The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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T By Michael Spath hough former offensive lineman, and current radio broadcaster, Jim Brandstatter was on hand to make a few introductions, athletics director David Brandon was the emcee of the night, fitting in that his teammates from the 1972 and 1973 (and the 1974) teams were the honored guests of the evening. Brady Hoke would introduce his 23 seniors, and U-M's head coach was in rare form, constantly joking and delivering terrific one-liners that left the packed crowd of close to 1,400 laughing. His players delivered impassioned speeches, thankful to Hoke and his staff for teaching them what it means to be a Michigan Man, and for restoring the tradition of the Maize and Blue program. Hoke and his team noted that 8-4 is unacceptable at U-M, and that this was not a final outcome they were satisfied with, but the Wolverines were proud of the way they competed and fought against a schedule that included the nation's top three teams — Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State. • Honored Team(s): For the first time in the past decade, Michigan paid tribute to multiple teams, praising the efforts of the 1972, 1973 and 1974 units. Captained by Tom Coyle and Randy Logan, the 1972 team went 10-1, finished in a first-place tie in the Big Ten and ranked sixth nationally at season's end. The Maize and Blue beat two ranked teams and fell only to No. 9 Ohio State, 14-11. The 1973 team went undefeated, going 10-0-1 while sharing the conference crown with the Buckeyes, whom U-M tied 10-10. Dave Gallagher and Paul Seal were the captains, while for the second year in a row seven players earned first-team AllBig Ten honors. The 1974 team went 10-1, losing only to OSU 12-10, and finished the year ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll under the leadership of captains Dennis Franklin and David Brown. They represented two of seven all-league performers. In each year, the Maize and Blue failed to go to the postseason because of an archaic Big Ten rule that allowed just one team to play in a bowl game, and only the Rose Bowl. But after Michigan went 30-2-1 over three seasons, the conference changed that rule, and in 1975 the Wolverines met Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. • Loudest Applause: The crowd only came out of its seats a few times, when Hoke was introduced, when Team 133 was introduced, when safety Jordan Kovacs was named team MVP, when quarterback Denard Robinson finished his speech, and when Kovacs and Robinson shared the stage together. Their moment together drew the longest and loudest cheer from the crowd, which was grateful these two men guided the Wolverines out of the misery of 3-9 and 5-7 seasons to winning records each of the past three years. • Best Speech: Kovacs was so good during his five minutes that when Robinson spoke last he jokingly remarked: "Why Kovacs, why? At first I thought I was going to be the best, but now I'll try to be the second best." Kovacs was funny, delivering six jokes to open his speech, including this one at the expense of his teammate: "I'd first like to thank Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid a chance to play football at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to allow Drew Dileo to play here." But when Kovacs turned serious, he told the story of a former walk-on who desired nothing more than to wear the winged helmet, but who would eventually accomplish much more than that. "These past four years have been a dream for me," he said. "They've had their ups and downs, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way because it was those points of adversity that made me the man I am today — and I'm pretty damn proud of it. "There are many things I'm proud to call myself. I'm proud to call myself a Michigan football player. I'm proud to call myself a walk-on. I'm proud to call myself a Sugar Bowl champion. I'm proud to call myself a captain of Team 133. But more than anything — more than anything — I'm proud to call myself a Michigan Man." • Funniest speech: There were several contenders for this award, but after Hoke made fun of defensive tackle Will Campbell's penchant for saying he comes from 'The D,' Campbell strode to the stage, proudly exJanuary 2013    the wolverine  23

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