The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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64 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY MICHAEL SPATH D an Dierdorf was done. He had given the last 48 years of his life to football, finishing his senior season at Michigan in 1970, en- joying a 13-year Hall of Fame career with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1971-83, then spending one year in the radio booth and the past 29 seasons on TV, broadcasting NFL games for CBS, ABC and back to CBS. He announced in the fall of 2013 that the upcoming season would be his last, and he gladly envisioned some down time to spend with his family shuttling between their home in St. Louis and their cottage in northern Michigan. Then, U-M athletics director Da- vid Brandon, a former teammate of Dier- dorf's in 1970, called. "I spent the last 30 years of my life, every Friday hopping on an airplane and flying to San Francisco or Boston or New York or Miami or someplace to call an NFL foot- ball game," Dierdorf said. "I had just really grown weary of that. Physically, it was a real challenge for me. "When I retired from CBS last fall, I had no intention of ever going in a broadcast booth again. The day after I announced my retirement, David Brandon called and said: 'You're going to do Michigan radio.' And I said: 'No, I'm not.' "But one of the things that really made the Michigan job attractive to me is my wife and I have a home in northern Michigan and I will just stay there for most of the football season. It's an easy drive, and I may only have to get on an airplane once or twice all season." Dierdorf committed to a three-year deal, but the void U-M had to fill was not as the color analyst — Jim Brandstatter had held that role since the mid-1980s — but to re- place play-by-play man Frank Beckmann, who called Maize and Blue games from 1981-2013. There was no desire to remove Brandstat- ter from the booth; Brandon's idea was to give Brandstatter the play-by-play mic. "Frank missed a game in 2003 against Northwestern with back surgery so I called that game," Brandstatter said. "John Na- varre was the quarterback, Jason Avant and Braylon Edwards were playing, and ap- parently they liked the broadcast and how it sounded. They thought I'd be able to do play-by-play. "It's a big responsibility, big shoes to fill, but I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be great fun." Former teammates — Brandstatter would succeed Dierdorf at right tackle in 1971 be- fore graduating — the two are delighted by the opportunity to share a radio booth for at least 12 Saturdays. "The stars had to align just right for this," Dierdorf said. "My association with David Brandon over the years, knowing him as well as I do, and then my relationship and friendship that has lasted a lifetime with Jim Brandstatter … that he will be my partner makes all the difference in the world." While retooling the in-game experience for its fans, Michigan also addressed its pre- game radio show, extending coverage by more than an hour, to two and a half hours each weekend, while adding former Wolver- ine Jon Jansen to the mix. He will work with sideline reporter Doug Karsch. "It's a great opportunity for me," said Jan- sen, who was a U-M captain in 1997-98. "When I graduated 16 years ago, I have basically been working for this opportunity to get back to Michigan football, to Ann Arbor, where real football is played, and I'm excited about it. "It was one of those things where Frank Beckmann retired, and they took a look at the whole package of what they were of- fering. I had always told David Brandon I wanted to get back in a broadcasting role. I couldn't pass this up." Karsch, who has co-hosted a sports talk radio show on 97.1 FM in Detroit since 2000 after beginning his career in Ann Arbor for WTKA in 1994, feels Michigan has created a tremendous radio team. "You're getting a Hall of Famer in Dan Di- erdorf to do the games, and I don't think you can ask for much more than that," he started. "Brandy's willingness to change roles is a big deal. "We all want the broadcast to be as good as it can possibly be, and for Jim to sacrifice for us to be able to add a person of Dan's caliber is really something. "And anybody that knows Jon knows he is a great guy and an emerging star. He can provide perspective and tell you what play- ers are going through, and he's a great sto- ryteller. It's awesome to add him to the net- work. It's just a huge coup to add the people Michigan did." Decades Of Experience, But New Roles For All Even though Dierdorf spent only one sea- son in the radio booth, in 1984, he spent 30 years analyzing football games, while Brandstatter, who has also served as a radio color commentator for the Detroit Lions since 1987, has another 30 years of experi- ence. Karsch has been Michigan's sideline reporter since 2006, and Jansen worked with the Big Ten Network from 2011-13. In other words, this team has plenty of experience. "I don't know any other college football program that has two guys in the booth with 60 years combined experience in the busi- ness, one of them in the National Football League Hall of Fame who played at the university and is coming back because he wants to be there to watch his Michigan Wolverines play football," Brandstatter said. "That is a special dynamic that Dan brings to the table." Despite their experience, however, the Class REUNION Michigan Radio Receives An Overhaul With Former Wolverines Dan Dierdorf, Jim Brandstatter And Jon Jansen Joining Forces "You're getting a Hall of Famer in Dan Dierdorf to do the games, and I don't think you can ask for much more than that." SIDELINE REPORTER DOUG KARSCH Dierdorf, who spent the past three decades as an analyst for NFL games, is delighted by the opportunity to work at his alma mater with his friend and former teammate Brandstatter. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 64-67.New Radio Team.indd 64 6/18/14 3:52 PM

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