July 10, 2014

Borton's Blog: Quotable

It's that time of year. Smoke wafting off grills across the land. Powerboats roaring around the Great Lakes. Golfers sending Pro V1s to a watery grave. And…

… subscribers to The Wolverine beginning to check their mailboxes with the anticipation of Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut when they bring out the Nathan's hot dogs. It could be a bit, depending upon the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service, but the 2014 Football Preview Issue of the magazine is coming.

So how about the smallest sample, to whet the appetite? Here are five double-take quotes from this year's magazine, hinting at the depth and variety one can expect from 274 full-color pages of, for lack of a better term, Pure Michigan.

In no particular order, check out…

Fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner: "We're Michigan. We're never the underdog. But maybe we're a pissed-off, chip-on-the-shoulder type team."

This one gives a little insight into the mindset of a crew that came away as satisfied with a 7-6 season as an offensive lineman given celery sticks. Players, coaches, and everyone associated with Michigan football talk about the burning desire to ramp it up and achieve at a higher level in 2014.

New radio color analyst Dan Dierdorf: "I never walked on a football field without thinking I would absolutely destroy the guy across from me. Not just, 'I'm not going to let him make a tackle.' I want to destroy my guy.'"

You think it will be fun listening to this guy, paired with new play-by-play man Jim Brandstatter, dissect the battles up front? Dierdorf already assured he'll need to remember he's talking about developing college players rather than pros, like he did when broadcasting all those years on Monday Night Football. Still, he's going to bring plenty of insight to the war head coach Brady Hoke says has to be won.

Former Michigan All-American Jim Conley, recalling a conversation with head coach Bump Elliott about an ill-fated two-point conversion try in the 1964 game against Purdue: "I'll never forget seeing him there feeling bad. He says, 'Jim, you think we should have kicked the extra point?' I said, 'Who gives a damn, Bump? Let's move on. It's in the past.'"

Fifty years later, the stories still flow, and the passion runs high. There's no lack of historical angst, and exultation, wedged in amongst all the current-team information.

Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski: "I've put on some legendary displays of eating in my life. But when I cook, I don't eat. Maybe I need to cook more, so I can stop eating and lose some weight."

Yes, there are some fun, lighter aspects of the issue, touching on life beyond the carefully painted white lines. Those whose passion happens to be Michigan football get to know those who make it happen a little better.

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison: "In the Ohio game, I just know in my heart if [junior safety] Jarrod Wilson would have played, we would have won. But I couldn't play him. I didn't think he would be able to tackle with a big club on his hand, because of an injury."

You'd never hear that right after a game, or 24 hours later, or the following week. Only with some time and perspective do some of the what-ifs and why-nots come to the surface.

Anyway, that's like a breadcrumb off a cruise ship buffet. The rest is sailing toward mailboxes and newsstands over the next couple of weeks. Enjoy.

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