Oct. 15, 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! Echoes of the Old "Box"
Colorado's Hail Mary
By GEOFF LARCOM / Former Sports Editor, Ann Arbor News
As I have thought about it, my memories as sports editor were consumed with making deadlines, logistics and story planning.
The one major exception was the Colorado "Hail Mary Game" in 1994.
Colorado was intimidating, with QB Kordell Stewart able to run and pass at will, it seemed. Yet Michigan kept Colorado in check until the final moments, while generating some offense itself.
Colorado got the ball at the end, with seconds to go. It seemed over. But Stewart completed a nice sideline past to get the ball to near midfield or so.
It was a 3:30 p.m. game, so the sports writers were concerned over filing their early stories and making deadline. As they usually did for a 7 p.m. ending, writers began to make their way to the elevator with seconds left, to be sure to make their way across the field in time for the press conferences on the other side of the stadium.
Yet there was something about this game, this moment and Stewart. And the way Michigan had permitted that last sideline completion that was unsettling. A variety of writers held up, including the Ann Arbor News' own Jim Cnockaert.
It would be a hail mary. U-M dropped deep, with a minimal pass rush. One man (you may know) did get near Stewart, who easily sidestepped him and then had a clear vision down the field.
Uh oh, I thought.
Stewart threw a dart -- easily 60 yards in the air -- and it deflected off Chuck Winters into the hands of Michael Westbrook. The scene in the gathering twilight was surreal. It was arguably the most incredible play in the history of Michigan Stadium.
Stewart and the other Buffs rushed the end zone to pile on and celebrate, while Ty Law and the other Wolverines stood in shock.
I immediately called the office to remake the front page of sports, to turn it into a total package on the play. Jim and the other sports writers said silent thanks that they had not, per custom, disappeared into the elevator as the final seconds ticked down. Something had held them back.
Others feverishly began rewriting their early game stories, turning a surprisingly easy U-M victory into one of the most devastating and spectacular moments in the history of Michigan Stadium.
Geoff Larcom is a long-time journalist and native of Ann Arbor who writes a weekly column for AnnArbor.com. He previously served as sports editor of the Ann Arbor News, where he was a columnist and reporter.
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. Delaware State program, read memories from former U-M football radio announcer Jim Wood and Channel 7 Sports Director Don Shane.
• Past Memories from the Press Box: Bruce Madej (11/23/2009) | Jim Wood (11/19/2009) | AMR Staff - Part 2 (11/12/2009) | AMR Staff - Part 1 (11/5/2009) | Jerry Green (10/29/2009) | Jerry Hanlon (10/22/2009) | Geoff Larcom (10/15/2009) | Pat Perry (10/9/2009) | Will Perry (10/1/2009) | Dick Gaskill (9/24/09) | Jim Meyer (9/17/09) | Frank Beckmann (9/10/2009) | John Borton (9/3/2009)