Monday, May 28, 2007

Jim Harbaugh's comments continue to cause shockwaves in A2

Although Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh's comments regarding the academics of the Michigan Football program were originally made a couple of weeks ago, the after effects are still being felt. The Ann Arbor News had extensive coverage of the topic on Sunday, May 27, 2007. Jim Carty did a follow-up article entitled, "U-M needs to address academics to skeptics." John Heuser wrote an article entitled, "Too many breaks for U-M football?" Lastly, there is an another article by Heuser exploring the link between the success of U-M football and enrollment. All three articles are worth a read but some of the more interesting points that can be gleaned therefrom are listed below:
  • Michigan Football accounts for 72 percent of the revenue for the school's self-supporting athletic department, which has a budget of $76.3 million and sponsors 25 varsity teams.
  • According to university records, 3 percent of all undergraduate degrees conferred between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005 were in general studies, which falls under the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts umbrella.
  • The percentage of football players currently on track to receive a general studies degree is much higher. The recently published spring football media guide shows that nearly 82 percent of scholarship players on the 2007 Michigan football team who declared a major have done so in general studies.
  • The four of 22 who did not pick general studies are majoring in psychology, American culture, sociology and sports management and communications, respectively.
  • Michigan Football's Academic Performance Rate, a tool used by the NCAA that evaluates programs based on whether athletes remain in school and whether they remain academically eligible, trails only Northwestern and Penn State among Big Ten schools.
  • According to the most recent NCAA data, the Michigan football team's graduation rate among scholarship athletes over a four-year period is 63 percent. That also puts the Wolverines third in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern and Penn State.
  • One category where Michigan struggles, however, is in graduation rates for black football players. NCAA records show that Michigan graduated 38 percent of its black scholarship players in a four-year span compared with 89 percent of white players.
  • Michigan's graduation rate for black players is tied for seventh in the conference, with Minnesota.
  • In response to Stanford Coach Harbaugh's comments, Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin responded by saying, "I would love to play Stanford. I'd love to play Harbaugh's team ... So would our coaches.'' [You missed the boat on that one Bill. Try again].

In order to help Michigan Football players succeed academically the school has the Academic Success Program run out of the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center. (See my post of March 3, 2007: Michigan Football program achieves on and off the field). Shari Acho and Sue Shand are the co-Directors of The Academic Success Program. Additionally, Mrs. Acho is the Associate Athletic Director/Academic Football Counselor and as such is the person in charge of academics for the University of Michigan Football team.

The University of Michigan's Admissions Director Ted Spencer interviews many of the football recruits personally (after reading about them on and he employs his "lights on" test. Admissions Director Spencer (an avowed Michigan sports fan) was quoted as saying, "I use this thing about lights are on. I need to look you in the eye and talk to you. See if your lights are on.'' The question is whether Spencer's lights are on? No wonder Michigan is admitting student-athletes that even Mrs. Acho cannot get to succeed. The Admissions Director sounds like a disaster.

Michigan proclaims to be "The Leaders and Best." It should strive for that ideal off the field as well as on it. Stanford should not be the only school with engineers who can also tackle. Go Blue!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Maize n Brew Dave is back and better than ever!

There are many outstanding blogs in the Michigan blogosphere and one of my absolute favorites is Maize n Brew. The webmaster is Maize n Brew Dave who is a very busy Chicago-area attorney. Because of work issues, he did not post much for nearly three weeks but he is now back and better than ever. His last two posts have been particularly noteworthy. The first was a post where he matched the blogs of the Michigan blogoshpere to current Michigan players. Yours truly (Michigan Football Saturdays) was very happy to be assigned Justin Boren. The second recent noteworthy post was regarding civility between fans of rival schools. It was extremely well reasoned and well written. You would think this guy was a good attorney or something. Do yourself a favor and become a regular reader of his blog if you are not already. Go Blue!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Michigan adds Univ. of Toledo Rockets to the '08 schedule

On Tuesday, May 22, 2007, Michigan Football announced that it added a home game against the University of Toledo Rockets to the Wolverines' 2008 schedule. This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Wolverine and Rockets reached a single-game agreement to play during U-M's open week of the Big Ten schedule, Oct. 11, 2008, at Michigan Stadium. Michigan now has eleven opponents scheduled for the 2008 season with open dates on August 30 and Sept. 20 with one game left to schedule for the '08 season. Go Blue!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Marcus Ray returns to A2 as Graduate Asst. in weight room

Marcus Ray, the starting strong safety on the 1997 National Championship team, is returning to Ann Arbor to join the Michigan Football program as a Graduate Assistant in the weight room. This is the position that Glen Steele (an All-American DE on the '97 team) held before recently being promoted to Defensive Graduate Assistant. Ray is probably best remembered for the hit he laid on Ohio State WR David Boston in the 1997 Michigan/Ohio State clash at Michigan Stadium. However, fans may also remember that Ray was suspended by Michigan and the NCAA in 1998 for improper association with a sports agent and he missed six games as a result. Ray returns to Michigan after having most recently coached the secondary at tiny Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Marcus Ray (29) on Sports Illustrated cover of 12-1-97 by John Biever.
*Note 2: Thanks to Phil Callihan over at UMGoBlue.COM for finding the link to the Michigan Daily story that is hyperlinked above.


Monday, May 21, 2007

1997 National Champs reunite to commemorate 10th anniversary

The 1997 National Championship team reunited this past weekend at Schembechler Hall to commemorate the 10th anniversary of winning the AP National title. Photos of the reunion activities from Saturday and Sunday can be seen here and here. For a refresher on the 1997 team members, here is the roster. Also, you can relive the championship season on game-by-game basis by reading the weekly media dept. releases (in .pdf format). Go Blue!

*Note: Click on team picture to view a larger image.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Holding the Line: 2007 Preview

Michigan's Offensive Line (coached by Andy Moeller) performed well for most of 2006 before experiencing substantial difficulties in the season's final two games (i.e., OSU & USC). The unit opened up big enough holes for Mike Hart and the other running backs to allow the 2006 Wolverines to rush for over 2,000 yards during the regular season. This marked the first time since 2003 that the team had reached that plateau. The O-Line was also effective in pass protection yielding only 14 sacks in the first 11 games of the season before giving up ten (10) in the final two contests of the year.

Michigan had amazing consistency on the O-Line in 2006 as the Wolverines were able to employ the same starting line-up for the first eight (8) games of the season before an injury to RG Rueben Riley forced a shift on the line for week nine versus Northwestern. The upside, however, was it allowed Justin Boren an opportunity to start. Rueben Riley returned for week 10 against Ball State and the regular line-up returned for the remainder of the season. Thus, the starting five played twelve of the thirteen games together as a starting unit. From left to right the line-up was as follows: LT Jake Long; LG Adam Kraus; C Mark Bihl; RG Alex Mitchell; RT Rueben Riley.

In 2007, three of the 5 starters from last year's highly successful O-Line return. The returnees are: All-American Jake Long, All-Big 10 Adam Kraus, and Alex Mitchell. The projected two new starters are Justin Boren and Steve Schilling. Boren (So.) is slotted to play center while Schilling (So./Fr.) will take over at right tackle. Boren is a left-hander and has been working with QB Chad Henne to develop a smooth snap transition as Henne has received snaps from a right-handed center for the past three seasons. Boren started the Northwestern game last season at RG and became only the fourth Michigan true freshman to start a game on the offensive line. Meanwhile, Schilling battled mononucleosis for much of last season and missed the entire 2006 season. With his injury problems hopefully behind him, Schilling is looking to do big things as part of the starting unit in 2007. The new starting unit can be potentially more effective than last year's version as Mitchell will be improved with a year's worth of experience under his belt and Schilling is much more athletic than Rueben Riley while Boren is outstanding and should be able to fill the void left by the very capable Bihl. For a closer look, read on:

  • Left Tackle: Jake Long was team co-Captain in 2006 and was a consensus All-American choice for his efforts on the offensive line. Long led the way for the Wolverines last season as Michigan compiled a 11-2 record and he decided to return to play for Michigan as a Fifth-year Senior in 2007. This was great news for both QB Chad Henne and the Wolverines' ball carriers. Long (6'7", 313 lbs.) protects Chad Henne's blind-side from oncoming rushers as Long plays Left Tackle and Henne is a right-handed quarterback. Long is also the Wolverines go-to player on running plays as Michigan will invariably will run to his side of the field because the coaches know Long will create a hole for the runner. Long is projected as a top-5 pick in next year's NFL draft.

  • Left Guard: Adam Kraus was named All-Big 10 by the media in 2006 in recognition of his play at Left Guard. He started all 13 games last season at LG and is returning in 2007 as a Fifth-year Senior for another year of holding down the left side of the line with Jake Long. Kraus (6'6", 296 lbs.) also started 9 games on the offensive line as a junior in 2005. The New Orleans native missed spring drills in March, 2007 because of off-season surgery but he hopes to be back to full-strength in the fall.

  • Center: Justin Boren has the task of replacing the veteran Mark Bihl. Boren (So.) early-enrolled at Michigan in January 2006 (along with Carlos Brown) so that he could get a jump on preparing for his freshman season. His hard work paid off last season as he started the Northwestern game at Right Guard and became only the fourth player in Wolverine history to start a game on the offensive line as a true freshman. The left-hander is now slotted to start as a Sophmore at the Center position. The wunderkind Boren (6'3", 310 lbs.) will be playing next to two fifth-year seniors in Long and Kraus who will be on the left side of the line.

  • Right Guard: Alex Mitchell started all thirteen games last season (12 at RG, one at RT) and is returning in 2007 at Right Guard. Mitchell (Sr./Jr.) was the new guy to the unit last season but in 2007 he will be anchoring the right side of the line and will be positioned between two newcomers (Boren at Center and Steve Schilling at RT). At 6'5", 313 lbs., Mitchell remains an imposing figure for defenders to have to deal with on the right side of the line. Prior to the final Spring Practice session, Coach Carr commented that, "First of all, I think he's in a lot better condition. He went through the process of trying to find his ideal weight, and as a young player you come in with the mentality of bigger is better. He learned a lot a year ago. There were a lot of lessons to be learned. So I think he's made very good progress." With all the experience he gained last season and with two years of eligibility remaining, Mitchell is bound to be a Wolverine great by the time he leaves Michigan.

  • Right Tackle: Steve Schilling (So./Fr.) missed the entire 2006 season due to mononucleosis and shoulder surgery but he is back and ready for the 2007 season. Schilling (6'5", 297 lbs.) has never seen any collegiate game action yet is slotted to be the starting Right Tackle in 2007 taking the place of the departed Rueben Riley. Schilling was limited for the first couple of weeks of Spring Practice but was cleared for full contact drills by the conclusion of Spring Practice in the second week of April. Prior to the final Spring Practice session, Coach Carr commented that, "As far as some of the younger players, Steve Shilling has been cleared to play this week with full contact, and I've been very impressed with what I've seen from him." Schilling is known for his athleticism and that will help him as he learns the ropes as he has never even played a down. Nevertheless, the Wolverines expect big things from him in 2007.

So there you have it. The (projected) starting five on the O-Line for the 2007 season. It looks like Chad Henne will not have to worry about being sacked many times this year while Mike Hart can look forward to a 2,000 yard rushing season! Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) in the pocket created by Jake Long (77), Adam Kraus (57), Justin Boren (65) and Alex Mitchell (on far left of picture) from 10/28/06 game vs. Northwestern by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jim Harbaugh's "controversial" comments about his alma mater

Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh made news recently with comments about Michigan accepting borderline students and steering them to easier courses. Reaction was swift around the Michigan blogosphere with posts from MGoBlog, The M Zone, Jim Harbaugh Scramble, MVictors.Com, iBlog for Cookies, and Michigan Against the World. The Ann Arbor News' Jim Carty has now followed up the story with a phone interview with Harbaugh during which Harbaugh made more incendiary comments. One of the more interesting comments in the article was when Harbaugh said he was told as a freshman that he should not be a history major because it takes too much time and he subsequently decided to switch majors. It is interesting to note that Harbaugh's freshman year was 1982 which means he was a teammate of two-time Academic All-America Stefan Humphries. Humphries was Academic All-America in 1982 & 1983 while also making All-America on the field in 1983. Humphries went on to become a doctor after a five-year NFL career. The point being that if Mr. Harbaugh wanted to stay a history major, I think he could have. Stefan Humphries had the discipline to excel both on and off the field. The problem was not with the school. Mr. Harbaugh should look at himself if he does not like the choices he made. Denigrating Michigan's academics sounds like a cheap shot. The education was there for the taking. Just ask his teammate Dr. Humphries. On the other hand, I do not want to be too hard on Coach Harbaugh as he has been "True Blue" his entire life. He even served as a ball boy during the Coach Schembechler years. In light of the fact that he has contributed so much to Michigan Football over the years and he has been so dedicated to the program, he deserves to be cut some slack regarding his comments. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Jim Harbaugh (4) from 10/25/86 Homecoming game against Indiana. Picture by Brad Mills who was a U-M student photographer.

Labels: , , tracks the story of WTKA's firing of Dave Shand

Dave Shand is an Ann Arbor-area attorney and former Michigan hockey player who was co-hosting "In the Locker Room" on WTKA (1050-AM). His show was doing well in the ratings but he was prone to making a lot of "outrageous" comments. Apparently, Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin had enough and he allegedly put sufficient pressure on the radio station management to have Shand fired. The webmaster from has done a superb job of following this entire saga and I did not want his posts regarding this matter to go unnoticed. Read them if you get the opportunity. It is well worth it. Whether or not you liked Shand's shtick (and, frankly, I was not the biggest fan) it is interesting to see how A.D. Martin is allegedly willing to throw around the weight of the Michigan Athletic Department. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of former WTKA morning host Dave Shand from the website

Saturday, May 12, 2007

2007 team can draw (some) inspiration from 1971 team

Michigan finished 7-5 in 2005 and the Wolverines spent the off-season motivated by the team's five losses. The hard working Wolverines roared to an 11-0 start and a #2 ranking in 2006 before stumbling in the last two games of the season against Ohio State and USC in the Rose Bowl. The 2007 Wolverines have the difficult task of trying to bounce back from those devastating season-ending losses and attempt to "run the table" the entire way this upcoming season. In 2006, the Wolverines were attempting to return to prominence after a disappointing 2005 campaign. In 2007, the Wolverines will be attempting to do what they could not accomplish completely in 2006. The 2007 Wolverines want to FINISH WHAT THEY START. Last season, the Wolverines were 11-0 but could not get the job done in the final two games. This upcoming year, led by seniors Chad Henne and Mike Hart, the Wolverines will look to not only start fast but also to FINISH STRONG!

There are some parallels between the 2006/2007 Wolverines and the 1970/1971 Wolverines. As everyone knows, the 2006 Wolverines were 11-0 when they traveled to Columbus, OH to take on the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten title. Unfortunately, the Wolverines came up just a little bit short. That was reminiscent of the 1970 Michigan team that was undefeated (9-0) when they traveled to Columbus, OH to play an undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) with the Big Ten Championship on the line. The Buckeyes managed to defeat the Wolverines 20-9 ending the Wolverines season on a losing note.

The 1971 Wolverines featured All-American RB Billy Taylor and All-American OL Reggie McKenzie on offense. The '71 Wolverines had the daunting challenge of trying to sweep through their schedule undefeated for the second year in a row to set up a season-ending showdown for the title with Ohio State. With the Wolverines potent running attack, Michigan was able to amass a 10-0 record heading into the Big 10 finale at home versus the Buckeyes. In a classic at Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines pulled out a 10-7 win on Billy Taylor's late touchdown run. Thus, the Wolverines advanced to the Rose Bowl as an undefeated team for what turned out to be the only time in Coach Schembechler's 21-year coaching career at Michigan.

The 2007 team hopes to duplicate the feat of the 1971 team squad by going into the Ohio State game undefeated for the second consecutive season. Also, like the '71 squad, the 2007 M/OSU game will be played at Michigan Stadium and this year's team hopes to advance to a bowl game undefeated just as the Wolverines did in that memorable year. Whereas the '71 Wolverines had RB Billy Taylor and OL Reggie McKenzie, this year's squad features RB Mike Hart and OL Jake Long. However, where this year's Wolverines hope to improve upon the legacy of the '71 Wolverines is in the bowl game. The '71 Wolverines lost the Rose Bowl to Stanford by the score of 13-12 on a field goal with :14 seconds remaining in the game. The 2007 team wants to FINISH the season undefeated and leave a legacy that Wolverine fans will not soon forget. Go Blue!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Man of Steele is now working as the Defensive Graduate Asst.

Glen Steele was an All-American DE on Michigan's 1997 National Championship team and he went on to have a successful pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals. Last year, Steele returned to Michigan and worked for the football program in the weight room. He is now on staff as the Defensive Graduate Assistant. The current crop of Wolverines will really be able to benefit from Steele's experience as he earned the ultimate in both personal (being named All-American) and team (Michigan's '97 National Championship) success while he was at Michigan. Steele recorded 24 sacks during his college career which places him in a tie for third all-time among Wolverines. His presence on the Football Staff will be a significant asset for the program. Go Blue!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

David Brown Selected to College Football Hall of Fame

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced Wednesday, May 9 that former University of Michigan defensive back Dave Brown is one of 14 inductees in the class of 2007. Brown, the 33rd Wolverine to receive the prestigious honor, will be posthumously honored at the foundation's 50th annual awards dinner in New York City at the Waldorf-Astoria on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007. Brown passed away Jan. 10, 2006, from a heart attack at the age of 52.

Brown is one of 17 Wolverine players to earn All-America honors at least twice during his career. He was a consensus All-America in 1973 and 1974 after leading U-M to a share of the Big Ten title in both seasons. Brown was co-captain of the 1974 squad as a senior. A three-time All-Big Ten first team selection, he finished his career second on Michigan's career pass breakup list (18 PBUs, 1972-74) and corralled nine interceptions for 202 yards. Brown tallied 173 career tackles, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble from the secondary. He ranks among Michigan's top 10 in career punt returns, returning 48 punts for 531 yards (11.7 avg.), and scored three touchdowns. One of those returned for a touchdown went for 88 yards which is the second longest runback in Michigan history. Go Blue!

Happy Belated "Birthday" to Michigan Football Saturdays!

Michigan Football Saturdays marked the one year anniversary of its existence on May 8, 2007. The blog has evolved since my first post of May 8, 2006. Over the past year it has been 327 posts with nearly 47,000 visits and over 79,000 page views. Hardly the numbers of my idols MGoBlog or the The M Zone but I'll take it considering I'm happy that anybody would take the time to read the drivel that I put out on this blog. It's been a fun year and I've learned more arcane details about Michigan Football than I probably ever needed to know. For those of you who can stand it, get ready as I'm about to commence year two. Remember, THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS!!!! (Don't tell me you didn't see that coming). Go Blue!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Coach Carr to speak in his old hometown twice in upcoming events

The University of Michigan Club of Downriver is holding their Spring Scholarship Awards Dinner on May 29, 2007 and the keynote speaker will be Coach Carr. The event is being held at Arnaldo's Banquet Center in Riverview. The dinner is open to the public and tickets are $25 per person. A few days later, Coach Carr will return to Riverview to be the keynote speaker at another event. On June 1, 2007, he will be the main attraction at the fundraiser being held at the Orlando Familia Banquet Center in Riverview for the non-profit organization Ministering His Love. Tickets for this event are $60 per person. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Carr by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Announcements, Announcements

Michigan Football has announced the game time for two of its games. The Big Ten Conference Office released today (Tuesday, May 1) the primetime selection for the University of Michigan football game at the University of Illinois on Oct. 20. The Wolverines and Fighting Illini will kick off at 7 p.m. CDT (8 p.m. EDT) at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, with the exact carrier to be finalized at a later date.
In addition, Michigan's Oct. 13 homecoming game against Purdue is slated for a noon EDT kickoff at Michigan Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big Ten Network.
In other news, the Michigan Marching Band has named Scott Boerma as its new Director. No word, however, whether Director Boerma will continue to have the MMB play Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" which has been a student section favorite the past couple of years. Go Blue!