The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ where are they Now? Former All-American Tackle Jon Jansen ��� Joins The Media Jansen (shown interviewing U-M head coach Brady Hoke as part of his work for the Big Ten Network) was a two-time first-team All- Big Ten selection (1997 and ���98), and he set a school record with 50 straight starts, all at right tackle. photo by per kjeldsen F By Chris Balas ormer Michigan All-American offensive tackle Jon Jansen hasn���t made many trips to Michigan Stadium on fall Saturdays over the past 12 years or so. Long NFL careers will always trump school ties, no matter how deep they run, and Jansen���s 11 years in the league forced him to the couch for most Michigan football Saturdays. Jansen���s ties, though, have always run to the core of his soul. ���Bleeds maize and blue��� might be clich��, but it applies perfectly to Michigan���s iron man, whose 50 starts on the offensive line from 1995-98 remain a U-M record. Jansen was back in Ann Arbor Sept. 18 when Michigan beat Eastern Michigan in the Big House. He might have been representing the Big Ten Network ��� he was doing sideline work as part of what���s becoming a budding career as a college football analyst ��� but he didn���t feel it when he emerged from the Michigan Stadium tunnel. 84��� the wolverine��� ������ October 2011 If he���d been wearing the winged helmet rather than jeans and a jacket, and holding his mouth guard instead of a microphone, he would still have looked the part. He was home again, and he felt it. ���That Saturday when they announced I was there, and I came out and everybody cheered, I got flashbacks of singing ���The Victors��� after that 1997 Ohio State game,��� Jansen marveled. The Big Ten championship-clinching win was one of many memories that came rushing back. Like many of the fans that embraced the ���97 Wolverines, Jansen is a savant of sorts, able to recall each game with near-photographic precision. They���re all there, from the pounding of Colorado (27-3 in the opener), to the come-from-behind victory over Iowa (28-24) through the 1998 Rose Bowl. ���When we get together now, whether it���s a reunion or seeing each other in passing, there���s always something that comes up about that season where we talk about it and enjoy it, all the memories,��� Jansen said. ���It���s just one of those things where you don���t realize it at that point, but those memories will be with me forever, and nobody will ever take that away.��� Just as nobody will swipe one of his father���s favorite memories, he added ��� a baggie containing some of the ���97 Michigan Stadium turf. His dad wasn���t the only one digging up the grass after the OSU win, Jansen recalled with a laugh, remembering the scene on a cold November afternoon. ���We���d gone up the tunnel and celebrated as a team, sang ���The Victors,��� and we came back down and celebrated with the fans because everybody was still there,��� he recalled. ���I think every Michigan fan wanted to stay because we had waited so long, 50 years since our last national championship. ���We knew at that point there was no chance we were going out to Pasadena and losing.��� Washington State, behind quarterback Ryan Leaf, made it interesting, but Jansen was right. Michigan held on for a 21-16 win. Days later they were forced to share the national championship with Nebraska, but when Jansen, then a junior captain, surveyed three trophies in front of him at a Crisler Arena championship celebration, he said what most in attendance were thinking. ���There are four of these [national championship] trophies. Three of them are here,��� Jansen said to a rousing ovation. The celebration was the culmination of a magical season for Jansen and his teammates, and for the seniors, their careers. Jansen���s own career started with head coach Lloyd Carr���s first game against Virginia that, had it not ended with receiver Mercury Hayes capping a 17-0 comeback with a grab in the northeast corner of the end zone as time expired, could have been the beginning of a rough ride for theninterim head coach Carr. Jansen admits he would have been harder on himself if Michigan had lost. The Wolverines boasted several veterans on the offensive line ��� Jon Runyan, Rod Payne and Joe Marinaro, to name a few ��� but Jansen wasn���t one of them. He didn���t play like a veteran

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