likely guilty in the present. In other words, once guilty or fined then always guilty.

If you like the Patriots then all that Bill Belichick reported is consonant with your belief system. You tend to agree and want to move on. However, if you dislike the Patriots, then cognitive dissonance exists in your belief system. And if so, you will still believe that the organization likely cheated. If you are a media “expert” you relish the opportunity to talk about future events; hypotheticals; predictions; and other metaphysical questions that can only be answered by God.

Being a Tom Brady fan, I expect this to provide additional motivation for next Sunday’s game. Hopefully, Brady and the Patriots can use this distraction to their advantage and not let it interfere with practice and game performance. The coach has his team playing in all kinds of conditions and refers to them as mentally tough. I’ll bet they are. I also bet that they’ll come together for that game. As I’m not a betting man, I don’t know who’s going to win Super Bowl XLIX.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Go Blue Go An Excerpt From the New Book Bo's Warriors

Excerpt 6 from the magazine. The Wolverine covering University of Michigan sports.

Mike Keller said that Bump took a personal interest in him and his academics. “Bump knew that in order to play. I had to be eligible.” Keller said Bump was easy to be around, like an uncle. Keller was  also friends with Bruce, Pete Elliott’s son(and Bumps nephew), and as a senior became friends with Bruce’s brother Dave. Mike said that it was Bump, who first approached him and asked him to run for the Board of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Michigan. He did, and won.

Frank Gusich remembered that Bump made a strong impression with both him and his mother. Elliott was “a real gentleman, a real classy guy. And it didn’t hurt that Michigan had a good academic reputation.”

Fritz Seyferth described Bump as a gentleman, respectful of every individual, dapper, well- spoken, perfect, like an Ivy leaguer. He didn’t think that Bump would have run Schembechler’s slap-and-stomp drill because it disrespected the individual.

These Michigan Wolverines who spanned two iconic coaching tenures contributed greatly to and personify the Michigan tradition. Together they represent a cross-section of young men from different backgrounds who bonded and became relentless, in achieving their common goal. They came together, and in 1969 , they achieved together.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today's Interview with Tom Brady

Brady did not physically demonstrate, to the examiners, how he chose the footballs that he likes. Brady was not asked to hold two footballs in his hand [Blindfolded] and indicate which football felt heavier. Brady didn’t have to pick out 12 to 24 footballs for the interview. Brady didn’t even have a representative feeding him leading questions. For about 40 minutes or so, Brady answered pretty much the same questions over and over.

If I was an executive in the NFL, I would collect the data. That would mean setting up a research design that would control variables like: weather conditions; field conditions; number of times the ball hit the ground with varying degrees of force; number of times the ball was punted; number of times the ball was kicked, etc. I would also measure the weight and circumference of each ball both before and after the game. The measurement of how well the ball holds its air is something else to consider.

In doing this research for let’s say a season, I would then have a pretty good idea of what happens to that football during the game. At the moment I can’t think of another way to properly assess football weight. Simply, by measuring the weight of 12 footballs at the end of one game by one team does not answer the question of tampering. To do otherwise, seems to me, is a waste of time and energy.

Of course, critics will likely disbelieve Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady’s testimony. Perhaps a lie detector should be given to both. I doubt that would silence the critics either. Hopefully, this distraction will not take away from the Super Bowl XLIX. There are two good teams going against each other. It may be just a good game.

I’m rooting for Michigan quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots. Go Blue!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Jim Harbaugh, and Super Bowl XLIX

What idiot trashed Big Ten football? Let’s get a few things straight. In this year’s AFC and NFC Championship Games, there were four starting quarterbacks. And we know, that quarterbacks get the credit for wins and for losses. In the 2015 NFC championship game,   Seattle’s quarterback was Russell Wilson. Mr. Wilson was the 2011 Big Ten quarterback of the year; a consensus first-team all-Big Ten and third team All-American. He led the Wisconsin Badgers to a Big Ten championship and 2012 Rose Bowl victory. His opposing quarterback was Aaron Rodgers of the Cal Bears. Rogers was a first round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers and was the Super Bowl champion [XLV]. He was also named the MVP of that Super Bowl in 2011, as well as the Associated Press Athlete of the Year
The Packers won the first half, and were on their way to another Super Bowl. However, the Seahawks quarterback and his team demonstrated mental toughness and somehow won the game in overtime 28-22. Congratulations go to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

In the AFC championship game, the quarterback Andrew Luck, interestingly enough, was recruited, and played for none other than Jim Harbaugh, the Stanford head coach. Quarterback Luck was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in both 2010 in 2011 and was the number one selection in the NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. In his first three seasons, Luck played in 4 playoff appearances in four years. He threw the most touchdowns of any NFL quarterback this year.

His opposing quarterback was none other than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Junior. Brady at one time was seventh on the University of Michigan depth chart. He was a backup quarterback for the first two years and then started every game in 1998 and 1999 under head coach Lloyd Carr. At Michigan, he set records for most pass attempts and completions and was all Big Ten honorable mention in 1998 and 1999 ; and team captain in his senior year. Brady was selected the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Many analysts have called Brady the best NFL draft pick of all time.

Tom Brady holds so many NFL records and has many career highlights and awards. For instance, he has played in and has won more career playoff wins than any other quarterback. He has won three super bowls and was the Super Bowl MVP twice. He’s been an AFC champion 6 times, etc. etc. etc. Oh yeah, Brady’s New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 45 to 7. More records for Brady.
 The Big Ten will be represented in this year’s Super Bowl by two former Big Ten quarterbacks. Not bad, as I would say. What is neat about that statistic is that it supports that the Big Ten is alive. Urban Meyer, winning the college national championship adds to the credibility along with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. On a recent David Letterman show, Urban Meyer would not say Michigan, but referred to them as the team up north.

Hats off to Jim Harbaugh as he recruited Andrew Luck, whose future looks terrific in the NFL. Jim work your magic and get those recruits as you will need them.


Michigan State, and Wisconsin Big Ten powerhouses did their job too in this past season’s bowl games.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Harbaugh -Meyer Rivalry

The Harbaugh-Meyer   Rivalry Has Begun

A rivalry between two terrific coaches in the Big Ten has already begun. As a matter of fact, there are some similarities between the two men. For example, both Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer were born in Toledo, Ohio, and just seven months separate them in age. Jim is 51 and Urban is 50 years of age. They played collegiate football and have been head coaches at Division 1 schools - Jim for six years and Urban for 13. And, they are married, have children and of the Roman Catholic faith.

There are some differences between the two men, some of which are significant. For instance, although the two men played collegiate football, Jim Harbaugh was the starting quarterback for a major football powerhouse under Bo Schembechler. This collegiate All-American, was a first round draft choice in the NFL; quarterbacked his team in big games over a 13 year span.
This same man coached in college as a head coach for the University of San Diego [2004-2006] and Stanford University [2007-2010]. Harbaugh also coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. In other words, this man has been involved in big time football since 1983 through present or 21 years. He started out in the Big Ten under the solid foundation of a traditional offensive minded Bo and has returned to the Big Ten.

Coach Harbaugh’s NFL playing career included the Chicago Bears; the Indianapolis Colts; the Baltimore Ravens; the San Diego Chargers; the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Jim also was with the Oakland Raiders as an assistant coach under Bill Callahan. While with the San Francisco 49ers, he traded Alex Smith [Alex Smith played for Urban Meyer at Utah] and inserted Colin Kaepernick as a starting quarterback.

It’s no wonder that Jim Harbaugh is assembling a coaching staff filled with individuals who have NFL experience. Harbaugh himself has been exposed to many outstanding NFL coaching minds and that likely has contributed to his success as a coach, both in college and in the NFL. In four years with the Niners, his team had three NFC championships, and played in one Super Bowl.
The other highly successful college coach is none other than Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Although Meyer was not the super athlete as Jim Harbaugh, he paid his dues. He was a high school position coach for one year; and from 1986- 2000, Meyer was a position coach in college, working mainly with the offense. He learned from numerous college coaches and he didn’t stay too long with one school. [His longest tenure was 5 years at Colorado State and 4 years at Notre Dame].

In 2001, Meyer became head coach at Bowling Green, and has never looked back. He has amassed 141 victories and only 26 defeats [Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State]. More impressively he attained two national championships with Florida, and one most recently at Ohio State. He is currently the winningest college coach, in football. And his Heisman winner Tim Tebow, master of the spread offense, was the catalyst for all those Florida victories.

Traditionally, more college coaches windup coaching in the NFL. Generally, an NFL coach does not return to the college level, as head coach. Recently, Nick Saban, an exception, of the Crimson Tide left the Miami Dolphins to return to the college level. Saban won a national championship at LSU and 3 at Alabama. In order to reach the college championship game in 2015, Meyer’s Buckeyes whipped Saban’s Crimson Tide with a third string spread offense quarterback.

This new rivalry Harbaugh versus Meyer might either equal or surpass the Schembechler- Hayes 10 Year War. Time will tell. However, Harbaugh has been successful wherever he’s been and more than likely that will continue. No doubt the press will come up with something snappy to highlight this new rivalry. In fact, Meyer refers to Michigan as the team up North. College football, being what it is, will profit greatly.

Good luck men. I know your engines have already started. In the meantime, Go Blue Go!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I'm Thinking about Bo and Woody

The Ohio State’s Urban Meyer Wins another Championship. This is likely to fuel the rivalry between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.

This was the first time that I have ever rooted for the Ohio State Buckeyes In the first college championship game against the Oregon Ducks. It’s been decades that I’ve rooted against that team from Ohio, and I mean decades. Well things changed this past year. First, the NCAA created a college championship football game, and the team from Ohio is in the Big Ten. Second, at the beginning of the college football season, the Big Ten teams received absolutely no respect. In fact, the predictions were that no Big Ten team was good enough to be in that top four playoff ranking.

Then, during the season the Ohio State Buckeyes lost their first game of the season, and were considered out of it. Prior, they lost their first string quarterback who was considered Heisman potential. Then, Ohio State took care of Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Alabama in succession. Urban Meyer the Ohio State coach did a remarkable job with his young players, especially Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott.

The Buckeyes win against a good Oregon team was indeed impressive. Their offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and their defense held the Ducks to a mere 20 points. The Oregon team failed to score points, in the red zone, and their fate was sealed.

In thinking about the 2015 football season, it’s clear that Coach Jim Harbaugh has his work cut out for him. We know Harbaugh is a terrific football coach and he’s assembling a good, solid coaching staff. Will he have the players to compete against the Buckeyes In 2015? With his hiring, Michigan is attracting many more recruits. Hopefully, he can start building so Michigan can have a br
ight future. I don’t expect that he’ll create miracles, but I do expect Wolverines will be good this year.

Congratulations go to Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. They dominated and were clearly the better team, on January 12, 2015.

Go Blue Go!

Friday, January 9, 2015

An Excerpt from the Book Bo's Warriors

                                            Go Blue Go                              
An Excerpt From the New Book  Bo’s Warriors  :

 Bo  Schembechler And The Transformation Of Michigan Football
  By Frank Lieberman

On Saturday, November 22, the University of Michigan hosted the Ohio State University Buckeyes in Ann Arbor in front of 103,588 fans. Woody Hayes, was the coach of the nation’s unbeaten (in 22 games), defending national champion top- ranked college football team. Some called them the greatest team of all time and compared them to the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL’s gold standard at the time. Hayes believed this team was one of his best, if not his all-time best. If the Buckeyes were Goliath, then, the Wolverines were David. Then again, you know what happened between David and Goliath.

Even though they were the home team, the Wolverines were 17- point underdogs going into the game. Michigan had suffered two early-season losses, but had since been on a roll and entered the game with a 7-2 record. They were led by a young, first-year coach named Bo Schembechler. Coach Schembechler told his team that if they couldn’t remember Schembechler, “just call me Bo.” Previously, coach Schembechler had been a head coach of Miami of Ohio, known as a hotbed of coaching talent. He brought with him young, talented, energetic and intelligent football minds in assistants. Gary Moeller , Jim Young, Chuck Stobart, Jerry Hanlon, and Rick Hunter  among others. These coaches also had experience as high school head coaches, which some believe contributed to their understanding of how to better communicate, teach and motivate athletically gifted young men.

Bo was described by many as a psychological genius because of his ability to understand, teach, motivate, and underscore the importance of “team” to his players. He drilled the concept of teamwork over and over again, which resulted in the cohesion of his squads .It as about the team, the team, and the team. These young men became psychologically part of a group to which they belonged (what he called “bonded teammates”). As a result, for example, Mike Taylor, a defensive All-American specialist, got on Reggie McKenzie an offensive All- American stalwart, for dogging it during practice drills. He said to Reggie, “Come on, they’re watching you. Don’t go through the motions.”

Source: The Wolverine ,October ,2014

To Be Continued

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jim Harbaugh’s Coaching Staff Challenge

Jim Harbaugh’s Coaching Staff Challenge

At the end of 1968, Bo Schembechler replaced coach Bump Elliott, as the Wolverines head coach. While interviewing Gary Moeller, for Bo’s Warriors, we talked about what it was like arriving in Ann Arbor for the upcoming 1969 season. Gary was a position coach on the defense at that time.

Gary indicated that Bo’s concern was having a thorough understanding of what he had in a way of talent. Bo also told the coaches to treat with respect, the previous coaching staff and not express any negatives about them in any way. Likely, evaluating, Michigan’s current roster is a priority for new head coach John Harbaugh. On offense, questions like “Do I have a Big Ten quarterback?  Do I have explosive running backs, wide receivers and tight ends? Do I have an offensive line to provide protection for my quarterback, and that can open holes for my running backs?”

In order to evaluate players, coach Harbaugh has to have his staff filled. More than likely he has found his line coach and offensive coordinator in Tim Drevno. It is rumored that Greg Mattison the defensive coordinator for previous coach Brady Hoke would like to stay on at Michigan. Greg has a ton of coaching experience at both the college and NFL levels. Prior to coming to Michigan, Greg coached for John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens, taking over from Rex Ryan. Mr. Mattison first worked under Jack Harbaugh the head coach at Western Michigan University. In other words, Greg has a personal and professional relationship with the Harbaugh family.

It’s just been reported that D. J. Durkin is joining Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan staff as his defensive coordinator. D. J. played at bowling green, and was a team captain. He also was a graduate assistant for the newly appointed head coach Urban Meyer for two seasons. He left and coached at Notre Dame before leaving to join Jim Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-2009.  He was then reunited with Coach Meyer who coached the Florida Gators. He stayed on and was named the interim head coach for Will Muschamp until just recently. It’s obvious that the young Mr. Durkin is on a fast track

Another rumor surfaced recently that Tyrone Wheatley is interested in becoming part of Jim’s coaching staff. Wheatley from Inkster, Michigan had a terrific career at Michigan and ranks number five on their all-time net rushing yards. His yards/attempt at 6.1 is second to Denard Robinson’s 6.2. His 47 touchdowns rank second to Anthony Thomas’s 55.

I remember Wheatley’s 1993 Rose Bowl performance where he had touchdown runs of 88, 56 and 24 yards. I also remember his success with the Oakland Raiders under Coach Jon Gruden with the West Coast offense. Leaving the NFL, Tyrone coached track at the University Michigan and in high school. Currently, he is a coach on the Buffalo Bills staff. However, Buffalo Bill’s head coach Doug Marrone resigned recently, and likely Tyrone will be without a NFL job. Tyrone Wheatley, the Michigan native, was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He more than likely would be a great addition to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan staff.

Jim Harbaugh take advantage of Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, and your father Jack and other former Michigan coaches in the area. They’ll be great at spring practice, as well as on the recruiting trail. You’ll need special eyes in evaluating your spring practice players. Spring practice will likely give you a good idea of the available talent for the 2015 season. Player development is also needed on your team. Utilize all your resources. Good luck, Jim.

Go Blue!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Call,Jim Brandstatter, Tim Drevno and Jim Harbaugh

Being from Detroit, I remember the champion Detroit Lions with coach Buddy Parker, George Wilson and players like Bobby Lane, Tobin Rote, Doak Walker, Les Bingaman, Cloyce Box, [Tom the Bomb Tracy, John Henry Johnson, Leon Hart, Lou Creekmur, Harley Sewell, Joe Schmidt and of course Chris and his crew [Jack Christiansen, Jimmy David, Terry Barr and Yale Larry] to name a few.

In fact, the 1957 season had the Lions winning the Western Conference playoff game in an exciting, 31 to 27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. In the NFL Championship Game, the Lions whipped the Cleveland Browns, 59 to 14 in front of over 55,000 fans. Incidentally, Tobin Rote was the Lion’s quarterback in that game at Briggs Stadium. On a side note, during that football season, I played for Denby high school and we were undefeated, ready to play for the public school championship when our athletic director Greene announced that one of our players Ed Hood falsified his medical evaluation. The result was that we had to forfeit the games in which he played. Ed Hood was a junior, and played the next year in 1958. He then received a scholarship to play for the University Michigan.

The radio announcer for the current Detroit Lions Jim Brandstatter was an offensive tackle for Bo Schembechler.  I asked Jim about the controversial call [Brandon Pettigrew was interfered by linebacker Anthony Hitchens and was unable to catch the pass thrown by Matthew Stafford. Initially, the flag was thrown for pass interference and then referee Pete Morelli picked up the flag-thus there was no penalty]. On the radio, Jim said to his radio audience, “What just happened?”  I am not going to repeat what Jim said off the air. Further, Jim, the radio announcer, has been joined this year by Dan Dierdorf. Hear them on the University of Michigan Wolverines radio network.

The Lions had a good season this year, and likely will improve for the 2015 season. Likewise, with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, the University of Michigan is in a great position to return to its football greatness. Jim Harbaugh has brought in 45-year-old Tim Drevno 45 as his offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. Tim was an offensive lineman at Cal State Fullerton in 1989 and 1990. Tim became the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at the University of San Diego; coached tight ends and was the offensive line coach at Stanford University; and coached the offensive line with Mike Soleri for the San Francisco 49ers.

Wherever Tim coached, his record speaks for itself.  Each of these three teams were very successful under his tutelage. Further, Tim’s head coach was Jim Harbaugh. Obviously, Jim has had a successful history with Tim that has contributed to Jim’s success. If past history is a look into the future, then Michigan is in good hands with Tim Drevno.

Go Blue!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Jim Harbaugh's Next Challenge

Big Ten football is not ready to be buried or dead. Yesterday, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State were winners and only Minnesota lost. Not only that, but Ohio State is playing Oregon for the college football championship. Notice, there is no team from the heralded SEC Conference in that game.

In the Outback Bowl, Wisconsin beat Auburn 34 to 31, with the nations rushing leader Melvin Gordon attaining 251 yards. The Michigan State Spartans triumphed the Baylor Bears in the Cotton Bowl 42 to 41 scoring three touchdowns [The last touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game] in the fourth quarter while holding Baylor scoreless. It’s reported that Quarterback Connor Cook is returning next year to East Lansing. In the Sugar Bowl [Semifinal championship game], Cardale Jones, in just his second career start, was instrumental in the Ohio State Buckeyes whipping the Alabama Crimson Tide by the score of 42 to 35. And Ohio State whipped them good. And on the 12th of January, the Buckeyes play the Oregon Ducks for the championship. Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer accomplished this[ Possibility of the national championship] in his third year of coaching the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer this is impressive.

Simply put, Big Ten football made an exclamation point. What is significant are the number of outstanding and I mean outstanding college football players [the depth] on these 3 Big Ten teams. Who would expect a third string quarterback to lead his team over the number one ranked team in the country? Incidentally, his first start was a win for the Big Ten championship. These teams are well-stocked with talent and will make the 2015 college football season very difficult to say the least for the Wolverines.

The major task, aside from putting together an outstanding staff of coaches, is for Jim Harbaugh finding and recruiting outstanding young athletes with character. Obviously, he cannot do this job alone. He requires assistance from all the alumni. The Michigan football program has to bring to Ann Arbor, young men of athletic talent. Some of the recruits will likely be more gifted than others. That means, teaching, mentoring, as well as providing the platform of developing these athletes are required.

Additionally, mental toughness, competitiveness, ability to become part of the team, intelligence and a will to win are important variables. Coach Harbaugh, like coach Schembechler has to be able to modify and reframe the players thinking in their ability to think about themselves in very different ways. They need to believe, to train, to become like a band of brothers, and to have the confidence and hope in tough practices and games. Coach Harbaugh will be able to tell about their toughness and their thinking during practice.

The physical variables like weight, speed and strength are easily measured. The intangibles like ability to focus, to improve and reach higher levels [thinking and behavior] are more difficult to assess. Coach Harbaugh, we know you know about X and O’s. It’s what you can accomplish between the ears of these players that will make the difference. I have confidence, you learned from your father Jack, from Bo, Gary Moeller and others along your journey. Find the players and work your magic

Go Blue!