Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ugly as it gets: The South ‘Bend over and take it’

Normally, within minutes of the completion of a Michigan football game, and literally moments after the microphones have been removed from the press interview rooms, those covering the games, and on pressing deadlines, are handed full transcripts of what the various head coaches said, as well as various players. At Cowboys Stadium, it helped most Michigan-based writers finish stories before midnight Ann Arbor time.
And then those quotes normally appeared on the Michigan athletic website… but not this weekend. The website is as silent as most Wolverines fans are (and need to be) following that fiasco in South Bend, broadcast in all its non-glory on N(D)BC.
It is difficult to overstate how poor of an offensive performance, how big of an egg was laid by the Michigan starting 11. The 13-6 loss was as putrid as what falls out of the south end of a northbound steer. No amount of Tylenol could erase the headache all Michigan fans felt merely viewing the proceedings – turnovers here, turnovers there. Hell, Pepperidge Farms doesn’t offer as many turnovers in its boxes as UM gave to Notre Dame.
The six turnovers were not close to being a Michigan (negative) record; not even the five interceptions (the mark sits at 7 against MSU in 1987). But that figure is so completely unacceptable, it cannot be emphasized enough. That dying quail tossed so lamely by halfback Vincent Smith would have been blown out of the sky (by someone with a .3006 gauge) if the game was played at Texas A&M; that call should be shredded from the playbook as if the North Koreans were coming for it.
The loss fell on the shoulders of senior quarterback Denard Robinson (the same as he seems to get so much credit when Michigan is victorious). His passes were often so poor, it was difficult to recognize the intended target and his reads of coverage were negligible.
But in his defense (somewhat), he often threw under pressure from Irish blitzes and pass rush. The only person who had a worse game than Robinson was Michael Schofield, the offensive right tackle. Schofield was burned, pancaked and torched all night long. I hope they had a good burn unit in South Bend to visit afterwards; that player needed it … badly.
The offense actually looked steady and effective in the second half, looking more like a West Coast affair, with a short passing game and some decent (but not spectacular) running by Fitzgerald Toussaint. Michigan controlled the ball and the clock, but ran into a wall once it reached the Irish 20.
Michigan went 0-for-5 in the “red zone” in terms of scoring touchdowns (again unacceptable) – going 2-of-3 on field goals and losing possession on the Smith interception and Robinson fumble. No one can win when faced with that kind of non-output.
I thought it had been decades since Michigan was held without a touchdown in a game, but, oops, not that long ago, actually. Under the Rich Rodriguez regime, Michigan only scored 21 points in three encounters (losses) with Ohio State. But it was in Lloyd Carr’s last regular season game as head coach when Ohio State won in Ann Arbor, 14-3, in 2007, as the lowest offensive point production until last Saturday night.
By the way, anyone see the butt-whipping handed RichRod and Arizona?? And, yes, the Wildcats fell out of the Top 25, along with Big Blue.
As I was tweeting during the night, I was actually astonished at the vitriol directed by so-called Michigan “fans” toward Robinson. To which I respond, “shame on y’all.” I can guarantee this: there are scores of college football teams, if not all but a selected few, which would gladly have Robinson as their quarterback. Granted, he will not be an NFL quarterback, but that is a stupid yardstick which needs to be tossed away. The version of football seen in the NFL is not the same as employed in the collegiate ranks. The NFL game is boring as hell while the difference in offensive styles keeps college football fresher, and Robinson is an example of how instantly exciting it can be.
True, he stunk up the join last Saturday, but that’s football and that’s life. Trust me, we’ll ALL miss him when he’s gone next season.
Sadly, this was the best defensive outing of the season for the Wolverines, which held Notre Dame to 239 yards in total offense (299 for UM), 14 first downs (19 for Michigan) and 3-of-9 on third-down efficiency (8-of-15 for UM). Led by Jake Ryan, for the most part, the defense rose and made key stops when asked … it couldn’t be asked to do it every single moment of the contest.
You will find this statement difficult to believe, or swallow, but Notre Dame is NOT a better team than Michigan; the Irish are ranked in the 10th this week and really do NOT deserve it. The offense is not explosive, there now exists a quarterback controversy (because, as John Madden says, when you have two starters you have none) and that secondary can be torched by a quality quarterback and some decent blocking.
Except Michigan couldn’t prove that hypothesis on Saturday (Oklahoma should do so in Norman, as well as USC).
I’d like to take a paragraph of two to voice my displeasure with what N(D)BC tires to pass as a professional broadcast. In truth, it is so overtly biased toward Notre Dame as to be nauseating … in all aspects, including the promotions for the respective universities.
The announcers (Tom Hammond, Mike Maycock) might as well dress up in leprechaun uniforms and wear gold and green jackets with the initials “ND” on their backs. I understand how much NBC pays the school for the rights to broadcast Irish football (although it’s NOT exclusive on the road, only for home games), and that payday is the reason Notre Dame will NEVER join any conference in football (the ACC deal is for all sports BUT football).
I know nothing about Maycock, whoever in the hell he is/was/thinks he should be; his background, his expertise, his previous broadcast experience. But it is COMPLETELY unprofessional to refer to ND players by their first names (as if they were best buddies or Brazilian soccer stars).
On Manti Te’o’s second interception, Maycock was yelping, “It’s Manti! It’s Manti!” You could hear the man crush oozing in his voice and the puppy love he felt for the Irish linebacker. It’s just wrong, my friends, and not the way to conduct a broadcast!
While I was tweeting for Mgotalk during the game, I read more than one tweet from the press box that ND supporters were cheering their heads off, which (if true) is also a violation of journalistic ethics. The press box is reserved for working personnel, not cheerleaders and before EACH NCAA game, an announcement to that effect is made over the public address within the working area.
But when it’s being done on national television, why should the fifth estate be any different? Shameful!
Now, for all its ugliness, there is also a full Big 10 Conference schedule ahead and Michigan receives a (needed) bye week this Saturday to prepare for the Oct. 6 road opener at Purdue (not anyone’s idea of a powerhouse). The Wolverines STILL has a decent path to the Big 10 championship game with only Michigan State and Nebraska as the truest obstacles.
Sparty has proven to be very one-dimensional and the strongest part of the Irish offensive attack, the ground game, was held to 94 yards and a 3.0 per carry average. In fact, Michigan, whose rushing game only made inroads in the second half, outrushed ND 161-94. A one-back offensive attack CAN be properly schemed.
The Michigan State game is at home but Nebraska is the scary road trip (and UM is 0-2 in road encounters thus far). Home games in Lincoln are events onto themselves and the ‘Huskers will be ready to some payback after being embarrassed in Ann Arbor.
But there is no Wisconsin, no Penn State, on the Michigan schedule. Iowa, who beat UM in Iowa City last week, is as weak as day-old dishwater, and Ohio State now sits as the most overrated 4-0 ranked team in the nation; just ahead of the Irish, now ranked 10th, and still NOT as good as its fan base thinks.
However, to capture the team’s goal – to win the Big 10 title – the offense must improve in EVERY area (blocking, catching the ball, running the ball, throwing the ball and turnovers). It’s actually a good thing that Michigan fell out of the Top 25 rankings and all the talk about Robinson capturing the Heisman has ceased; the pressure and the spotlight will be turned off and this off-week can be used to do the work required to be … champions!
There is plenty of time for redemption by Robinson and his offense, as well as the rest of the team. The noxious feeling they taste in their stomachs needs to be turned into anger and action.
It’s time to forget Alabama and Notre Dame and get back to what made all the people take notice – playing Michigan football!
Then all the post-game quotes will want to be heard.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Michigan-Notre Dame preview: Michigan’s best test

Michigan gets the test of all tests this Saturday in South Bend against an undefeated Notre Dame squad, seeking immense revenge for three straight losses to the Wolverines.
The Irish tossed the previously 10th-ranked Spartans off their own high horse in East Lansing, exploiting the MSU offense as totally one-dimensional and defendable. That should provide UM with high hopes come Oct. 20.
Michigan still has lots of work to do to improve. There remains little progress in running the ball between the tackles; most of the rushing yardage by actual running backs went to the wings, particularly running to the left side when junior tackle Taylor Lewan played one of his better games against UMass.
Defensively, UMass, at times, was able to rush the ball effectively, also going wide of the main UM down defenders. However, there were actual signs of a pass rush against UMass, which must be ramped up 10 fold against Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is NOT without defects; its young secondary has yet to be tested by a good quarterback, and Saturday will be the biggest game of redshirt freshman Everett Golston’s life. Michigan must concentrate of stopping senior Cierre Wood, who had burned Michigan for the past two years. There is no Michael Floyd to torment the Michigan secondary and Golson is no Tommy Rees as a passer (Rees remains a prisoner of head coach Brian Kelly’s doghouse).
The key to the game will NOT come on defense; it will happen when Michigan HAS the ball. To win the game, Denard Robinson MUST be given the freedom to do his thing; against Alabama, that did not happen.
In the past two encounters with Notre Dame, Robinson has beaten the Irish in the final seconds with his arm and feet. In those two games, he has rushed for 366 yards on 44 carries while completing 35 of 64 passes for 582 yards. Thus far this season, he has accounted for a high percentage of the entire offensive output (probably too high of a percentage requiring someone else to step up and carry the load … literally).
One can assume the job of controlling Robinson, keeping him trapped in the pocket where he is not as effective, will fall upon linebacker Manti Te’o, one of the nation’s best players. He’s been more than a thorn in the side of the Michigan coaches for three seasons and how the UM staff plans to control Te’o (through blocking schemes, etc.) will tell the tale.
If Robinson can operate the zone read offense properly, and if one of the UM running backs can provide an alternative weapon on the ground, it will free Denard to lose his shoes on long runs deep in Irish territory.
One emerging factor can make Michigan fans smile – the number of receivers for Robinson to find in opposition secondaries. The ND defenders don’t have the height to cover the likes of TE Devin Funchess or WR Devin Gardner. When properly positioned, Michigan has enough slot receivers (like Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon) to gain first downs, or as was the case Saturday, break plays for lengthy gains (66 yards by Delio). It’s harder to plan your defense to cover 4-5 players on each snap, often giving you one-on-one favorable offensive opportunities.
The Irish could be this week’s overrated top 20 team; they beat one of the worst Navy teams in half a century and barely slipped past Purdue in overtime. As exposed, Michigan State was not as good as its players had been tweeting about.
Kelly might have been known as an offensive genius at Cincinnati, but hasn’t shown THAT much in South Bend. And come Saturday, the pressure will be squarely on the Irish shoulders to prove that the program has returned to its “glory” days. But they are facing a team who has found ways to win, even when playing lousy football over the past three seasons (hell, even Tate Forcier engineered a winning score with 9 seconds left).
Michigan gets a bye week after Saturday so the pressure shouldn’t be on those players as much. As the Big 10 is appearing, it is a championship for the taking by almost anyone; there is NO team head-and-shoulder above all others. If you look at UM’s schedule, aside from the MSU game, there’s nothing but easily winnable matchups (yes, including an over-egoed 3-0 Ohio State).
Michigan can decide, starting this Saturday, it wants to achieve its most important goal – to win the Big 10 title. The Notre Dame game will point in which direction Michigan football is headed.

‘If you got the money, honey, I got the time’

The most repeated question I heard, following the 2012 Michigan football season opener, held here in Arlington, Texas, was “In the end, was it a game worth scheduling?”
Yes, the Blue got its butt handed to it by a much more talented Alabama team, and the UM coaching staff discovered it had even MORE work to do with its relatively young charges than first realized.
Before I answer the questions, let’s look back on this past weekend and discuss, for a moment, why certain games are scheduled at this time of the season.
With one exception (Michigan State-Notre Dame), the majority of college NON-conference games saw patsies play powerhouses. The best matchups (with that singular exception) came in the start of conference play (in the SEC and Pac 12), producing the biggest upset of the night, Stanford knocking off no. 2-ranked USC (again).
Otherwise, it was, all too often, a case of the Michigans of the BCS, whipping the Massachusettses of the landscape, as was the case Saturday … in the Big House … 63-13.
Despite surrendering 13 points, the outcome was never really in doubt; the Wolverines ran for almost 300 yards and were nine yards short of 300 yards passing. But if you review what happened elsewhere, among the top 25, a similar scenario was played out; it was the week to schedule “soft” opponents in preparation for upcoming conference action.
OK, so why DID Michigan play a team like UMass on this Saturday in 2012? Because of the money, honey, and as Willie Nelson sang (decades ago), “If you got the money, honey, I got the time.” In order to supplement their athletic budgets, many so-called mid-major schools (in mid-major conferences such as the Mountain West, Missouri Valley, Mid-American) will gladly serve as fodder for the big dogs.
A visit to the Big House is infinitely more rewarding (financially) to a school like Massachusetts than playing a home game (or five home games) in Amherst, Mass. Its split of the revenue from 109,000 makes it appealing, so the UMass administration trades an on-field loss for a financial win. The same is true with schools with huge stadiums (Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State); they seldom ink home-and-home contracts with teams with lesser seating capacity.
Texas’ visit to Ole Miss last Saturday WAS a rarity, as was A&M’s journey to Dallas to play SMU. The latter game was made as a favor for Dallas alumni because SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium barely holds 36,000 people, while Kyle Field in College Station can occupy more than 88,000. The finances don’t work in Dallas.
Scheduling is not the area tasked for the head coach; those duties are strictly placed in the athletic director’s office. The coach plans for the schedule presented to him by his boss. And the boss is always looking at the bottom line, including Michigan’s Dave Brandon.
Non-conference schedules are constructed years in advance and normally remain rock solid, barring any seismic conference realignment activity. When schools decide to switch allegiances, it can truly scramble your omelet.
Just ask Notre Dame, who announced this past week, its jump to the Atlantic Coast Conference from the Big East, in all sports MINUS football. The Irish wish to retain their independent status as much as possible, although the ACC people did tag a caveat to the entire procession (ND must play at least five ACC opponents per season).
There will be difficult decisions to be be made in South Bend in the coming months – who to retain and who to eject; and which five will be an Irish Derby lottery, of sorts.
The ACC (not a hotbed of football as it is in basketball) does offer some quality opponents – Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech. But the conference has a few Dukes, Wake Forests, Marylands and Virginias that won’t make the Irish sweat a bit.
And just who gets dropped from the current (and future) schedule will be interesting. Michigan and Notre Dame will be taking a break after 2016, but that was meant to be when the schedules were made more than a few months ago. Will the break be permanent? And what will that say for college football when one decision leads to another that financially makes no sense (dropping Michigan for a school like Duke is bad for business).
The break will come in 2018 and 2019 and the UM press release stated this: ““Both schools intend to resume the rivalry in the years following.” Kinda cryptic if you ask me…
Who else comes and goes? Michigan State? Southern Cal? The in-state rival, Purdue? The service academies? Fellow Jesuit schools like Boston College? I wouldn’t want to be in South Bend making those critical (financial) choices.
Michigan’s future non-conference schedules make plans for teams with unknown qualities; no one can states with certainty what those opponents will offer in the future.
Example: Colorado used to be a challenger in the Big 12 when it was in its Northern Division. In its attempt to escape the “evil” clutches of Texas and Oklahoma, the Buffs chose to land in the Pac-12 last season (along with Utah) and promptly stunk up the joint.
But too many Wolverine fans have nightmares about Kordell Stewart and Michael Westbrook and last-second 64-yard touchdown passes to be UM on national TV. So which Colorado team will show up in Ann Arbor in 2016? Nobody in 2012 can tell you that.
In 2014, Michigan will play Utah in a rare home-and-home series (home in 2014, on the road in 2015). And, for some odd reason, the 2015 game will be the lidlifter on the collegiate season … on a Thursday night.
Utah is now in the Pac-12 conference but not CURRENTLY among the upper echelon (Oregon, Stanford, USC). In three years, who knows what kind of squad will be there?
Still, there are plenty of soft opponents through 2016 – the likes of Miami of Ohio and UNLV. They’re coming for the money, NOT the experience of playing in the Big House.
So to finally answer the initial question, YES, it was worth it because hindsight is a luxury no athletic director can afford. The atmosphere resembled any major bowl game, the accommodations were great, and the buildup in the prior days was unprecedented for a Michigan game.
It just would have been nice for the Wolverines to have played better and for Denard Robinson to have been … well, Denard Robinson. But Alabama had more to do with that than Dave Brandon. Otherwise, it was a great collegiate experience!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hey, Mitt! Wrong reaction, dude!

Oh, Mitt, what are we going to do with you? So desperate are you to lip-smack the President that you do it in a blubbering manner without all the facts in your hands.
You keep using the word "apologize" when it isn't proper or applicable and you speak on unnamed American principles, but NEVER state what the fuck you'd do if faced with the same problem(s). You just bitch and never suggest a better course of action (which using military force isn't ALWAYS the right choice).
Look, it was a tragedy that our ambassador to Libya died (of smoke inhalation, trying to rescue his charges) and, if it can happen, those responsible should be brought to justice (if such a concept even EXISTS in Libya today).
And just because the "freedom" exists for someone to deliberately incite such reactions using film to demean someone else's religion doesn't mean it/he should EVER see the light of day. Calling out idiots, and saying such actions are NOT the attitudes (shall we use the world principles?) of most Americans, is not apologizing, but telling the truth. And, yes, it is time for others in this world to grow a much tougher skin and let this crap roll off their backs like water off a duck. We cannot blow up the world over a few stupid, inane comments by people without the sense God allegedly gave them.
But, Mitt ... it isn't apologizing. And you aren't acting like anyone who should be President.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Far from where anyone wants them to be

Brady Hoke is going to be the kind of head football coach for whom nothing is ever good enough; there will ALWAYS be things “to work on.” He goes by the old U-M adage (said daily by one of his mentors, Bo Schembechler, that “no team ever stays the same; it either gets better or worse every day, but never stays THE SAME!”).
By that standard, Michigan got ever-so-slightly better last Saturday by defeating Air Force 31-25 in the home opener to go to 1-1 on the year. However, at this very moment, foreheads inside the Michigan coaching offices are buried deep in film and personnel evaluations. Eyebrows are furrowed and expressions are hardened – not inviting a smile into the room.
Despite the win, there are substantial areas of concerns for Hoke and his staff and precious little time to get them corrected, or at least, understood. It was a reminder to all that “winning ugly” is not a standard acceptable to most coaches. They like the “wining” part but not the “ugly.” And too many factors last Saturday made it as ugly as the late Phyllis Diller after her umpteenth face lift.
The three most pressing areas of concern are lack of timely defensive early in the game, failure to establish a running game and inability to produce turnovers. Until these challenges are met in practice, and then seen on the field at game time, Michigan will not be able to repeat its 2011 success.
To say Air Force was a difficult opponent to play was an obvious understatement. Like all military academy schools, the Falcons refused to quit; Denard Robinson’s long-distance touchdown runs only served to permit more time of possession to favor AF.
It’s also no accident that all three schools (West Point, Annapolis, Air Force) run the same triple-option offense. With the top talent unavailable to those coaches, and size requirements in place for their lives as actual servicemen, quickness is substituted for size and bulk.
Falcon running back Cody Getz stood all of 5-7, 170 pounds, but he was as tough a runner to handle as any Michigan has seen in recent years. He ran around, past (but seldom OVER) a much slower-looking defensive line (especially senior Will Campbell, who appeared to be positively statue-like at the nose position).
Playing at a much faster tempo than ANY Big Ten rival, Air Force kept substitutions from being made and adjustments delayed from the U-M sidelines. It was a well-executed game plan that would have beaten most teams not possessing a quarterback named Robinson.
By the way, there are times when statistics fail to capture the true essence of the game. Time of possession can be one of those “facts:” if the opposition takes little time to produce points, it matters little where the balance of possession lies.
In this game, other stats painted the true picture – third-down conversions, yards per carry rushing (for Air Force) and turnovers; none of which favored the Wolverines.
AF was 12 for 21 on third downs (just 5 for 11 for U-M) and 2 for 5 on fourth downs. Despite Robinson’s two long dashes to paydirt (79 and 58 yards), and 218 yards rushing overall, AF was just five yards shy of the U-M team rushing total on an amazing 71 attempts. If you told the Michigan staff that its defense would allow NINETY plays from scrimmage, they’d be calling for the padded wagons on you!
To overcome AF’s offense, coordinator Greg Mattison had to jumble his on-field lineup as if he were rolling Yahtzee dice from a cup. From play-to-play, no one really knew who was where and what position was being occupied by a starter or a third-stringer. Yet, somehow it worked out in the end.
In the fourth quarter, after nary a key stop having been made all afternoon, the Wolverines finally produced the crucial defensive sequence to win the game (while millions of television viewers were cursing their flat screens when the game transmission disappeared for several minutes; echoes of “Heidi” could be heard – actually it was ESPN’s Wendy Nix).
Part of the defense’s problem stems from the other side of the ball. At the moment, Michigan doesn’t have a real running game of its own; Robinson cannot be expected to average 200 yards each game. Until the Wolverines begin running successfully between the tackles, opposition defenses will simply load their schemes to negate Robinson’s ability to escape tackles (Alabama did, as have other squads).
Look at the simple numbers (arithmetic, as noted by a certain former president last week). Aside from the UM quarterback, Michigan has tried three running backs (Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Shaw, Thomas Rawls) and gotten just 55 yards on 27 carries, a smidge over 2 yards per attempt. Subtract a 22-yard gainer by Shaw late against Alabama (when the outcome was long decided) and the percentage is worse.
The Wolverine defense is, of course, making matters more starchy by its inability, over the first two games, to produce turnovers – stopping potential scoring drives and giving its offense more chances in better field position. The ONLY turnover for U-M in the first two games was a fumble recovery on the very last play of the first half versus Alabama (which might as well have not counted at all).
On the flipside, Michigan has thrown four interceptions (although, in truth, only one can be classified as an actual poor executed pass by Robinson). Still, they ALL seem to come at the worst possible opportunity – just when the U-M offense has been getting a flash of momentum and pace.
Still … despite a pretty shoddy overall performance, the Wolverines won the game – which is FAR better than losing (okay, that’s obvious). Robinson was, at times, brilliant, and only made U-M fans wonder aloud where this version of the senior signal-caller was in Texas the week before.
And there was a revelation on Saturday (not named Robinson)! It seems as if Michigan has actually found a legitimate tight end target with size, hands, some speed and power. On the depth chart for the Air Force game, true freshman Devin Funchess was listed as FOURTH-string! But four receptions later for a game-high 106 yards (including a 30-yard touchdown reception), his stock shot up the chart as if there was an Apple symbol next to it.
A native of Farmington Hills, and coming from Harrison High School (my old stomping grounds, except neither the Hills nor Harrison even existed when I graduated from North Farmington HS back in … 1970 … #%*&!!), Funchess was probably penciled in as a star of the “future.”
Well, the future is now, and we old-timers could envision a player just like former All-American tight end Paul Seal from the 1974 season. Paul (a former debate partner of mine from Speech 301 class) was a favorite target for Bo Schembechler’s play calling because of his height (6-4) and size (220) and excellent hands. Seal always seemed to draw shorter defenders and when Dennis Franklin needed a key first down, Seal was the man!
Funchess stands 6-5, 225, and didn’t appear to be afraid to play “jump ball” or navigate through traffic to catch passes. Aside from Robinson, 416 yards in total offense, Funchess was the game’s true star because his plays came at crucial points in the action.
Now if only the Michigan wideouts (not named Devin Gardner) could become more involved, it would go a long way to solving a few (not all) of the problems.
On a sidenote: It would be nice if the Big Ten members would try a tad harder NOT to justify all the nationwide criticism of it being a mediocre conference, Saturday’s performance, as a whole, was 6-6, including three clunker/stunners – Wisconsin going belly-up at Oregon State, Nebraska folding at UCLA and Iowa’s no-show against Iowa State. All three losses were against teams considered cellar-dwellers of their respective conference.
In fact, there wasn’t an impressive victory from any Big Ten school; no one is going to tout convincingly that New Hampshire or Central Michigan (or Central Florida) is a “quality” opponent. In fact, Air Force might have been the toughest of the entire lot.
Finally, you must have an ounce of sympathy for the plight of poor Penn State, which for the second week in a row, coughed up a late lead to fall to 0-2 (losing 17-16 at Virginia). Despite all the negative things that descended upon the team, campus and student body, one might have thought pride would have compensated for the escaped talent.
Alas, it was not true, is not true and will continue not to be true. The Nittany Lions host navy this Saturday and play Temple before getting into the Big Ten schedule. An honest observer can clearly see a possible 2-10 or 3-9 outcome for this season and the next 2-3 years.
All, basically, for the lack of a phone call…
Last but not least: The U-M athletic department allowed another “Legacy” number to be re-introduced back into the public eye – this game, it was Bennie Oosterbaan’s “47,” now to be worn by defensive end Jake Ryan (a sophomore) for the remainder of his career.
My only quibble is the position being changed from when Oosterbaan played as perhaps the best overall athlete in U-M history. He was a receiver, part of the famed Benny-to-Bennie combination, with Hall of Fame quarterback Benny Friedman. It would have been nice, and more appropriate to have seen an offensive player be allowed to continue that legacy.
In the coming weeks, other retired numbers (Ron Kramer’s 88, Tom Harmon’s 98 and the 11 worn by all three Wistert brothers) will be similarly honored through a passing of the numerical torch. I doubt the alignment will be proper to the past, but one can only hope.