2B - October 1, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Nothing builds a brand better than winning
It's been a while since Michi-
gan athletics have been so
That realization came a few
months ago. I was seated in the
sun-drenched plaza of Market
Square in downtown Pittsburgh,
across the table from J. Brady
McCollough, a sports enterprise
writer for the Pittsburgh Post
Gazette and a former Daily
sports writer (2001-04).
"Michigan is cool again,"
It took a minute to sink
in. Cool again? That means it
of favor at
To the avid
never left the STEPHEN J.
To everyone -
else - the
alum, the casual fan, the pundit
- Michigan lost its "cool."
The football program plum-
meted from national prominence
after Rich-Rodriguez replaced
Lloyd Carr. The men's basketball
team, mired in years of mediocri-
ty and controversy, couldn't find
its footing and never rose back to
its elite status of the early 1990s.
The hockey program? Well, to be
fair, that never left.
Michigan Athletic Director
Dave Brandon is a brand man.
He was a top-flightbusiness-
man and CEO before he took
over as athletic director in 2010,
and Brandon has turned Michi-
gan athletics on its head. New
buildings. New programs. New'
ment's success hinge merely on
the ranking of three teams? No
chance. Michigan has 27 varsity
sports this fall - focusing on
three programs would be consid-
ering just a drop in a bucket.
But it says a lot.
It says that, despite the current
2-2 record, Michigan football
is right on the brink of where it
wants to be. On the dawn of Big .
Ten play, the Wolverines are pre-
pared for a dog-fight to win the
conference - the team's stated
goal for the last two seasons.
It says that, as the winningest
program in college hockey,
Michigan hockey keeps earning
its respect. It can contend with
the Ontario Hockey League and
players' professional aspirations
while buildinga program that
competes year after year at the
It says that, with scandal and
weak rosters now in the review
mirror, John Beilein and the
Michigan men's basketball team
have a lineup that can be a serious
contender on the national stage.
Freshman Mitch McGary and
some of the nation's top recruits
think Michigan is cool again.
So, when you take your next
pilgrimage to the gates of Michi-
gan Stadium, Crisler Center or
Yost Ice Arena this fall, stop for a
moment and take a deep breath.
Look at the state-of-the-art
facilities, the bright lights and the
flashy new jerseys. Embrace what
you like, scorn what you don't.
But then take a look at the
product on the court, on the turf,
on the ice.
Pretty cool, isn't it? And this
year is just gettingstarted.
- Nesbitt can be reached
Michigan Stadium has stood witness tothe winningest program in college football for the better part of a century. That success stands as much of its legacy.
It's a different look, a different
brand, abetter Michigan.
But even a marketing guru
like Brandon knows that noth-
ing changes a brand faster than
success. And Michigan wasn't
The football, men's basket-
ball and hockey programs - the
headlining high-income teams
for the Michigan Athletic
Department - haven't simulta-
neously excelled in any year in
recent memory, and that has hurt
But there's something differ-
ent about this fall. That history
is all but forgotten. Michigan is
back on the rise. And hold your board, ranging anywhere from
breath, because this is going to be 1980 to 2005. Michigan football
a year you don't want to forget. was a healthy combination of
I paced good and great
the Daily up until Rodri-
newsroom on guez arrived
Sunday after- "This is goin in 2008. Red
noon asking Berenson and
this question: to be a year you the hockey
When was year team won
the last time don't want to national cham-
Michigan foot- pionships in
ball, hockey forget. 1996 and 1998.
and men's bas- But when
ketball teams was it? How
were all ranked long has it been
in the top-10 in preseason polls? since Michigan had that "it" fac-
The guesses came in across the tor in its three featured sports.
If you could put a year on
"cool," it would be 1993. Michigan
was good and everyone knew
it. That fall, Michigan football
started ranked No. 8. Men's bas-
ketball: No. 5. Hockey: No. 8.
But throwingcaution to the
wind, let me offer this: Cool
might be back in town.
Brady Hoke and the football
program opened the season
ranked No. 8. The hockey team is
No. 3. And with a few weeks left
until the men's basketball rank-
ings are released, Michigan is a
likely top-10 team.
Now, does an athletic depart-
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By ARSHI SINGH and men's teams, Mike Bottom
For the Daily - who has been the coach for
the men's team for the last four
In a thrilling opening meet years - now oversees the entire
against Wisconsin on Friday program.
morning, the Michigan women's "It is so exciting," Bottom
swimming and diving team beat said. "I was talking to them over
Big Ten rival Wisconsin 157-143 in the huddle, and it hit me that
at Canham Natatorium. they're puppies, they're just pup-
Michigan holds an all-time pies. They're bouncing around
record of 19-3 against Wisconsin, with a lot of energy and they
but coming into the weekend, don't really understand their
the Wolverines were looking to potential. And what agreat place
break an to be in.
opening- WISCONSIN 143 "I am in the position to hold
meet losing MICHIGAN 157 the mirror out to someone as
streak. The they grow up and as they get to
program's last opening-meet be mature and learn to swim
victory came in 2009 against with power and strength and
Notre Dame. these girls are there. They're
Michigan returns 26 swim- ready."
mers and divers this season, In a decisive move during
which includes a 10-person the 200-yard individual med-
senior class, and it also brought ley, Bottom put senior Melissa
in 10 freshmen to complement Lang in the race because she was
the roster. "having an amazing meet." That
Junior Angela Chokran, who substitution helped Michigan
finished first in both the 100- sweep the race by taking first,
and 200-yard breaststroke and second, third, and fifth place,
took second-place as part of the and also allowed the Wolverines
200-yard medley relay team, to secure the overall victory.
was coming off of a strongshow- Junior Courtney Biedler, who
ing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in took first place in the 200-yard
Omaha, Neb. this summer. individual medley, was ecstatic
"With Michigan, there isn't after the competition.
that much of a difference," said "Right before I got up on
Chokran. "The tradition here is the blocks, one of our captains
to swim collegiately as a team, (senior) Kally (Fayhee), looked
and then as a team go to the at me and pointed up to the
Olympics and get as many into scoreboard and I already knew
a final or on the Olympic team that we were one point down,"
as possible. So the tradition is Biedler said. "But I knew the
to swim our hardest everyday, team really needed it so I was
whether we are at the biggest ready to go for it for the team. I
meet of our lives, which could knew I could not let them down."
be the Olympic Trials or the Big The Wolverines are back in
Ten championships." action next weekend on Fri-
The Wolverines' coaching day and Saturday at Canham
structure also changed this Natatroium against Minnesota
season. Instead of having sepa- in the first-ever Michigan Water
rate coaches for the women's Carnival.
to lead Michigan in
South Bend Invite
By NATE SELL Yau capitalized on this oppor-
For the Daily tunity by running a personal
best of 25:05 while finishing
In his first cross country race second on the team. Freshman
in almost a year, redshirt junior Alex Moran and redshirt fresh-
Brendon Blacklaws was only 3 man Jeff Sattler also clocked
seconds shy of running an all- in career best times, 25:14 and
time personal best last Friday at 25:29, respectively.
the eight-kilometer Notre Dame "Moran in particular
Invitational in South Bend. As bounced back from a very dif-
the only member of Michigan's ficult experience at the Univer-
'A' team in action, Blacklaws sity of Virginia last week and
finished 45th overall with a performed pretty well, which is
time of 24:29. a difficult step for a freshman,"
"He's a little rusty and while I Gibby said.
don't think he's in our top five or In Moran's last race in Vir-
six guys yet, he's shown himself ginia he struggled and crossed
to be in the position in a month the finish line in 26:54, a time
to affect our position at the much slower than he wanted. It
Big Ten Championships," said was important for him to recov-
Michigan coach Alex Gibby. er and have a good race Friday,
Though Blacklaws did not which he clearly did by knock-
run fast enough to crack the ing 1:40 off of his time. Friday"s
core group of runners up front race was his second eight-kilo-
for Michigan, he would have meter race in six days - some-
been one of the top contributors thing that is tough for any
for some of the other teams that runner to do, let alone someone
were competing at the meet. in their freshman season.
The purpose of the meet was Redshirt junior Dallas North
to give Michigan's younger run- finished fifth on the team with a
ners that aren't on the 'A' team time of 25:36, followedby junior
an opportunity to compete and Matt Popielarz and redshirt
improve. freshman Trevor Denton with
"I think that bodes well for times of 25:53 and 26:11, respec-
where our varsity will be once tively.
we put them back together in The future looks bright for
Wisconsin on Oct. 12," Gibby Michigan, as its strong group
said, referencing Michigan's of young runners has shown
next meet at the Wisconsin Adi- improvement throughout the
das Invitational season.
Michigan was able to notch Michigan hopes that as they
500 points and finished 19th out become accustomed to running
of 20 teams in the overall scores. eight-kilometer races, they will
The race was competitive with lower their times and help con-
nine of thetop 10 finishers being tribute to the team.
ranked nationally in the top 30. "They are a middle dis-
No. 20 ranked Tulsa finished tance oriented group and as we
first with 104 points. mature, results should follow
Redshirt sophomore James - accordingly," Gibby said.
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