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September 06, 1990 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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SPORTS

Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page 21

The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition
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by Mike Gill
Daily Football Writer
CHICAGO - "Three-peat" may
be in the vocabulary of Piston coach
*huck Daly, or former Laker coach
Pat Riley, but what about first year
Michigan coach Gary Moeller?
According to Moeller's coaching
compadres, if it's not, he'd better
learn it. Big Ten coaches voted
Moeller's Michigan Wolverines as
the team to beat for the conference
title at the Big Ten's annual meet-
ings in Chicago this July.
"I hope we play as well as you
people are picking us," Moeller said.
"I think that's the kiss of death. We
should challenge, but there are a lot
of things we have to accomplish
before we get there."

ridders?.
Last December, former football
coach and Athletic Director Bo
Schembechler turned over the reins
of the team to his top assistant,
Moeller. Only Iowa's Hayden Fry
questioned whether the Bo to Mo
move might hinder Michigan's Run
for the Roses. Fry pointed out that
Moeller is a rookie with a talented
Illinois team lurking in the shadows.
"I've got high regard and respect
for Gary Moeller, but he's gotta do
it," said Fry. "Bo Schembechler was
a very unique coach, and a very
unique motivator, and anything else
you want to call Bo. He was just ex-
ceptional. Gary has the tradition and
the coaching style - things that are
going to assist him - but he still
has to do it. I frankly think Gary can

ao it, but I don't know if he can do
it in hisfirst year. Illinois's (John)
Mackovic's got 17 of his 22 people
at Illinois.
But if Fry questioned Michigan's
ability to repeat as conference
champs, an earlier comment he made
was typical of all coaches in their
love-ins with their arch rivals. Fry
placed practically everyone in the
race except annual whipping boy
Northwestern.
"Traditionally you have to start
with Michigan and Ohio State be-
cause it always (is that way). In re-
cent years Michigan State, Illinois
and Iowa have made their move. On
the other hand, Indiana has an out-
standing team. Purdue's returning a
majority of its people. Barry Alvarez
has done an outstanding job at Wis-
consin, and I predict he'll turn that
program around. Minnesota has a lot
of their key players back. You really
have to get into the conference
schedules and the home and away
schedules to determine who's going
to be the best."
While every coach mentioned
Michigan as one of the two teams to
beat, each varied on who might be
ready to deliver the knockout blow
to end Michigan's monopoly, with
back-to-back trips to the Rose Bowl.
Michigan State, Ohio State, and
Illinois all were touted as potential
conference champions.
When Illinois lost star quarter-
back Jeff George to the NFL's
tempting million dollar salaries,
most prognosticators quickly con-
ceded the title to Michigan. Illinois
was the early favorite before George
announced his professional inten-
tions. Despite the loss of George,
Illinois still retains 17 starters off a
team that, in coach Mackovic's
mind, came one interception from
making plane reservations to
Pasadena.
"I think the conference will be
even tighter than it has been in the
past two years," Mackovic said.
"We've been in the championship
game, if you could call it that, the
past two years running, and haven't
been able to win. Last year, the race
came down to the final drive, when
Ohio State was driving and Michi-
gan intercepted Ohio State. It was
that close."
Last season the Wolverines de-
feated Illinois on the Fighting
Illini's home turf, 24-10. Since the
Wolverines attended the Rose Bowl

If things go as the Big Ten's coaches predicted they will, it may be Mo, not Bo, riding high atop Wolverine
shoulders this January is Pasadena.

the previous year, they needed to be
declared outright conference champi-
ons to earn a second straight berth in
the New Year's day contest. A loss
to Ohio State would have left them
in a tie for the title with Illinois.
'Bo Schembechler
was a very unique
coach, and a very
unique motivator, and
anything else you
want to call Bo.'
-Hayden Fry,
Iowa Football Coach
The same is true this year:
Michigan needs to be an outright
champion to continue its westward
plane ride. In the upcoming season,
Illinois and Michigan State both
travel to Ann Arbor, but Moeller
must lead his troops into Columbus.
Share the
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HLE-PHIO/Daily
The fighting Illini of Illinois look to be the number one contenders to unseat
Michigan from atop the cat bird's seat in the Big Ten race.

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