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September 08, 1998 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

M' sports:
You never
really know
0
unny thing about college sports
s, you never really know. Just
when it looks as if the signs all
point in the same direction - to anoth-
er four-loss season, say, as was the
widespread forecast for Michigan's
football team at this time last year -
they have a way of surprising you with
a U-turn. Just when you think the script
has already been penned - poof The
dreaded rebuilding year is rewritten
*o Michigan's second national hockey
title in three years.
You never really know. You can't, not
when you're talking about a group of
athletes barely old enough to vote. Not
when they're also learning to live away
from home, wash their own laundry
and even, on occasion, make an appear-
ance in class. They aren't pros. You
never know what might happen.
That's why college sports are special.
hat's why, in particular, a year like the
past one - in which Michigan's foot-
ball and hockey
teams won
national titles, as
everyone knows,
and six other
teams (soccer,
softball, field
hockey, men's
JIM cross country,
OSE women's track
ose and women's
Beef swimming) won
Big Ten titles,
which nobody
knows - is more, special than most.
It was an unprecedented year for
Michigan, a year in which a campus
rallied around team after team and was
rewarded with more sports success than
in any other year in recent memory.
q The best part about it? Easy. It was
ii so unexpected. Consider what hap-
pened in the fall. Even the truest of
maize-and-bluebloods had to admit,
last August, that the outlook was less
than rosy for a group of Wolverines
that lost four games for four straight
years. The schedule was a mountain,
we said; the quarterback was a mouse.
Week after week, as the team contin-
ued to surprise everyone - even its
staunchest fans - the anticipation
lilt, and the frenzy on campus grew
with it. By December, the schedule had
been beaten; the quarterback had
grown into a hero and a national
celebrity. And Michigan students - the
ones not on the field - were loving it.
It was an excitement so contagious
that at one point it led University
President Lee Bollinger - a former
law school dean who's as academic and
4hel-minded as they come - to throw
n his doors and invite a postgame
street party into his house. The presi-
dential carpet may have been soiled,
but it was worth it.
Soon after, the men's basketball team
(an exciting team, if not a consistent
one) got in on the action, springing to
life to win the first-ever Big Ten
Tournament. The Wolverines were as
hot as anyone in the country, and it
looked, it seemed, it had to be, that they
ere poised to make a big run in the
AA tourney.
They didn't. They lost. Just like that.
Careers were ended, fans were stunned.
So it works both ways. You never

really know.
And just a few weeks later, as Red
Berenson's hockey team - one year
removed from the graduation of its
most heralded class ever - completed
ai improbable, impractical, seemingly
possible run to the NCAA champi-
onship, that frenzy was back. The fans
were beside themselves with excite-
ment. The campus was alive.
And why? Because nobody expected
it. Nobody thought it could happen.
Even after it happened, it was hard to
believe. It represented all that was great
about college athletics.
You never know. And that is why, as
we head to Ann Arbor - some, for the
first time, others, for one last time -
~can look forward to the coming
r sports with optimism.
The football team adds to the mix
the best group of freshmen in the
nation; the hockey team returns most of
last year's title team. The men's basket-
ball team looks like it might be in some
serious trouble, with a depleted squad
and little help on the way - but then
again, you never know.
So go to a football game at the Big
*use. Go to a hockey game at Yost.
Or, if you need a quiet couple hours
and you're sick of the library, got to
Crisler and catch a basketball game.
Even if you've done it all before, some-
thing will sneak up on you. Something
will surprise you. Something always
does at this level.

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4

NEW STUDENT EDITION

,

E

SECTION

SEPTEMBER 8, 1998

Football wins
first title after
50-year wait
By Nicholas J. Cotsonka
Daily Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. Long after the trophy has tar-
nished and this newspaper has yellowed, tales will be told
with chest-bursting pride of these Michigan Wolverines and
this Rose Bowl, of this team's character and its comebacks,
of the emotional energy shared by those lucky enough to
behold the marvelous magic made on New Year's Day.
The greatest football season in school history ended here
as the rosy twilight glinted off the San Gabriel foothills.
Michigan's 118th team won the 84th Rose Bowl, 21-16, and
finished No. 1.
Nothing can spoil it. Not a controversy about how the
game ended, with Washington State begging for one more
second, one more play and one more gasp of life. Not a split
decision among the voters, who awarded half of the nation-
al championship.to Nebraska by a minuscule margin.
No, nothing can spoil this. Nothing can top this. Nothing
could quell the crowd's cheers, even a half-hour after the
game, when the fans were still chanting with the band,
"WE'RE NO. 1!"
"I will cherish this game, this university, for the rest of my
life," said senior quarterback Brian Griese, who was named
the game's most valuable player. "You have opportunities in
life, and those who stand out are the ones who take advan-
tage of those opportunities. It's just sweet for us to capitalize
on an opportunity to make history."
The Wolverines are the winningest program in the NCAA
and won their 32nd Big Ten championship this past season,
but they finished 12-0 for the first time ever to win their first
national championship since 1948. They consider it their
11 th national championship; time may consider it their most
unlikely.
When the season began, recovering from four consecutive
four-loss seasons seemed daunting enough. An unblemished
record and a national championship weren't in the picture.
"If you would have told me then," defensive end Glen Steele
said, "I would have laughed." After all, Michigan didn't win
a national championship in coaching legend Bo
Schembechler's 21-year era of eminence.
Bo never went 12-0.
Though he ended up emerging from Schembechler's
shadow, standing alone in the bright, California sun as the
winner of four of the five major coach of the year awards,
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's mission simply had been to
silence the critics who had hounded him since his hiring
three years ago.
"Nobody gave us a chance to be in the Rose Bowl, let
alone win the national title,' said all-purpose star Charles
Woodson, the Wolverines' game-breaker who became the
first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy
this past season. "Everybody thought we were going to go 8-
4 again. We played hard every week to get to this position.
We all felt we could go undefeated; we just had to go out and
do it."
They went out and did it the way they had all season -
by doing what no one but themselves thought they could.
Griese, a one-time walk-on who had lost his starting job and
rode the bench a year ago, threw his longest two passes of
the season for touchdowns.
Both were to wide receiver Tai Streets, who hadn't caught
a ball in three of his last four games because his fingers, two
of which were dislocated, wouldn't let him.
And when it was over, they knew it would never be this
good again. They walked off the field, their faces flickering
in front of flash bulbs, glittering with triumphant tears.
Having overcome so much, emotion overcame them.
"We won all the major awards, the Heisman Trophy, coach
of the year," said senior co-captain Eric Mayes, whose knee
injury ended his career in October but couldn't keep him out
of uniform for his final game - and his finest hour - as a
Wolverine. "We're undefeated, ranked No. 1 ... this may be
the single greatest season ever, in college football history."

WARREN ZINN/Daily
On Jan. 1, 1998, tight end Mark Campbell exalted Michigan's Rose Bowl victory with pride. After all, he and his teammates had just done the near-
Impossible by Michigan standards - they won the national championship. The Wolverines' 21-16 victory over Washington State secured the title.
In surrising stle hockey captures
second nationatitle in three tries

By Pranay Reddy
Daily Sports Writer
BOSTON - With the score dead-
locked at two goals apiece between
Michigan and Boston College in the
NCAA Championship game, Michigan
assistant coach Mel Pearson
approached the dry-erase board hang-
ing on the wall and scrawled two words
- deja vu.
Pearson was referring to the 1996
title game, in which forward Brendan

to give the Wolverines another 3-2 vic-
tory and their ninth NCAA
Championship in school history on
April 4 at the FleetCenter in Boston.
Deja vu - all over again.
"When we finally won it (in 1996),
it was a monkey off everyone's back at
Michigan," Berenson said. "This game,
we shouldn't have been here, we
shouldn't have won - yet we did. And
it's an even greater feeling."
Langfeld's goal was set up by a pass

eral occasions during overtime, includ-
ing two pipe-knocking shots on the net.
"If a few bounces would have gone
our way it would have been a different
game," Boston College forward Marty
Reasoner said. "Sometimes you don't
get those bounces."
Although the victory eerily remind-
ed many of Michigan's championship
victory in 1996, this past season's
Wolverines are far from similar.
While that team was led by sea-

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