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April 13, 2000 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-13

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


To the Seniors:
~-ee team national championships,
24 Big Ten Championships and a life-
time of memories - congratulations
on quite a run.

ORTS

michigandaily.com /sports

THURSDAY
APRIL 13, 2000

5B

Class

of

Champions

Celebratbzg
I the street:
my college
memork's
still remember my first weeks at
ichigan like they were yesterday.
I remember the late night walks
with a caravan of newfound friends to
sweltering frat parties for cheap beer
and that first hook-up. I remember
peering into that first Psych I11 lec-
ture and thinking "Wow, I really am
just a number." But most importantly, I
remember watching my first football
game as a student
and the absolute
' that accompa-
the celebra-
tion after theg
game.
Already two
weeks into the col-
lege football sea- CHRIS
son I anxiously GRANISTAFF
awaited the kickoff
of the Wolverines The Grand
Scheme
1996 campaign at
Wrado. Just two years before I had
witnessed firsthand Kordell Stewart's
64-yard miracle connection with
Michael Westbrook and I couldn't wait
to see the maize and blue exact
revenge.
But the game unfolded just as I had
feared. With just seconds remaining,
and the Wolverines holding onto a 20-
13 advantage, Michigan turned the ball
over on downs. Just 37 yards away
frcf yet another heart stopping finish,
c rado quarterback Koy Detmer
rolled out in a frighteningly familiar
way.
I couldn't watch. I nervously circled
the basement lounge of West Quad's
Michigan House hoping against hope
that history would not repeat itself.
It didn't, and when Rae "I-killed-
my-girlfriend" Curruth's diving
attempt for the ball fell short I bolted
cide to celebrate the exorcism of
Stewart's toss from above.
And to my surprise I wasn't the only
one. Within minutes South University
was flooded with Wolverine fans from
every corner of campus - celebrating
as if we had won the national champi-
onship.
We raced down to Touchdown's, and
then ran right back to where we had
started, banging on every car that
passed all they way to the steps of the
ident's house for a chorus of The
ftctors. We positioned ourselves on
opposite ends of State Street right in
front of the Union with one side
yelling "GO!" and the other "BLUE!"
It was bliss, but it would get better.
Two months later we stormed the
streets again after an upset of No. 2
Ohio State in Columbus.
A year after that, the ultimate cele-
tion - a 34-8 domination of No. I
iEn State on "Judgment Day" en
route to a national championship - a
win so big that we danced on the tables
of the Law Library while screaming
"The Victors," and even President
Bollinger invited us in to party.
But the past two years have been
devoid of celebration. With no major
championships, and with every worth-
while win coming either during vaca-
tion or in the stands themselves we

VVn't had a reason.
's unlikely that the freshman and
sophomore classes will be given a
chance to experience the glory and
absolute celebration of both a hockey
and football national championship in
the same year, but I hope you at least
get a chance to run around like fools in
the streets.
Michigan athletics are the ultimate
bond at this university. They bring so
y of us together and create memo-
ries that will last a lifetime. I will never
forget that kick return by Charles
against the Bucks, that night the sun
set over the mountains of southern
California and we were named national
champions, that missed kick at the
dawn of the millenium in Miami or

'98 team claims Rose Bowl

Editor's Note: This article originally appeaed
in the Jan. 7. 1998 issue of The Michigan
Daily
By Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Daily Sports Editor
PASADENA, Calif. - Long after the trophy
has tarnished 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 come-
backs, 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 histo-
ry ended here as the rosy twilight gleamed off
the San Gabriel foothills. Michigan's 118th
team won the 84th Rose Bowl, 21-16, and fin-
ished No. 1. Nothing can spoil it. Not a con-
troversy about how the game ended, with
Washington State begging for one more sec-
ond, one more play and one more gasp of life.
Not a split decision among the voters, who
awarded half of the national championship to
Nebraska by a miniscule 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 advantage 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
c'hampionship this season, but they finished
12-0 for the first time ever to win their first
national championship since 1948. They con-
sider it their I Ilth national championship; time
may consider it their most unlikely.
When this season began, the Wolverines
were ranked 14th, and 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 coach 'Lloyd Carr ended up emerg-
ing from Schembechler's shadow, standing
alone in the bright, California sun as the win-
ner of four of the five major coach of the year
awards, 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 this season became the first
primarily defensive player to win the Heisman
Trophy. "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 unde-
feated; we just had to go out and do it."
They went out and did it the way they had all
autumn - by doing what no one but them-
selves 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 dislo-
cated, 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, glimmering 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-cap-
tain 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. I ... this may be the single greatest
season ever - in college football history."

FILE PHOTO
Lloyd Carr's smile encompassed the moment, and so did his famous words in the lockerroom soon after:
"You've just won the national championship."

WHO COVERED THREE
MICHIGAN NATIONAL
CHAMPIONS DURING YOUR
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ANSWER: A) DAILY SPORTS

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