By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Teammates on Michigan’s offensive line more than 40 years ago, Jim Brandstatter and Dan Dierdorf will be back together on the radio broadcast of Michigan’s football games in 2014.
Brandstatter has been the color commentator for Michigan for over three decades, but he will switch to the play-by-play role as Dierdorf, who has spent the last 30-plus years calling NFL games, joins him in the booth.
“I’m going to have to get over hyperventilating at the very beginning because that’s probably what’ll happen when I’m in the booth for the first time,” Dierdorf said Thursday in an interview with WWJ News Radio. “I’m just so excited.
“For the past 40 years, I’ve been jealous of Jim and his affiliation and association with the University of Michigan,” Dierdorf added. “I had to go onto the NFL, I’ve lived in St. Louis, Missouri, I played here, I’ve never had much time go by where at times I didn’t think, ‘You know, Jim Brandstatter is the luckiest guy I know.’ Now I’m going to just try to get a little of that luck on my side by sitting next to him in the broadcast booth.”
In switching to the play-by-play role, Brandstatter will take on a position previously filled by just two men – Frank Beckmann and Bob Ufer.
“They are huge shoes to fill,” Brandstatter said. “Dan and I have talked about this, and both of us said, ‘After two guys doing the games for over 60 years, to walk in there and do that is really -‘ I’m not going to try to be either one of them. Those two guys were separate, they were complete, they were unique, and I’m just going to try to be me and fill in and be the caretaker of that position.”
For Dierdorf, the switch from calling professional games to calling college games will necessitate a bit of a change in approach.
“I’m just going to have to feel my way a little bit because for 30 years I’ve been calling professional football, and a guy who makes six or seven million dollars a year is held to a different standard than a sophomore in college who’s 19 or 20 years old, so I’m going to have to make an adjustment in the way I talk about the way someone played and keep in mind that these are just young men, that these are college athletes, and try to have that never leave my mind,” Dierdorf said. “I’m going to have to make that adjustment from day one.”
As veterans of the glory days of Michigan football under Schembechler, Brandstatter and Dierdorf want to see the program restored to the level to which fans are accustomed.
“Jim and I, we were there when it started, and there’s a standard that’s expected to be met,” Dierdorf said. “I don’t think anyone would argue that the last couple years, that standard, it hasn’t been met, and so I know Brady is excited about this team. I’ve got a lot to learn about this team, but I’ve really got faith in Brady Hoke.
“He’s a very good football coach,” Dierdorf added. “The recruiting classes are supposed to be good. Now it’s time to find out.”
Brandstatter agreed, calling Hoke “the guy that should be the coach at Michigan and will be the coach at Michigan for years to come.”
While neither Brandstatter nor Dierdorf made a prediction for how the Wolverines will finish the 2014 season, Brandstatter anticipates the main issue for Michigan will be the offensive line, which was also a problem in 2013.
“Both of us are offensive linemen, and we both believe that the game starts and ends up front, and clearly Michigan had difficulties last year on the offensive line, and after watching them this spring, I think defensively they’re better, they’re going to be deeper up front, they’ll be young, but offensively they struggled a little bit, and that to me is where they’re going to have to improve.”