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Block 'M' Blog: Alumni Rundown

By Neal Rothschild, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 22, 2012

It’s Tuesday.

This means it’s time to read the Alumni Rundown. You may be treated like royalty when you come back to campus, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get solitary confinement in Dennison from me.

Former Wolverine catcher and current St. Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny brought his team to within a game of the World Series. The first-year manager inherited a team that had just lost Albert Pujols to the Angels, yet found a way to take the Redbirds back to NLCS. Credit Matheny for his ability to negotiate injuries to aging sluggers by plugging in young talent and for his delicate touch with young workhorse pitchers Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia. His mixing and matching of bullpen arms in the playoffs was a big reason why the Cardinals were on the verge of their second World Series appearance in as many years. Each game St. Louis lost in the series to the San Francisco Giants was by at least five runs and there was little in the way of strategy that Matheny could have changed. For this Mike, you get an Angell Hall classroom in your name.

Good stuff by San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. The former Michigan quarterback declined to accept a safety with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter when the Seattle Seahawks were called for a chop block in the end zone on Thursday night. Rather than accept the penalty to go up 15-6, Harbaugh declined, and San Francisco was able to take over on a turnover on downs, allowing Harbaugh to run the clock out and not give the Seahawks the opportunity for an onside kick with a chance for a miracle finish. Oddsmakers said the shrewd move — which kept the 49ers beneath the spread — made more than $150 million change hands. Harbaugh didn’t play it by convention and instead used his strong Michigan intellect and intuition to create a more risk-averse outcome for his team. For this Jim, you get a podium at Lorch Hall.

Ex-Wolverine, Nugget, Pacer, Bull, Raptor, Knick and Sun and current blabbermouth Jalen Rose was named to ESPN’s pregame show, NBA Countdown, to go along with Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson and Grantland partner Bill Simmons. Despite his tendency to be an insufferable chatterbox, I like Rose in this set-up. The potential for unfiltered, irreverent banter with Simmons might push Countdown above the stock pregame shows with former players chortling among themselves after mediocre jokes. Also, Rose discusses here what might have been if he didn’t attend Michigan, as well as his psychoanalysis of how he thinks Chris Webber views the University. For this Jalen, you get a megaphone in the diag.

Rough times for Michigan Heisman winners of the 1990s. First Desmond Howard is told that he should get fired or die by an Ohio radio host who doesn’t understand boundaries. Then Charles Woodson fractures his collarbone. Woodson sustained the injury during the Green Bay Packers’ 30-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. The 1997 Heisman winner is expected to miss six weeks. He had 38 tackles and an interception on the season. For this Charles, you get a bed at University Hospital.

Michigan kicker love. From one generation to the next, after redshirt junior kicker Brendan Gibbons hit a 38-yard field goal to beat Michigan State on Saturday. For this Jay Feely, you get a retweet from a gracious Bear.

When Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert was knocked out of the Jaguars-Raiders game on Sunday, former Michigan chucker Chad Henne was thrust into his first significant action of the season. You’d think high-leverage time against Oakland would be an enviable position for a backup. I would think so too. But Henne coughed it away. He completed 9 of 20 passes, with a skimpy 3.55 yards per attempt. Henne did little with good field position on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter with a chance to give the Jags their second win. He also failed to keep track of downs. The Raiders pulled through in overtime. For this Chad, you get solitary confinement in Dennison.

Michigan track star and tailback of the 1930s Willis Ward finally got his day of recognition. Seventy-eight years after the Wolverines’ star offensive threat was forced to sit out a game against Georgia Tech because of wicked Jim Crow procedures, Ward’s name was announced at Michigan Stadium at Saturday’s game. Ward was an NCAA champion in the high jump, long jump, 100 meters and 400-yard dash. His friendship with Gerald Ford held strong until Ward’s death in 1983. For this, Willis, you get a 50-yard line luxury suite at the Big House.