Sept. 17, 2009
At the conclusion of the 2009 football season, the existing press box, which dates to the 1950s, will be torn down. Over the last several decades, countless memorable moments have been witnessed from the nerve center of the stadium.
In honor of this last season with the proud, old press box, an on-going feature called "Memories From the Press Box" will run on MGoBlue.com and in each U-M football game program. Written by the individuals who witnessed these moments from above, "Memories" will offer a different perspective of the events many of us remember after seeing them in person or watching them on TV. In some cases, it's describing pre-game rituals, in many cases, it's a specific game or play that took their breath away. Sportscasters, former coaches, athletic department staff, University President Mary Sue Coleman, they are but a few of the contributors who will be featured weekly. We hope you enjoy it!
By Jim Meyer, U-M Football Official Statistician
On Friday, Sept. 7, 1984, I was in the press box preparing for my first Michigan football game as more than just a lifelong fan. I had spent hundreds of hours over the past year writing software to keep track of the game statistics and Saturday's season-opener was the first real test of my efforts. To say I was apprehensive and nervous was an understatement. Bruce Madej had given me the opportunity to "score" the game and I wanted it to go perfectly.
As I was entering the Michigan roster into the computer, I noticed a strange shadow on the other side of the field in the tunnel. It looked like a person, but with unusual proportions. It was not long before I realized that it was the band's drum major. He was dressed in shorts, t-shirt, knee-high boots, his busby was on his head and baton in hand. I stopped typing and just watched as he proceeded to march though his entire pre-game routine with the precision you would expect on game day but with no fans, music or band behind him.
I quickly realized that I had no reason to be nervous. I was not going to have 100,000 people watching me. I did not have to worry about stumbling over my own feet, turning the wrong way or dropping a baton. My job was easy.
And on that Saturday, easy it was. My spotter, Dan Landman, and the program worked flawlessly. So did the team. Michigan beat the Bernie Kosar-led Miami Hurricanes, 22-14, intercepting him six times. It was also, based on our knowledge, the first football game ever scored on a computer.
Now, after more than 163 consecutive games, I still get nervous before each game. But I just think back to that Friday afternoon to put it all in perspective.
(Jim Meyer [BSME '73] is a semi-retired systems consultant and programmer. Besides football, he developed software used by the basketball and ice hockey teams, and developed the Statistics Archive found on MGoBlue.com.)
Read more "Memories From the Press Box" in the Michigan football game program, available for purchase at home games and at the media relations office on Mondays following home contests. In this week's Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan program, read Howard King and Geoff Larcom's memories from the press box. King was Michigan Stadium's PA announcer for 33 years and Larcom was a former sports editor for the Ann Arbor News.