The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 57 walking into your office, and I'm going to say, Jon Falk is out of here.' "Bo looked at me and said: 'Before you do that, make sure you've got all six numbers.'" When Schembechler finally got out, Falk took little time to clean out his locker. The mildly ruffled Schembechler demanded to know what happened, prompting a classic Falk retort from the movie "The Natural." "He called me over, and he was mad be- cause I cleaned his locker out," Falk noted. "I said: 'Bo, they told me you're retired now. You're leaving Michigan. "'Hey, they come and they go, Hobbs. They come and they go.' "Bo just looked at me and laughed. He said: 'You're right Falk. That's the way it is.'" So Many Memories Falk has cleaned out his own locker now. He gently tenders a letter in his hands, penned in 1919, over the hiring of Michigan's first equip- ment manager. He thinks about a hug from a visiting Tom Brady, missing the day-to-day camaraderie of the locker room, and Brady Hoke making him an honorary captain for the Ohio State game last year. "What a great feeling that was, that Brady was willing to do that for me," he said. "That was a tremendous thing, to stand on the field and shake those hands of the Ohio State guys, and stand there with our guys. As an equipment manager, that's one heck of a thing, to have the team honor you as an honorary captain." Falk remembers another Brady's words after a Super Bowl. Somebody asked the New Eng- land Patriots quarterback which of his three Super Bowl rings was his favorite. Falk recalled: "Tom said: 'The equipment manager back at Michigan, Big Jon, always said his best ring was going to be his next ring. That's pretty much the way it is.' That held with Tom. "He came back, came in and hugged me, and he says: 'Big Jon, I love you. And I want to tell you, thank you so much.'" Cared for? In Falk's mind, there isn't a doubt. "My mother was right," Falk said. "Bo, Michigan, Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, they took care of me.' I told Brady Hoke at the Ann Arbor M Club a few weeks ago — if my mother were alive today, and my grandmother, they'd come up and hug Lloyd Carr, hug Gary Moeller, they'd hug Brady Hoke, and they'd say: 'Thanks for taking care of our boy.' "That's the truth. Michigan has been great to me. They've treated me with great respect. That was my life for a long time." People Have Made The Difference For Madej Throughout Madej takes a similar tone when reflecting upon what he'll miss the most in his long as- sociation with Michigan. He loved the games, the great wins, etc., but the individuals and the relationships carry far beyond. "The thing I'm going to miss is people," Madej acknowledged. "The student-athletes, working with them closely, because they kept me young. I'm going to miss working with a group of people that I've had a lot of fun with. I'm going to miss the coaches — I've had great relationships with them. "I'm going to miss the equipment managers, the trainers, the PR staff. I'll miss the people." Madej quickly cautions he's a long way from fading into the fabric of Michigan days gone by. He's been running hard ever since coming out of Western Michigan University in 1974, and working at The Ypsilanti Press and The Ann Arbor News before arriving at Michi- gan as an assistant sports information director. He sees no reason to stop. "My goal is to start a second career," Madej insisted. "I'm going to be doing consulting. Don't be surprised if you see me doing some media work. Don't be surprised if you see me around the press box in a different format. "I don't know where I'm going to go or what I'm going to do yet. I am going to be hanging around this department for another six months, doing some consulting. I'm not leaving." The last time Madej did leave the Michi- gan athletic department, he slipped over to the American Power Boat Association as its director of public relations and marketing for offshore racing in the early 1980s. He still loves the powerboats, along with auto racing and a number of non-Michigan endeavors. But he made his mark as Michigan's SID from 1982-2010, including the following points of pride listed by the department on its website. Michigan, under Madej, was one of the first to: • Use computer stats as the official in-game and postgame statistics for college football (mid-1980s). • Create a dedicated athletics website (1994). • Report results for an NCAA championship using the Internet and computer results (1996, women's swimming). • Allow bloggers into the press box for ath- letic events (2005). • Sell tickets via the Internet to a bowl game (Capital One Bowl, 2002, versus Tennessee). • Develop Twitter accounts for individual athletic teams (2009). Madej became an assistant athletics director in 1989, responsible for promoting and market- ing. Former athletics director Bill Martin made him an associate athletics director in 2003. He's won a host of awards, authored his own book on Michigan athletics, and kept the pulse of everything in and around the U-M athletic campus since the late 1970s. Again, the stories roll freely when Madej gets warmed up. From The Madej Files Current athletics director Dave Brandon gar- nered attention for watching football film, but he wasn't the first from outside the football building in that department. Schembechler compelled Madej to come in and watch some film, knowing he'd be out discussing the foot- ball team with the public. "With Bo, he would always tell me that if I was going to speak on football, I had to sit down and watch film with him," Madej noted. "He would show me the breakdowns. He would explain. I would sit in the coaches' meetings." Madej carries a wealth of Schembechler stories, and of course saw the iconic Michigan football boss in some of his more animated moments. Hence, the near miss involving the baseball cap. Madej laughingly recalled the James Bond SITTING DOWN WITH Retired Football Equipment Manager Jon Falk Most Exciting Michigan Football Game I Saw: "The 1976 game down at Ohio State. Bo had never beaten Ohio State in Columbus, and it was my first chance to go to the Rose Bowl. It was 0‑0 at the half, and we won 22‑0. That was really exciting for me." Most Excruciating Loss: "Losing to Miami [31‑30 in 1988] after being up on them 30‑14 with five minutes left in the game. Them coming back and beating us like that in the last seconds. Second would be the Colorado game on the Kordell Stewart pass [a Hail Mary tipped to Michael Westbrook for a 27‑26 Colorado victory at Michigan Stadium in 1994]. That was a devastating loss, too." Favorite Big Ten Road Venue: "I loved Minnesota. They've got good restaurants and a clean city. I enjoyed going to Minnesota. The second best is going to Columbus, Ohio — because you're from Michigan." Favorite Road Trip Ever: "Hands down, the Rose Bowl. You go there, you've gone to the Grand‑ daddy of them all. You're in Los Angeles, where you see a lot of people on TV and in the movies. You got to see a lot of big‑name guys." Toughest Wolverine I Ever Saw: "Rob Lytle. He was a tough son of a gun. He played his heart out every game and was a great leader. He was just a tough guy." Most Talented Wolverine I Ever Saw: "Anthony Carter was a great talent. Anthony Thomas was also a great talent and a tough guy. He'd fall in with the tough, talented guys." Favorite Book: "If These Walls Could Talk, by Jon Falk. [Hearty laugh]. Nothing like a good plug." Favorite Movie: "'The Natural,' and I'll tell you why. We were playing in the NCAA district championship game in baseball in 1985. We had to beat Central Michigan to go to the World Series that year. "We were up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and we got rained out, so we went to see 'The Natural' that night. It was just great to see Roy Hobbs come up and hit that home run to win the game, after everybody had gone through so much. "That was the way that team was, back in '85. The next day, I'm sitting in the stands, and Barry Larkin is up. I said: 'Wow, we need a Roy Hobbs here. If Barry Larkin could just be Roy Hobbs.' Barry got a base hit, stole second, went to third and came home on a wild pitch, and we beat them 2‑1." Favorite Vacation Spot: "We went down to the Florida Keys this year, and I really enjoyed Key West." Favorite Meal: "Steaks. T‑bones, sirloins, porterhouse … those are the best." Favorite TV Show: "'NCIS.' I love Mark Harmon. It was really neat when he came to Michigan last year." On My Bucket List: "I would love for my wife Cheri and I to see our kids grow up, have great lives and give us wonderful grandchildren." — John Borton 54-59.Retiring Legends.indd 57 6/18/14 3:51 PM

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