Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Night Before The Game

On 16 November, Bill and I decided to pay our respects to the graves of legendary Michigan coaches Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler and the Voice of Michigan, Bob Ufer. Bo died a year ago and we wanted to pay our respects to the man we met for the first time almost 20 years ago - when Bill and I met and became friends. We also decided we would attend the first Pep Rally scheduled to fire up the fans and players to take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Expected to speak at the rally were Jim Brandstatter (UM Broadcaster and former player), Jamie Morris and some of the current players including QB Chad Henne and captains Michael Hart and Jake Long. As it turns out, we were also entertained by John Bacon who co-authored "Bo's Lasting Lessons" with Bo, Marcus Ray - UM 1997 National Championship team member who hails from Columbus, OH and Hart - the other team members didn't make it. It was a very electric atmosphere - they were expecting a couple hundred people and the numbers were closer to around 800-1,500 people. Not bad for a Friday in A2!
Bring on the Buckeyes!
The grave of the "Voice of the Wolverines" Bob Ufer
The grave of legendary coach, Fielding Yost
The grave of Bo Schembechler

Mementos left at Bo's grave
Bo's grave
The UM beat OSU pep rally

Superfan makes an appearance

Author John Bacon (who co-authored Bo's Lasting Lessons) addresses the crowd
Football captain Mike Hart addresses the fans

The Maize Rage leader
Jamie Morris
Columbus, OH native and 1997 National Champion team member, Marcus Ray

Jim Brandstatter

The crowd at the Pep Rally

Area support!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Game

Well ladies and gentlemen, we are down to the final game of the season. Ohio State vs. Michigan. This game is for the Big 10 Title and a possible trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. It has been a long 12 weeks, but a very fast season. Reggie and Bill managed to attend every home game, Bonne attended all but the Penn State game (she was in Africa!) and two road trips were made - Bill and Reggie with some friends to Northwestern and the three of us to Champaign for the night game at Illinois. It all comes down to this. The last game of the year and 9 months of weekends we don't already have plans for!
This game would be especially important because "Us 4" has been "Us 4, minus 1" for the last almost 2 seasons. Chris has been serving in the military and has been deployed to Iraq since after the first game of last season. We have missed him terribly, thought about and prayed for him daily, checked in on Laura for him, and when given the opportunity, harassed his brothers - just like he would if he were here. (Did you really think I was the police? ROTFLMAO!) The word had come through that he would be back in the USA in time for The Game. Now we had to hope that he would be able to make it back to Michigan to attend our tailgate. What Chris didn't know, was that he had tickets for the game - given to him by his Dad. We kept telling everyone that this tailgate would be off the hook if Chris made it home. That it was......that it was! Needless to say, some of us had a little too much fun (me) and didn't get to see much of the game - or really any of it for that matter. It's not the first time it has happened to someone at one of our tailgates, it may not be the last...
So, as what started out to be a very promising season now comes to an end, we figured that this is Lloyd's last game. Before the season started we were contenders for the National Title - until the debacle against Appalachian State and the disaster against Oregon. That pretty much ended the title hopes - but we could still vie for the Big 10 Title. Traditionally, the Big 10 title comes down to OSU and Michigan. This year would be no different. We would come up on the losing end of this perennial battle, 14-3. Our team was playing without a healthy Chad Henne or Mike Hart. It was a sad way to end the season, but we're so happy and fortunate to have Chris home, safe and sound. At the end of the day, its about family and friends. We should all be so blessed as we all are.
May you all have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday season and a fantastic 2008. Bill, Reggie and I will be spending New Year's Day in Orlando watching Lloyd Carr coach his last game - we are very excited to go! No tailgating for me though!
A little brotherly teamwork to get the day started off on the right foot.

Chris and Laura
The brothers: Pat, Chris and Tim
Our little welcome home sign
The Cake
What would the tailgate be without Reggie manning the grill?

In one of the most well-kept secrets that any of us have ever been asked to keep, we had an extra special surprise for Chris. His good friend Mark and girlfriend Amber knew Chris was coming back to the USA from Iraq just in time to join us for The Game. Knowing it would be a great surprise to Chris to have Mark and Amber here, they managed to get flights in from Dallas on Friday night after they finished work, stayed with a friend so as not to give anything away, and made an appearance at the tailgate in the early morning. Chris had absolutely NO idea they were going to be here! Not too many people were in on the secret, the fewer people in the know, the less of an opportunity to let the cat out of the bag. It was so awesome to see Chris so surprised - he was so happy to see them! (Maybe the next time you're up here, the weather could be a little nicer?)
Here they come!
We got you!
Now we're all here! =)

Chris and Mark

Finally - we've been waiting on you for another jagerbomb!

Our Sparty/Michigan fan
Happy Birthday Matt!

The bar at the tailgate next door!
Hi you two!
Yeah, we know the real-life Chris is with us, but since we've had our floral tribute to Chris with us for two years, we weren't about to stop now!
Thank you!
Mary and Dennis try to stay warm during pre-game