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December 09, 1975 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-12-09

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY
A rts & Enterta inm ent Tuesday, December 9,1975 Page Five

Ufer: Spreading football's gos el

By DAVID WEINBERG
JUST A FEW MINUTES earlier, when
little Ricky Leach had tumbled into
that Ohio State end zone to put Michi-
gan ahead 14 to 7, the announcer had
been on his feet screaming hoarsely
into the WPAG microphone:
"THE WHOLE STADIUM . . . THE
WHOLE STADIUM IS IN A MAIZE-
AND-BLUE ATMOSPHERE RIGHT
NOW!! OLD MAN YOST, WHEREVER
YOU ARE, YOU'VE GOT TO BE
SMILING DOWN ON YOUR GREAT
B I G MEECHEEGAN FOOTBALL
TEAM ...!">
But now it was 4:00 o'clock and the
game was over and here he was dog-
ging it through a funereal wrap-up
speech - the 301st game was over. "I
want to thank my friends and asso-
ciates who have done so much . ."
he was intoning, but he barely heard
his own prepared words, scarely could
believe what his own voice was say-
ing.
"Final score, Ohio State 21, Michigan
14 . .. This is Bob Ufer wishing you
a happy and prosperous new year," he
said. And that was it.
THEN UFER SAT, with his face in
his hands, his head shaking gently
back and forth, his whole body clench-
ed tremulously. For a moment he
wept.
Then he stood uhthe yellow golf hat
falling one way, his shirt coming un-
tucked, balancing periously on his
feet. "o will never beat him!" he
rasped. "He'll never beat him...
He's got him so psyched." Then Ufer
sat down heavily and stared out from
WPAO's Booth No. 7 onto the now-
empty-field.
"He'll snap out of it," a friend whis-
perebd to someone. But the thing had
happened again and it was an open
wound - something gushing out of
him - it was more than just another
loss to Ohio State. It stood for every
battle left unfinished, every time you
had to endure what wasn't just.
A few minutes later he was putting
on his striped yellow and blue tie and
pulling his things together. He walked
into the hallway. The sportscaster from
Ohi6 was there and he had said some-
thing like "Did you cry again Bob?"
and he had yelled something back as
they moved off and took the long walk
downstairs.
* * *
IF CHARLES DICKENS were writ-
ing "A Football Carol" and had to
choose a Ghost of Football Past, Pres-
ent and Future, he could get in the
whole trinity with Bob Ufer.
For Robert Poorman Ufer, 30-year
broadcasting veteran of Michigan foot-
ball, has seized Wolverine tradition
singlehandedly by the tail, and though
it threatens at times to carry him off
screaming to the North, the 55-year-
old insurance salesman shows no sign
of letting up.-

More than anyone else he is the
Voice of the Wolverines and on any
Saturday afternon just about any-
where across town, that voice can be
heard spitting out an unceasing flood
of words - words that sound like a
mad transcript of 100,000 fans'
thoughts.
"GENERAL BO GEORGE-PATTON
SCHEMBECHLER AND HIS TROOPS
ARE ON THE MARCH ONCE
MORE!!" he'll be crowing. Up in the
booth he'll be half standing with his
arms lovingly around the necks of his
two spotters, seemingly ready to
plunge out of the third floor window
of the press box and he'll be saying,
"DAVIS CLOSE AND BELL DEEP
ANT) RICK LEACH UNDER CENTER
AND OLD MAN UFER, OH AM I
KEEPING MY COOL!"
HE'S NEVER BEEN very good at
keeping his cool. None of this objec-
tive stuff for Bob Ufer -- he's a "hom-
er in the truest sense of the word, a
sportscaster whose moods and thoughts
are inevitably shaped by the fate of
his team.

used to call it: My MEECHEEGAN. It
goes all the way back to the turn of
the century. 'Who are they to dare to
think they could do that to My MEE-
CHEEGAN?' he used to say it with
that southern accent of his. And I
guess I've sort of always had that
with me."
As a track star, Ufer was no less
than phenomenal, breaking six all-
time records, one of which - the
quarter-mile - stood until last year.
Fielding Yost was athletic director
in those days, and Ufer remembers
the many afternoons when resting be-
tween time trials he would see the
old man standing out by the track
Something about that figure -- the
aging Yost with the perpetual cigar in
his mouth and felt hat on his head-
stays inexplicably locked in his mind.
Because of his eyesight, Ufer
couldn't serve in the armed forces
during World War II, and he's not
proud of that. He remained in Ann Ar-
bor, helping train troops who were go-
ing overseas.
You'd never know it listening to him.
His Saturday monologues sound more
like a parody of World War III than

He's never been very good at keeping his cool. None
of this objective stuff for Bob UIfer-he's a "homer"
in the truest sense of the word, a sportscaster whose
moods and thoughts are inevitably shaped by the fate
of his team.
- .}'} .. ti:}v. . ..v:.9:.. .:11.. ..". vr:..5= ". :h""'.

MORE THAN once he's been called a
Human computer, but Bob Ufer can do
something that would leave most com-
puters tearing their tapes out; he can
breathe life into numbers and statistics
-he can make you feel on any Satur-
day afternoon as if the whole fate of
the planet hangs in the balance.
"You wanna cry, cry. You wanna
sob, sob. You wanna yell, yell. That's
what the average guy does when he
has a bottle of beer in his hand," says
Ufer. He learned that from Bill Stern,
the 1940s NBC commentator, who he
started out spotting for. Back then it
was only three or four games a sea-
son. Now, from September to Novem-
ber' broadcasting is a fulltime job.
It has been said' that a university
president's three most critical respon-
sibilities boil ¢lown to providing sex for
the students, a parking lot for the
teachers and a football team for the
alumni.
If Robben Fleming ever sought ways
to meet that third responsibility, he
would not have to look any farther
than Bob Ufer. And don't let Ufer kid
you. He's as aware as anybody else
how much prominence a football team
can bring to a university.
"MICHIGAN STATE opened up an
engineering school for Earl Morrall so
they could get him as a quarterback
in football," he declares. "If you can
get the eyes of the world looking at you
through the vehicle of football ...
$90,000 for one 60-second commercial
during a Rose Bowl game?
"If it's worth $90,000 to Gillette for
one minute, what's it worth to the
University of Michigan who's exposed:
for two-and-a-half hours on TV Janu-
ary 1 when 87 million people are going
to watch us play Oklahoma?"
He knows that, but he's not in it for
that. He does it because football is his
other religion, because he sees the
world through maize-and-blue colored
glasses.
And what do you do with a guy who
compares the sending of Ohio State to
the 1973 Rose Bowl with the bombing
of Pearl Harbor in 1941? - who com-
pares the anguish he felt when Mike
ILantry missed that critical field goal
last year with how he would feel if
his own mother were burning on a
cross?
SO YOU WALK downstairs, and tell
yourself that it's ended again, the bub-
ble's burst, the sorelipped tuba players
have packed it in. There will be a few
lonely Saturdays over the next eight
months, but between his family and
recruiting and Michigama, the Ghost
of Football Past, Present and Future
will limp through to next season.
"It's my life," he says simply. And
even Bob Ufer can't add much to a
statement like that.
David Weinberg is the senior night
editor of The Daily's Arts and Enter-
lain ment Department.

Daily Photo by KEN FINK
t~nn tor CivicT heatre
PRESENTS
THE NEIL SIMON COMEDY
With Music by BURT BACHARACH
PCOmISe , PrmiieS
December 17-2.1
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
TICKETS $3.50 & $4.50
ADDED PERFORMANCE DEC. 21, 7 P.M.
Tickets Go On Sale TODAY !

I

All that twisting and turning in his
seat have cost him something. Both
discs in his neck are gone. He's had a
hiatus hernia, and a couple of near
heart-attacks.
But Ufer isn't worried about that.
"I'd never give it up," he once said.
"If it kills me, it kills me. As long as
it's the final score against Ohio State
and Woody Hayes that's on the other
side of the field, let it happen."
Where, one begins to ponder, does
anyone get such a passion for a foot-
ball team? Is it through brainwashing,
breakfast cereal - through the genes?
"RUNNING NOSE" UFER, as he is
called in the university society Michi-
gama, came to Michigan, not surpris-
ingly, on a football scholarship in 1939,
having been a standout at his Penn-
sylvania high school.
He played one year of football here.
But then a combination of poor eye-
sight and a remarkable season in track
caused him to reluctantly give up the
sport.
"YOU KNOW HOW I say that word
MEECHEEGAN?" he recalled in a re-
cent interview. "My daughter once said
to me - 'Why do you use that word
MEECHEEGAN?' That's what Yost

a football game. "THESE BATTLES
ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES," he'll
exclaim.
Yet he remained a spectator-to col-
lege football, to the war effort, two
things he cared about terribly, and
the wild enthusiasms of his broadcast-
ing can perhaps be. linked to a certain
frustration he has felt on that score-
that gnawing desire to participate.
NOT THAT HE'S ever an average
snectator. Up in the booth, Ufer is al-
ways moving, craning as if a couple
armies of ants, are having it out on
his back,
He talks, lie screams and shouts,
and he is completely absorbed, hardly
referring to the statistical cardshtaped
all over his desk. For the names and
numbers come effortlessly, like some-
thiup he has known and practiced all
his life.
"THE GREAT AND LATE FIELD-
ING YOST, he incants, "WHO WON
84 PER CENT OF HIS GAMES OVER
TWENTY-FOUR YEARS, FRITZ CRIS-
LER WHO WON 81 PER CENT OF
HIS GAMES OVER TEN YEARS,
AND BO SCHEMBECHLER, WIN-
NING 92 PER CENT OF HIS GAMES
OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS, 67
GAMES IN SEVEN YEARS, FORTY-
NINE BIG TEN VICTORIES."

I

eening vitl
Nikki Giovanni
poems and conversations
and
the Trotter House Choir
Tuesday, Dec 16 8:00 pm
Power Center
for the Performing Arts
ticket prices $2.50 and $3.00 patron seats $5.00
presented huy William Monroe Trotter House, U of M International Women's
Year and the University Activities Center (UAC)
Tickets at Michigan Union Box Office, 763-2071. Open
11:00 A.M

Arts Briefs: PTP's 'Long Day's Journey'

I didn't believe in cliches, old
wives' tales or famous adages
until Saturday night. I do now.i
For nothing like that ancient
truism, "You get what you pay
for" sums up the Professional
Theatre Program's c u r r e n t
presentation, Long Day's Jour-
ney Into Night, quite so com-
pletely.
But then, it makes sense.
Given some of the hottest acting
talent in modern theatre, this
Kennedy Center revival of the
Eugene O'Neill autobiographical.
classic should sparkle-as in-
deed it does. The production,
which continues its tryout run
through Saturday at the Power
Centet, still has some rough
spots, but promises to develop
into a memorable version of a
George Washington, first
President of the United States,
made his only journey away
from the coatinent in 1751 when
he accompanied his half-broth-'
er, Lawrence, who was serious-
ly ill with tuberculosis, to Bar-
bados for his health.

great American drama.
O'Neill covers a broad spec-
trum of thematic territory in
Long Day's Journey. Each of his
characters represents a different
level of individual psyche, from
a miserly old actor constrainted
by the ghastly memories of his
immigrant background to a
severely ill poet turned increas-
ingly introspective by the clam-
oring pressures of an impatient
outside world.
But O'Neill's principal focus is
on the mixed love-hate feelings,

that lie at the center of all,
family relationships. For all five
of his individually complex char-1
acters share the same house,'
and must interact continually7
with each other-living together
and making accommodation for!
the peculiarities and peccadillos,
of each other.j
Jason Robards brings an un-
usual and remarkable subtler y
to his fine performance as the
leader of the embattled Tyrone
family. Zoe Caldwell portrays
his wife, a morphine addict,

with delightful sensitivity and a I
strong sense for the deep re-I
ligious guilt that permeates Mrs. r
Tyrone's temperament. Michaelz
Moriarty and Walter McGinn<
capably evoke feelings of des-
pair and sorrow as the wayward'
sons.
Ken Billington's discreet light-

ing design, largely in ice blue,
complements the sorrowful at-
mosphere beautifully; costumes
and settings seem rather or-
dinary. -David Blomquist
A full review by drama
critic Andrew Zerman will ap-
pear in tomorrow's Daily.

Rthis __ek

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
GILBERT AND SULLIVAN SOCIETY
PRESENTS
The Pirates of Penzance
December 10-13
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
For tickets call 763-1085

MINORITY AFFAIRS and THOT Productions
with International Women's Year and Trotter House
PRESENT
NIKKI GIOVANNI
and THE TROTTER HOUSE CHOIR
TUESDAY, DEC. 16 POWER CENTER Tickets: $2.00, $3.50, $5.00
Tickets available at UAC Ticket Central
ARS COMEDIA
Ars Comedia will be presenting four original one act plays during Winter Term.
MASS MEETING Auditions for Time of Your Life
Dec. 10 at 8:00 p.m. Dec. 11 at 7:00 p.m.
UAC Offices, 2nd floor Michigan Union Back Room of UAC Offices
EVERYONE WELCOME
MEDIATRICS SHAKESPEARE CINEMA
Dec. 12/13-ALICE IN WONDERLAND Dec. 15-Roman Polanski's MacBETH
Time: 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m. ,10:00 p.m. Time: 7:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
Price: $1.00
Natural Science Auditorium
MUSKET
GODSPELL-Dec. 4, 5, 6
If you missed it tough luck

1i
I

- inm m

-r - - - - a-- -

-COUPON- 2 for 1 Special -COUPON-
GOOD ONLY THRU DEC. 18th
Buy 1 Super Salad-GET 1 FREE
A large portion of fresh greens, tomatoes, cheese,
mushrooms, cauliflower, olives and sprouts with our
famous yogurt dressing.

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