April 17, 2014

Brandstatter, Dierdorf, team up

Michigan football continues building on the lines, looking to pave the way for future championships. It has now put a team into the broadcast booth that can block out dead air and double-team on all the pertinent points.

Long-time color analyst Jim Brandstatter takes over as Michigan's new play-by-play man, moving into the seat Frank Beckmann departed following the 2013 season. Beside him will be no stranger whatsoever, but a fellow sojourner on the U-M offensive line.

Dan Dierdorf, the All-American offensive lineman at the onset of the Bo Schembechler era, has come on board as the Wolverines' color analyst. Dierdorf owns extensive broadcast experience, as a former Monday Night Football color man.

"Jim and Dan are hall of fame broadcasters and great Michigan men," said Brady Hoke. "They will provide a unique perspective to the broadcasting booth that I'm sure our fans will enjoy on football Saturdays, and you can guarantee they will have a keen analysis of Michigan Football on each broadcast."

Brandstatter, the former All-Big Ten tackle who played for Schembechler from 1969-71, certainly is no stranger to those listening in to Michigan broadcasts. The former sports caster for WDIV television in Detroit has been a fixture around Michigan athletic broadcasts since 1980.

That year, he became host of Michigan Replay, the half-hour coaches show featuring Schembechler at the time, He's hosted iterations of the show featuring head coaches Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and now Brady Hoke (the show now titled Inside Michigan Football) down through the years.

He's been in the broadcast booth for Michigan football games since the mid-1980s, serving as the color man for broadcasts. He's served in a similar role with the NFL's Detroit Lions since 1987, and is looking forward to different duties now in the same booth for the Wolverines.

"I'm really excited about the challenge of moving to play-by-play," said Brandstatter. "I have huge shoes to fill, but I have learned so much from the great ones I've worked with and I can't wait to get started. And, it's Michigan Football ... it doesn't get any better than that!

"Dan knows the game inside and out and is an outstanding broadcaster. First and foremost, he loves Michigan Football, but he's also a good friend, a teammate, an NFL Hall of Famer, and we have fun when we're together. I just hope the listeners have as good a time as we expect to have broadcasting Michigan victories this fall."

Dierdorf, meanwhile, has done extensive work for CBS Sports, served as a correspondent at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and has also provided play-by-play on college games in the early 1990s. He's best known as a broadcaster, though, for teaming with Al Michaels and Frank Gifford in ABC's Monday Night Football booth.

Returning to Ann Arbor for Michigan games represents a labor of love, one that Dierdorf relishes.

"I'm so excited to be able to come back to my alma mater and contribute in this manner," said Dierdorf. "This is the only broadcasting job that I would have considered after retiring from the network television. It's a chance to return to the city where Bump [Elliott] gave me an opportunity to play for the greatest program in the world and Bo [Schembechler] made me a man.

"I was always jealous of Jim calling games at Michigan and often said that one of my goals was to come back and call a couple of series with him," added Dierdorf. "To work with one of my best friends, someone that I've known my entire adult life, is really special, and I'm looking forward to getting in the booth with Jim this fall."

Meanwhile, Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch remains in place, keeping two-thirds of the crew from the last several seasons together. Karsch spoke with considerable excitement about the new team and the chemistry expected from it.

"My first thought was 'Wow!'" Karsch said. "Brandy is a true pro and Dierdorf has always been a great broadcaster and now, for him - this is personal. So you know he's going to be outstanding in that role.

"One thing that is totally underrated is the chemistry those guys will have in the booth from day one, since Jim and Dan go way back. That will be there from the moment Michigan kicks off against Appalachian State. That will make the broadcast more fun and feel seamless.

"Frank and Jim had it. Those two were comfortable enough to bicker and joke and insult one another all while doing the game. I thought one year at Michigan State they were actually going to come to blows - it was hilarious."

Karsch said he expects more of the same from the two broadcasting veterans and former Wolverines.

"If you go with an outsider, there can be an awkward feeling-out process," Karsch said. "There will be no feeling-out process. And sometimes there never is the right chemistry. Well, we're not going to have to worry about that.

"I talked to the people at IMG and there were a lot of people that wanted this job. Dan Dierdorf is a great addition and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Meanwhile, someone who once held the color analyst position in the Michigan broadcast booth, and once coached both Brandstatter and Dierdorf, has some thoughts of his own about the new lineup. Former molder of Michigan offensive lines Jerry Hanlon used to keep both of them in line.

He insists he still will, if necessary.

"They won't allow me anywhere near that booth, I'll guarantee you that," Hanlon said with a laugh. "If they do something wrong, they know they're going to get it from me."

Turning serious, Hanlon expressed excitement over seeing Brandstatter move into the play-by-play seat and getting Dierdorf back into the Michigan mix.

"It was really heartwarming to hear who it was," Hanlon said. "Frank has done such a great job over the years. With Dan Dierdorf coming in to be the new color man and Jimmy Brandstatter moving up to do the broadcasting, it's wonderful.

"To be honest with you, we'll be laughing halfway through the games. The two of them together, on a podium, are really interesting men. They have great rapport, they have the verbal ability to spar with one another.

"They both understand the game of football. I would look for them both to have some salty remarks that will keep the games lively. I'm really looking forward to it."

Brandon, and Michigan fans everywhere, join him in that anticipation.

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