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FEBRUARY 15, 2001
A tale of love and football
you told me two weeks ago that I
would hear one of the greatest stories
f true love and fate come from the
mouth of a man whose other claim to
fame is playing in The Big House, I
would say you were crazy. You would
probably have more luck learning about
love from the cast of Temptation Island.
But I was wrong. Stories of great ath-
1atid achievement and true love were
spken to me in the same breath.
Two weeks ago was the first time I
uienred Whitehall Nursing Home. I
thb~ight a 20-minute interview with the
-man who scored the first touchdown at
Michigan Stadium would be all I needed
to to write an interesting column. But
four hours and three visits later, I find
myself contemplating what I will ask
when I visit again. It was not just Kip
Taylor's story that struck me but how he
told it. I hope I can do it justice while
relaying it to all of you.
Taylor's room in Whitehall stood apart
from all the rest. Instead of newly-paint-
ed, unfriendly white walls bordering his
confines, Taylor's room was a page out
of history. Photographs from playing
football at Michigan and coaching at
Oregon State hung from the walls.
The former athlete's first order of
business was not gloating about his
amazing touchdown. He spoke of the
photographs from his days of fame. But
first, he spoke of the most important
thing in his life - Amber, the woman he
married in 1965. The second I walked in
the room, he presented me with a photo-
graph of his high school sweetheart.
Pressures from his and his girlfriend's
parents caused them to split up before
Taylor entered Michigan in 1926.
Taylor began school, without his high
school love, but with intentions of going
out for the basketball team. An all-state
athlete in both basketball and football in
high school, Taylor didn't believe he was
good enough to play Michigan football.
But Fielding Yost, whom Taylor was
quite fond of, convinced him otherwise.
Seen as just a visionary at the time, Yost
told the athletic community in 1925 that
he wanted to build a 75,000-capacity sta-
dium in Ann Arbor- of all places.
When Yost silenced his critics and
opened the stadium in 1927, Taylor
jumped at the opportunity to play in the
revolutionary stadium that housed
72,000 Michigan faithful. And on Oct. 1
1927, Taylor - who played halfback in
high school - was asked, to his sur-
prise, to start at end for the Wolverines
on opening day of Michigan Stadium.
Playing the other end was one of the
greatest Wolverines ever. Captain Bennie
Oosterbaan was the favorite target for
Michigan, and while passes were thrown
left to Oosterbaan, Taylor remained
"They kept trying to hit him while I
was wide open," Taylor said. "I asked
why they didn't throw to me and they
just said, 'Shut up sophomore.'
"But two plays later they called the
(halfback) pass and (Louis) Gilbert said
'Listen sophomore, ifI throw the ball to
you, you better catch it."'
Taylor did. And history was made as a
man who ended his playing career two
games later caught the first touchdown
ever in The Big House.
After two home shutouts, the team
traveled to Wisconsin. But in the 1920s
there were no carts to wheel players off
the field for medical attention. So, when
Taylor broke his neck during the game,
the prescription was "Take two aspirin
and call me in the morning." Taylor took
a train home in his condition and it was-
n't until a few days later that he received
the medical attention he needed and was
told he could not compete again.
Taylor's injury caused the Wolverines
to bring medics along on road trips. His
playing days might have been over, but
what spawned from his injury length-
ened the careers of others.
Taylor will never forget his wonderful
accomplishments as an athlete. But it
was in 1949, when Taylor took a football
head-coaching job at Oregon State, that
his life really began. It was in Oregon
where fate took its course. Taylor found
a job that he loved, head coach of a pro-
gram that had no money and no back-
ground - all it had was a desire to beat
Oregon. And Taylor led his team past the
Ducks for five-straight years.
But the most amazing thing that
See OFFEN, Page 12A
Fast start again leads
over Hawkeyes '*
By Dan Williams time, Alford challenged his team's
Daily Sports Editor effort after the game.
"I didn't get too many answers,
Perhaps if Michigan had faced at least not answers I was willing
Iowa in all 23 of its games to date, to accept;" Alford said.
it would be the only undefeated In the balanced effort, 'te
team in the country. Wolverines' top six players 4ia-
The Wolverines downed the ished in double figures. The lan
25th-ranked Hawkeyes, 95-85, in a shot 54 percent from the floor,,.
performance uncan- Much of the offens
nily similar to when INDIANA 85 came from unlikely
it beat Iowa in Iowa sources, with sopho-
City, 70-69. MICHIGAN 95 more Gavin
Sophomore shooting guard Gavin Groninger led the Wolverines in scoring with 19 points.
Imprssv victoryV gives
Elled-rbe da day in -i the sun
By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Editor
Finally, Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe
has something to smile about.
Earlier in the week, ESPN's Dick Vitale
said on a talk-radio program that Ellerbe
will be fired at the end of the season and
that sources in the
Michigan Athletic BASKETBALL
high on Seton Hall's Notebook
During Ellerbe's time of need, Athletic
Director Bill Martin has consistently said,
"We will evaluate the performance of the
team and of the coaching staff at the end
of the season"
The pressure has even gotten to the
"As a warm-blooded human being, it's
going to bother you," Ellerbe said.
Afer last night's 95-85 win over Iowa,
Ellerbe is beginning to feel better about
how the program will be evaluated.
"Our performance has been very, very
good with the team, personnel and sched-
ule we've had," Ellerbe said. "There have
been 12, 13 programs in the country that
have had problems, but for some reason
none of them get the scrutiny that we do
here, that Brian Ellerbe gets."
The win breaks the Wolverines' four-
game losing streak.
TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOt: A recent pub-
lished report quoted LaVell Blanchard Sr.
as saying that Michigan's problems, both
on and off the court have worn on his son,
and that he has "entertained thoughts
about LaVell transferring to another
school or even leaving for the NBA."
Blanchard refuted his father's state-
Blanchard said that he is 100-percent
sure he'll be playing for Michigan next year.
See HAWKEYES, Page 11A
"They've got our
number this year" Iowa coach
Steve Alford said.
The win snaps a four-game los-
ing streak for the Wolverines.
Michigan (4-8 Big Ten, 10-13
overall) again jumped out to a
staggering first-half lead - this
time 22 points - and staved off
Iowa's second-half bull charge.
The Wolverines exploded out of
the gate, appearing as confident
and collected as they has all sea-
son. A backdoor alley-oop from
Leon Jones to Bernard Robinson
punctuated an exclamatory period.
The Wolverines led 50-32 at
halftime, but Dean Oliver made a
layup and converted a foul shot to
cut the lead to four with over 12
But the Hawkeyes could never
get closer than that, as Michigan
made enough defensive stops and
converted enough free throws to
hold the lead.
"We knew for sure that they
were going to make a big run,"
Ellerbe said. "The key is how you
handle that run. We fought it off
and we won the game. I think we
showed a lot of character tonight.
"It's a real good win for us. I'm
pleased that we finished the game
mentally.. Defensively, we carried
out the mission."
The Hawkeyes dropped their
third straight contest. Just like last
Groninger and fresi-
man Avery Queen leading the team
in scoring. Groninger delivered
two important threes in the first 10
minutes and finished with '19
points, one short of his career high.
Queen had 18 points and "four
"The difference tonight is a g4
like Queen stepping up," Alford
said. "He's been missing his shots
LaVell Blanchard scored 17
points and 12 important rebounds.
He was integral in stifling Iowa's
board hoarder, Reggie Evdns,
especially in the first half.
Michigan owned a considerable
foul-line advantage, making 34-bfe
47 free throws to Iowa's 21-of-30.
The Wolverines were torched by
the Hawkeyes' guards, Dean
Oliver and Brody Boyd, for 26dd
23 points, respectively.
"(Oliver) wears it on his sfee've
after every game;" Ellerbe said
With an impressive win under
its belt, Michigan will host iiree
more Big Ten opponents in a row
before ending the season in East
Lansing. The team hopes it ca
turn the homestand into a heroic
"We need to get all of these,"
Groninger said. "We need to
defend our home court and 'get
some momentum going into "the
Big Ten Tournament."
Gritty Gassoff may be on the offensive
never looked so good!
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
Whenever there's a physical scrum in
the corners, or a brawl about to ensue in
a hockey game at Yost Ice Arena, a
recurrent chant by Michigan fans fills
the rafters: "We want Gassoff."
Many times when this occurs,
defenseman Bob Gassoff is found
watching in the press box in street
clothes, with a grin on his face. Due to
six other healthy defenseman at
Michigan's disposal, playing time for
Gassoff is-hard to come by. The senior
has only seen action in 16 of the
Wolverines' 33 games this season.
But this weekend, Michigan fans
might get their wish as Gassoff has been
practicing the past few days as a wing
on the fourth line alongside Craig
Murray and Bill Trainor.
"Its crowded back there (on defense)
and with Ortmeyer gone, a spot opened
up," assistant coach Billy Powers said.
Attempting to bring back some of the
grit and energy that has been lacking at
the forward spot, Gassoff is expected to
bring a physical presence up front that
will be essential in the stretch run -
right now many opponents feel that if
you out-check Michigan, you'll win.
With Gassoff holding a reputation
around the CCHA as one of the tough-
est players, teams may think twice about
taking liberties with fellow teammates
such as Andy Hilbert and Mike
"It's all part of the intimidation fac-
tor," said Gassoff, who has had some
experience at forward in his first two
years at Michigan and also in juniors.
"It's about getting under people's skins
and off their game plan. If the other
team is thinking about me then they're
not thinking bout what they should be
doing - I think that's to our advantage."
Michigan coach Red Berenson
admitted that he probably should have
inserted Gassoff into the forward slot
two weeks ago at Nebraska-Omaha,
when Ortmeyer's absence was made
official. Even so, in the second game of
that series, Gassoff was placed on the
bench to give moral support and keep
the Wolverines positive.
"He's a vocal leader, a physical
leader, and other teams don't want to
play against him," Powers said. "He
brings a lot of intangibles that don't
show up on the scoresheet."
Such things include being labeled
Michigan's best team player, as Ga'ssoff
always tries to keep things lookiig pos-
This has become increasingly impor-
tant as players were saying after tis past
Saturday's loss to Northern Michigan
that the Wolverines were not oi the
same page. Langfeld says that havin
character-guy like Gassoff on thU
helps bring the team closer. 1. ;
"Whatever it takes he'll do" Lankfeld
said. "He'll go through a wall fryou.
He's a good friend to have, and yad love
to go to battle with those guys."'
"He may not be the best goal swoier or
passer but he'll keep you upbdis and
positive and make you work harder in
practice each day."
Gassoff played split duties at bothi $
ward and defenseman in practicb on
Tuesday and mainly concentraied on
honing his offensive skills afterv ards.
But Gassoff doesn't mind the difficult
"If they think I'm going to be helpful
up front, that's great. If they want me to
play goal, I'll do that - anything I can
do to help the team."
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