The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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SEPTEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 57   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL days. Yet he'd gladly take his chances under the new Big Ten championship and NCAA playoff format. Skene, a Michigan offensive line‑ man from 1988‑92, doesn't hesitate when asked if he'd like a crack at competing in the new age of NCAA football. "I can speak for myself, Steve Ever‑ itt, Joe Cocozzo, Chris Hutchinson … many guys in the years that have passed since we got the chance to play for Michigan," Skene said. "We have reunions, and we have these discussions. "I would tell you that, no doubt, we would all love the opportunity to play under the system that these young men get a chance to play in now. We felt like on those teams we were on back then, if not for just a few plays, we would have had a chance to play for all the marbles. "But the system back then didn't al‑ low for it. Heck, we didn't even have overtime back then. We ended up in ties in football games. We felt like, boy, if we'd just had overtime, we could have won all those games. "There's no doubt I would have loved to have played now." Skene acknowledged some draw‑ backs, but none that could cause an overriding concern. "Yeah, it's a longer season," he said. "But so many of those guys have NFL expectations. You're going to play a long season in the NFL. The more football we could have played for Michigan and been around each other on those teams, we would have done that in a heartbeat had we had the chance to do so. "That's a no‑brainer, man. I would have loved the chance to play in the playoffs like these guys get to do to‑ day." Skene isn't quite as enthusiastic when the subject of the Notre Dame series comes up. Not that he doesn't enjoy a high‑level matchup. He's just not that fond of the Irish. "It's sort of a bittersweet thing," he said. "I always tell friends, family and fans that I talk football with, there is no team I really hate more than Notre Dame. That shocks people. People say, 'Well, what about the Buckeyes? What about the Spartans?' "I say I absolutely want to beat those guys, but at least they're in our league, and they're not looking to jump out of our league to go to easier pastures. Notre Dame just gets my blood pres‑ sure going. "On one hand, yeah, I'm looking forward to playing them. Hopefully we can drop a hammer on them and end their title hopes early in the sea‑ son. On the other hand, I wish all the Big Ten teams would just drop them like a bad habit and no one would play them." Skene insists he comprehends Mich‑ igan's move to schedule future games against the Irish. He's just not sure that's the way he'd go. "I look forward to it," Skene said. "I certainly understand why Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and [U‑M director of athletics] Warde [Manuel] wanted to put that back together. Certainly there is some interest on their end, too. "There are some classic games, obvi‑ ously. I had a chance to play in a lot of them. As a player, it's a lot of fun. As a fan, it's a little bit different. "As a player and now a fan who looks at Notre Dame with a certain level of disgust for their football pro‑ gram and what they choose to do with their scheduling and the conference they want to align with … my Michi‑ gan State friends always talk about how Michigan fans are arrogant. I think Notre Dame takes it to a differ‑ ent level of arrogance. "There is some jest in there, but there's a lot of truth in there, too. If it were up to me, I'd have kept the schedule the way it was. We'd go play Arkansas, start flirting around with some SEC teams and maybe some Pac‑12 teams and leave those guys to play the soft half of the ACC, like they've chosen to do. "You know what? I'm a good sol‑ dier, and I will cheer for Michigan when we play Notre Dame and hope they're great games with some good teams." ❏ MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Three Michigan true freshmen did not appear in the team photo released from U‑M's media day. Running back Kareem Walker, defensive lineman Shelton Johnson and wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell were not pictured. A team spokesman noted they were not in the photo due to "other commitments." • Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh noted the Wolverines' expectations for the season ought to be outrageously high. At the Big Ten football meetings in Chicago, the head coach offered insight into that stance. "If people aren't laughing about what you aspire to and what you dream about and what your goals are, then you probably haven't set your goals and dreams high enough," Harbaugh said. "All of that is possible once the work is realized. That's the biggest thing that needs to happen." • Michigan hasn't won a Big Ten championship in a decade, but director of athletics Warde Manuel knows he has a coach that can get the Wolverines there. "Jim is one of the best coaches at any level in the country," Manuel said. "He is working, the team is working, the assistant coaches are working to produce championships for Michigan." • Phil Steele of ESPN Insider and his own national preview magazine ranks Michigan's offensive line No. 6 nationally, while the defensive backs check in at No. 8, defensive line No. 10, wide receivers and tight ends No. 14, running backs No. 32, linebackers No. 39 and quarterbacks No. 46. Michigan will travel to Notre Dame in 2018 and then host the Fighting Irish the follow- ing year, but some details of the agreement — like playing in South Bend first, meaning the Wolverines have been the away squad in two straight games of the series — have irked a few fans. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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