football

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the University of Michigan is taking precautions to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that allowed a Wolverine football player with a concussion to re-enter a game last week.

U of M plans to have more eyes on the field during this weekend’s football game against Rutgers.

Last week, quarterback Shane Morris suffered a concussion late in the game against Minnesota. But while the television audience saw the hit that left Morris dazed, none of U of M's coaches or medical staff saw it or took action.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan students are demanding top athletic department officials be fired, in the wake of the football program’s concussion controversy.

Hundreds of U of M students chanted “Fire Brandon” during a rally on the Ann Arbor campus tonight.   Brandon is Dave Brandon, U of M’s athletic director.

The students are upset about many things, from the latest concussion controversy to the cost of tickets. Many students are also dissatisfied with the Wolverine football program’s disappointing season. 

Pascrell office

The University of Michigan’s concussion controversy has reached the halls of Congress.

A New Jersey congressman wants the Big Ten conference to investigate the University of Michigan’s compliance with its own head injury protocols.

The university is under fire for allowing a player return to the field during a football game Saturday after he suffered a mild concussion. Quarterback Shane Morris appeared to be dazed after a hard hit in the second half of the game against Minnesota. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke is on the defensive against allegations he continued to field a player who may have suffered a concussion during Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Michigan State football
User: spartanjoe / Flickr

It's a big football weekend for Michigan State University. The No. 7  Spartans head to Oregon to play the No. 3 Ducks on Saturday.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says this one sure is grabbing lots of national attention.

“Many consider this the best non-conference matchup of the entire season, which is saying a lot, and the Spartans haven’t met one of those in quite a while,” says Bacon.

This weekend, Bacon says he’ll mainly watch to see if Michigan state’s defense can stop Oregon’s offense.“(Oregon’s) quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate, and if they can stop him, that’s a whole different game,” says Bacon.*Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

user: Marcus Qwertyus / Wikimedia Commons

When Michael Sam told his University of Missouri teammates he was gay before last season, it wasn’t a big deal. It’s a safe bet that NFL teams – who know what kind of gum their prospects chew – already knew this, too. But when Sam came out publicly, it changed the equation. 

The NFL has already had gay players, so that’s not new. But publicly declaring you’re gay is new – and so is the onslaught of media attention.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Lions introduced the team's new head coach today.

Jim Caldwell comes to the Lions after being part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. He also led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl in 2010, only to lose to the New Orleans Saints.

Caldwell says he’s already talked with Lions players about winning a National Football League championship.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.

The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.

Ohio State (12-1) had the nation's longest active winning streak end at 24 as coach Urban Meyer suffered his first loss since taking over in Columbus.

It was a game that almost defied logic.

Anderson Mancini / Flickr

The Grambling State University football team plays in the unheralded Southwestern Athletic Conference, in the division beneath the big boys. They had an 11-game losing streak, stretching back into the 2012 season.

In short, this was not a team that warranted national attention.

But the Tigers finally got some last month. No, they didn’t notch their first win that day – or even another loss. They didn’t play – and it wasn’t due to bad weather or a bye week. The players simply refused to take the field.

screengrabs / FoxSports video

It's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

The Detroit Tigers had just clinched a division title after a long season, and the Detroit Lions had simply won a game, but the two different ways the head coaches of Detroit's major sports teams celebrate a win does show something about their personalities.

Here's the "Jim Leyland moonwalk" making the rounds online (You can scroll to 1:25 to see the moonwalk, but his heartfelt 'thank you' to his players, staff, and fans is worth watching. - you can follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

And here's the "Jim Schwartz headset throw" going around the net (the Lions had just beaten the Washington Redskins - follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

Maybe it's just the difference between baseball and football.

H/T to Tony Brown.

jeltovski / http://mrg.bz/PpvEAw

Football practice starts up at high schools across the state this week. But for one athlete's family, the biggest day of the season is tomorrow.

That's when the Michigan High School Athletic Association will decide whether Eric Dompierre can play football his senior year. Dompierre has Down Syndrome, but that hasn't kept him from playing with Ishpeming High's team the last three years. Now nineteen, Dompierre is too old to be eligible for the team.

user Malinaccier / Wikimedia Commons

A former National Football League player from Michigan filed a lawsuit yesterday against the league and four others for failing to warn him of football-related head injuries, reports the Associated Press.

Derrick Walker lives in West Bloomfield, and he began his football career playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines where he served as co-captain in the '80s.  Since then, the plaintiff went on to play tight end professionally for the San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. 

Over that time period, Walker's lawsuit says he was concussed multiple times which led to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches and difficulty sleeping.  Now he's seeking at least $500,000 in damages, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are inadvertently benefiting from sanctions handed down against Penn State today.  

New legislation in Michigan seeks to protect student athletes from concussions.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan public school district plans to do away with fees parents pay to allow their children to participate in sports.

 A group of Michigan State University professors will get together to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.   But unlike most people, they won’t be watching the game, they’re more interested in the commercials.

For three quarters, the Detroit Lions performed like playoff veterans.

They led Drew Brees and the mighty New Orleans Saints at halftime. They were still right in the game heading to the fourth quarter.

But Brees and the Saints blew it open in the final period, turning Detroit's postseason return into a one-and-done affair with a 45-28 NFC playoff victory that was much closer most of the night on a raucous Saturday at the Superdome.

Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime to lift Michigan to a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

The victory capped an impressive debut season for head coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to Junior Hemingway.

mgoblue.com

Last week, the Michigan football team beat Ohio State for the first time since 2003. While it wasn’t anything like the half-dozen “Games of the Century” these two rivals have played, I believe it might be one of the most important.

Just a few years ago, ESPN’s viewers called the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry the best. Not just in college football, or all football, but in all sports. Period. 

But this year’s game won’t go down as one of the best. Michigan entered the game ranked 17th, but the Buckeyes hobbled into their annual finale dragging a 6 and 5 record behind them, their worst team since the 1990s.

But all that just made the stakes for Michigan that much higher.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan's first-year head football coach was given Big Ten "Coach of the Year" honors by other conference coaches and by members of the media.

Hoke led the Wolverines to a 10-2 season overall, including a win against rival Ohio State.

From MGoBlue.com:

The Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday (Nov. 30) that University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke was chosen as the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, as selected by conference coaches, and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year, as picked by the media.

Hoke is the sixth first-year coach to earn the McClain Coach of the Year award, which dates back to 1972 and is named for the former Wisconsin coach. This is the inaugural awarding of the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year honor, which pays tribute to Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Michigan's Bo Schembechler.

MGoBlue.com reports Hoke joins former Michigan coach Fielding Yost as the only coaches in Michigan's history to win at least 10 games in their first season as head coach.

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s responsible for his family’s Thanksgiving feast this year. But he says working in the kitchen is a lower priority than another holiday tradition – the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game.

“I’m cooking. I’m doing two turkeys. Actually, we’re cooking them on Friday, though, because I’m hoping – the family’s all going to the Lions game. So, go Lions – We’ve got a great chance to beat those Packers,” said Snyder.

That could cost the governor some support in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where many sports fans have regional loyalty to Green Bay.

The governor has predicted the Lions will be in a Super Bowl before he leaves office.

There's money to be made around the passion for Michigan football at Michigan Stadium.
Anthony Gattine / Flickr

Michigan Radio's Sports Commentator John U. Bacon has a new book out. It premiered at number six on The New York Times non-fiction best seller list this week. Bacon was already well-known at the University of Michigan for the book he co-wrote with Bo Schembechler. So, it wasn’t difficult for him to get access to the Wolverine football program in 2008 when the team got a new head coach Rich Rodriguez, or Rich-Rod.

Bacon's plan was to write a story on the spread offense that Rich-Rod had used so successfully at West Virginia. But Bacon quickly found himself in the middle of a new, more complex story.

"It started out being a very simple story... and, now you realize, of course, three years later, the real story is off the field: it's what it's really like to be a player, what it's really like to be a coach, NCAA investigations, pressure, losing, ultimately getting fired... I don't think you have to be much of a football fan to follow this," says Bacon.

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Bacon about his new book, Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football.

In the summer of 2008, Rich Rodriguez granted me unfettered access to the Michigan football program so I could write a book.

Three years later the book is finished, and not with a happy ending.

Similar to just about everybody else connected to Michigan football these past three years, I had no idea what I was getting into. 

During my three years following the Michigan football team, the working title of the book changed from “All or Nothing,” to “All In,” to “Third and Long,” before Rodriguez’s last season, and after he was fired, to “Three and Out.”

Keith Allison / Flickr

Once in a while something happens that is so unusual, even those who don’t normally pay attention have to stop and take notice.

Haley’s Comet, for example, only comes along once every 75 years.

A leap year only comes around every four years.  And Lindsey Lohan goes to jail – no, wait, that happens every week. 

Well, this week, Detroit sports fans got Haley’s Comet, a leap year, and a clean and sober Lindsay Lohan all wrapped into one:  The Tigers clinched the American League Central Division, and even more shockingly, the Lions won their third straight game. 

screen grab from mgoblue.com video

What if you had a night game, and nobody came?

Well, that wasn’t the problem.

The game attracted more than 114,000 people, an NCAA record.

To commemorate the event, Michigan wore “throwback jerseys” – which went back all the way to September 10, 2011.  Michigan’s jerseys never had stripes – and when you saw them Saturday night, you appreciated just how wise Michigan’s founders had been.  It was less about tradition than trade.   

Denard Robinson threw a 16-yard pass to Roy Roundtree with 2 seconds left, lifting Michigan to a 35-31 heart-pounding win over Notre Dame on Saturday night. 

The Wolverines took their first lead on Robinson's 21-yard pass to Vincent Smith with 1:12 left, then lost it. Briefly. 

Tommy Rees threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left, but the Fighting Irish left Jeremy Gallon wide open on a pass that let Michigan go from its 20 to the Notre Dame 16. 

A typical student's view inside the Big House.
Andrew Horne / wikimedia commons

With a night game scheduled in Ann Arbor tomorrow for the first time in Michigan football’s 132-year history, the town is buzzing.

But it’s fair to wonder just how we got here.  I think I understand why.

George Will recently wrote that when archeologists excavate American ruins centuries from now, they may be mystified by the Big House in Ann Arbor.  “How did this huge football emporium come to be connected to an institution of higher education? Or was the connection the other way?”

It’s a fair question, one I’ve pondered myself many times.  When I try to explain to foreigners why an esteemed university owns the largest stadium in the country, their expressions tell me it’s – well, a truly a foreign concept.

Ken Burns said our national parks are “America’s best idea.”  If so, then our state universities must be a close second. 

user: 46137 / flickr.com

The longest lockout in the history of the National Football League is over.   Now, what may be the shortest free agency period in NFL history is about to begin.   The Detroit Lions are expected to be busy during the whirlwind of player trades and signings during the next few days.  

Lions team president Tom Lewand released this statement yesterday on the deal agreed to by the players and owners.  

“First and foremost, we are happy for our fans because all they ever wanted was for us to play football and, thankfully, that’s what we are getting ready to do. This agreement is a big win for NFL football and for all NFL fans because it helps secure the long-term health of our game.

“It is a fair deal for players and teams. We will be able to grow the game and appropriately share that growth with our players as partners. It is a deal that places a high priority on player safety and on the integrity of our game.

The Lions released this timetable detailing the off the field and on the field schedule between now and the kickoff of the fall 2011 season.

desmondhoward.com

Desmond Howard stands about 5-foot-8 – I don’t care what the program said.  When Bo Schembechler moved the Cleveland native from tailback to receiver, it virtually eliminated any chance Howard had to win the Heisman Trophy.

In its first 55 years, only one receiver had ever taken it home.

But then, just playing at Michigan practically knocked Howard out of the running in the first place.  Only one Wolverine, Tom Harmon, had ever won the award – and that was back in 1940.

Schembechler never promoted any player for any award – Heisman or otherwise.  Because, as he often said, “Nothing comes before The Team, The Team, The Team.”  When Bo stepped down in 1990, Gary Moeller took over, and followed the exact same policy.

University of Michigan

On Tuesday, the Michigan football family lost another beloved son, Jim Mandich, who died of cancer at age 62.

Regular readers of this space know I’ve had to write a few elegies already this year, and I’m not sure if we can bear another one right now.   

I’m not sure Mandich would want any more, either, beyond his funeral. 

As he told Angelique Chengalis of The Detroit News last fall, after he was diagnosed with cancer, “I said to myself, ‘No whining, no complaining, no bitching. You've lived a damned good life. You've got lot to be thankful for.’”

(photo courtesy of the University of Michigan Athletics Dept)

Jim Mandich was the captain of Bo Schembechler's 1969 squad that shocked Ohio State.  He went on to star on the Miami Dolphins 1972 team that went undefeated.   Mandich died last night after a long battle with bile duct cancer.  He was 62.   

U of M Director of Athletics Dave Brandon says Mandich was a Michigan Man "in every way."  

"“Captain Jim Mandich led a team that changed Michigan football for decades to follow...He was a legendary player and an even better person.  He will be missed."    

The following is from U of M's press release announcing Mandich's death.

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