football

Sports Commentary
6:30 am
Fri September 9, 2011

Dedication to Michigan Football runs deep

"The Big House" - Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. This photo was taken in 2010. The scoreboards are bigger now.
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. 

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sports
10:26 am
Tue July 26, 2011

Back to work for the Detroit Lions

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.

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Sports Commentary
9:12 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Desmond Howard's career at Michigan

Desmond Howard strikes the Heisman pose after he returned a punt for a touchdown against Ohio State in 1991.
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.

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Sports Commentary
8:53 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Remembering Michigan's swashbuckling football star

Jim Mandich carries the ball during the Woverine's upset of the no. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in 1969.
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.’”

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Sports
8:56 am
Wed April 27, 2011

Wolverine football great Jim Mandich dies

Jim Mandich
(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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Sports
1:49 pm
Mon April 25, 2011

Ohio State Football: NCAA violations could be severe

The NCAA alleges that Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is guilty of ethical misconduct.
user WDPGShare Flickr

The NCAA sent Ohio State University's president a letter citing the "notice of allegations" against the school's football program.

In the letter to Ohio State, NCAA officials say, "Your institution should understand that all of the alleged violations set forth in the document attached to this letter are considered to be potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary."

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Sports Commentary
10:03 am
Fri April 8, 2011

Remembering Vada Murray

If you’re not a Michigan football fan, you probably haven’t heard of Vada Murray, but you might have seen his picture.

It’s one of the iconic images of Michigan football, along with Tom Harmon standing in his mud-soaked, torn-apart jersey, Ol’ 98, and Desmond Howard diving to catch a touchdown against Notre Dame -- two Heisman Trophy winners, winning big games.

But the photo I’m talking about depicts Vada Murray and Tripp Welborne soaring skyward to block a field goal.

They were a kicker’s nightmare, but even when they got a hand on the ball, it simply denied their opponent three points -- not the kind of thing that wins you a Heisman Trophy or an NFL contract.

They don’t even keep records of blocked kicks.

But, over two decades later, something about that photo still resonates, perhaps because it captures their effort, their intensity, their passion – all of it spent just to give their teammates a slightly better chance for success.

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Sports
3:25 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

U of M sports venues' scoreboards will get a makeover

Michigan Stadium (aka The Big House)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Scoreboards at the University of Michigan’s premier sports venues are getting a major upgrade. The U of M Athletic Department announced today that it has signed a deal to replace the aging scoreboards at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena with state of the art LED displays.  

In a written statement, UM Athletic Director David Brandon says the department is excited.

“Our goal is to set a new, higher standard for our fan’s viewing experience and the game day atmosphere we create in our venues. These boards will be an important first step in achieving that goal.” 

Demolition of the old video boards at the Big House began in March.   New, larger LED video screens will be installed in both end zones by this August.

The total cost of the project is expected to be less than $20 million dollars.

Sports
10:18 am
Wed March 30, 2011

UM's football coach inks lucrative contract

U of M head football coach Brady Hoke (right), poses with Athletic Director Dave Brandon
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Brady Hoke signed a six year contract Monday, that could average out to $3.25 million a year.  The Associated Press reports Hoke will be paid $2 million in the first year of the contract: 

Hoke will be paid $2 million this year and his base salary will increase by $100,000 each season. Hoke will earn a $1.5 million "stay bonus" after his third year and another $1.5 million "stay bonus" if he is still leading college football's winningest program in the sixth season of his contract.  

The Associated Press also quoted U of M Athletic Director Dave Brandon expressing confidence in Hoke.

"It's a big job with a lot of expectations and we feel very good about how much we're compensating him to help us reach those expectations." 

Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez who lost the Wolverine head coaching job after three lackluster seasons and an NCAA investigation. Hoke was an assistant coach under Lloyd Carr before becoming a successful head coach at Ball State and San Diego State University.

 Hoke issued this statement on his new contract:

The contract was handled by my agent and the University. My focus has been on the football program and will continue to be on making this program the best in America. I couldn’t tell you what’s in the contract other than my signature. The University offered Laura and I an opportunity to coach at Michigan and that’s been my dream. Nothing will change my focus.

Sports Commentary
10:49 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Ohio State's Jim Tressel and the NCAA: the sheriff is now the saloon keeper

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. Ohio State has suspended the coach for two games next season.
user johntex wikimedia commons

It looks like Jim Tressel has gotten himself into a bit of hot water.

That’s why his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, flew back to make sure everyone said they were “taking responsibility” – a phrase which changed some time in the last decade, and now means the exact opposite.

It was fine theater.  

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Sports
7:03 pm
Tue March 8, 2011

OSU's Jim Tressel on the hot seat

Update 7:03 p.m.

Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel suspended for two games. Tressel did not report potential NCAA rules violates in a timely manner to OSU officials.

Original post 4:24 p.m.

Ohio State University has called a 7pm news conference to address news reports that head football coach Jim Tressel was aware of potential NCAA rules violations months before university officials learned about them.

The violations involved five Buckeye players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The players allegedly traded memorabilia with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner in exchange for tattoos.

Yahoo Sports reported this week that Tressel was first notified of the possible NCAA violations last April.  

But it was December before any action was taken involving the players. They were suspended from playing during a handful of games next fall. Though they were allowed to play in 2011 Sugar Bowl.  

SBNATION reports Tressel's contract does include penalties if his program commits NCAA violations, including termination of his contract. Neither Tressel or university officials have commented on the allegations made in the Yahoo Sports article.  

OSU president E. Gordon Gee did tell reporters in Columbus that the NCAA has been notified.

OSU athletic director Gene Smith was scheduled to be in Indianapolis this evening, but he has flown back to Columbus to take part in tonight's news conference with Gee and Tressel.

Sports
12:25 pm
Thu March 3, 2011

Detroit's economy could take a hit from an NFL lockout

Detroit Lions play Green Bay Packers at Ford Field (photo taken on November 22, 2007)
flickr

The city of Detroit could face an economic hit this fall if the National Football League and its players don’t agree on a new contract.  How big an impact is not clear.  

The current contract between NFL owners and the players association expires at midnight.   Without a deal, Ford Field in Detroit will sit empty during the Lions scheduled pre-season and regular season home games this fall.

A study commissioned by the players association says $20 million is spent on average in NFL cities during regular season home games.  In some cities, much more is spent.  The Christian Science Monitor reports small businesses may pay a big price. 

Jesse David is a senior vice president with Edgeworth Economics, the company that did the study.  David admits people will probably spend money on some form of entertainment, whether or not they go to a game, but they may not spend it in Detroit.  

“It may be that someone else, somewhere else sees their income go up…but there’s still going to be an effect on a group of people.”

Even if they miss tonight’s deadline, NFL owners and players still have several months before games will have to be canceled or rescheduled.

Governor Snyder
8:34 am
Fri February 11, 2011

Snyder makes bold prediction

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

The crowd at a fundraising dinner for the Michigan Political Leadership program was maybe hoping Governor Rick Snyder would drop some clues on what’s going to be in his budget proposal next week.

The governor revealed almost nothing about his spending plan. But he did make a bold sports prediction. Governor Snyder said:

"Before I finish office, the Lions will be in the Super Bowl – how’s that?"

The governor did not say if that would be in the next four years – or if a championship season for the Lions would require a second term. The Lions record last season was six victories to 10 losses, following a winless season in 2009.

Commentary
8:13 am
Fri February 11, 2011

Super Bowl Hoopla

A storm trooper prepares to take the stage at a downtown Pittsburgh Super Bowl XLV rally
user daveynin Flickr

Forty five years ago, the Super Bowl wasn’t even the Super Bowl.

They called it the NFL-AFL Championship game, until one of the founders renamed it after watching his grandson play with a “High Bouncing Ball” – a super ball.

Tickets were only fifteen bucks for that first game, and they barely sold half of those, leaving some 40,000 empty seats in the Los Angeles Coliseum.   

A 30-second ad cost only $42,000, and they weren’t any different than the ads they showed the previous weekend.

The half-time show featured three college marching bands, including one you might have seen from the University of Michigan.

Over the next couple decades, of course, the event became a veritable national holiday.  Tickets now sell for thousands of dollars, and ads for millions.  The game attracts more than 100 million viewers in the U.S. alone.

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Sports
1:25 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

UM introduces Brady Hoke, new head football coach

Brady Hoke, the new head coach at the University of Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan's athletic department held a press conference to introduce the program's new head football coach, Brady Hoke.

David Brandon says he spent a lot of time in the past few days crisscrossing the country interviewing coaches. He said he spent hours interviewing coaches saying despite what is often reported in the press, "all that glitters is not gold."

Brandon introduced Hoke saying he's "a player's coach" and said he's someone who knows Ann Arbor and someone who loves the University of Michigan.

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Breaking
5:00 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Brady Hoke named as UM's football coach

Brady Hoke (right) with former UM head football coach Lloyd Carr
sdsu.edu

Update: 5:00 p.m.:

The University of Michigan's athletic department announced today that San Diego State University’s Brady Hoke will lead the Wolverine football program.

Brady Hoke is no stranger to Ann Arbor. He worked as an assistant coach for the Wolverines for 8 seasons including on 1997’s national championship squad.

Hoke’s 28 year career includes stops at Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, and Toledo. 

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Sports
4:14 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Former UM football coach Rich Rodriguez speaks

Former Michigan head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, just issued this statement:

"I am proud of the dedication and commitment exhibited by the coaching staff and student-athletes who have represented the University of Michigan football program over the last three seasons.  While I am disappointed to depart Ann Arbor before we were able to reach the level of success we had in our sights, I am confident that the players who remain have the potential to do great things and to return the Wolverines to greatness.  I would like to thank our fans and our student body for their tremendous support. There is great passion for Michigan football and I have made lifelong friends through this experience."

Sports
3:43 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Love or hate Rich Rodriguez, coaching college football is tough

For the past three years I’ve had unfettered access to the Michigan football program, from the film room to the locker room, to write a book about what I’ve seen.

Before I walked into that first staff meeting, I thought I knew Michigan football as well as anyone.  But after three years of seeing everything up close, I can tell you this unequivocally: I had no idea.

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Sports
10:12 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

Brandon: UM prepared to pay for top tier football coach

University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon at a press conference announcing the firing of Rich Rodriguez.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Now that University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired, David Brandon says he'll work fast to find a replacement.

Brandon was hired one year ago as the University of Michigan's Athletic Director. During the past twelve months the U of M football program has been his primary concern.   

The football team has struggled on the field and violated NCAA rules off the field.  

Now, the once premier football program faces years on probation and an uphill climb to become truly competitive. 

Brandon says whoever he hires as head coach needs to be more than an average football coach:

 “This individual has to be able to compete at the highest level.  The expectations here are extraordinarily high.  The passion for this football program is unbelievable.  If you don’t believe me, you should see the email traffic. There are people out there who care.  And it’s beyond just sport for them.  It’s part of their life.  That’s put a coach in a position where they have to have the ability.  To stand up to that pressure and perform against it.

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Sports
1:00 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

Rich Rodriguez has officially been released

UM Athletic Director David Brandon announcing the termination of Rich Rodriguez
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

UPDATE 1:00 p.m.:

The press conference has concluded. Brandon entertained a lot of questions about potential replacements for Rich Rodriguez, but said he has yet to talk with potential candidates and plans to do so soon.

It appears Brandon plans to increase the amount of pay the next head football coach at the University of Michigan will receive. Rich Rodriguez had a six-year $15 million contract. Brandon feels Michigan has been in the "middle of the pack" in terms of coaching pay for top tier college football programs.

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