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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Recruiting, Character, and Jim Harbaugh

Back in the late 60s, when coach Bump Elliott was recruiting, there were no star rankings. There were only local and state rankings and an All-American ranking. Once again, player football ability was the most important and only variable measured. Of course it was subjective back then, and these rankings did not have a sophisticated computer logarithm component built in to it. Then, it was up to the coach and his recruiting staff to evaluate potential high school prospects.

Of the eight players interviewed, in Bo’s Warriors, one central character theme dissects each regardless of player position, racial origin, socioeconomic status, or rural versus urban playing environment . Underneath the extraordinary athletic ability [These athletes excelled in many numerous sports], there was an element of insecurity, and doubt about their ability to play on the big stage. These terrific athletes did not have inflated narcissistic egos nor did they believe they were the King of the castle. Did Bump sense this in his recruiting process and thereby recruited only athletes that had an underlying insecurity? I do not know if my sample of eight is representative of his entire career. However, I do know about these wonderful eight U of M super stars
I will give two examples of some of the things these players told to me during their interviews with me. I’ll begin with Tom Curtis. Tom was a superstar quarterback from Aurora, Ohio, a small rural community near Cleveland, Ohio. Tom didn’t understand and was irritated that Coach Bo Schembechler, then the head coach at Miami of Ohio, didn’t recruit him out of high school. Tom and his father made sure that Bo got his newspaper clippings. The fact that Tom was somewhat unknown [Based on level of competition] contributed to his insecurity. In fact, Brian Healy, the quarterback from Sandusky, Ohio was the Ohio player of the year and he enrolled at Michigan, also. That didn’t help, Tom’s sense of competence, but only doubted his ability to play quarterback at that prestigious level. Also, In Tom’s sophomore season, his position coach asked him to start at a different cornerback position. It was different from the side he was practicing – he was uncomfortable, afraid and insecure, and made sure he didn’t dare admit that to his coach. Even the town crier spread it around the community that Tom, would not even make the traveling squad at the University of Michigan. Tom never challenged or confronted the man.

Mike Keller was a superstar athlete from Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to Mike, his level of football competition ranked about third in the state behind the Detroit public schools and Lansing area schools. Keller in Grand Rapids was the big fish in a little pond. However, at Michigan, he was the little fish in a big pond. He didn’t place football as a first priority, in his thinking, and wondered why Coach Elliott offered him a football scholarship. In fact, Notre Dame’s Ara Parseghian did not offer him a scholarship but told him he probably would receive one at a later date. Mike Keller saw himself as a student first and was hoping to get his degree, which would set the stage for things to come in his future by becoming an attorney. He said that he was hoping to at least make the traveling squad. Mike played even though he was not a full physical strength because he knew there was somebody behind him ready to take his place and he was afraid of that happening. He did not miss any playing time.

With doubt and insecurity comes anxiety. Anxiety is not pleasant and something to get rid of or reduce if possible. When the anxiety level gets too high or too much, that can result in psychological paralysis. In sports, it is referred to when a player “chokes” during an important play or event during a significant part of the game. When it comes to taking a school exam, and the student does miserably, it’s called test anxiety. On the other hand, another option is to increase the activity level of something physical. It could be by playing the game of solitaire quickly and over and over. It’s not uncommon today to see individuals with some electronic device in their hands, compulsively being a captive. When it comes to sports, physical activity can reduce anxiety, perfectly. This means compulsive weightlifting, running, and bike riding, being on a rowing machine, etc. works well.

For Mike Keller and Tom Curtis, It was playing all sports at all hours in the night and in the day. There was unlikely a day when either was not practicing, playing or improving their skill. Both played basketball and loved to shoot and compete [Both played in the evening-Mike even played in the dark]. So for these two individuals, they reduced their anxiety through the physical activity of sport. They would come home tired because they extended themselves when they played. They played to win [Competition served a good purpose for them because it reduced their anxiety].

Another way to deal with insecurity and anxiety was their submission to the authoritarian dictator like football coach Bo Schembechler. Bo was a tyrant on the field and disrespected the players verbally and physically. He frequently put them down verbally through the use of his colorful street-gutter language. And, initially they disliked, and some even hated the man. They were angry and resentful. In order to deal with their anger, resentment, they had to unconsciously repress those feelings. And by repressing those feelings, they submitted to Bo and became part of the team. That was their way of dealing with their anger and resentment. They had to become the team, the team, the team. It was Bo’s team, and make no mistake about it. And once that happened [It was the fifth game of the season with Minnesota when it happened-team came together],  played as a unit on offense and defense and began to function as a single dynamism with Bo Schembechler as their leader. The anger and resentment toward Bo got displaced and they took it out on each other during practice and especially game time. In fact, in their next 25 regular-season games, they won 24 of them.

Tom Curtis holds the Michigan record for most interceptions; was All-American; and has two Super Bowl rings. Mike Keller holds the Michigan record for outstanding gameplay for three seasons; played in the college All-Star game against the Dallas Cowboys [The team that drafted him] and has  been connected to  football ever since. These men conquered their anxiety, and are simply good guys. Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh can recruit players that have a similar personality structure as both Curtis and Keller. Don’t forget Jim, that’s a mighty important variable to consider. Then, you won’t have to worry about suspensions, dismissals or other breaking of the rules.

Go Blue!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Nietzsche Claimed That God Was Dead

 Another article in The New York Times talked about the Pacific Crest Trail. This trail spans 2650 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. This trail has been traversed by many either by hiking, running or on horseback. The trail spans cactus, desert, redwoods with uneven temperature patterns [triple digits to snow] along with having to traverse rivers and deal with rattlesnakes, bears and other wildlife. It’s estimated that fewer individuals have traversed the full Pacific Crest Trail than have reached the summit of Mount Everest. However, the beauty of the adventure is that it can be accomplished in parts or segments. One does not have to do the entire 2650 miles at one time. Moreover, more and more hikers than ever are hitting the trail. In fact, there’s currently a limit of up to 50 thru hikers per day on a journey that begins from the Mexican border.

Perhaps the book by Eric Rybak or different movie versions of “The Wild” are incentives for many of these hikers. Spirituality, as well as camaraderie are other motivations for Americans. Let’s face it, can you think of a better place along this journey to experience spirituality? And because of more and more individuals on the trail, there is a greater opportunity to connect with others along the way. We remain social as well as herd human animals when confronted with awesome endeavors. Individuals have been known to share food, water and one individual even found her husband on this very journey.

Further, perhaps, Luther and Calvin of the Reformation era provided an underlying base for motivation. Their religious philosophy emphasized, in part, the liberation of man, individual initiative, hard work, human autonomy with   dignity. This resulted in a marked change in the psychology of man from the medieval societies. On the other hand, the philosophy of the existentialists such as Kierkegaard and others hypothesized about finding meaning in life through experience and rationality. They saw the human being as lost, separate, conforming, powerless, helpless, anonymous and helpless while becoming more insignificant-a cog in the wheel in the technological advances and mass production taking place in our capitalistic economic society. They also saw the collapsing of formal religion and would have predicted the current phenomena taking place in the United States.

 Perhaps, the drop in traditional church membership might be related to this psychology of man. Apparently there’s no drop in finding one’s own spirituality, only in church attendance. Will this United States trend continue? And, if you researched the numerous people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, you might find a higher number of individuals who do not attend a physical or traditional church, temple or synagogue. In fact, they may have found a spiritual meaning in their lives. Further, being on the trail is terrific for mental and physical health. Spirituality, meaning, initiative, achievement, hard work, personal bests and friendship are just some of the things that one can find on the trail.

A past post about my nightmare did not foreshadow yesterday’s [19+ miles] Western States 100 training run. The run was good as I did not lose my voice, cramp or suffer any injury. Tony did well on his run. On the ride back to Forest Hill, Tony sat next to an individual who came in fourth place on the Western States 100 run last year. I sat next to woman who won my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” on a 50 K trail run two years ago. This years’ experience was good. I’ll catch you on the trail.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My nightmare

"Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is."
– Aleksei Peshkov
I had a bad dream last night-a nightmare, In fact. This dream had to do with a trail run and the difficulty experienced, especially at the beginning of this run. For example, one part of the dream had to do with my starting off while being in the water. The water, somehow, was supposed to be about waist high but in the dream, it was up to my chin and I was afraid that I might drown. I quickly was able, somehow, to get out of the water. In another dream sequence, I had to enter and leave through this weird shaped building before I could begin my run. There was a door leading into the building, but, once inside, I had difficulty finding and opening any door to leave -I was stuck inside and unable to begin my run. These two memories stand out while the others have simply faded away. Needless to say, this dream was very disturbing.

The dream suggests my anxiety in running the second day [Sunday -from Forest Hill to White Oak Flat -about 20 miles] of the Western States training run during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. I have taken part in Western States training runs over the past 13 years or so. All told, these three day training runs total about 75 miles of the 100 mile one day event.

Some background that explains my concern about this year’s run. During the past few years, the daily temperature has warmed up considerably on those particular Sunday’s. Possibly, not having any significant heat training prior, resulted in my having an extremely tough time for the last 5 miles or so, especially last year. I became tired, dehydrated and had difficulty speaking as I lost my voice. After rest, of course, my voice came back normally. And, this year I haven’t had heat training. Also, I know from previous running experiences, that I don’t do well with high temperatures.

Further, my trail runs this year have been very different. On January 1, I ran this particular 10 mile trail run [Resolution Run] for the fourth or fifth time in a row. And for the last 2-3 years, my trail time has been pretty consistent. This year’s 10 mile event was a little different in that it had an extend
ed uphill loop. Possibly that explained running this event slower compared to the past two years.

After running that January 1 event, I read about sodium bicarbonate and begin using that in preparation for my 50 K in February-I’ve competed in the Jed Smith event for the past 12 or 13 years as well. Well, I’m unhappy to report, that I became extremely tired after 25 miles or so, during the event and essentially walked to the finish. I felt terrible and my running time was the slowest ever for this Jed Smith event.  I attributed my difficulty to possible irregular training, and especially the sodium bicarbonate.

Then, I began preparing for a 50 K Way Too Cool in March-which I’ve done for the past 12 or 13 years. During my February training, I experienced some difficulties with irritation in my groin area. I went to the Monster of Massage, for treatment, and he assured me that I would be fine for my race. I even consulted a medical doctor to get his opinion. He told me to rest and take Aleve until the day of the event. During that 50 K I was cognizant and continued to evaluate my physical condition during my event-I was okay. However, at about 18 miles or so, I started to cramp. My friend Randall joined me on the trail and we headed toward the finish. I did some slow running and walking for the next 7 miles or so and then climbed up the very steep Goat Hill. After leaving the aid station at Goat Hill, I cramped so bad that I went to the ground with a whole lot of tightness and spasms. Randall massaged my cramping leg, and I was then able to stand and continued toward the finish with a lot of walking.  My Way Too Cool trail time on that miserable day was by far my slowest for that event.

I must say that March and April have not been terrific running months for me. Last Saturday, I ran an extremely difficult and tough 10 mile Coloma River trail run-I’ve done this one for last four years. During the run, I felt terrific. This was a marked improvement over my 50 K experiences in February and March. Nothing was bothering me that day and the temperature was terrific for running. It was like there was a heavy burden lifted off my shoulders. I was surprised that my time was slower compared to the past two years. So, initially I felt terrific during and after the run. When I compared my time to the previous year, I was both surprised and disappointed. So far I’ve been consistently slower this year compared to previous years-this just might be my reality.

Well, it makes perfect sense to me that I have concerns regarding my next run. That bad dream brought my anxiety into my reality. I’ll keep you posted as to how the actual run turned out.


Tony had a difficult time on his recent 50 K. He’s taken some time off and we’ll see how it turns out, for him this Sunday as well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Can Jim Harbaugh Save Michigan Football?

For example, in one study, the findings were that even having low income or educational attainment was still associated with upward mobility. And these individuals, were most likely to think that such movement was possible. In another study, ethnic minority groups tended to overestimate upward mobility more than European Americans. Another research finding was that political liberals were less likely to overestimate upward mobility, than politically conservative minded individuals. Don’t forget that these studies were with college students. The researchers concluded that the belief in the American dream is certainly misguided, comparing it to objective reality. There is another way of stating it. Simply put, defense mechanisms like repression, rationalization and denial are frequent components of reality distortions.  It is very difficult to acknowledge and deal with things as they actually are because of the ease of thought distortion.

 Is a major reality  distortion  taking place in Ann Arbor with the University of Michigan football. In 2014, the Michigan Wolverines had a disastrous season, comparing it to the previous history of Michigan football. The 2014 team had five wins and seven losses. This is unheard of, and not acceptable. Then, in December 2014, Jim Harbaugh was hired as the new football coach. The hiring of Harbaugh was, in some ways, like the second coming as he was quickly brought from the West Coast to Ann Arbor to lift Michigan football like a phoenix rising from its ashes .  Harbaugh was going to be the Savior and bring Michigan back to its former football greatness. Many believed this was going to happen immediately.

Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that did very poorly. In part, some of the explanation might be placed to when Rich Rodriguez was hired as head coach. Coach Rodriguez brought in a spread offense philosophy that relied on having fast, athletic, mobile lineman. However, Rodriguez wasn’t there long enough to create success. Then Brady Hoke was hired, and his philosophy was more related to a pro-style offense. He even brought in an Alabama coordinator to run that offense. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the necessary 300+ pound lineman to run and control the line the scrimmage. So, last year’s quarterback Devin Gardner, frequently was harassed by the defense and didn’t have enough time to accurately throw the ball. He was often running for his life and trying to elude all those defensive players collapsing on him.

So now we have Coach Jim Harbaugh and his NFL Pro philosophy offense. If his offense is to be successful, he will have to be able to control the line of scrimmage and run the football. Did previous coach Brady Hoke, recruit enough large, talented lineman during his tenure? Is the cupboard bare or is it filled with good stock? If the cupboard is bare, coach Harbaugh and his NFL position coaches have their work cut out for them in order to be successful. As talented as Harbaugh and his staff are, he still needs the horses up front.

In 1969, when Coach Schembechler took over from Coach Elliott, the cupboard was not bare. Because it was well-stocked, Coach Schembechler had immediate success. Names like Dierdorf [NFL Hall of Fame]; Henry Hill, Reggie McKenzie [all Pro]; Jim Mandich-all Americans that made Michigan’s running attack work. And with that, it was 3 yards and a cloud of dust. And don’t forget the others, he had All Americans, Tom Curtis, Billy Taylor, Marty Huff, Mike Taylor and all Pro, Thom Darden as well.

For the Michigan faithful, because of Michigan’s difficult football schedule this year, starting off with Utah and Oregon State .A 6 win and 6 loss record would be terrific, coupled with a win or wins over Michigan State, the Golden Gophers, Penn State, Maryland Terrapins or Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Ohio State is more than out of the question for this year, unless the likes of Darden, Dierdorf, Mandich, Curtis from that historic 1969 team come out of retirement.

Reality might be brutal this year for the Michigan Wolverines. Just wait for different results when Harbaugh gets the horses. In the meantime, Go Blue Go! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bo Schembechler Employed, Psychology

Does This Experiment, In The 1940s, In Any Way Pertain To Bo Schembechler? Remember, For Schembechler It Was About The Team, The Team, And The Team. Let’s Apply Principles From The Mayo Experiment And Superimpose Them On The 1969 Michigan Wolverines Football Team Focusing On Variables Of Social Participation, Aim, Purpose, And Attitude. For Instance, Of The 10 Scheduled Teams For 1969, Only Two Were Circled-Michigan State And Ohio State On Coach Schembechler’s Blackboard. Simply Put, Those Circled Games Were Primary And Major Goals For The 1969 Season. The Players Were Expected To Beat The Other Teams, But A Major Focus Had To Do With The Rivalry Between Those Two Circled Teams.

Schembechler Formed And Created A Cohesive Group To Accomplish His Goals. He Put Up The Sign “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions” Which Clearly Delineated Whether Or Not You Were Either Part Of The Team Or Not Part Of The Team. If You Agreed To Stay, You Were Part Of His Experiment. He Also Reinforced The Team Concept By Telling The Players Something To The Effect That” Son Of A Bitch, You’re Not Red, You’re Not White, You’re Not Blue. You Are Michigan. You Can’t Be Divided; No One From The Outside Is Going To Get Between Us.” So The Players Clearly Realized That They Were Part Of The Team And They Were Expected To Practice, Practice, Practice, Which Meant A Lot Of Repetition And Drudgery [Monotony]. However, Each Player Had To Learn His Position Assignment, Regardless Of Whether It Was Offense Or Defense. Not Only That, The Players Knew That Aside From Knowing Their Assignment, They Had To Execute That Assignment Because That Would Be Important For Many Reasons.

Jim Brandstatter, An Offensive Tackle Not Only Had To Learn His Blocking Assignment, But Also Had To Call Out The Correct Blocking Assignments For Others On The Line. His Call Was Based On The Defensive Scheme And Player Location On The Field Of Play. This Wasn’t An Easy Assignment Since The Defensive Opponents Didn’t Stand In One Place, But Moved About Prior To The Snap. Jim Knew That His Job Was Not Easy, But Highly Significant, And It Had An Aim And Purpose. If He Blocked His Opponent Successfully, And Made The Right Blocking Assignments [By His Call], Then, His Teammates Would Be In A Better Position To Block Their Opponents As Well. And, If The Blocking And The Line Play Was Successfully That Could Result In Making An Important First Down Or Even A Touchdown. If Jim Made A Mistake, Then That Particular Play Would Likely Be Unsuccessful. In Essence, Jim Would Be Letting Down His Teammates, Himself And His Coaches.

Each Player Had A Part To Play, And Through The Combined Efforts Of All Team Members They Could Be Successful. Players Like Brandstatter On Offense And Keller On Defense Did Not Want To Let Their Teammates Down By Not Doing Their Best-By Being Successful. They Did Want To Be Out Of Position, They Did Not Want To Be Beaten By Their Opponent. They Simply Wanted To Excel. Keller’s Calling His Teammates “A Band Of Brothers” Suggests The Cohesiveness Among The Members Of The Team.

This 1969 Team Was A Group That Had A Sense Of Belonging; Had Similar Expectations; Common Interests; Interdependent Goals And Identified With Each Other. This Sense Of Belonging, The Social Aspect Resulted In An Attitude Change. Having Membership In The Group Resulted In A Highly Cohesive Band With Solidarity. These Teammates Socialized Together, Attended Classes Together, Roomed Together, Joined Fraternities Together, And Partied Together. As A Consequence, These Athletes [Friends] Were Motivated To Contribute To Themselves, To Each Other, And To The Team’s Welfare. Their Individual Narcissism Was Appropriately Developed And Held In Check Or In Abeyance As They Became Part Of This Larger Band Of Brothers. They Were Not Individuals Acting Alone. They Were Part Of Something Bigger Than Themselves. They Were A Highly Desirable Bunch With High Value Status. They Were The University Of Michigan Football Team.

In Essence, Bo Schembechler Created, Molded Attitude Change Among His Group [They Became His] Of Highly Motivated Athletes. Schembechler And His Coaches Made Practices Meaningful As Keller Told About The Creativeness Of Position Coach Gary Moeller. Every Player Knew That Their Participation Was Important As Brandstatter Told About His Experience, Going Through The Tunnel To Play Ohio State On November 22, 1969. He Said He Was Walking On Air; In His Heart He Thought That The Wolverines Were Going To Win. He Said His Senses Were Heightened. He Wanted To Get On The Playing Field And He Experienced, And Became Part Of The Moment. Even Though He Was Not A First String Starter, He Knew He Was An Important Component Of The Team, And Made His Contributions To The Team During Practice And By Being A Good Teammate. For Jim; It Was About The Team, The Team, The Team And He Said “I Felt Special.”

Coach Schembechler Knowingly Or Unknowingly Somehow Incorporated The Findings Of Dr.Mayo In That Chicago Factory. Perhaps He Used Research Findings In His Approach To Running The Michigan Wolverines. Or, Perhaps, Others Could Study Schembechler’s On The Field “Experiment” And Find Support For The Earlier Findings. In Any Event, It Is Clear That Schembechler Was Smart, Intelligent And It Was No Accident That He Got The Best Out Of His Players By Employing Sound, Psychological Principles. He Obviously Knew What He Was Doing And His Record At The University Of Michigan Speaks Volumes.

Since You Can’t Converse With Coach Schembechler, I Suggest That You Communicate With Jim Brandstatter, Thom Darden, Fritz Seyferth, Mike Keller, Jim Betts, And Others At Our Book Signing Of Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler And The Transformation Of Michigan Football On September 17 From 6 To 8 PM At Sesi Motors In Ann Arbor. This Band Of Brothers Remains Close To This Day. You’re Invited To Participate In Their Joy.

Just wait until Jim Harbaugh transforms the University of Michigan football team into the team, the team, the team.

Go Blue!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tom Brady and NFL Inequality

With the recent PSI controversy in the NFL, it is clear that inequality exists in that venue. The NFL appointed its prosecutor [Ted Wells] to try Tom Brady and then as judge and jury, the NFL found Tom guilty and sentenced the highly touted quarterback, the present and future Patriot team as well as the owner Robert Kraft.

Over the past year or so, the High Commissioner Roger Goodell [what’s “good” about him] has found guilty and sentenced numerous NFL players that have committed some sort of crime. It might have been for spousal abuse-Ray Rice; child abuse-Adrian Peterson; and numerous drug offenses etc. . In each of these player cases, a crime was committed. I don’t have a problem with a consequence when a crime has been committed; although I do question the inequality of NFL sentencing on top of a jury sentencing. This commissioner acted arbitrarily.

From what I’ve heard about the Wells report, Robert Kraft did not commit a crime  nor break a rule; Bill Belichick did not commit a crime nor break a rule; none of the players on  the Patriot team committed a crime nor broke a  rule; equipment managers/personnel did  not commit a crime  nor did Tom Brady commit a crime. Apparently, equipment personnel may have broken a rule, or maybe not. Tom Brady did not break a rule [someone may have heard him say that he likes a little air taken out of the ball]. Certainly, what he may have said didn’t break a rule. He personally didn’t break a rule. For me, breaking a rule is breaking a rule with behavior. Yet, Robert Kraft has a million-dollar fine; the Patriot organization is losing future draft picks and Tom Brady is being suspended for four games or $2 million.

It appears that Mr. Brady’s “crime” was not turning over electronic records to headhunter Ted Wells. Since when is it a crime nor a rule that a player has to comply with the headhunter and give that electronic information to your prosecutor? That prosecutor personally interpreted some nebulous conversation and then concluded that Brady was guilty. Some admit that the Patriots are being punished for previously breaking rules, as well as not complying with league earlier warnings. This whole business is in some ways is like the McCarthy hearings of the 50s. Men are not having difficulty judging other men simply on their terms. The burden of proof or innocent until proven guilty does not apply within this NFL monopoly.

Roger Goodell, you have gone too far. Hopefully for you, it’s not to the point of no return. This case is not about the integrity of the NFL, it’s about you, retaining your job. You’ve had bad press as a result of all these player infractions, as well as past and present player head injuries/concussions. Agreeing with this decision does nothing for your integrity and speaks more to your arbitrary way of thinking. No one, and no one has said or implied that the PSI pressure in any way affected the outcome of that Indianapolis Colt playoff game. The Patriots dominated the line the scrimmage and running back Blount ran through and over the Colts repeatedly. And Brady’s stats were even better in the second half, using, an “official” football. Andrew Luck’s balls were intercepted and just maybe Bill Belichick and staff is superior to the Colts coaching staff.

So NFL high command, you seem, at this point, incapable of establishing equality. Get on the ball and as the cliché says “level the playing field.” Just do it fairly.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bo Schembechler's View of Man

While interviewing Fritz Seyferth, we talked about the philosophy of Bo Schembechler. According to Fritz, Coach Schembechler believed that the nature of man is lazy and that he can always do better. And, that it was Bo’s mission to develop the player by practice, practice, practice. Let’s take a look at the notion that individuals are lazy. Is it true that man is generally lazy? If we take a look at individuals who are employed in manual, white-collar or semiskilled labor positions, i.e. assembly-line, fixing a machine or working in an office, we likely see individuals who are perhaps alienated, and bored  as evidenced by tardiness, absenteeism, illness, etc. individuals in these occupations are more accurately described depressed, as evidenced by their own spotty  productiveness.

Coach Schembechler also believed that an individual can do more. I agree that an individual can do more but that may or may not be in his best interests. The cliché practice makes perfect fits in this case. Yes, practice is good, but there comes a point of diminishing returns. Yes, the players can run more wind sprints. However, when running wind sprints, individuals get tired as expected. And sometimes when tired and exercising, the result can lead to and develop muscle overuse and /or injury. So when there’s physical exercise there needs to be a proper amount of recovery through hydration, nutrition, and rest. I’m not sure that Bo personally knew when to quit or stop thinking about football. He certainly placed stress on his heart and had a cardiology issue.

Find an individual, who is employed, interested and was passionate about his work in a productive environment and you have one highly motivated person. Bo Schembechler was not the least bored, lazy, alienated or depressed individual. He was anything but that. In other words, Coach Schembechler did not fit his own description or assumption about man being lazy. Mike Keller was another example and one of “Bo’s Warriors.”  Mike was initially recruited by Coach Bump Elliott in 1968. Keller was anything but lazy, bored or alienated. He was involved in sports, from an early age, and even had, at age 4, foot races with his mother, whom he described as the drill Sgt., He began competing and played for his elementary school teams. He said he’d rather be out playing sports than being at home because his mother would put him to work. He even practiced shooting baskets in the dark because he rationalized that if he made the basket in the dark, just think how good he would be in the daylight. It was certainly in Mike Keller’s character to improve and get better.

In explaining Keller’s motivation to succeed, his insecurity was one factor. Even though he was a big fish (an outstanding athlete in every sport) in a little pond in his high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mike Keller did not have a big head. He wondered whether or not, how he’d rate on a national stage at the University of Michigan. Even perceived himself as a student, first and a football player second. He knew that the   University of Michigan was a prestigious institution and that he would be in a good position for the rest of his life by getting that degree.

A second factor relating to Keller’s motivation is called “intrinsic” which fit his perception as being an extremely terrific athlete. This perception fulfilled his need for achievement. As a result, he didn’t require anyone to prod him or get on his back about improving his running speed. He ran, and conditioned himself to become faster and he accomplished that very well. When it came to running sprints or hustling on a play, he put it into high gear and his speed was one of his strong points. Also, a third factor is called “extrinsic” motivation. Mike Keller knew that by playing well, both at practice and in the game, that this would please himself, but also Coach Moeller, Coach Schembechler ( external praise, pleasing others or reinforcement) and his teammates because then, the team would also be in a better position to win the game. Also, each player was graded per game, and Mike Keller achieved the highest ranking during his sophomore, Junior and senior years of any player in the University of Michigan’s football history. Extrinsic motivation is therefore performing a task for reasons outside of the task itself. Mike Keller was therefore a product of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

A third factor relating to Mike Keller’s motivation to achieve was being reared in a competitive household. Although, Mike was not the oldest, he wanted to beat his older brother on any occasion. It didn’t matter if it was playing the card game of war or at golf.  Keller wanted to win every time, and generally he did. His mother, a college English professor, got on him about his learning. And he became an expert on Beowulf at an early age. He was even sent to parochial schools to reinforce the notion that learning-his education was important. He knew about being yelled at, as well as about being responsible and about authoritarian discipline.

When coach Schembechler became head coach, number 90 was eager to learn and eager to perform. He did not at all fit Coach Bo Schembechler’s assumption that man is lazy. That is not to say that coach Schembechler didn’t motivate Mike Keller. However, Mike Keller was a perfect example of a highly motivated individual ready to achieve and he did with the Wolverines, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, etc. etc. etc.

For an opportunity to meet  Mike , Fritz, Jim  Brandstatter, Jim Betts, Thom Darden, Dan Dierdorf meet them at the  signing  of Bo’s Warriors at Sesi Motors in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on September 17 from 6 to 8 PM along with other teammates. Join us there.

Go Blue!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Requires Players

 The entire list of Elliott-Schembechler All-Americans include: tackle Dan Dierdorf, 1970; guard Henry Hill, 1970, and Reggie McKenzie, 1971;end Jim Mandich , 1969; linebackers Marty Huff, 1970, and Mike Taylor, 1971; halfbacks, Tom Curtis 1969, Billy Taylor, 1971, and Thom Darden, 1971.

In Bo’s first season 1969, his team’s record was 8 wins and 2 losses, just like Bump’s 1968 team. However, his team was ranked 8 in the coach’s poll and 9 in the AP poll.

In 1970, coach Schembechler’s team, in his second season, won 9 games and lost 1. This time, that a coaches ranking of 7 and AP ranking of 7. Again, they were in the top 10 on both national football polls.

The 1971 team had a regular season record of 10 wins and 0 losses. The coach’s poll had those ranked 4 and the AP 6. In 30 regular-season games over the first three years of Bo Schembechler, their record was 27 wins and 3 losses. Aside from the All-American status of the 9 previously mentioned, there were an inordinate amount of players that played professional football, became all pro, and even one Dan Dierdorf was elected in the NFL Hall of Fame. To Make a long story short, coach Bo Schembechler had a lot of talent as his won and loss record reflects from 1969-1971.

By comparison, Coach Jim Harbaugh took over from Coach Brady Hoke at the end of 2014. Brady Hoke’s record in 2014, was 5 wins and 7 losses. This 2014 team on rushing the football had a ranking of 62nd on offense; they ranked 109th on passing the football and overall had a 109th ranking. Brady Hoke’s defense fared much better. His Wolverines ranked 14th against the rush and 19 against the pass. There overall record on defense was 7 and a bright spot in a dismal season.  Coach Hoke’s overall four season record total was 31 wins and 20 losses.  Despite the Wolverines poor showing in 2014, Michigan has the most all-time wins in college football history-915; the most winning seasons-114;  the most undefeated seasons of teams currently competing in Division I-A- 23; and the longest streak of games in Division I-A without being shut out-365.

It’s safe to say that coach Brady Hoke, the not recruit such a prolific group of talented athletes as did coach Bump Elliott. However, coach Harbaugh has something to build on which is the defensive side of the ball. So coach Hoke, then leave the cupboard entirely bare. Moreover, Michigan football has a great tradition, coach Harbaugh more than likely will add in a positive way to the historic tradition. Further, coach Harbaugh is unlikely to have a winning percentage [27 and 3] or 90% in his first three seasons as head coach, as did coach Schembechler.

 This means, that the expectations run high, in Ann Arbor as far as placing winning Michigan football back where it belongs with its bowl invitations and high national rankings. I think we can expect a decent first season under coach Harbaugh and then when his recruiting machine gets in full gear, the athletes will come. I eagerly await the 2015 season, and especially the last game of the season in late November against Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. I don’t know if lightning can strike twice? Nor do I know if Jim Harbaugh coaching can make up for limited talent in 2015. But I do know, that Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football tells the story of the historic event that took place in Ann Arbor on November 22, 1969. And, to meet  Thom Darden, Jim  Brandstatter, Mike Keller , Jim Betts , and Fritz Seyferth, join us at our book signing  from 6-8pm at Sesi Motors in Ann Arbor on September 17.2015. 

Go, Blue !

Friday, May 1, 2015

How Sane Is Our Society?

Some might question the saneness of today’s culture and society and its effects on today’s teenage population. On the other hand, there have been all sorts of claims about our greatness compared to other generations of past. Let’s look at a few variables such as values, parenting, suicide, alcohol, drugs and “Cool” products in deciding this society’s greatness and the mental health status among our teenagers. It can be hypothesized that these variables are indicators of troubled mental health in our society.

A group called the 247 composite evaluates and rates high school football players across our country. They rank them overall, as well as by position, played. These 50 or so full-time recruiting reporters have no difficulty evaluating sophomores, juniors and seniors, and even rate them by giving those stars-five star, four star and/or three star in their rating system. Now of course, how do we know if these ratings are credible [Do these ratings measure what they say they measure] or are they reliable [Is there consistency over time]? How do we know if they are really measuring the elite high school football player in the land as  they say they are; how qualified are  these raters that  pass on these judgments ; and is there universal agreement among the 50 raters? In any event, this is the system that is employed.

An athlete with a Five-star rating would likely get an inordinate amount of interest from college football programs. These coaches and football recruiters sell and/or market their program to the young 16 and 17-year-old kids. Who cares about academic qualifications [Values] if you’re a five-star athlete? Young athletic teenagers then have the problem of selecting what team to play for over the next four years. The goal for most of these five-star players is making it to the big time or the NFL, and likely not about pursuing a degree to get that “special” job. These kids are wanted, desired and heavily recruited. Our society values football and for the college and Pro’s it’s big business. So what could be the problem about fawning over these young kids? For one thing, their character development will catch up   [Me, me, me; others are very unimportant; and I can do what I want, when I want and not have to worry about the consequences] and impact them, if not sooner, but later. Just look at all the recent player suspensions in the NFL
Well, there’s a group of privileged kids from the Palo Alto, California area that are a cause of concern. From May 2009 through January 2010, five Palo Alto teenagers committed suicide. Well, you might say that’s not a big number. The manner in which these adolescents committed suicide, was by stepping in front of railroad trains. And don’t forget, that in this community-many have almost perfect SAT scores, take advanced placement classes and earn super grade-point averages. Even, at the national level, the suicide rate among all teenagers has risen over the last decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate changed from 6.74 to 8.15 per every 100,000 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24.

Among high school seniors, the usage of alcohol and drugs were reported to be: 70.6% alcohol usage, and 34.3% marijuana usage. However, there have been declines in alcohol use, by 9th, 10th,    and 12th-graders. However, the data suggests that marijuana use has remained stable, according to a 2014 survey. Currently, the majority of high school seniors did not think that occasional marijuana smoking is harmful with only 36.1% saying that regular use puts the user at great risk.

It’s safe to say that alcohol use is dropping; marijuana use remains stable, but suicide has increased among our youth. Possibly, and more likely today’s parents and society are contributors, but not the only contributors. Tiger moms have been characterized as being overprotective and overbearing [Helicopter parents-they hover]; micromanaging, directing and pushing their own parental achievement goals while rescuing and not permitting them the ability to fail. Even though many of these teens’ lives are ruled and controlled by adult parents, many of our young continue to act out through oppositional behaviors such as alcohol, marijuana and suicide.

 On one hand, we have a group of kids having difficulty deciding where to play the next level of football [What college football program will further my career best] and on the other hand, we have kids who worry about not necessarily which college to attend, but try to determine the odds of being admitted. Some of these academic minded students experience panic attacks, stomach disorders, stress, and anxiety even though they have outstanding SAT scores, and terrific GPA averages. Is it Stanford or bust [In recent admissions, Stanford admitted 5% of its local residents] or is it the NFL [If a player lasts more than 3 ½ years in the NFL, its unusual] or bust?

Regarding income inequality, we have some conflicting data. There are studies that suggest that after earning $75,000 per year, one’s level of happiness does not increase. However, there’s some apparently non rational findings such as: 1. Even though the wage gains since 2009 have essentially gone to the top 1%-the proportion of Americans who say they are thriving has actually increased 2. In a 2013 poll asking Americans to name the most important problems facing the country, only 5% cited income inequality or concerns about the poor or middle class and 3. The Gallup poll did find that 67% of Americans were dissatisfied with current income distribution.

Can one thrive even though they’re not in the top 1% of income-of course?  How can anyone dramatically change the amount of income earned that would then place them in the top 1% of income distribution-not very likely? It is clear that money alone above $75,000 does not result in happiness as there are many factors that contribute to mental well-being such as happiness, strength of character, good physical and mental health and good social relationships.

There are some that believe that one reason explains why people can deal effectively [The dissonance] with the inequalities of income. A recent study in Pasadena,  California found that when these subjects looked at products and people that were considered” cool” that sparked a pattern of brain activation in the medial prefrontal cortex-a part of the brain that’s involved in daydreaming, planning and ruminating- similar  to when individuals  received praise. The researchers concluded that one possible explanation is the tremendous amount of available consumer choices. This likely mitigates feelings of resentment, envy and outrage. In other words, they would say that because we have so many “cool” choices [consumer products] in all areas of our life that it allow us to distort reality. And as result, this unconscious distortion tricks most Americans into believing that they are reasonably content.

It may not matter if you can receive a paycheck from the NFL; go to Stanford to pursue an MBA and work on Wall Street, because all you need to do is find a way to buy all these “cool” consumer-products-get that latest Apple product, or purchase anything you want from Amazon. Apparently, these Palo Alto teenagers did not buy this explanation of becoming happy.

Source: the New York Times, April 12, 2015- Unequal, Yet Happy and Best, Brightest- and Saddest?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thom Darden Compared to Today's Athletes

In some ways, I pity young athletes like him. Some might question that statement after all,  these young athletes have  been pursued by all these coaches, and told how great they are ;  because they are ranked and  considered a Four or Five Star prospect. I wonder how special these athletes have been treated by various high school coach or coaches in youth football. As a matter fact, how about the parents of these young athletes, how did they rear their obviously talented, athletic sons?

These football mates of today might’ve been told that they could become or achieve anything that they desired. They might’ve been given special or relaxed discipline because they were favorites. And likely such things as school might’ve been made easier for these athletes like the academic side of school. So, growing up with parents, whose focus is on eliminating conflict or potential conflict, these athletic types may have been raised in a protective cocoon with not having to deal with life’s insecurities or failures. Their parents may have been helicopter parents and hovered over these kids and protected them in the process. Maybe they weren’t given many responsibilities like cleaning their room or taking a job. And, If that’s the case, then this bunch is more than likely extremely narcissistic and believe they are the center of the universe.

Further, if they are extremely narcissistic, then they likely believe that they are entitled, privileged and part of the chosen. This would translate into being so self-centered, that it would be difficult for many to become good teammates, as well as caring about others. If a player has difficulty being a good teammate, the world will not be there’s as their large head will not fit in their small football helmet. Not only that, the media has helped to diminish a sense of insecurity-anxiety and instead instilled a false sense of security in these young kids. They will find out about this at this next level; there will be somebody stronger, tougher and faster than them. In any event, I hope that I’m wrong about the character of many of these young men. I hope that this particular athlete enrolls at the University of Michigan, leaves his narcissism at the door, learns from Jim Harbaugh and becomes a team player. If that’s the case, he will become internally proud and develop a good sense of self. Then, we will all admire him.

A good comparison can be made of today’s young athletes contrasting that with Michigan’s Thom Darden. Darden was an All-American at the University of Michigan; was an all Pro with the Cleveland Browns; and holds the Browns record for single season and career interceptions. How did it begin for Thom Darden?

Thomas Vincent Darden first experienced notoriety as a skinny, seven-year-old southpaw in the projects of Sandusky, Ohio. At that young age, Thomas was a left-handed pitcher in the Adam baseball league. The story goes, that this southpaw was the best hitter on the team as well. He was scheduled to pitch an important playoff game when a most unlikely event occurred. A pesky mosquito bit him on his pitching hand. That bike not only hurt, but in the process, his hand swelled up so much that it was impossible for him to grip and throw the ball with any accuracy or velocity.

To make a long story short, Thomas told the coach, he could pitch with his right hand. The coach allowed him to pitch the important game and his team won. News spread fast, and he was a celebrity, even being interviewed by a reporter from the Elyria Chronicle, some 30 miles away from Sandusky. All right, did Darden get a big head, so that his baseball hat would not fit on his head?  Are you kidding, Thomas’s father, would not allow that in any way. The senior Mr. Darden made sure that Thom didn’t get a big head, and he learned about hard work and not taking shortcuts. His father taught him about pitching and about growing up, based on what you accomplish. His parents were not permissive, and you might say instilled” Tough Love.”

When Thomas enrolled at the University Michigan, he weighed approximately173 pounds and had a slight amount of insecurity about his ability to play at the Big House. In the spring of 1969, with coach Schembechler, Thom, excelled and at one, early in the year practice, tackled the running back behind the line of scrimmage. From that point on, young Darden knew he could play on the stage. And as a sophomore, coach Bo Schembechler made him his first “Wolfman” the hybrid position of linebacker [Being able to tackle like a linebacker] and defensive back [Being able to cover and intercept passes like a cornerback or safety].

This outstanding athlete did not allow his narcissism to get in the way of his character. That didn’t mean that it was easy or that anyone removed obstacles or sugarcoated things for him. He dealt with those issues as a superstar, All-American at the University of Michigan, and as an All-Pro athlete with the Cleveland Browns. He learned and dealt about adjusting to life and dealing with his issues successfully after the game-or should I say after the business of professional football ended.

Read more about him in “Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” or better yet meet him in person at our book signing at Sesi Motors in Ann Arbor from 6-8 pm on September 17, 2015.

Go Blue Go!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Is Not Perfect

The “game” of football is alive and well. Ohio State reportedly had some 99,000 of its fans attend its spring game in Columbus, surpassing the 80,000 or so who watched Nick Sabin’s Alabama Tides spring game. By comparison, Michigan had maybe 50 to 60,000 fans watching Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines in their spring game, in Ann Arbor. As far as professional football, the upcoming NFL draft has the various sports stations and blogs buzzing about the pros and cons of the various college players expected to make a splash at this next level. Not only that, but Tim Tebow’s recent signing by the Philadelphia Eagles created much excitement for all the many Eagles fans.

There are also articles related to Jim Harbaugh’s coaching of the San Francisco 49ers. And, Harbaugh’s going to be on HBO to talk about his leaving the San Francisco 49ers in December, 2014. This past week, San Francisco defensive lineman Alex Boone talked about Harbaugh wearing out his welcome with the 49ers. While Chris Culliver who spent four seasons with the Niners before signing with the Redskins came to his rescue by saying he was a good coach and that players shouldn’t criticize him after that fact. He went on to say that you may not like Harbaugh, but you have to respect him for what he accomplished while with the Niners.

There are some who think that Jim Harbaugh is more suited to coach the college game compared to the Pro game. Well it’s true that Harbaugh had great success at the University of San Diego and Stanford and is also true that he had great success with the 49ers. His college tenure was longer with his two college teams than, with his one pro team. Also, some are concerned that his personality may get in the way of his coaching.

It is clear that in today’s football world, competition runs high. Regardless of the level, a coach’s longevity is related to its won and loss record period. Coaches character, getting along with management and media, and filling up the Stadium might not get him fired but will not get him a long-term contract extension.

Going back to 1968, the University of Michigan’s Bump Elliott was described as being dapper, well dressed, extremely articulate, pleasantly personable and extremely knowledgeable about the sport of football. Elliott was a handsome man that lettered [12] in football, basketball and baseball. He propelled the Wolverines to a 49-0 Rose Bowl victory in 1948; became Michigan’s head coach in 1959, and coached the Wolverines to a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon State University in 1965. Not only that his 1968 team had an eight win and two loss record. However, the second loss was to Ohio State by the score of 50-14. Simply put, that loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back and resulted in the Elliott firing. Some might question, what does this have to do with Jim Harbaugh?

Coach Elliott’s replacement was Bo Schembechler. Schembechler’s character was described as narcissistic, authoritarian, controlling, competitive, intense, angry, poor impulse control, excessive aggression on the practice field and on the playing field. Coach Schembechler also had the pleasure of inculcating and beating down, a young quarterback with the name of Jim Harbaugh in the 1980s. Actually, Harbaugh as a preteen [Jim’s father Jack was hired by Bo and coached the defensive backfield] witnessed Bo Schembechler verbally and physically getting on his Wolverine squad, while running after errant footballs. Bo Schembechler did not fear anyone at the University of Michigan, as evidenced by his interactions with the presidents of the University. Anyone becoming president at the University quickly realized how powerful the head coach was. However, the current head coach at the University Michigan is under the leadership of the president. With that being the case, coach Harbaugh is not have the same latitude and power as coach Schembechler.

Jim Harbaugh’s character can easily be described as narcissistic, authoritarian, controlling, competitive and intense In no uncertain terms on the field. He rules, he knows the game, and he knows what he wants. Will he rub the wrong people in unflattering ways- more than likely? Will he be criticized-more than likely? Will his tenure be as long as Bo Schembechler’s- possibly not? And will he have a statue positioned in front of a hall named after him- possibly not?

Jim Harbaugh has all the character qualities that make him a winning football coach at the top level. He is smart, football knowledgeable and demands excellence. However, there is no certainty or guarantee, even if he does have character traits like Bo Schembechler that Jim Harbaugh can be as successful as Bo. The only guarantees in life is that we are born and we will die.

 Any recruit joining Coach Jim Harbaugh can expect not to be pampered, receive unconditional love and to be held accountable to Jim’s standards. No crybabies or whiners apply. One better have a thick skin and hold their narcissism in check because if they’re looking just to be praised and admired, they better play the game like the superstars [Reggie McKenzie, Thom Darden, Tom Curtis, Dan Dierdorf, etc.] of years past.

Coach Urban Meyer has a national championship team looking to repeat and so he has a head start. I believe you can catch him Jim and hopefully this year. Remember, it is not guaranteed.

Go Blue Go!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tom Curtis and Jim Mandich were Bo's Warriors

Then, in Tom’s sophomore year he was switched to the defensive backfield while Jim continued to play with the offense. As it turned out, one could argue that Tom’s position change worked out splendidly for him. In fact, Tom became the all-time interception leader for the Maize and Blue [He has more interceptions, 25 than Heisman winner Charles Woodson 18]. The All-American and College Football Hall of Fame Tom was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 14th round [Tom indicated that because he partied while at the College All-Star Hula Bowl game in Hawaii, he didn’t run the 40 yard dash, for the work out with the pros, which resulted in his being a late round draft pick].

Things went well for Jim, as well. Jim became a captain on offense for the Wolverines [Reggie McKenzie still remembers team Captain Jim standing in the tunnel ,prior to Michigan’s historic battle with Ohio State in 1969 , facing his teammates with both fists shaking,  raised , spittle drooling from his mouth speaking- shouting unintelligible words with passion]. That memory is etched in stone in Reggie McKenzie’s cerebral cortex. The All-American   College Football Hall of Fame Jim was the most valuable player on the 1969 Michigan team and was a second round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins.

Some would say that Tom and Jim were inseparable at the University Michigan, in that they were teammates, roommates, and played on the same intramural basketball team. Incidentally, their intramural squad won the championship on an independent team [Their team beat teams that had a few of the Michigan varsity basketball players on them]. Their friendship became solidified during their four year stay in Ann Arbor.

Baltimore head coach Don Shula’s team, in fact, won Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Tom’s first year as a player. Unfortunately, Tom was injured during the season and did not play in that classic Super Bowl. Although he received a Super Bowl ring, he was upset by not being able to play in the game. He was released by the Colts and then picked up by the Miami Dolphins who were now coached by his former head coach Don Shula. Then, the Miami Dolphins in the 1973 Super Bowl V11 defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7. Again, Tom was injured and again, he received a second Super Bowl ring although he was disappointed by not playing.

Jim and Tom again became competitors and rivals as they played in an NFL exhibition game with Tom’s Colts against Jim’s Dolphins. In this game, Jim was on the kickoff team, and Tom was on the kick receiving team. He told me that Mad Dog Jim was running down the field towards him, yelling and screaming wanting to knock him not only out of the field of play, but out of the Stadium. Smart Tom did a matador “Ole” and thus averted a massive collision with his buddy. Then, in the AFC 1971 championship game between the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins, the Miami team prevailed 21 – 0. With that win, Miami headed to the Super Bowl, held in New Orleans that year. Tom hung out with his good friend Jim, in the Big Easy. And when the AFC champions Miami Dolphins traveled on the bus to meet the Cowboys, Jim invited Tom to accompany him on the team bus. That would not happen today. Both friends roomed in Miami and remained friends during their Florida years.

 Unfortunately, Jim Mandich   passed away from cancer on April 11, 2011 in Miami Lakes, Florida at the age of 62. Of course, Tom Curtis was a speaker. Other teammates like Nick Buoniconti, Bob Griese and Coach Don Shula attended the service. At that particular service Jim was added to the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll. These exceptional athletes- friends, excelled both on the field and off; and it goes to show you that heated rivals can take negative passion and turn it into a positive passion. Just think how fortunate they were.

Go Blue Go!

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Develop Happiness

Research focusing on long-term happiness has become popular; especially the work of Dr. Martin Seligman. To Illustrate, some of the ideas from his “happiness” research are as follows: 1. Most people can be happy, but it takes work to focus on the positive emotions and behavior that make a good life. 2. Most people are resilient and can survive the bad things that happen to them. 3. Money plateaus as a factor in happiness and making money makes an ever diminishing contribution to subjective well-being, but money can buy happiness if it was spent on other people. 4. Happiness is a cause of good things in life. People, people who are satisfied with life eventually have even more reason to be satisfied, because happiness leads to desirable outcomes at school, work, or fulfilling social relationships, and both good health and long life. 5. Happiness is not the result of luck.

And, viewing happiness from another point of view, Dr. Dan Baker has written about a list of things that happy people don’t do. For example, some of his “don’t do’s” include the following: 1. Happy people don’t blame other people for their problems [Was it Brady Hooke’s fault for Michigan’s poor 2014 season?] 2. Happy people don’t overreact to the present moment. [Was it awful that Shane Morris was put back into the Minnesota game after his concussion?]. 3. Happy people don’t focus on a single passion or relationship. [This suggests that it is better to have more than the University of Michigan football in your life]. 4. Happy people don’t dwell on past failures. [In the last 10 years, Michigan hasn’t played well against Ohio State-that’s not your problem] and 5. Happy people don’t spend more time than necessary around unhappy people [This does not mean you should spend more time with Ohio State Buckeyes alumni-or maybe you should but only if they are they are happy individuals

From these ideas, it obviously takes more to create a state of a happiness than being a recipient to the winning of a football game or football games. In other words, the idea of developing happiness has more to do with one’s overt behavior, participating, creating and in being productive and active as opposed to being a mere passive receptor  at a sporting event. It means taking control over things that one can control like oneself. Certainly, wishing, or wanting the Wolverines to score that touchdown are simply thoughts; but we have absolutely no control over the outcome, even if we yell, scream, or stamp our feet.

In fact, some research has shown that while watching “the game” we may be prone to eat and drink more unhealthy foods and even get into automobile accidents when our team loses. But there’s no research that I’ve come upon that suggests that when our team wins that in turn results and changes the overall satisfaction with our life. Of course, the immediate joy of an upset victory over the rival is passively experienced, but it doesn’t seem to last although the pleasant memory might. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t support the Wolverines or any other sporting team.
What it does mean, is that it is significant to find and perform activities in your life that give special meaning, and that includes in creating good social relationships. To watch a game with friends is fun and joyful since you can banter back and forth about the good plays and the bad plays that happen during the game. And, it is important to remember, that happiness is not the result of luck, as it certainly could be in the outcome of the game; but instead in pursuing positive thinking and behaviors about your life experiences during your lifetime.

So, Jim Harbaugh, bring happiness to your life and to your young warriors. Because it is through your involvement, with teaching, learning, practicing and playing those games on Saturday that you can set the foundation or framework for present and future happiness in those that you encounter. Winning and more importantly, instilling a sense of teamwork, kinship and the importance of being part of a team are important for developing a foundation for an emotional state of happiness.

Go Blue Go!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bo's Warriors and Jim Betts

In Cleveland, Ohio, in the year 1966, Jim Betts was the quarterback at Benedictine High School. This handsome, precocious young man played safety on defense, and also lettered in basketball and baseball. At times, he experienced discrimination both from his neighborhood and from the whites at his parochial high school. To illustrate, in one football game, he was called “Uncle Tom” by the opposing middle guard during their competitive and ferociously fought football game. In this one particular game against East Technical High School, Jim dropped back five steps, and then released the ball on a screen pass. Then, he dropped back three more steps in order to get out of the way of the play. It didn’t matter because this middle guard brutally knocked the hell out of him. Jim got up, looked him straight in the eye and yelled, not one to mince words, “You son of a bitch.” The nearby referee immediately threw a penalty flag for the unsportsmanlike hit. In the huddle, Jim called for the same screen pass play and told the center too lightly brush that middle guard with his shoulder and then let him come through cleanly.

Again, Jim took the ball from center and dropped back five steps. He got in a good throwing position and then threw the ball with as much velocity as he could muster, directly at the hard charging middle guard. The ball was released with such great force that it somehow got lodged in that defenders face mask. That middle guard was knocked off his feet on to his ass   and in pain. Quarterback Jim quickly went over and asked “How is that for Uncle Tom?”  Jim quickly looked in the direction of the referee, who smiled, as no penalty was called. Jim Betts knows how to get even.

Jim was recruited by Bump Elliott, Jim Mandich and Don James. During that recruitment, Coach Elliott spent more than three hours talking with Jim’s mother while Jim spent that time, talking with tight end Mandich and position coach Don James. Jim’s reasons for attending Michigan was that he liked their winged helmets, strong academics, relative short proximity from Cleveland and these things  distinguished them from all the other college teams. So, he accepted the scholarship and enrolled at the University Michigan.

When Coach Schembechler became head coach, Jim knew about the coach’s reputation. He also remembered during that first team meeting, when Schembechler stated “I’m going to treat you all the same; I’m going to treat you like dogs.” And, during the fall practice, Schembechler told him “You are the third best quarterback in the Big Ten behind Moorehead and Rex Kern.” Rex Kern was Ohio State’s quarterback. Betts just smiled.

At the end of that 1969 season, Jim talked with position coach Dick Hunter about switching positions [from quarterback to the defensive backfield] for the following season. Coach Hunter replied that the switch would be fine with him. Jim, immediately looked for Coach Schembechler to tell him of his plans. Jim, in no uncertain terms, directly told Bo “I want to play safety. I am not going to sit on the bench behind Moorhead, because he’s your quarterback.” Bo replied to Jim “You son of a bitch, I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to play both positions. You are going to play first string on defense, and second string quarterback.” That was typical Coach Schembechler. He had to get in the last word regardless of whether he was right or wrong.

On an earlier occasion, Coach Schembechler told his team “Men if you expect to play like a team, you have to look like a team. I want everyone to look the same. I do not want to see any mustaches, long sideburns, Afro’s or facial hair.” The athletic Jim visited, Bo in his office, the next day, and before practice and said, “I cannot shave my mustache as a black man. I can’t shave because it’s a black man’s heritage to have a mustache. Being black, this is part of me.” Bo responded, “Is this a joke?” Jim told him “I’ll go through walls for you, but you can’t ask us to deny who we are as people.” The coach then threw Jim out of his office, saying, “This is a bunch of happy horse shit.”

The story didn’t end, because every five years or so, Bo Schembechler asked Jim about his facial hair, heritage thing. He wanted to know whether or not Jim had been telling him the truth. Finally, after about 30 years or so, Jim finally came clean and admitted he was bull shitting the coach. As if a dam had burst, Bo said “I knew it” and mumbled a number of the unintelligible words. The coach finally knew he’d been had.

Jim knew and believed that he had a good relationship with Coach Schembechler and that Coach Schembechler liked him as well. Over the years, they had many conversations that covered a wide array of topics including religion and alcoholism. Bo’s second wife was an alcoholic and Jim’s father was an alcoholic. Jim knew that Bo not only related to him he also understood, the difficulties in living in an alcoholic environment. Their relationship was not just between student and teacher and limited to athletics. It was between two men who could share innermost and vulnerable feelings and knew there was an unshakable bond based on mutual trust and admiration. It’s safe to say, that both men learned from each and both evolved in the process. They are good examples of Michigan men.

Go Blue Go!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thom Darden, One of Bo's Warriors

Back in 1968 young Thom Darden from Sandusky, Ohio, was considered to be a top-notch athlete in football, basketball and baseball. Some thought that perhaps basketball was his best sport such as John Havlicek of the world champion Boston Celtics. In high school, Thom simply excelled at sport as he was quite the athlete. His exploits were not unknown as he was recruited by Woody Hayes to play football for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Thom and his parents visited Woody in Columbus, and in turn Woody came to the Sandusky home of the Darden’s.

Mr. Darden, of strong religious faith, turned against the legend, Woody Hayes In part because of Hayes’ salty language in describing historic military battles. And Thom, distrusted Hayes after he viewed his position- player ranking on Coach Hayes big chalk board. Thom was also recruited by Bo Schembechler then coach for Miami of Ohio. When Bo Schembechler put Thom through a series of football drills that did it for Schembechler also. He wanted no part of that man as well.

Along came the dapper Bump Elliott and staff [Don James] from the University Michigan. It didn’t take long for the Darden family to connect with the maize and blue. In fact, Mrs. Darden was really impressed and didn’t hesitate to tell her athletic son. So off to Ann Arbor in 1968, to play for Coach Elliott. Must add that Thom initially had some doubts about his ability to play at that level. You can imagine the impact on Darden, when he learned that his coach Elliott had been fired and replaced by that Bo Schembechler that same year.

New head coach Schembechler of course remembered recruiting Darden. And when Darden initially visited, Bo in his new Michigan office, he remembered, Bo’s first words “close the door; you thought you got rid of me” to his new athlete.

On another occasion going into Thom’s senior year, Coach Schembechler talked to his outstanding defensive back about his opportunity for All American candidacy for the 1971 football season. Thom Darden allowed his play to speak for himself as in the UCLA game, Thom intercepted the UCLA quarterbacks pitch out and ran some 90 yards for a Michigan touchdown. Darden did become a Michigan All-American, that football season.

While being a first round draft choice by the Cleveland Browns, and becoming all pro, the NFL Darden came back to Bo Schembechler, and helped him install the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for the Wolverines. Darden also had conversations with coach Schembechler about Schembechler’s interest in becoming head coach for the Cleveland Browns. Darden discouraged his former coach from making that coaching change. Notice how the role  changed between teacher and student. The student was now the teacher.

And on a later occasion he met with Bo Schembechler, in Ann Arbor. Thom Darden didn’t know, prior that Bo had just lost his son in an automobile accident. And when they talked about Bo’s loss, the two men became closer and shared their tears together. It’s clear that Thom Darden’s relationship with Bo Schembechler evolved through the years. Starting out it was “I want nothing to do with this man” to sharing true heartfelt emotion of empathy and love. That emotion was exhibited by Thom Darden’s exuberance, support and energy for Bo Schembechler and the University Michigan football through the years, and even today.

It’s crystal clear that legend Bo  Schembechler  had a tremendous emotional impact on  his players and his players  on him as well. One might conclude that Schembechler was blessed by being involved with so many individuals of solid character. The human connection or human bond, that were formed over the many decades remain as strong as the Gordian knot.

Go Blue Go

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bo's Warriors and Mike Keller

Back in 1969, which seems like the old days, Coach Bo Schembechler inherited a terrific group of young men recruited by former coach Bump Elliott and his staff. At this point, it’s too early to tell if coach Jim Harbaugh 46 years later, will have similar advantages as his former coach. Not only did Bo have at his disposal, a group of outstanding athletes-football players, he had a group of studs with great character, excellent values and good study habits. Athletes such as Jim Brandstatter, Jim Betts, Frank Gusich and Mike Keller for example, all attended parochial school.

Then as well as now, attending parochial school was associated with discipline, order, rule, spirituality and of course learning one’s A’s, B’s, and C’s so to speak, or educational excellence. Make no mistake about it, students, as well as student athletes were expected to learn and taught how to learn. These individuals quickly realized the importance of their task and what was expected of them, not only by the nuns or teachers, but by their parents, as well. Simply put, it was a team approach-the school and the family working together to instill human values such as respect, honor, duty, accomplishment, giving and appreciating.

One example comes to mind, taken from Mike Keller’s educational experience in Grand Rapids, Michigan .Attending St. Stephen elementary school, Mike’s second grade teacher was Sister Rosalie who stood approximately 4’10” or 4’11”. The precocious Mike Keller was about 5’6”. It just so happened that Mike had seen the movie Juvenile Delinquents starring Jerry Lewis. In this particular film, there were a number of juvenile punks that were being questioned by the police. These actors acting like real punk were chewing gum, shuffling their feet, while shoving their hands deep into their pockets looking totally disinterested. In class, the next day or so, Mike did something wrong and Sister Rosalie approached him and asked Mike to stand by his seat. As Sister approached, she started to discipline Mike verbally. Impressionable Mike then became the imitator and did his best movie presentation of one of the young punks in the film. According to Mike, all of a sudden, and out of nowhere, little Sister Rosalie smacked him with her famous roundhouse right hand across his punk face. Mike was stunned, stood up quickly at attention. He added “I never messed with her again.” So, what was the lesson that Mike learned very early in life? Don’t mess with the nuns! Mike didn’t say whether or not she was on her tip toes, when she hit him.

Do you think that Mike went home and complained to his parents about corporal punishment, physical abuse, or a poor me attitude? If Mike had gone home and whined to his parents, especially his mother, about that episode, he would have received double the punishment. Of course, there’s more to the story about Mike Keller and his character development. But it is clear, that with a firm base and foundation, Mike had no difficulty in becoming one of Bo’s warriors on the field. He knew about, and learned more about order, affiliation, and abasement, both on the practice field and on those special Saturdays from coach Schembechler. He carried that further, when drafted in the third round by the world champion Dallas Cowboys, under the tutelage of Coach Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt, while learning the famous Flex Defense.

For those of you residing in Florida, you can join Mike on April 9, at the Venice Beach Yacht Club, 1330 Tarpon Center Drive.; Venice, Florida 34285 at 6:30 PM for dinner and presentation. Mike will also be available for a book signing of Bo’s Warriors hosted by The University of Michigan Alumni Club of Sarasota/Manatee. Non U of M alumni welcome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mental Toughness -. Part 10

 A third  component of Mental Toughness [3] pertain to Success Experiences as they relate to Achievement Goals. Success experiences assist in defining our achievement goals in that they affect our level of aspiration. This means that it is extremely  important for the individual to have realistic achievement goals. So, I did not start out having an achievement goal of running 100 trail miles in one day. In fact, I hadn’t thought of that particular goal until after four years or so of running in ride and tie events.

A ride and tie event was a combination of a trail and equestrian competition and comprised of two runners and a horse or the team. This particular competition took place on trails in the mountains, generally around 25 or so miles in length. The race would start with one rider, obviously on the horse along with a runner. The horse and rider, at the start of the race, would easily get out in front of his partner; and at a predetermined distance, dismount and tie the reins or lead rope to a tree limb. Then that rider immediately became the runner and headed down the trail. The initial runner would eventually reach the tied animal and untie it, mount it, and be off going in the direction of that runner ahead. Upon catching up to the runner, the rider might switch with his partner, or ride on ahead and then tie the horse. This hopscotch process, so to speak, would continue until all three [horse, rider and human partner] cross the finish line at the same time [there could be only one rider at a time on the horse].

My serious running took place in those events so I got an idea about the toughness of serious trail running. In order to compete in ride and tie, I began trail conditioning runs. I even entered an official half marathon [13.1 miles] race and worked my way up to running a full practice marathon distance [26.2 miles]. Then, I entered an official 50 K [31 miles] before running an official marathon.

So I had 4 years of running on the trail that included running a distance of 31 miles, which was my longest run in distance and time. Then, I heard about an opportunity to run a one day 100 mile event called the Western States 100. In order to compete in that event, I had to run a 50 mile trail qualifying event in 10 hours [I was in the 60 year age group]. Prior to running that particular qualifier, I was successful at running in ride and tie and trail running events. In my mind at the time, I rationalized that I had already run 31 miles, and only had to run 19 miles more to attain 50 miles. As it turned out, I was successful and qualified for the Western States 100 mile endurance.

Having all those success experiences in dealing with miles, trail conditions, eating and hydrating properly, with the right gear allowed me to enter the race [a draw of the lottery picked my number]. Statistically, about 50% of the runners complete that particular run. So my success rate of completion was about 50%. The stars were aligned and I was one of the fortunate 50% completers. Success, for me, led to more success with realistic trail running achievement goals. It’s clear that I didn’t start out thinking I was able to run 100 miles before my first ride and tie competition.

More to follow

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Is Not Yet God

Jim Harbaugh’s been involved and around sports, throughout his entire lifetime. Jim’s father Jack was a football coach at various colleges and universities. In fact, when Jim was about 10 years of age, father Jack was hired by Bo Schembechler to be his position coach for the University of Michigan’s secondary.  It was not an uncommon sight to observe young Jim being around [retrieving footballs, etc.] college football players, college coaches and other personnel associated with big-time college football at the Big House. It was an unique and wonderful experience for Jim, to say the least, and it foreshadowed the stage for things to come in Jim’s bright football future.

Being and associating with young athletic and older role models became routine or familiar, but not ordinary for Jim. No doubt, precocious Jim had an opportunity and practice to become at ease and develop interpersonal social skills with these giants playing a game that they loved. Jim observed their mental and physical toughness, their skill, their dedication and their focus regarding practicing with passion the love of the game. He also observed that the adult coaches could be warm, caring, but also extremely verbally and physically tough on the players when necessary. Perhaps, he was frightened at first by the rough language exhibited by these coaches. Perhaps, perhaps not, he became more comfortable, over time. It’s safe to say that he became familiar, and learned how to treat and interact with young athletic men in the process. Jim Harbaugh’s personality was shaped, molded and tweaked by his athletic father, both at home, and certainly by his experience with other coaches in the football milieu.

As an adolescent, Jim was a star athlete at the two high schools [in Michigan and California] that he attended. Attending the University Michigan, the setting that had tremendous influence on his personality, he received multiple honors. Further, Jim was exposed to the limelight of big-time football, which affected his character development along with his narcissism. He was told by many in various ways and received awards that indicated and interpreted that he was both extremely special and unique. Further, he played in the NFL, which further reinforced that he was different from the rest of the crowd. Being the quarterback was the epitome and he reached the top of the pyramid as far as star status was concerned. Gathering and garnishing even more celebrity attention, Jim became an extremely successful football coach at Division Level 1 in college. And then a brighter star shone when he became the head football coach for the San Francisco 49ers, while still in his 40s. Nothing in the Milky Way galaxy could dim his brightness.

Currently, he has been appointed to one of the most prestigious positions [Winningest football team] in college football-at the University of Michigan also known for its academic excellence. Jim Harbaugh is basking in the limelight. Even before he has been credited with winning one football game, he has garnished the love and attention of the 500,000 or so Michigan alumni [in our star struck culture] as well as the excitement for those others who follow Michigan football. In an extremely short time, he has shined at press conferences, has been a buzz on various social media outlets, and even coached first-base [in desert like conditions] for the Oakland A’s at their spring training facility in Arizona.

 We are observing an unheralded preoccupation with a college football coach on our planet. This ongoing excitement reinforces Jim Harbaugh’s narcissism and self-importance. It’s of course important for a football coach at any level to have a proper amount or necessary level of narcissism in their character. Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh will not allow himself to be blinded by the adoring shades of light. Let’s hope that “all” can remain rational in viewing the drama that lies ahead of us, and evaluate Jim Harbaugh the man. He has not yet attained legend, nor savior status.

Go, Blue!