By Daniel Wasserman, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 5, 2013
Monday night’s Mock Rock nearly started without its emcee, Jalen Rose.
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Rose, who was scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m., didn’t enter the building until 7:10 — 10 minutes after the show’s scheduled starting time. But once he got on stage, he was full of the flair and charisma that made him a famous member of the Fab Five.
In his first minute on stage, Rose acknowledged the hottest team on campus, the basketball team, which wasn't in attendance because of its game with Ohio State on Tuesday.
“Don’t be surprised if this team does all of the things we weren’t able to do,” Rose said. “And let me just name a couple of them: win the Big Ten … and win a National Championship. How awesome would that be?
“I want the problem of making sure that I’m joined by Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy Kind and Chris Webber courtside watching them cut down the nets this year.”
But Rose then mellowed the tone to honor the life of former Michigan wrestler Jeff Reese, who tragically passed away during midseason training in 1997. Mock Rock originated in 1999 to raise funds for the Jeff Reese Endowed Scholarship. After the scholarship fund became substantially subsidized, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital became the primary beneficiary. After raising more than $90,000 last year, the event’s hosts, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, hoped that this year’s event would raise over $100,000.
“I just want to acknowledge that there’s a reason why the wrestling team goes first,” Rose said, before instructing half the crowd to say “Jeff,” the other to say, “Reese,” while he finished with “Rest in peace.”
But when the wrestling team appeared on stage moments later in tight neon outfits with “Chariots of Fire” playing, the spirited atmosphere was set for the evening.
Rose displayed impressive humor throughout the night. Between a pair of skits, he walked on stage wearing a headset, making fun of football coach Brady Hoke, who notoriously doesn’t wear one. Hoke, who was in the crowd, laughed and later made a backstage pledge to visit Rose’s charter school in Detroit, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, which was the event’s second beneficiary.
A laughing Rose said that he never could’ve imagined 20 years ago, when he was a student, that he’d one day be back on campus raising money for a school with his name on it.
Rose even jokingly told the crowd that because of the tough nature of his school and its long days, which run until 4:30 p.m. each day, that he wouldn’t want to attend his school.
“(As athletes) we’re so blessed, with our athletic prowess, that you want to do something to give back to others,” Rose said. “I’ve dedicated a lot of my life and you’d be surprised how doing things like this and exposing them to what it really means to help someone else … that extra effort really translates to young men and young women when they grow older.”
Rose showed comedic camaraderie with the event’s judges, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and current Michigan water polo assistant coach Betsey Armstrong, Olympian and former Michigan hurdler Jeff Porter and Mott patient Kaitlin Huff. When Rose questioned why Porter gave the wrestling team a 7.5 score out of 10, rather than a seven or eight, Porter didn’t give a clear answer. When Rose pressed on, Porter said, “I learned from you on ESPN how to avoid answering a question,” drawing a chorus of laughs from the crowd.
The night’s biggest laughs came from the hockey team, which sent members of its freshmen class on stage in tight neon spandex pants and fishnet tops. The team, known for edgy skits such as its one that featured pink-bikini clad players two years ago, first danced to “Cotton Eye Joe,” and later performed a series of provocative pelvic thrusts with Eric Prydz’s “Call on Me” playing.
The night’s big winner was the men’s rowing team, which danced to a medley of Lion King songs while wearing intricate costumes. The rowers were the only team to receive straight 10s from the judges, edging out the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams’ 9.7 score. The men’s and women’s golf teams, which danced to a medley of songs including “Thrift Shop,” received the “Better Luck Next Year” award for their show-worst 6.2 score.