Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Secrets Behind Bo Schembechler's Success -Part 1

Eight outstanding University of Michigan men were chosen to reveal Bo Schembechler’s secrets. In addition, these men exemplified the great Michigan tradition, both on and off the field. Not only did coach Gary Moeller Initially accompany Bo to Ann Arbor, he served with him in a number of coaching capacities, including his defensive coordinator. Gary went on to become the head coach of Michigan from 1990 through 1994. During his five seasons as head coach, his teams were victorious in 44 games. They lost 13 and tied 3 for a winning percentage of .758. Gary was a leader, a communicator and the players related very well to his style and creative coaching drills. The young athletic Moeller also played basketball, during the off-season, with the young footballers. His exuberant physical contact on the basketball court sent a clear message and modeled physical play. Playing sports, was not for sissies.

The seven players [Frank Gusich, Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter, Fritz Seyferth, Mike Keller, Tom Curtis, Jim Betts, and Reggie McKenzie] were chosen because they signify the Michigan tradition of excellence, and they are good examples of having the mentally and physically tough characteristics needed in order to play this brutal game. They also have not embarrassed the University but instead have become well-known spokesmen and representatives within their communities. And of course, the seven were outstanding athletes and contributed greatly especially in the classic 1969 Ohio State game. These magnificent seven represented the senior, Junior and sophomore classes. They played important and critical positions. On offense they played in the backfield and also on the line the scrimmage. On the defensive side of the ball, they played on the line, and in the defensive secondary. Woody Hayes had his Jack Tatum and Bo Schembechler had his Thom Darden and Frank Gusich as Wolfman [a fierce linebacker type, but also able to play in the secondary]. These magnificent men were not a random sample. They were identified and significantly chosen as a representative sample of the 1969 Michigan team. Were there other stars on that particular team, of course? But these eight were chosen to best represent the dynamic Michigan football.

After interviewing these individuals and hearing their story, I learned a lot about Coach Bo Schembechler and the magic he created both on and off the field. Did he make them champions [they won 27 out of 30 college games from 1969 through 1971?] Or, did they make him the legend? Let the historians decide. The following are the top secrets or the facts, as told, and contributed greatly to the success of Bo Schembechler’s Warriors.

To be continued at a later date.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jim Harbaugh, Make Lightning Strike Twice in Ann Arbor

We all know that history tends to repeat itself. On November 22, 1969, the Undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan to play the Michigan Wolverines. At that time, the Buckeyes were undefeated in 22 straight games and were ranked number one in college football. Coach Woody Hayes, at the time, believed that this Buckeye squad was his best. For one, All-American Jack Tatum, who later played for the Oakland Raiders was one of his star players. His team was favored by 17 points to demolish archrival Michigan. The year before, his squad embarrassed the Wolverines 50-14 in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1969, Michigan was coached by first year coach Bo Schembechler.  Schembechler inherited a talented squad recruited by previous head coach Bump Elliott. The 1968 squad included such notables as Jim Mandich, Jim Betts, Tom Curtis, Dan Dierdorf, etc. Bump also recruited the following freshman: Mike Keller, Jim Brandstatter, Frank Gusich, Bruce Elliott, and Leon Hart Junior and the” Mellow Men:” Thom Darden, Reggie McKenzie, Billy Taylor, Mike Taylor, Mike Oldham, Glenn Doughty, and  Butch Carpenter. These freshman were now sophomores in 1969. Don’t forget the 1968 squad’s overall record was 8-2.

Let’s jump, to 2015 or 46 years later. Urban Meyer is currently the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. His 2014 Buckeyes won 12 straight and are currently ranked the number one college football team for 2015. Looking at the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes schedule, they play, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on November 28, 2015. Let’s say they are undefeated going into the Michigan game. If so, they would have a 23 game winning streak on the line, and more than likely would be the number one ranked team in college football. They would be heavy favorites.

The 2015 Wolverines would be coached by first year, head coach Jim Harbaugh. Unlike 1969, every college-professional football fan knows about Jim Harbaugh. Who knew about Bo Schembechler’s 1969? It’s safe to say that Harbaugh did not inherit a strong Michigan team coached by Brady Hoke. The Wolverines 2014 overall record was 5-7 and 3-5 in the Big Ten. Coach Harbaugh recruited talented freshman [Zack Gentry, Brian Cole, Grant Newsome, Alex Malzone, TJ Wheatley Junior, Jon Runyan Junior, etc.] to complement the 2015 squad. These freshman would likely have to play like an immortals this coming year for Michigan to have a chance of victory. And, hopefully Harbaugh’s coaching staff could equal Coach Schembechler’s extremely knowledgeable group of coaches. Bo knew that his coaches could relate to the young players. Let’s hope the same can be true of Harbaugh and his staff.

Can lightning strike twice in Ann Arbor [The Wolverines were victorious 24 to 12 in 1969] with a Harbaugh coached Wolverine victory against overwhelming odds? We know, the media would again create and make a huge the rivalry war between Harbaugh and Meyer. This would be terrific for both schools, the Big Ten and college football. Once again, the interest would be heightened in and out of this world. A great number of “ifs” have to happen as far as history is concerned. I’m looking forward to it.

We all know that Bo Schembechler is looking down on his Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh can make Bo and  his warriors pleased?

Go Blue!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jim Harbaugh is the fifth Head Coach to Follow Bo

As state as 2010, Jim Harbaugh was awarded the Woody Hayes Trophy and in 2011 was an Orange Bowl Champion with the Stanford Cardinals. Then all of a sudden [4 days later] coach Harbaugh left that relationship and found a new suitor with the San Francisco 49ers. Coach didn’t allow too much time to set in, nor grieve [No marital counseling] the loss of being the head man at a terrific private university.

There was tremendous initial   chemistry with his new suitor the San Francisco 49ers-the epitome or the top of the pyramid as far as coaching goes. There is no place that has any more prestige in our mortal world, than to be a head coach in the NFL. Not only that, the San Francisco 49er franchise has a great history with the legend or ghost of Bill Walsh. Jim Harbaugh had big shoes to fill, something to prove, as he was now on top of the world in the magnificent, golden state in the Bay Area.

It didn’t take long for success for Coach Harbaugh because he was chosen the AP NFL Coach of the year in 2011. Harbaugh took a team that was expected to rebuild and brought them to a NFC championship game that season [They lost 20-17 in overtime to the New York Giants]. Then, in the 2012-2013 season, Coach Harbaugh resolved the Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick quarterback controversy when he traded number one pick Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs. His team again won the NFC West title and also won the NFC championship game over the Atlanta Falcons 28-14. Then he faced his older brother John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. Sadly, younger brother Jim lost older brother John 34-31, in a darkened thriller.

The attraction [Could it have been phenyl ethylamine or PEA that neurotransmitter chemical in the brain that causes an individual to fall madly in love] between the city of San Francisco, the San Francisco 49er’s faithful and the young,  charismatic, talented, handsome athletic man of faith, Jim Harbaugh.  If PEA was the only magic working chemistry in this love relationship [Some might refer to it as the infatuation phase-and the effects of PEA last for only about 3 to 5 years], then reality sets in. It’s equally important for oxytocin, pheromones, serotonin to continue working in our brains in order to keep that      love relationship intact and solid.

Did a 12-4 record and losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game in 2013 and an 8-8 record [Losing the last regular-season game on December 14, 2014] and missing the playoffs contribute to falling out of love with the head San Francisco 49er power broker? In any event, the love was gone and there was tension, mistrust and discord in that once solid relationship. The divorce was imminent, the contract was terminated and without a grieving phase [Again without marital counseling], and Jim Harbaugh found another suitor and quickly merged on December 30, 2014 with the University of Michigan.

It’s safe to say, that the infatuation phase or the neurotransmitter PEA is alive and well as the amount of love once again is unsurpassed. It’s simply marvelous to have this human brain with all its neurotransmitter chemicals that allow us to fall in love over and over again. However, because of human frailties, one word of caution goes to all the players or characters. We have an especially high divorce rate in second, third, and fourth unions in our country. Is it a flip of a coin that this relationship will end in retirement, old age, death or divorce? Stay tuned as time will tell.

Go Blue!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jim Harbaugh and the Intangibles

Spring practice for Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines is rapidly approaching. The majority of players on the 2015 team are there because they were recruited by Brady Hoke and his staff. If the 2014 season was an indication, their football and athletic ability to play solid Big Ten football this year is in question. It’s true that Coach Harbaugh added freshman to this year’s team. I have no doubt that Jim Harbaugh and staff can evaluate football athletic ability. I am curious as to the character or intangibles of both Harbaugh’s and Hoke’s recruitments. Hopefully, the mortar has the right ingredients for a solid base. Of course that answer is to be determined.

A complete change of coaching personnel brings me back to 1968, when Coach Bump Elliott was fired. In 1968, Coach Elliott’s team compiled an 8-2 record. We knew that Elliott’s team was athletic and had football ability. Elliott also had the gift of evaluating the intangibles or character of college-age men. For example, a couple of players from Ohio come to mind-Dan Dierdorf, Tom Curtis, Jim Betts and Jim Mandich from the 1968 squad.

These Ohio athletes had terrific careers at the University of Michigan. Honors included being All-American; Michigan’s all-time interception leader; being selected to the all-time Michigan team; being team Captain; and being drafted to play in the NFL. Curtis and Mandich have Super Bowl rings, and Dierdorf is in the NFL Hall of Fame. So much for their football talent.

Coach Elliott also recruited Frank Gusich and Thom Darden from Ohio and Jim Brandstatter, Mike Keller and Reggie McKenzie from the state of Michigan. Keller, Darden and McKenzie were drafted, and played in the NFL. Both Darden and McKenzie were all pro with the Browns and the Bills respectively. Keller played for the Cowboys, and was then hired to be in their front office. All told, Keller had over 38 years of football experience as a player, scout, front office staff and CEO. It is clear that coach Bump Elliott knew how to recruit football talent and the intangibles.

While interviewing Mike Keller, one of the questions I asked him was to construct a football “robot “with the qualities necessary to reach the highest heights in the professional game. Some of his thoughts included: 1. Competitiveness- which he defined as a player that hates to lose, never quits on plays. And, every play is most important in the game. 2. Being a team player. Keller talked about the individual who was willing to sacrifice his own personal glory for the sake of the team. The thinking was” I’m one of 11 or I’m one of 40.” The player doesn’t subvert all of his personality, however; he knows if the team is going to be successful, then Individual players are also going to be successful. 3 . Intelligence. For Keller that meant the player had to make quick decisions on the field. He thought it could be called instincts which was making good decisions, avoiding mistakes, and knowing how to react in battle when the opposing player is coming at you as in combat. The players know something bad can happen in a game, but they are trained to do their part and make good decisions under pressure. Another example might be engaging the enemy in trash talk, and motivating ones teammates on the line. Keller played on the line at times. 4. Mental toughness. This meant, according to Mike, being able to differentiate between pain and injury. Players are expected to play with pain and pain tolerance is a major component and part of the game. This “game” is about current performance, not what the player did yesterday. Another aspect of mental toughness was ability to focus. The player has to focus and put out of his mind outside factors such as personal issues and still play the game at 100%.

Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh has Incorporated, some of Mike Keller’s [recruited by Bump, played for Bo] wisdom and experience. When you put together the physical statistics along with the intangibles the potential is there for a terrific team. Let us see how long it takes for Jim to further develop his young recruits and turn them into Michigan men, as Bo taught him. Jim Harbaugh is a Michigan man, true and true.

Go Blue!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Can Thank Bo Schembechler for his $5 Million

  Jim Harbaugh Can Thank Bo Schembechler 5 Million Times
Jim Harbaugh has a tremendous responsibility to put it mildly. According to an article in Time dated September 16, 2013, the University of Michigan’s football team revenue for 2011-2012 was in excess of $86 million. Let me repeat, $86 million was the total team football revenue and that placed Michigan second to Texas, whose revenue was over $103 million for the same football season. Of Michigan’s total revenue, their profit was over $61 million so they can easily afford to pay Jim’s $5 million plus or minus salary per year. And just think of the 2015 season’s worth of the Wolverines home games and all the revenue that is going to generate. The city of Ann Arbor should thank the Michigan Wolverine football team.

It does not hurt to have these outlandish television contracts, souvenir hackers, Stadium vendor’s, parking attendants, hotels, restaurants, etc. that add and contribute heavily to the revenue. Of course, one could make an argument that the beginning of college football mania goes back to the late 1890s, when the sport became more popular. In fact, the 1894 Harvard- Yale football game generated about $119,000, which translates into about $3 million today.

However, if I was to give credit to the more modern big business of college football, I would turn to the idyllic college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan in to 1968. The new athletic director at the time was Don Canham. In 1968, Michigan had an 8-2 record and was coached by Bump Elliott. Unfortunately, for Bump his Wolverines lost to Ohio State’s Buckeyes coached by legend, Woody Hayes by the score of 50 to 14. That was all Canham could stomach. Essentially, athletic director Canham removed Elliott and hired an unknown named Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler Jr. at the end of 1968.

Athletic director Canham and, Coach Bo Schembechler were a dynamic duo. The Batman- Robin image does not apply here as both were giants in their own right. Canham enlarged the Stadium, marketed jerseys and other sports paraphernalia, involved the alumni in many creative ways, created new team rivalries with other universities, got involved with television and marketed, Michigan football across the nation. Canham set the standard and led the way for college athletic directors.
New head coach Bo Schembechler complemented the marketing genius of Canham. He was part of the 10 year war -Hayes and Schembechler’s teams won or shared the Big Ten conference every season; and compiled a 234-65-8 record from 1969 to 1989; his teams in all but one season were ranked; and 16 times his teams were in the final top 10 in both major polls. All Michigan did was win with Bo Schembechler at the helm. In essence, Canham, and Schembechler set the stage and laid the groundwork for Michigan success. On a side note, in 1982, Texas A&M offered Coach Schembechler nearly $3 million for 10 years. That was the richest contract in the history of college athletics at that time. Schembechler reportedly said that he decided to stay at Michigan because he came to the conclusion that there are things more important in this world than money. He could’ve said      or thought to himself that I’d rather coach Jim Harbaugh, instead. Yes, Jim Harbaugh was fortunate that Bo didn’t leave when given the opportunity of a lifetime. Things turned out well for Bo by staying and turned out great for Jim by playing and learning from the best.

Jim Harbaugh, it’s up to you to keep Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan number one. There was a recent poll that ranked over 400 public universities on 6 criteria’s. To no one’s surprise, the University of Michigan ranked number one on that list. And to show your appreciation Jim, thank Bo Schembechler for your huge salary.

Go Blue!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Major in Football- Jim Harbaugh

Make College  Relevant Jim Harbaugh

By and large, Jim Harbaugh’s 2015 recruiting class has been selected. Criticism recently has been directed at both universities and the student- athlete. I prefer to call them athletic students. It’s been reported that football players can spend up to 60 hours a week with their sport. Also, graduation rates for Division I football and men’s basketball players hover around 50%. Recently, the University of North Carolina has been in news related to their academic fraud. And that’s not all, because it’s believed that there are about 20 other colleges being investigated by the NCAA on suspicion of academic fraud.

So let’s face reality. For some athletes, the motivation is about their sport, while for others, the motivation to attend college is about their sport and a quality education. There is often criticism that the courses taken in college often have little resemblance to life in the real world and especially to the job market. So why not create a football and/or basketball major to better assist the athletes during and after college? Make college academics more concrete and realistic.

For instance, that doesn’t mean eliminating the first two years of traditional college classes like freshman English, introductory sociology, math, etc. But just think of relevant classes such as business law. A business law class can focus on contracts, contract negotiation, various rules pertaining to the University, a professional team’s code of conduct, etc. A course in sport economics covering tax implications, investment options, choosing agents, value to community and college etc.; a class in philosophy/ ethics, covering the value of sports, giving back to community, role of citizenship etc.; learning about the history and sociology of sports [on average, an NFL career is roughly three years], development of football, sports in Europe, sports in the United States, etc. are only a few ideas of college courses to include in a football major.

Not forgetting about science, courses in kinesiology, exercise science, nutrition, and rehabilitation would also be pertinent. The athlete would learn skeletal structure, ligaments and tendons; philosophies of training, fast, and slow twitch muscles; rest/ tapering; about hydration; about injuries common to their sport. [Concussions] and how these injuries are treated as well as prognosis. Classes in psychology and sociology, and learning about motivation, drive, will, competition, teamwork, learning, leadership and group dynamics would be  pertinent and appropriate as well.

Just think of what the athletic student would be learning. In addition to the skills attained. An exposure to a wide variety of different careers along with a curriculum that makes sense to athletes could be a worthwhile goal. I would guess that classroom motivation along with graduation rates would improve.

I know that Jim Harbaugh, to say the least, has a lot on his plate at the moment. But I believe because of his influence, he would get the attention of the A.D. and more than likely President Mark Schlissel [Andy Geiger former Ohio State athletic director is in favor of such a plan]. Jim is a tremendous motivator, and great communicator. I put my money on him to be able to influence the thinking at the University of Michigan.

Former Michigan legend Bo Schembechler was outraged at the old rule that a Big Ten team couldn’t go to the Rose Bowl back-to-back years consecutively when he arrived in Michigan. It didn’t take Bo long to change that silly man-made rule. Jim Harbaugh, there’s no commandment that reads “Thou Shall Not Have a Football Major at the University of Michigan.”

Go Blue!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dwight Hicks The Former Wolverine

Dwight Hicks  the Former Wolverine and 49er

On January 16, 2015 the World Premiere of X’s and O’s [A Football Love Story] began at the Berkeley Rep in Berkeley, California. The promotion includes: it’s a story about football and America’s love for the game. For this play, K J Sanchez and Jenny Mercein interviewed players, their families and their fans and examined the country’s passion for this generous and dangerous sport. They present the story that is visceral, emotional and highly theatrical. In fact, one of the actors is none other than Dwight Hicks.

Dwight was recruited by Bo Schembechler In 1974. He received, All-American honors in 1977, and then in 1978, played for the Toronto Argonauts for one season and then joined the San Francisco 49ers. There he had four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl rings [he made a pivotal interception against the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1981 Super Bowl game]. Dwight Hicks was also selected as a member of the 49ers all-time team.

In an interview in the February 1, 2015 edition of The New York Times, Hicks talked about football injuries, and stated “I’ve seen some of the guys that I played with, that I played against, and that were dear to me. I’ve seen some of these issues that were talking about happen to them.”…. “This is the thing about playing football in the NFL; if you play, the risk of injury is 100%. It’s just a matter of to what degree.”

All the University of Michigan players that I interviewed In Bo’s Warriors, left, professional football because of injury. For example, Reggie McKenzie, the All-American, all Pro with the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks told me of an injury he sustained in 1984 when his Seattle Seahawks were playing the San Francisco 49ers, at Candlestick Park, in a preseason game. “Seattle had the ball with second down and long. In the 49ers defensive backfield was all Pro Ronnie Lott along with another safety. Back then, employing a cutting block was legal, and Reggie wanted to cut both of them at their knees. He figured that since one, was behind the other, he could take both of them out in one shot. He had done the same thing many times before. He made a terrific block and took out Lott, as well as the second safety. In fact, it was such a good block that Seattle made a first down on the play. Unfortunately, Reggie did not get his right hand extended as he fell to the ground, and his opponents landed on his elbow. The impact tore up his right shoulder. Reggie ultimately lost his muscle in his joint and never was the same afterward.” That was Reggie’s last season of professional football. We know that NFL stands for “Not for Long” as that is one of the reasons.

Reggie didn’t say that one of the players [the unnamed safety] was Dwight Hicks. Anyway, Hicks the football player is now the actor. And McKenzie runs Reggie McKenzie Industrial Materials Incorporated, and gives back by way of the Reggie McKenzie Foundation.

Good work men. Go Blue!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jim Harbaugh, and the Recruiting Class of 2015

I must admit that as a result of the University of Michigan, hiring Jim Harbaugh as head football coach, I paid more attention to the 2015 recruiting process. Wow, the competition was so fierce. Not only are these teenagers ranked individually and by position, we also got to see them on television on the day of reckoning as they made their decision as to what program they were going to attend. They said things like, I want to win the championship. And they are called student-athletes? Come on, let’s get it straight.
I do not remember hearing, I plan to attend the University of Michigan, so I can get the best education possible; I want to major in computer science; with all the great alumni contacts. I’m solidifying my future so I can be a doctor, lawyer or captain of industry, just like the Pru man wrote in 1969, under Bo Schembechler.

Because of the turmoil with the 2014 football season and the late firing of Brady Hoke, the recruiting class was suspect. Some players that committed to Michigan or Brady Hoke abruptly uncommitted. Others were not interested in the rudderless direction in the Wolverines football program. Then miraculously, Jim Harbaugh clashed with San Francisco 49er management , was courted by Michigan’s powers that be; paid $5 million to return home to Ann Arbor. He did just that very quickly.

The fervor was tremendous, the sea parted, and the sky became blue and gold. Coach Harbaugh was introduced in a press conference. The coach then started to assemble an impressive staff of NFL coaching cohorts. Because of circumstances uncontrolled by him, Harbaugh and his new staff had to hit the trails very quickly and proficiently.

High school phenomes that DE committed were courted. Others that committed elsewhere were “stolen.”  Coach Harbaugh hired ex-Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley and Wheatley’s impressive tight end son followed. A fifth year player that Harbaugh recruited at Stanford, with one year of eligibility then arrived in Ann Arbor with mother, who is now part of the Michigan staff. I guess Harbaugh did what he had to do.

In a very short time, Jim Harbaugh’s labors will either be ripe, bear fruit or fall from the vine. He will have an opportunity to make his magic on the gridiron. Will his players demonstrate their character off the field as well? Bump Elliott had no trouble selecting teenagers with fine character. His recruits like Mike Keller, Thom Darden, Jim Betts, Jim Brandstatter, Reggie McKenzie, Tom Curtis, and Frank Gusich had the Michigan imprint instilled in their psyches and became Michigan men, true and true.

Let’s hope that the lightning transformation that took place in 1969, with Bo Schembechler strikes again with Jim Harbaugh. Remember, Harbaugh learned from the best. I’m sure, Bo would be proud father today.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bo Schembechler's Greatest Victory- Part 2

The Wolverines were sky high returning from Iowa City after their blowout victory. Ann Arbor was cold and there was snow on the ground when the Wolverines returned. Then came Monday for practice. The players were huddled, but warm inside their building. Looking out, they expected that they would have to clear the snow off the playing field. However, to their surprise, it was the coaches that were clearing the playing field for their players. That act symbolized how much the coaches were behind their players and made a mark in the player’s psyche.

At practice during that week, the players were focused, high and excitable. They practiced like no other week. The players blocked hard, tackled hard and ran their plays with heightened enthusiasm. In fact, Coach Gary Moeller was concerned about the amount of effort and focus by the players, and he was afraid they were going to burn themselves out and play their game on the practice field. Coach Moeller went to Bo and shared with him, his fear. Bo, the other hand, reassured, Gary Moeller and said “let them go.” And go, they did.

Friday, prior to Saturday’s game, the team stayed at the nearby Sheraton Hotel. Then a peculiar thing happened. There was a fire alarm. Players were taken from their slumber and had to take their blankets with them to the lobby of the hotel to cover themselves. And with all the commotion they didn’t get much sleep that night. Was that fire alarm a blessing? It was simply a distraction. Everyone knew about the importance of that first meeting between Bo and Woody. No one had to say the word-they all knew.

Then, the next morning as the Michigan players were ready to go on the playing field, there was Woody and his team warming up and practicing on the Michigan side. Bo went nuts. In the locker room, Bo made it clear they were the number one team in the country and they took three quarters of our playing field during pregame practice. Bo said “they disrespected you. We are going to show them. Let’s go get them.” Bo, being excited pounded his fist into the blackboard exploding it. Then, the seniors got up and started throwing chairs around. It was a chaotic atmosphere and the discharge of energy was unchecked.

As the players started to go through the rather narrow tunnel a fight that broke out likely started by Cecil Pryor. That added commotion of the heightened moment prior to the big battle. Then, Captain Jim Mandich leading his troops turned around and faced them. Jim, with tears, spittle, as well as hands and fists shaking in the air started shouting unintelligible words to his faithful teammates. His teammates will never forget about Mad dog Jim Mandich the captain and leader at that moment in time.

The players remembered that week in practice; time spent at the Sheraton; Bo’s pregame speech in the locker room; the eruption that followed; gliding as if on air propelling them through the tunnel; and witnessing their leader Jim Mandich’s entire body full of pent-up impulses discharging like missiles.

This sequence of events has never been duplicated at Michigan, or even at the professional level. This was an once-in-a-lifetime experience only remembered by those who were there. They can talk about it as its left its indelible mark on each and every psyche. In fact, Captain Mandich stated that playing in the Super Bowl, and playing on an undefeated Miami Dolphins team takes second fiddle to the University Michigan experience on November 22, 1969.

Without a doubt, Bo Schembechler’s mark on college football was made when his team beat the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes coached by his mentor Woody Hayes on that cold November Saturday at the Big House. Make no mistake about it.

Go Blue!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tom Brady and Super Bowl XLIX

Yesterday’s Super Bowl game was terrific. Leading up to the Super Bowl XLIX, there was too much controversy surrounding the amount of psi in the football. There were pros and cons, as well as a lot of misinformation. People had their beliefs and were sticking to them. In the very first Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC used a different size football than the NFC’s Green Bay Packers [if the Chiefs had  used  the NFC football, would the outcome have been differen]. But in this Super Bowl, the football was safely under lock and key and was “identical” for both the Seahawks and the Patriots.

The controversy in this game was the “Call” in the closing seconds of the game with the ball on about the Patriots 1 yard line. Marshawn Lynch the Seahawks running back ran like a beast throughout the game. Many thought with first down, Coach Pete Carroll, run the ball into the end zone leaving little time left on the clock. But no, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw the ball on a slant play. However, the rookie Patriot cornerback Malcolm Butler, made a terrific play and intercepted the ball. Now all the Patriots had to do was run out the clock and they did.

Tom Brady the 37-year-old Patriot quarterback only threw four touchdowns in this game. Would he have thrown more touchdowns if the ball was slightly under inflated? Who will know for sure? But I doubt if the critics will bring up that point. With this victory, Brady has thrown more touchdowns than any other Super Bowl quarterback. And with four victories, he joins Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana at the top of the list.

After the game, Brady was interviewed by Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin about his game day performance. Early on, Brady criticized his dumb play that resulted in his two interceptions, one at the beginning of the first half, and one at the beginning of the second half. He had no trouble blaming himself or taking responsibility for his performance. When questioned about the mistakes, Tom Brady talked about not wanting to let his teammates down. He also stated that in two previous Super Bowl losses, he played the game over in his mind and would’ve liked to have played better and not made mistakes. In essence, Tom Brady is a team player and it’s all about the team.

Tom Brady had no difficulty heaping praise on the Patriot organization, his coaches and all the great players and teammates over the years. He also talked about all the great players in the league and acknowledged Faulk, Sanders and Irvin about their legendary play. There was even a picture of young Tom in the parking lot at Candlestick with a football. He added that being from San Mateo, California his boyhood idols were Joe Montana and Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers.

For Brady, it’s about mental toughness, being in the foxhole with his buddies, practice to make himself better, and about the team. These lessons started at the University Michigan with Coach Bo Schembechler. Lloyd Carr coached under Schembechler and I’m sure instilled the same values as Tom’s head coach at the University Michigan.

 Go Tom Brady and Go Blue!