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October 12, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-12
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The coach here has a doctorate.
Slippery Rock is like that.
Dr. George Mihalikhas aDoctor-
ate of Education and has remained
a full-time professor for all 26 years
he's been the head coach.
One hour before a game against
Kutzdown one recent late Septem-
ber day, he chatted and joked with
two reporters visiting from Michi-
gan aboutthe power of the Slippery
Rock name.
Legend has itchatctheborough of
Slippery Rock got its oame from a
group of colonial soldiers who were
heing pursued hy Seneca Native
Americans. The soldiers came
upon a creek and were able to cross
hecause they wore heavy boots.
The Native Americans, wearing
moccasins, slipped on the rocks in
the creek bed. They called the place
Wechachochapohka - literally a
'slippery rock.'
The power of that name has
taken Slippery Rock around the
nation. Most recently, Michigan
Athletic Director Dave Brandon
invited Mihalik and other Slippery
Rock ambassadors to Michigan
Stadium to be recognized during a
game. Mihalik posed for pictures,

was invited to parties and hounded
for autographs.
"We walked up through the stu-
dent section," Mihalik said. "I know
what a rock star feels like. I know
what a celebrity feels like.
"Too often, the big guy is too
enthralled with just who they are
and what they are, who cares about
any little person. And Michigan
is not that way. They've embraced
Slippery Rock University and we
really appreciate the fact that they
announce our scores, and we just
wish everyscore couldbe awinning
As game time approached, he
got upto leave, but notwithout say-
ing something that likely has never
been said in a big-time football sta-
dium before.
"Here's the thing," Mihalik said
with a laugh. "You guys have any
play suggestions, I don't have a
problem with it. Just give them to
me before the game and not after.
The unlikely marriage between
Slippery Rock and Michigan began
in 1959 when Steve Filipiak, Michi-
gan's public address announcer, saw

the funny name on the wire service
ticker. Wanting to inject life into
a boring game, Filipiak read the
score. The fans loved it.
"It got a humorous reaction from
people because a lot of people didn't
even believe there was such a place,"
said Art Parker, who worked in the
control room that day, as he has for
425 consecutive Michigan games.
The scores became a regular
occurrence. The wire ticker even-
tually was replaced by the tele-
phone, and that required Parker
to call each day to people like John
Carpenter, Slippery Rock's sports
information director, for scores. On
his first day, Carpenter had never
heard of the tradition, and puzzled,
he asked the inquisitor from Michi-
gan why he wanted the score,,
As Carpenter related to the Chi-
cago Tribune in 198S, "I said, 'Why
do youpeople want to know what
the Slippery Rock score is?' And he
said, 'If you hold on a minute, I'll
tell you.' The guy held the phone
near the public address announcer,
and then I heard, 'Here's the score
you've all been waiting for: Slip-
pery Rock 27, Waynesburg 7.' And
the place went berserk."
In 1979, Michigan Athletic
Director Don Canham invited The

Rock to play a game in Michigan
Stadium, something Slippery Rock
officials are hopeful will happen
Slippery Rock optimistically
expected 15,000 people to show
up for its game against Ship-
pensburg. Instead, four times
that number, 61,143, attended, a
Division-I record. Canham gave
the team sneakers and cleats. Bo
Schembechler addressed the team,
according to Mihalik. They played
in the Big House again in 1981.
Bob McComas, Slippery Rock's
current sports information direc-
tor, remembers being unimpressed
with Michigan Stadium's sunken
design. That is, until he walked
down the tunnel
"We see this light toward the
end," McComas said. "The whole
group stopped breathing. You look
up and go, 'Wow.'
"You would've thought we were
big-time dignitaries. We're just
some Division II school from Penn-
Yet for a few years, Slippery Rock
grew evasive, and Parker struggled
to get the scores relayed during
games. He theorized that Slippery
Rock felt like it was being mocked.
But that feelingsoon passed.

Nowadays, the Slippery Rock
scores appear around the nation,
from Michigan to Texas. When
McComas fails to text the score in,
Michigan fans grow irate. McCom-
cas recalls one instance when the
Michigan radio station called him,
saying its callers were demanding
the score of the Slippery Rock game.
"They think it's a joke that
Michigan and Texas announce the
scores," McComas said. "But it's
amazing. They want to know. The
people want to know."
The lockerroomhere iscramped,
with lockers in the middle of the
room to maximize space. Before
the game against sutztown, the
members of the Slippery Rock foot-
ball stepped away from their rick-
ety stools and small lockers. They
gathered in the middle of thelocker
room and said the Lord's Prayer.
Most here don't have a scholar-
ship. Slippery Rock only awards 18,
half as many as the teams in its con-
"If you want to play football,
they're going to come here," said
Ronald Steele, the equipment man-
ager who also serves on the town

At this point, Michigan
fans probably feel like
Nathan Scheelhaase has
been playing college football for
a decade.
But the redshirt junior Illinois
quarterback is in just his third
season as the starter, with another
one on tap next year. A two-time
captain, Scheelhaase has had
plenty of success as a dual-threat
gunslinger for the Fighting Illini.
But the wins haven't been plen-
tiful, which led to a coaching
change after last season.
Former coach Ron Zook was
replaced by Tim Beckman, for-
merly of Toledo, who has led
Illinois to a disappointing 2-4
heading into this week's matchup
against Michigan.
At Big Ten Media Days in July,
the Daily sat down with Scheel-
haase to discuss his new coach, as
well as the quarterback's memo-
ries of going up against the Wol-
The Michigan Daily: How has
the transition to Coach Beckman's
system gone so far? Were you
apprehensive at all about having
to go through such a big change,
and did you try and help the team
stay focused through it all?
Nathan Scheelhaase: Once
Coach Beckman got in, we all got
comfortable with him in pretty
rapid fashion. It was easy to make
that transition. But those are some
of the things that you worry about,
and there's no question that you
do. I think he understood that
he had made a transition before,
and knew what it took to really
get around to us, and to not only
know us as players on the field but
as men off it. He did a great job. I
didn't have anything to do with
that, that was all him gaining that
respect in a great fashion.
TMD: What's the biggest dif-
ference between Coach Zook and
Coach Beckman that you've seen
so far?
NS: I think just the competitive
nature Coach Beckman has. He
makes everything a competition,
from offensive and defensive GPA,
to spring practices, to strength
competitions in the summer. It's
always a competition. That's defi-
nitely been really exciting for all
of us, because it tells us just that

german, that's going to make the
rteam confident in turn.
TMD: How different is the
offense going to look this season?
NS: Pretty different. It's not
going to look like anything we've
Fn"done the past two years. It's going
to go at a faster pace. We expect
the ball to get to all areas of the
field at any given time. And that's
something that really makes us
more ofa dangerous offense, puts
the defense on its heels. It's some-
thing that as players you feel good
about, because I think there were
times last year, having A.J. (Jen-
kins), as good a player as he was,
we keyed on him a little too much,
and the defense knew that wher-
ever he was, that's where the ball
was going to go. This year, I think
we're becoming more diverse
in how we're spreading the ball
around a little more.
TMD: You've been playing for
quite a while now. Was there a
L$ moment when it sort of clicked for
you, when you became fully com-
NS: There's a certain point
when it doesn't matter what
offense you're running, you kind
of have a grasp of things. I think
it happened somewhere probably
freshman year when we played
Michigan in that high-scoring
game. It was one of those games
when I felt like I had complete
. control. I knew what I was look-
ing for, I knew where I was going
j with the ball. Just saw things from
tba different lens.
TMD: Speaking of that game
against Michigan in 2010, now
that you've had a couple years to
tEry reflect on it, just how crazy was it,
to have a score like 67-65?
NS: Honestly, it'll probably
feel a lot better to look back on if
MAsISSA MCCAIN/a y we find a way to beat Michigan
Junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is 0-2 atainsyMichitan in his career, osint a thriller in 2010 and atais last season. at some point in my career. They
competitive nature is something coaching change or not? snubbed us that year, they got
that can't shock you during the NS: I think the biggest thing after us last year.
season, when you face somebody that helps those teams, they know But you look back at that game,
trying to stop you from reaching " (Beckman.) who they have to rally around. and you know it's definitely one
your goal.That's something we'v e Just having that confidence in a for the record books, that you'll
all grown accustomed to this off- makes triggerman helps out a whole lotloook back and watch with your
season. I think. If you look at everybody kids. Maybe after we score that
TMD: When going through a everything a that's playing football right now, last touchdown in the third over-
transition like that, it probably competition." that's watched football over the time, I'll find a way to make the
helps to have a returning start- years, they know that quarterback DVD stop running or something
er at quarterback, like yourself. _______ is a very demanding position, and like that so I don't have to watch
How much does that help a team, if they're confident in their trig- until the end.
TheBlockM - www.TheBlockM.com13

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