The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW movie villain "Oddjob," who took off his bowler and flung it like a lethal Frisbee, chop- ping off the heads of those unfortunate enough to encounter him. Instead of a postgame film breakdown, Madej once pursued a desperate postgame get down. "We beat Kansas 21-7," Madej recalled. "I come walking around the corner, and Bo comes walking around the corner, same cor- ner at the same time. He takes his hat and he throws it so hard that the bill hits the locker and dents it. "This is a baseball cap, and it dents the locker, he threw it so hard. I had to duck, be- cause it was coming at my head. That's all I could think of: this is like having Oddjob after you." In his position as sports informa- tion director, Madej encountered head coaches in any number of heated post- game moments. One such involved CBS broadcaster Pat O'Brien, who was in- sistent about an interview with Schem- bechler following a bowl game. Unfortunately for Madej, this inter- view request immediately followed the 1984 Holiday Bowl, in which the Wol- verines lost to Brigham Young 24-17, capping Schembechler's worst season ever at 6-6. Needless to say, reliving it on televi- sion wasn't at the top of Schembechler's postgame to-do list. "It was unbelievable how that game went," Madej said. "Son of a gun, he wanted to talk to Bo. "There was no way. I was trying to get Bo to talk to him. And Bo was so furious at me. As he's walking, he goes: 'Don't you put your eyes on me like that!'" Meanwhile, Falk came into the pic- ture as well, with the best interception of the evening. "They were coming in to give us the trophy," Madej marveled. "It was the runner-up trophy. "A runner-up trophy! The dumbest trophy in the world, right? Who wants a runner-up tro- phy? You just lost the frickin' game. And Jon Falk opened the locker room door, grabbed the trophy, said, 'Thanks,' and slammed the door right in their face." Madej's position naturally led to a back-and- forth with Schembechler, but the SID said part of his deal upon returning to Michigan from powerboat racing involved Canham not yelling at him as much. "He was somewhat like Bo," Madej offered. "He would explode and then he'd forget about it. Back then, you'd have memos. If you had a memo that had one staple in it, you weren't too worried about it. "If it had two staples, ooh. If you got a three- staple memo from Canham, hooo-ooooooh! That was hot! You knew there was trouble in sight!" Madej often used pragmatism and a little creativity in making certain the three-staple moments remained at a minimum. He also had a knack for keeping people with divergent interests happy. For instance, various television networks insisted on slightly different starting times. A 1 o'clock game might feature a 1:07 p.m. kickoff for one TV enterprise, 1:10 for another, and so on. Canham didn't like that, Madej assured. "He'd say: 'I want these people to all start at a certain time! Madej, your job is to make sure they don't start any later than five after!' Madej recalled. "Nobody wanted to start earlier than seven after, and the Ohio State people wanted to start at 12 after. "I knew Canham never looked at his watch. We had this clock over the tunnel in Michigan Stadium, which he always used to look at. So I had someone move the clock back 10 minutes, and I never had a problem after that." Although football was king in Ann Arbor, and remains so, Madej's job as SID carried him across the gamut of sports. He, like Falk, developed a strong relationship with Izzo over the years, going all the way back to the time the Michigan State coach was an assistant for Jud Heathcote. Izzo and Madej got along great … except when Heathcote would come down to scout a Michigan game and his assistant was back in East Lansing, steaming. "Izzo used to call me, because he got mad," Madej remembered, with a laugh. "All the coaches who scouted had to sit in the scout row up top. But Jud would complain all the time, so I'd put Jud next to me. "Jud would usually watch the games real close, so he could see what was going on. But Jud and I just talked the whole time. So Izzo called me and said: 'Bruce, do not put him next to you anymore. I want him back up there so he does his work, so we can make sense of what you guys are doing. He comes back with the worst scouting reports I've ever seen.'" Of course, Madej was around for plenty of the Bob Knight show. The legend- ary Indiana basketball coach got along famously with Schembechler, but not so much at times with then-Michigan basketball coach Bill Frieder. Madej thought back on one infamous postgame encounter, and shook his head over how today's world of tweets, in- stant messages, cameras everywhere, etc., would have blown it up. "I remember the day that Knight broke in on the Bill Frieder press confer- ence, walked in and started to swear at Frieder," Madej said. "Can you put that in today's context, where that would be on ESPN, Fox Sports One, NBC Sports, CBS, the talk radio stuff and Twitter, Facebook. Can you imagine what that would have been? "I remember grabbing Frieds, because I had no idea what to do. I said: 'We're getting out of here.' We went out the back. I waited until after Knight blew up and then I brought Frieds back in. "I said: 'Frieds, we're not going to talk about that. We're just going to talk about basketball. Just remember that.'" Of course, one of the biggest media crises Madej ever dealt with involved "Frieds." When Frieder accepted the Arizona State job just prior to the 1989 NCAA Tournament, Schembechler basically showed him the door early. But before the Michigan AD uttered his famous "A Michigan Man is going to coach Michigan," line, there were a whole lot of questions that Madej couldn't properly field. "That was a night of unbelievable mayhem," Madej recalled. "I was answering questions, and I didn't have any answers. So I couldn't answer the real question of what was going on. I would just kind of repeat what I knew from other media sources." He found himself talking to everyone — players, student managers and others — to try and get ahead of the story. At some point, the night prior to Schembechler's press confer- ence, Madej shut it down. SITTING DOWN WITH Retired Sports Information Director Bruce Madej Greatest Michigan Athletic Event I Ever Witnessed: "It's got to be the Rose Bowl when we won the national champi- onship [Jan. 1, 1998]. That's got to be No. 1, but it's so tough, because the 1989 national championship for basketball was amazing. Those are the two top wins." The Saddest Defeat: "I know this is probably going to shock people, but it has to be Bo's last game at the Rose Bowl." Best Road Trip Ever: "I had the opportunity, at the Fiesta Bowl, to have an airplane tour inside the Grand Canyon. We were flying right inside of it." Most Fascinating Person I Met In My Job: "That has to be Bo. I would go see Bo for five minutes, and an hour and a half later, I'd be leaving." Most Famous Person I Met In My Job: "President Gerald R. Ford — I met him probably four or five different times." Best Restaurant I've Encountered: "The Lark supper club, in Tiffin, Iowa." Most Talented Wolverine I Ever Saw: "Charles Woodson." Michigan's Best Coach: "Three stand out. Bo, Red [Beren- son] and Hutch [Carol Hutchins]. Those three are the coaches. What they've done is remarkable." Favorite Author: Ernest Hemingway. Favorite Movie: "Casablanca." Favorite TV Show: "The Simpsons." On My Bucket List: "I'd go to the Monaco Grand Prix." — John Borton 54-59.Retiring Legends.indd 58 6/18/14 3:52 PM

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