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September 08, 1998 - Image 61

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

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 8, 1998 - 3E

product of
team unity
ASADENA, Calif. - It was a
glorious site. As the last two sec-
onds expired on Washington
State quarterback Ryan Leaf and the
Cougars' chance to upend the No. I
team in the country, the Wolverines
finally had a chance to relax. The
scoreboard read Michigan 21,
Washington State 16. Rose Bowl cham-
pions. National champions. A perfect
*ecord, 12-0, to match a perfect season.
The players assembled on the field to
celebrate their unimaginable year.
There was Tommy Hendricks keeled
over on the field, tears streaming down
his face. There was hugging and smiles
and tears everywhere. There were play-
ers who have never played a down
screaming as loud as the starters as
they donned their Rose Bowl champion
hats and t-shirts. They were champions,
*oo. There were the fifth-year seniors
celebrating their last game in a
Michigan uni-
form with their
only trip to the
Rose Bowl. There
was Brian Griese
accepting the
MVP award.
On a day that
DANIELLE could only be
described as
-UMORE magical for
Rumore Griese-last
Has it season's pooch
punter - nab-
bing the award was the perfect example
-ofMichigan's Cinderella season.
Who would have thought back in
september that this group of
Wolverines would end the season with
the Heisman Trophy winner, the Coach
fthe Year, a perfect record, a No. I
nking, a victory in the Rose Bowl
,d its first national championship
, iTce 1948?
Not the pollsters who ranked
Michigan 14th at the start of the sea-
.Not the fans who anticipated a fifth
raight four-loss season.
Not the critics who said Michigan's
glory days were over.
."No one thought it was possible. No
ne, that is, except the Wolverines.
They all said this team was different
tFin previous ones. Not more talented
no, the 1994 team probably grabs
that honor. More focused? More com-
'imited? Yes, on both counts. And for
the first time in a very long time,
Michigan played as a team, as one,
f6o beginning to end. And that was
the difference this season.
I think our team believed in our-
eles," linebacker Dhani Jones said.
"We played as one, as one great being.
We were just one team at one time."
The 1997 Michigan football team
as about heart and soul, unity and
focus. Coach Lloyd Carr used special
idtivating tools to get his team ready
"each week, to keep their minds on one
'ane at time and the goals at hand.
There was Griese, a former walk-on,
leading his team to victory with three
touchdown passes. In the most impor-
*nt game of his life, Griese stepped in
and grabbed the spotlight from Leaf, a
Heisman Trophy finalist.
There was Charles Woodson, the
teiin's magnificent superstar, spotlight
grabber and Heisman winner, making

une last dazzling interception.
- There was linebacker Eric Mayes,
another walk-on turned captain and
statter. He was injured but he dressed
rthe game and never relinquished his
uty as co-captain, never gave up hope.
- There was fullback Chris Floyd, a
senior, who volunteered to work on
special teams. Carr said he was amazed
a senior would volunteer to play on
kickoff teams, ajob typically reserved
for unprovens, younger players.
And boy, was he right.
There are other stories, tales of walk-
ons, tales of All-Americans, tales of
getting hurt and coming back. The
olverines put their differences aside,
V layed together and now have Rose
Bowl rings to prove it worked,
It all comes down to what Jones said
- "one great being." The Wolverines
came together in spring drills and out-
lined their goals for the season. This
time though, they put in the work, dedi-
cated the time and prepared almost
methodically to turn the goals into
more than mere words.
And they were rewarded on Jan. 1 as
they found their way into history.
The San Gabriel mountains formed
the beautiful backdrop around the Rose
Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The palm
trees circled the stadium and seemed to
reach high into the sky, as the warm
temperature basked on the bowl game.

Throughout the Rose Bowl's glorious history, numerous champions have celebrated in the lockerrooms, but on .tan. i the jubilation belonged to the Wolverines.

fter season of injuries, Streets
shines in Rose Bowl spotlight

NEW YORK (AP) - Charles
Woodson came up with the intercep-
tion of a lifetime this past December -
the Heisman Trophy.
Woodson, Michigan's All-American,
cornerback who also starred as a wide
receiver and punt returner, made
Heisman history as he became the first
primarily defensive player to win col-
lege football's most prestigious award.
In one of the biggest surprises in the
63-year history of the Heisman,
Woodson won over Tennessee quarte-
back Peyton Manning, who had
become the preseason favorite for the
trophy when he announced last spring
he was returning for his senior season.
While Manning threw for 3,819
yards, 36 touchdowns and led the Vols
to the Southeastern Conference title
and an Orange Bowl berth, the
Heisman voters chose Woodson, who
went from sublime to sensatidnal
whenever Michigan was on national
Woodson's dominance in the
Wolverines' 20-14 win over Ohio State
on Nov. 22 may have been the Heisman
In that game, he intercepted a pass in
the end zone to stop a Buckeyes' scoring
threat, caught a 37-yard pass to set up
Michigan's first touchdown and then
broke open a tight defensive struggle
with a 78-yard punt return for a score-
his fourth touchdown of the season.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr summed
up Woodson's season after that game
when he said: "Great players play big
in big games."
The closest a defensive player "had
come to winning was in 1980, when
Pittsburgh defensive end Hugh Green
finished second behind South Carolina
running back George Rogers.
Since then, other defensive players
have finished in the top five, including
Marvin Jones (fourth, 1992); Steve
Emtman (fourth, 1991); Brian
Bosworth (fourth, 1986); and Terry
Hoage (fifth, 1983).
But last year, the 6-foot-1, 198-
pound Woodson came out on top-
and it wasn't really close.
Woodson beat Manning by 272
points, with Washington State quarter-
back Ryan Leaf third, Marshal wide
receiver Randy Moss fourth and Texas
running back Ricky Williams fifth.
Woodson, from Fremont, Ohio,
received 433 first-place votes and
1,815 points in balloting by the media
and former Heisman winners.

By John Leroi
Daily Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. - For 12
weeks, Tai Streets had a lot of
explaining to do. The only problem is,
nobody was really around to listen.
Only Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and
receivers coach Erik Campbell had
time for Streets.
The media? No way. Instead of
Streets, quarterback Griese looked to
Jerame Tuman and Chris Howard as
his major targets.
Streets caught just 24 passes in
1997 and only five in the Wolverines
final four games. For whatever rea-
son, Streets wasn't the same receiver
he was in 1996.
And because Streets didn't have an
opportunity to tell anybody why -
not that he wanted to - Carr did it for
The junior from Matteson, Ill., was
playing with a dislocated finger on
each hand, with pain so sharp that
every time he touched a football, it
felt like he was breaking his finger
So Streets' performance in the
Wolverines' 21-16 over Washington
State in the Rose Bowl was surprising
if not extraordinary.
"I told you guys all year long that
Tai Streets was a great player," Carr

said. "He played through the pain and
made two huge plays that we needed
to win the game."
It would be difficult to underscore
Streets' importance in the Rose Bowl.
His four catches for 127 yards, but no
catches were ever more important
than the two touchdown passes, one
for 53 and one for 58 yards, that
Streets hauled in at the Rose Bowl.
Both came at times ^when the
Wolverines' offense was struggling
and the Cougars had Michigan down
a touchdown.
And for the first time since
Michigan's upset of Ohio State last
season, Streets found himself in the
spotlight, once again the hero, playing
the role of the great receiver that Carr
always thought he would be.
"It was difficult to endure the pain
for so long," said Streets staring down
at his fingers, so swollen that he
couldn't wear his receivers' gloves.
"But I always worked hard and I just
hoped I'd be able to contribute in the
Rose Bowl. It just feels great to do it
this way."
Streets hadn't always done it that
way. Streets caught 10 balls in his
first three games and looked like he
might improve on his solid 1996 sea-
son when he caught 44 passes for 730

But his production slowly dwindled
in the Big Ten season, partially
because of his injury and partially
because of a lack of confidence.
By the middle of the conference
season, Streets had not one, but three
dislocated fingers. Carr told him that
if he wanted to be in the lineup, he
had to play through the pain. No
Streets never asked for any.
Although he dropped the only pass
thrown to him in the Wolverines' 34-8
win over Penn State and didn't catch
one pass against Minnesota or Ohio
State, Streets still contributed.
He worked hard in practice, he tried
to play through the pain and he
always, always blocked until the whis-
tle on every play.
"A lot of guys would not have
played through that kind of pain,"
Carr said. "Tai Streets was the
courage that it takes to play this game.
The season didn't go the wat we want-
ed it to go for him because he was
"But Tai Streets still did all the lit-
tle things, he blocked well, he ran
good routes, and then he got healthy
and made two big plays."
And those two big plays made what
was an otherwise dismal season for
Streets a successful one. Nobody

Dislocated fingers didn't stop Tal
Streets as he caught two touchdown
passes in the Rose Bowl.
cares that Streets didn't blossom into
the All-American people thought he
could be.
All that matters are two touch-
downs that Streets scored when
Michigan needed them most.
"It's a dream come true," Streets
said. "Without a doubt, one of the
best days of my life."

Can's unique approach establishes his ideals

By Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Daily Sports Writer
In front and in charge, Lloyd Carr clenched his
jaw so tightly as Michigan's team buses rolled up
to Penn State's Beaver Stadium last November, his
temples began to throb. His cold eyes stared
nowhere but forward in football coach fashion,
perhaps looking farther ahead than a critic's ever
Two hours from then, Carr's Wolverines, ranked
fourth at the time, would gave their most inspired
performance of his three-year tenure. They would
push and shove and dominate a second-ranked
Nittany Lions team for a 34-8 victory, one that
would restore the punch in Michigan's prestige.
The victory gave the Wolverines their first No. I
ranking since 1990, and afterward, victories over
Wisconsin and Ohio State gave them their first
victories as the nation's top team since 1977.
Beating Ohio State put them in their first Rose
Bowl since the 1992 season - with their first I1-
0 record since 1971 - and would erase many
memories of Michigan's four-straight four-loss
"What we want to do is win a championship"
Carr said afterward.
None of that was known to the masses, though,
when Carr took his team into State College. The
Wolverines most had expected to finish fourth or
fifth in the Big Ten were a hopeful 8-0, but Carr
still endured the questions that have cursed him
since he took his job in May 1995.
So many doubters calling themselves loyalists.
So many critics. So many people through whom
Carr's eyes burnt with his stare, looking right past
them undaunted to a goal only he could see.
And perhaps that is why Carr, whose only other
head coaching experience came at Westland John
Glenn High School in the mid-1970s, is now men-
tioned in the same sentence with Alabama legend
Bear Bryant. Vision won him numerous coach of
the year awards. And with Michigan's first nation-
al championship since 1948 at the Rose Bowl, the
only question that remained was how far Carr's
vision could reach.
When Carr isn't coaching, he likes to do two
things: play golf and read. He loves to read,
devouring anything that has to do with Michigan
football and countless other subjects. But his

dust, sweat and blood."
Carr's face was marred by the media as he stum-
bled to another four-loss season, and he was left to
defend himself and his players. When a reporter
commented that his anger with a certain question
betrayed a "sore spot," Carr fired back, "That's
your opinion!"
When this season began, Carr was called para-
noid for his zest with the press. He read every-
thing, and everyone knew it. He even entered The
Michigan Daily on two separate occasions to dis-
cuss stories run in the paper.
"He just cares," said quarterback Brian Griese,.
whose erratic play in 1995 and breaking of a bar
window later that year earned him media attention
and vigorous defense from Carr, "and sometimes
people don't understand how much he does care."
In between newspaper articles during a summet.
of soul-searching, however, Carr read the novet
Into Thin Air and was moved by the mountain:
He even invited its author to speak to his team
and gave each player a pick, all of which hand
from the ceiling in the team meeting room. One
dangerous step at a time, that's how Carr decided
to approach this season of cracks and crevices
named Notre Dame and Penn State and Ohio State;
And then the summit was in sight.
"It goes back to the past," Carr said. "One yeatr
ago, we learned a terrible lesson that may turn ouf
to be not-so-terrible for the guys that learn from it
We are a very mature football team."
With a very mature coach.
Perhaps the firestorm of criticism was a baptism
of sorts for Carr, who now is accepted as worthy.
successor to Fielding H. Yost and Bo
Schembechler. "It is the way the profession goes,"
Carr said after the Penn State victory, which estab-
lished him and his program the way,
Schembechler's storied 1969 victory over Ohio:
State and his mentor, Woody Hayes, in his first
season, established his. Perhaps it showed he could
scale the cliffs with the big boys.
"Success is never final, and this is part of the
climb," Carr said afterward. "I try to maintain
focus on what I'm doing and do it to the best of
my ability. If you can prevent yourself from being
distracted, then you have a much better chance of
being successful. Winning is a big part of coacht
:nn at an.- n ht n. t as vh hltait

Aicanrtna tha Rnae RowI hamninnahln trnhv was lint m eof many awards Lloyd Carr received last

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