Nov. 12, 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"
This week, we let the people who current members of the University of Michigan athletic media relations staff tell their tales of the press box. Some have attended games in the press box as a student, intern and full-time employee, while some are experiencing the press box for the very first time.
By Sarah Van Metre / U-M Athletic Media Relations Intern and Eastern Michigan University graduate (2007)
I am brand new to the press box this year. And so is my job. While other people are monitoring player participation, looking for interesting game notes or typing the play-by-play, I am getting ready to interact with 100,000-plus people.
I am the person, high in the press box, behind the Michigan Football Facebook and Twitter pages. While it sounds like something that's easy to do, I assure you, it is harder than it sounds. I want to get the information out there as soon as I can, but there is no room for spelling or grammatical errors and information has to be 100-percent accurate ... while trying to be as creative as possible, of course. The next time you get an update on your phone or at your laptop, think of me working HARD in the press box!
The Michigan Marching Band
By Ryan Sosin / Assistant Director for U-M Athletic Media Relations, former U-M AMR Intern and University of Michigan graduate (2007)
When I got my first Michigan Football credential, all I wanted to do is take it down to the field -- or have it take me down to the field. But my credential took me someplace with a much better view, the photo deck.
When the Wolverines played Penn State during the 2005 season, I ventured up to the top of the stadium to watch the Michigan Marching Band take the field. The wind carried the booming sound of the band and mixed it with the roar of the crowd to give a rush like no other. The view from the top is like no other and I have made sure to be on the photo deck every time the band takes the field.
No Cheering in the Press Box
By Matt Baumer / Assistant Director for U-M Athletic Media Relations, former U-M AMR Intern and University of Michigan graduate (2006)
I had worked in the press box as a volunteer student for a year and was now in the first year of an internship in media relations, but even with the added responsibility, I still beamed from ear to ear each home football game. Getting out my credential, walking through the crowd with my hand held high knowing I could flash a laminated pass with my name on it to cruise right into the coveted press box. One Saturday in 2005 easily trumps any memory in the old press box.
On October 15, 2005, the top-10 Nittany Lions rolled into town. PSU came in with an undefeated record and the mighty Michael Robinson at quarterback and freshman phenom Derrick Williams. With Michigan leading 10-3 in the third quarter, and the sun going down, the infamous portable lights shone on the field with the mild chattering in the stands, on pins and needles but also wondering if they should have brought bigger coats.
At the start of the fourth quarter the media and part of our media relations staff made their way to the field for the postgame press conference leaving my fellow intern, Joe Conrad, and student volunteer Josh T in the press box.
The fourth quarter was back and forth and we cheered and sighed at every play, even though cheering is not allowed in the press box. At this point, what were they going to do, kick us out? A chip here, a chip there, Lloyd Carr's famous second being put back on the clock, set up one final play from the 10-yard line. At this point, it was dark and Joe, Josh and I stood on the top row of the press box, butterflies in our stomachs. Henne dropped back, in slow motion, looked left, reached back with all his might, Manningham broke in, and boom, touchdown! A play that probably took three or four seconds but in my mind seems like minutes. There was silence for just over a second with fans realizing what Super Mario had just done and then I found myself in a three-man hug with Joe and JT, jumping up and down, everyone in the press box cheering with all their might.
It will be sad to see the old press box go, but I look forward to a new box that will not require a winter coat inside it. Just like the rest of the 2005 season, JT, Joe and I were bonded forever through that moment.
The Ghosts of Michigan Stadium
By Richard Retyi / Assistant Director for U-M Athletic Media Relations and McGill University graduate (2000)
I've spent five falls in the Michigan press box, though while working with other teams I've missed some of the most pivotal moments in Big House history over the last few years. No triple overtime win over Michigan State in 2004. No last-second win over Penn State in 2005. No Appalachian State. I was front and center for Toledo, Wisconsin in 2008 and this year's Notre Dame games, but those stories don't really involve the old girl -- the press box.
The Michigan Stadium press box is unique. It's old, it's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, it has the worst food of any football press box I've set foot in and sometimes it smells like a little kid's tree fort. It's still one of my favorite facilities of all time. Sorry Notre Dame and your delicious pulled pork, Ohio State and your McFlurrys and Illinois and your framed Sports Illustrated cover of Jeff George with his glorious 1990s mustache.
My most vivid press box memory didn't occur during a football game but at the memorial to Bo Schembechler four days after his passing. The memorial included a number of dignitaries, their families and friends and there was a huge media presence, and our office worked hard to ensure that the proceedings ran smoothly.
My first duty that morning was to make sure that the media covering the event from the press box were aware of the timetable of events. It wasn't a football Saturday, so the concourse was empty, the stadium quiet and the press box much colder than normal. There were a handful of media present and the stillness was eerie. Everyone spoke in hushed tones even though the event wasn't set to begin for hours. I walked up the stairs to the TV and radio level of the press box, checking each room and handing out the schedule of events. The whole press box had a sense of reverence about it.
With an hour to kill, I pulled out a book and read quietly in one of the coaches booths high above the field. The sky was clear and the sun shone bright and I sat in the press box and read, hanging out with the ghosts of Michigan Stadium in near silence. It was odd, surreal and unforgettable.
• 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)