Sep 7, 2013
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon
Opening statement ... "The Legends program as we've envisioned it has been a huge success. It's terrific to bring back these legendary figures that have made such an impact in the whole creation of what is today Michigan football. We saved the best for last. The best football player in the history of Michigan football could easily be Tom Harmon. No. 98 hasn't been on the field for decades, and tonight, it will be back on the field. It's something to be celebrated, and we're going to celebrate it in a very significant way. One of the things that makes it really special is Mark and Pam coming back and participating in this, because to have the family connection and have their support for what we're doing is really important. So, this is going to be a special part of this night game. We're pleased to be doing it in front of what looks to be an all-time record crowd. I'm really looking forward to it."
On the importance of bringing Tom Harmon's name to a new generation ... "I think it's hugely important that we celebrate these legacies, these traditions and these heroic figures. I played ball here back in the 1970s, I've been pretty connected to this university, and I've been athletic director now for almost four years; I've learned a lot about Tom Harmon going through this process that I didn't know. Even for those of us that are really close to the program, this refreshes and educates us to what this incredible guy accomplished way back when -- that's just as important today as it was then. So, let's take it out of the dusty cabinet, let's put it on the field, and let's put his name on it and celebrate it every time Michigan comes out of the tunnel. That makes it special."
Opening statement ... "I'm happy to be back and representing our family. This is all because of Dave Brandon. He's the one who reached out, and he's the one who made this idea happen. I think my father would be proud -- he'd be embarrassed, but he'd be proud. He'd be embarrassed because he was a humble man, and he thought no one did it alone. So, I'm glad that I was able to get here. It's an important day for Michigan and an important day in recognizing my dad. Both deserved. There was never anything that my dad did in his life that didn't have the word 'Michigan' attached to it. It was almost like a fourth name. 'Thomas Dudley Harmon, Michigan.' It was always part of everything he did, and he knew that. He tried to represent the university; it was important to him his entire life. He was thankful for his time here and thankful that this university had given him so much."
On seeing No. 98 back on the field tonight ... "The only time that I've seen No. 98 on the field in a Michigan jersey was on film. I think this idea started with Dave -- the idea to get them out of the trophy case or the boxes. As long as I'm here representing my dad, I feel that as long as it stays about him, everything is good. He was an honorable guy. He certainly had a career here that made an impact. He represented much more to me, obviously, and certainly to our family. This was just one of the things he did. He was a father, and he was a family guy. He cared about his kids and him family. To be present toady and even next week, turning on the TV, and seeing what this represents is important -- not just for our family. It's important for a young kid somewhere who looks at that and says, 'Wow, someday I'd like to strap into one of those winged helmets and see if I can't do the same thing.' That's what my dad cared about."
On his football discussions with his dad ... "His Heisman was always on his desk, but it wasn't something he brought to the dinner table. He was a humble guy. He believed everything was about a team effort. He believed you needed help to do anything in life. He had plenty of it here and plenty of it throughout his life. I've said it before: my dad, even before Michigan, was a strong, tough guy. He came out of the steel mills in Rensselaer, Indiana, and that helped him his entire life. That's who he was to his core. His Michigan experience, I think, is what made him survive his life and have the life he had. He was very aware of that. It's important to recognize that."
On the only game that his dad talked about ... "My dad set a lot of records here over a number of years. I heard much more about that Minnesota game -- a 7-6 loss in senior year in the mud where he missed the extra point. To the end, he was taking away from the Minnesota team, but he sure would have liked another shot at that -- on a dry field. There's a lesson in that for all of us. Perhaps that's the way it's set up in human nature that we spend all our time thinking about the one that one bad letter. You learn more from the negative than you do the positive. That doesn't mean you go out to get a negative experience. But it's important for these kids playing here tonight. Right now they just know to play. That's it. It's a big game. That's why you come to Michigan or Notre Dame. My dad knew that in life your perspective changes. You learn that this is a really important time and to value every moment of it. That's a nice thing to recognize."
On what he wants No. 98 players to know about his dad ... "My dad was an exceptional athlete if you watch some of the footage from when he played. He just dominated, like any great player dominates in any era. But he was also a good guy and a team guy. That's important too. Where the jersey goes, who wears it, that's up to this university, and in that, we trust. I just think it's an important thing to recognize, and I think it's time. My dad was only proud of Michigan and only proud that everything is his life came back to Michigan. That was his whole life."
Sign up for Michigan Insider to be the first to learn about 2015 Michigan football ticket opportunities.