By: Mike Feld
Brady Hoke has done a phenomenal job during his first two seasons, and in year three the Wolverines have put together two impressive (and dominant) wins. Saturday’s win over Notre Dame seemed to cement the state of the Wolverines and alluded to what is to come in the not so distant future.
The success is there. The culture is there. The support is there. The tradition is there.
Everything is assembled the way it’s supposed to be; the way U-M fans expect it to be. One thing, however, seems to be a bit illogical
It’s time for the legacy jerseys to go.
No, it’s not because a quarterback is now wearing an awkward No. 98 – although admittedly, it’s an eyesore. The problem with the legacy jersey program is that it’s there to serve an objective – and it may be doing the exact opposite.
The jerseys are doing a great service by both honoring some of the best Michigan players in program history while reminding younger generations exactly who these greats were.
It’s also helping with a number issue that has become a strain in recent years. With over 100 players annually on Michigan’s rosters, it’s impossible to give a unique number to each athlete. On Team 134, there are 21 duplicate numbers – including three players (punter Will Hagerup, long snapper Scott Sypniewski and defensive lineman Chris Wormley) wearing No. 43.
With a dilemma on its hands, there’s no better solution – on paper, at least – than to give out some of the “retired” numbers to the team’s standout players.
Here’s the problem. The reason why the legacy jersey program exists in the first place are because past players left a legacy.
Michigan football greats like Gerald Ford, Ron Kramer and Desmond Howard made names for themselves by exemplifying exactly what the Michigan standard is both on and off the field.
Several current players on the Michigan roster have an opportunity to do just that – by creating their own legacies.
The legacy jersey program doesn’t exactly leave room for that. Quarterback Devin Gardner, for example, has a chance of leaving Michigan as one of the most prominent players in program history. If that should happen, his number should live in its own lore with his name – not Tom Harmon’s.
While I’m no longer a card carrying member of the Michigan fan club, I grew up in the Maize and Blue allegiance. Several numbers will always carry one single name in my mind – No. 2 (Charles Woodson), No. 10 (Tom Brady), No. 14 (Brian Griese), No. 6 (Tyrone Wheatley) and No. 16 (Denard Robinson) just to name a few.
Guys like Gardner – special players – should have the opportunity to build their own legacies. And while these players are obviously accepting of the offer, they shouldn’t even have to contemplate it.
For those Michigan loyalists hoping for a return to national relevance, the stars seem to be aligned.
Now, it’s just a numbers game.