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January 20, 1998 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-20

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSTuesday - January 20, 1998 - 3B

BrnSS I t


Michigan announcer speaks on 'M' legacy

When Jim Brandstatter was grow-
ing up in East Lansing, it seemed all
° roads led to one day wearing the
green and white. In fact, his older
brother played football at Michigan
State, the same school where his
father was on the faculty.
But when he grew up and was a
senior in high school, he made a
decision that changed the rest of his


lie chose to go to school in Ann

And ever since that day,
Brandstatter has worn the maize and
blue proudly on his chest and has
loved Michigan football dearl y.
After a career on the Michigan
*playing field, where he most/y
" layed behind All-America and NFL
l~l of Famer Dan Dierdorf
Brandstatter now finds himself
behind the microphone at Michigan
*Stadium, broadcasting games Jor
Despite his family s preference of
schools, it would be an understate-
ment to say Jim Brandstatter is a
Michigan man.
The Daily's Jordan Field sat down
with Brandstatter in the booth before
the Michigan-Ohio State game to
talk about his career Michigan foot-
ball and the greatest players he 's
ever seen play football at Michigan.
Daily: Do you still get as excited
about the game and Michigan foot-
ball from up here in the booth com-
pared to when you were on the play-
m ing field?
Brandstatter: Once you are a
Wolverine and you've played in a
game like this that has the implica-
tions that it has, you never lose the
butterflies, you never lose the excite-
ment, you never lose the anticipa-
This game is just so special and
y -such a great event, that I think my
playing days help me relax and in a
lot of ways help me for my job up
In many ways, the team's prepara-
tion throughout the week is similar
.to mine - the way I learn about a
team - and it's still very exciting.
D: You are originally from East

Lansing. Was it a hard decision way
back, to choose Michigan for col-
B: No, not at all. I had some green
and white in me. My brother played
football there,
my father was
on the faculty,
but when I was
a senior in high
school, I really
wanted to go
else. kM
Part of the
reason was that
when my broth-
er was at MSU
he did not have
a great football
So as a 10-
year-old watching my hero -my
brother -not love it there, it kind of
sours you to go there.
The coach who was there for my
brother was still there when I was
coming out, so I decided between
Dayton, Wyoming and the
University of Michigan.
Dayton was being a big fish in a
little pond, Wyoming was way away
from home and Michigan was play-
ing with the big boys.
And I've always been a Big Ten
man, and I always asked myself if I
could play with the big boys. If I
hadn't taken the opportunity to play
here, I would have always questioned
I figured even if I came here and
didn't play, it was still a win-win sit-
D: What kind of rivalry do you
have with your brother and father?
B: My mom and dad both believe
I made the absolute best decision.
As a matter of fact, my mother
wrote me a note this week because
she was in town and on the note it
said, "Thanks for the visit - Go
She may be a Spartan mom, but
after I graduated from here and she
and my dad saw the people I met and
the friends I made, they would be the
first to tell you coming here was the
best decision I
°.> ever made.
My bro-ther
Art would tell
you the same
thing, but he is
still a very
staunch M S U
supporter and a
good Spartan all
the way.
We definitely
have a good
healthy rivalry
in my family.
D: flow

would you compare the Michigan-
Michigan State rivalry to the
Michigan-Ohio State rivalry?
B: Well, Jordan, you and I both
being in-staters realize the impor-
tance of the
M i e hi g an - M S U
game, but that's
exactly the thing.
is more of a region-
al thing of back-
yard brawl, and you
always want to beat
your neighbor. But
this game with
Ohio State takes on
national implica-
tions, everybody
grows up watching
this game on televi-
sion, and a lot of
times when I grew
up the Michigan - State game was-
n't on television, but every year, this
game is.
Seemingly enough, this game is on
TV, and is always important. It's who
goes to the Rose Bowl.
I think a lot of fans from all over,
whether it's Idaho, Montana or any-
where, want to watch the Michigan-
Ohio State game because it gets
more hype and it's just bigger.
D: Is it tough for you on the air not
to sound biased? I know no matter
what you say on the air, you want
Michigan to win.
B: You just learn how to do it.
Today's broadcast has to be some-
what objective.
But let me make this clear. We
broadcast Michigan football to
Michigan fans, so we certainly slant
the broadcast slightly, but for Frank
Beckmann and I, we've been in the
business a long time, and this is a
career for me, so we need to be pro-
fessional about it.
We handle the job for Michigan
people, but if OSU does something
good, then we are going to say it.
There are other good football
teams, and there are other great foot-
ball players, but when you do II
games in a season, the Michigan
faithful are probably listening and
we want them to know how their
team is doing.
D: What is your relationship with
Bo Schembechler, or the other
coaches that have been through
B: I'm really lucky to have the
relationship with Bo that I do.
The fact that I played here, all the
coaches realize that when I come in
to do things, as a reporter or with
Michigan Replay, they all respect
and trust me.
They know they can tell me things
as a friend that I won't exploit as a
And I feel there is a solemn trust

between myself and the coaches and
I have tremendous respect for
football coaches,
I see them in the wee hours
recruiting, making phone calls or
taking care of the guys.
Now with coach Carr and this
crew of people I really think we have
the best group of people in here pos-
I'm lucky to have the relationship
with these guys as I do.
D: Either as a player or from the
booth, what have been the best
Michigan games that you can
B: I have not seen a performance
of a good team get dominated by
Michigan like it was at Penn State
this year.
That's as good a game as I've seen.
There have been some great plays,
with Anthony Carter, in our game
against OSU when I was a senior we
beat them, 10-7.
All the Notre Dame battles that
came down to a field goal, there
have been so many, that they all run
The Hail Mary against Colorado
- there have just been so many
great moments, especially in this sta-
I feel like this is just a great ride
that I'm on, seeing all these games,
and I can't wait for the next thrill.
D: For you, who was the most
exciting player you've seen in the
maize and blue?
B: Hard to beat Desmond
(Howard) or Anthony Carter. On
defense, Andy Cannavino was one
outstanding player, so is Woodson.
The '85 team defense lead by Mike
Hammerstien and that group was
truly amazing.
But if we are just looking at one
year, where things happen and the
guy just seemed destined for great-
ness, it was Desmond the year he
won the Heisman.
D: I know you said it's important
to be professional and that this is
your job, but do you still manage to
be a fan and love Michigan football.
It seems like you sure do.
B: Oh yeah.
I couldn't do this job if I wasn't a
fan and if I didn't love what I was
I love the kids, I love the staff, I
love what this all stands for and I
love the tradition.
I would hate to think that one day
I won't be at Michigan Stadium on
fall Saturdays.
It's a way of life and I am very,
very lucky.
- For questions or suggestions
about past or future Q&As, get in
touch with The Michigan Daily '
Jordan Field via e-mail at

SPORTSTuesday Column
The Bronx Bomber
The dream Reese di d for
s/houldn 't die wftk kimn
f there is one circumstance for which standard protocol should be bypassed. then
death would certainly fit that bill. Take your rules, regulations and procedures,
and throw them in the gutter. Death creates its own margins and even goes out-
side of them occasionally.
Those margins widened last month with the sudden passing of Michigan -
wrestler Jefferey Reese. With the exception of those close to the Michigan athletic
department - in that case a large part of this University - very few of us under-
stand the implications of Reese's death.
There is something deeper here, making this loss even more painful than usual:
the loss of a teammate. Once again, the margins have been extended further.
I have only been to two funerals in my life, the last one eight years ago. Death is
something I can't fully comprehend. But anyone who has played a sport at any time
in their lives, be it Pee Wee League baseball or NFL football, understands the loss
of a teammate. We all know the bond that's formed among teammates during a sea-
son or a career spent together in uniform.
Take, for example, Joe McFarland, one of Michigan's assistant wrestling coach-
es. McFarland, a man who has been receiving mounds of flak in the public eye for
his apparent "carelessness" regarding Reese's training habits in his final hours; is
someone for whom this team bond is as strong as anyone's.
McFarland was not even supposed to be with Reese during the Michigan junir's
final and fateful workout. Michigan's second-winningest wrestler of all-time;
McFarland's dedication to the Wolverines is almost as difficult to put into words as
it is to give Reese's obituary its proper justice.
After completing his eligibility at Michigan in 1985, McFarland tuned to eoach-
ing. He served as an assistant at Indiana from 1987-89 before taking the head
coaching reins for the next three seasons.
Under McFarland's leadership, Indiana produced three All-Americas, an NCAA
champion and conference titles each of his three seasons. He was also named Big
Ten Coach of the Year his rookie season.
Then this Michigan man tightened his affinity for this school. He took hierarchi-
cal demotion from his previous job to become an assistant to his former mentor
Dale Bahr at Michigan. But in his mind, returning to Michigan was a promotirt
that far exceeded any gain in power.
McFarland is not married. His family is Michigan wrestling. The night Reese -
died, McFarland was just hanging around with part of his family. The team had just
finished working out for the day and all of the wrestlers, except Reese, had
weighed in for their upcoming match.
When McFarland found out that Reese hadn't weighed in yet, he just decided to
hang around, to keep the young wrestler company while he was working out.
He could have gone home and left Reese --who would've died alone-but lie
didn't. Reese was family to McFarland, and staying around to provide a little con-
versation for his relative was almost instinctive for the Michigan wrestling legend.
Imagine the horror Reese's teammates would have encountered, coming into-the
weight room the following morning and seeing their teammate lying dead, drained
of the energy that forms the bond between teammates.
Conceiving of that sight is almost as difficult as imagining anyone losing their life
doing what they loved most, doing what they had committed their life to perfecting.
The only thing comparable to losing a life in pursuit of a dream is losing contfol
of that dream altogether. The pursuit of a dream is what gives life its vigor. The puf-
suit of a dream is what pushed Jefferey Reese to ridiculous treatment of his body.
University Athletic Director Tom Goss flirted with destroying that dream for the
Michigan wrestling team. He threatened to eliminate the wrestling program alto-
gether, thus stopping the dreams of the Wolverines in progress.
"If we could not make the sport safe," Goss said, "we would have ended the pro-
Fortunately for the Wolverines, as well as wrestlers everywhere, the NCAA
passed new rules regarding the conditioning standards and weigh-in schedules of
wrestlers. The dreams of established All-Americas such as Jeff Catrabone and
Airron Richardson, as well as precocious freshmen were kept alive.
So were those of Joe McFarland.
Goss cannot allow fatal conditions to persist for his athletes, but he also mut
remember that this is college--where dreams are supposed to be fulfilled, not

--Alan Goldenbach can be reached via e-mail at agold(a4umici.edu.


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