Welcome to the latest weekly column added to the whirlwind of UMTailgate.com postings, "Way Back When-sday", where we take a moment to reflect back on a great tailgate, game, moment in Michigan history, or moment in tailgater folly. This week, we take you back to November 2, 2002. The tailgate...epic. The game...full of revenge.
It was a red-letter day for tailgating, as a trio of big names found their way to "the greatest tailgate on the golf course". Tim Busfield of Revenge of the Nerds fame (Poindexter himself) made a cameo appearance in between gigs on The West Wing and Ed. Future state attorney general Mike Cox got some campaign support from the UMTailgaters, and even got his picture taken with Tim. And perhaps the best of all, Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating, graced us with his presence. He spent some time sampling the culinary delights of the day which included the now UMTailgate famousSausage and Cheese Chowder, created from a recipe on his website.
We celebrated the 70th birthday of John Dogan, our oldest living tailgater, and presented him with a plaque indicating such. We also celebrated the birthday of tailgater Emily, who is most famous for her UMTailgate.com t-shirt that I enjoy posting to the front page of this website as much as possible.
As for the game at hand, revenge was on the mind of the Wolverines, who fell to the Spartans in the previous year in the infamous "extra-second" game in Spartan Stadium. Michigan State struck first, getting a 3-0 lead before Michigan went on a 49-0 run to end the game with a 49-3 win, the biggest over the Spartans in 55-years. The game featured a battery of John Navarre and BJ Askew, and included Jason Avant's first career catch, and Tim Bracken's first career touchdown.
Somehow graced by the gods I stood on the sidelines for this contest, and had the honor of meeting Steve Everitt at halftime. Despite his Ted Nugent-esque appearance, it's not often you run into a college football player that won 4-consecutive Big Ten titles. He did so as a starting center during the Maize and Blue's "drive for five" in the early-nineties. Three of his four titles were outright titles, as were four of the five overall, a record unheard of in Big Ten history. For example, despite the "amazing" success ofTressel's Cheaters, they have yet to win an outright Big Ten title. Their last was in 1984. Ok, I'm calming down now, sorry.
As we walked out of the tunnel a Spartan fan held up a sign emblazoned with two simple words, "Fire Bobby". I felt bad for about half a second thinking about the Spartan players filing out under that sign...then I came to my senses and had a good laugh. In the wake of a Jeff Smoker suspension for substance abuse just 10 days earlier, Dwan Moss was kicked off the team for public intoxication and assault on a police officer the Sunday after the 49-3 drubbing. Two days later, Michigan State fired Bobby Williams. Bobby has gone back to riding the coattails of Nick Saban, both at LSU and the Miami Dolphins.
A simply amazing day both on the field and at the tailgate. Share your memories of this day in the comments section below. And as always, GO BLUE!
From Beale to Bourbon to 7th Avenue
It was arduous, but well worth it, as the UMTailgate.com tour took the long way to Tampa. Travelling through Stevensville, Memphis, and New Orleans ended the monotony of the straight shot down Wolverine Bowl Game Parkway (A.K.A. I-75). In Tampa, we (Webmaster and Bloomfield) met up with Stephen, Bubba, and Old Frank for a quick tailgate, some souvenir shopping, and a stadium tour. Yes, a stadium tour was warranted before the game. I can't stress enough how much better Raymond-James Stadium (known to the locals as Ray-Jay) is than the Citrus Bowl. Someone needs to swap the position of these bowls in the Big Ten - SEC hierarchy. The food was actually edible, the beer was cold, and the place was clean.
The Strength is in Our Defense?
A shootout at the Outback Bowl ended with victory for the Wolverines. Chris Perry ran for four touchdowns and had just under 200 all-purpose yards. John Navarre threw for over 300 yards. But the game was won by taking care of the football and capitalizing on turnovers. Coupled with opportune offensive conversions, the Wolverines pulled away from the Gators and sealed a 38-30 victory.
The Ohio State University is The National Champion
Stealing the fire from my bowl season enjoyment, the Buckeyes upset the Miami Hurricanes and ended the season 14-0, winning the concensus National Championship of college football. Did you cheer or jeer? Mixed emotions filled the Ann Arbor bar from which I viewed the game. Crossed between rooting for the Big Ten and deep rooted hatred for the Buckeyes, I chose the latter, and explained to those that cheered for the scarlet and grey that if Michigan was in Ohio State's position, the Buckeyes would be rooting against the Wolverines so vehemently that Columbus would have been renamed North Beach. Now that it's over, I'm happy for the Big Ten, and happy that the Wolverines may be able to use what they witnessed as motivation for next season. And we WILL need motivation, as the media will no doubt be hyping the 'high-powered' offense that is returning with two seniors at the two biggest skill positions.