J. Brady McCollough: Columnist risks life, brings original wolverine mascot back to A2

BY J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH: THE SPORTSMONDAY COLUMN

Published March 8, 2004

SOMEWHERE IN THE
“THUMB” OF MICHIGAN — As soon as the Daily
reported last week that a wolverine was spotted in Michigan for the
first time in 200 years, I knew what I had to do: drive 90 miles
north of Detroit, find him and bring him back to his natural
habitat.

J. Brady McCollough

Why would the wolverine ever come here? He must be looking for
Ann Arbor. Hey, no one ever heralded the wolverine’s sense of
direction anyway.

Ahhh ... there he is, clawing up a badger on the side of the
road. After devouring the badger, he sees my car and puts up his
right claw and waves me over. I roll down the window.

Need a lift home, big guy?

No short jokes, man. Ask the grizzly bear a few miles back
what happens.

Temper, temper. If you’re getting in my car, you need to
wash that badger blood off your hands.

Or, I could claw your ass and steal your ride. Not that
I’d want a ’98 Buick.

Just get in. We’ve all been waiting 200 years for this.
(The wolverine hops in. At this point, I’m slightly
bewildered at being alive.) So, what brings you back to Michigan
after all these years?

I heard about the Michigan hook-up and had to find out what
the fuss was all about. Haha, just kidding man, just kidding. The
truth is kind of a long story. I was exiled from Michigan.

What did you do?

I was the mascot for the University of Michigan in the
1800s.

No way! I go to school there!

Just let me tell my story. I took pride in being the mascot.
I was like a celebrity. Everybody knew Wally the Wolverine —
especially the sorority girls! Anyway ... one day during a game, I
reverted back to my primal self and just lost control. It was
intermission of a match against Michigan State, and Sparty and I
were playing a game of tag to entertain the fans. There was
something about the way Sparty was running ... like a little pansy
... I proceeded to maul him from head to toe. The boy’s name
was Bubba. He was 19.

I’m really sorry.

So, the University officials exiled me, turned their backs on
me when I needed them the most. I was ashamed. I roamed the country
for more than a century, drinking my sorrows away. But no matter
where I was, I always kept my eye on the U of M. I’ve been
biding my time to come back and prove to everyone that I can be a
mascot again.

Might want to lick off the rest of that badger blood before you
plead your case. So why come back now, out of all the times?

There were rumblings in the forest this fall of a student
revolution in Ann Arbor that would signal my return.

What could you ever be speaking of?

The students stopped “chopping” and started
clawing after third-down stops.

You heard about the claw?!?!

You bet your ass I did. What better sign that it was time for
my return than 20,000 students clawing rabidly in Michigan Stadium?
I finally felt welcome again.

Well, let me warn you: Not everyone has been converted to the
claw. There’s actually a tiny group of students called
“Wolverines Against the Claw.”

What the ... ?

Students have changed a lot since you were here. They’ll
protest against anything, even wolverines having claws. So
I’m curious, how much did you keep up with Michigan sports
during your exile?

Enough to know that we aren’t winning football games by
100 points anymore. Enough to know that Tommy Amaker needs a new
look — and an offensive coordinator to replace the
“swirly” offense we run every trip down the floor.
Enough to know that the hockey team will make everyone wonder if it
will make the NCAA Tournament, go on a momentous run and lose in
the first game of the Frozen Four.

Damn, Wally, you do know your Michigan sports. Did you see or
hear about the “X-Men” or “X2” movies, by
chance?

Man, you had to bring that up, didn’t you? That Aussie
Hugh Jackman has as much business playing a wolverine as Jim
Harrick Jr. has teaching kindergarten.

I don’t know, this one is kind of hard: “How many
points does a 3-point field goal account for in a basketball
game?”

Three. Also the number of seconds it takes before
you’re offered sex on a recruiting trip to Colorado.

Hahaha! Wally, you are something else. (We pull off I-94 and
head toward campus on State Street.)

So, what can I expect from my second stint in Ann
Arbor?

Well, they’re practically giving away beer around here
these days. One-dollar pitchers on Monday and Wednesday; it helps
with the ladies — and with being a Michigan fan.

Never needed any help with the ladies. Thanks,
though.

Right, I remember … Hey, there’s Weidenbach Hall,
where the athletic department offices are. I’ve got one last
question for you: How are they ever going to believe that
you’re Wally, the original wolverine mascot?

They branded my backside with a block ‘M.’ At the
time, it hurt like hell, but now it’ll come in pretty
handy.

Alright, Wally. This is your stop. It’s great to have you
back where you belong!

Thanks for the lift, man. See you on the field next
fall!

(We shake claws and part ways. I watch as he darts confidently
toward Weidenbach, checking out the ‘M’ branded on his
furry derriere. He stops abruptly in front of the building because
a predictably obese Ann Arbor squirrel, stuffing his face, is in
his way. Wally stares back at me with a “please, can I do
it?
” look.)

This is child’s play, man!

Just remember to wash your hands when you’re finished! (He
dices up the squirrel, at the same time making sure no Athletic
Department officials are watching, and throws it aside.)

I’m baaaack, you fat-ass rodent!

Make yourself at home, Wally.

J. Brady McCollough is delirious with excitement about the
return of the wolverine to Michigan. If you share his feelings, or
you think he’s lost it, e-mail him at "mailto:bradymcc@umich.edu">bradymcc@umich.edu.