By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 31, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas — There is no quarterback battle at Michigan today. It’s Denard Robinson’s job, no questions asked. Twelve years ago, it wasn’t that way. One quarterback had to fight for the starting spot every season he was at Michigan.
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That quarterback was Tom Brady.
During interviews for a story on the 2000 Orange Bowl, a game in which Brady set Michigan and Orange Bowl records with a 34-for-46 passing night for 369 yards and four touchdowns, his former Michigan teammates reflected on the Brady they knew before he won four Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots.
Brady was also upstaged by receiver David Terrell, who made 10 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns that night in Miami and took home MVP honors.
Below is the additional coverage from the players’ look back at that season that culminated in a 35-34 overtime victory over Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
DRAFT HORSE vs. QUARTER HORSE
For half of the 1999 season, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr split snaps between Tom Brady and Drew Henson at quarterback. Henson would start the first quarter, Brady the second quarter and the hot hand would take over the second half.
The decision to split snaps was a controversial one among the Michigan fan base. Here’s how a few members of the team felt about the quarterback battle:
Ian Gold, senior linebacker: “Do you want the draft horse or the quarter horse to run the race? We look at it today and see how much success the draft horse has had and it’s a no-brainer. But you had this young quarter horse coming in, looking pretty, running fast, slinging the ball like Tom’s slinging it today.”
Drew Henson, sophomore quarterback: “After Michigan State, we had a stretch run for the Big Ten. For continuity’s sake and trying to win the league, we were just going to go with Tom to start in November.
“I knew the next year was going to be my year. Tom and I had a really good working relationship anyway.”
Bennie Joppru, freshman tight end: “I don’t know how many teams have an ongoing quarterback controversy and end up the No. 5 team in the country.
“I thought both were great quarterbacks. Drew was in my class, so in the back of your head you want your closer friend to be the guy (to start) — Drew was one of my best friends on the team, so obviously I pulled for him — but at the end of the day we just wanted to win football games.”
Jason Kapsner, senior quarterback: “Being a day-in-day-out observer as a quarterback in practice everyday watching this, for me it was really never a decision: It was always Tom’s job. I think Tom earned the job in practice everyday and I think Drew was not ready at that point. He wasn’t the leader of the team, he hadn’t earned it in practice, but for reasons that were there, there was a lot of pressure to play Drew.”
David Terrell, sophomore receiver: “Drew was a great quarterback. Tom was a great quarterback. At that time, to be straight up with you, it was more or less like: ‘Throw Drew in there.’ But it was Tom’s team. Tom played the majority of snaps.”
“I would have loved to see just one go.”
Gold: “There wasn’t a game that we had that I would look in Tom’s eyes and question whether or not he was confident. It was just a matter of, here you have Drew, this highly touted, athletic kid, gunslinger and he’s more of an athlete than Tom. Then you have Tom, who probably runs a 6.7 in the 40!”
Aaron Shea, senior fullback: “It was one of those things that Coach Carr had to do. You had an Ohio State fan in George Steinbrenner who was going to give Drew $3 million to leave (to sign a contract with the New York Yankees) and he was very highly touted, talented guy. I loved both Drew and Tom. But that was Tommy’s team.”
TOM BRADY — THEN AND NOW
Brady Hoke, defensive line coach: “Tommy had a tremendous game. It was the right way for Tom Brady to finish his career at Michigan.”
Kapsner: “As a quarterback, I remember just being in awe of what Tom was doing on the field. It was really no different from what he’s done in his NFL career.