Jalen Rose once told me that “you never fully appreciate what you have until its gone,” and he wasn’t kidding. After four years writing for the Daily, I’ll leave this place with amazing memories, friends – and hopefully a career.
And I’ll start my appreciation now by giving you my first – and final – edition of The One and Only Awards, filled with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Top five interviews
1) Bo Schembechler – The legendary “Michigan Man” had just one free day during this offseason, and he spent an hour of it with me – discussing everything from crazy recruiting trips to the media. And I permanently saved the message he left on my answering machine nearly two months ago.
2) Lloyd Carr – Trying to get an extra five minutes with Carr to talk about his personal life is about as easy as finding bin Laden. But Carr gave me a 45-minute interview after the season. Believe me, there were plenty of “tremendous” and “outstanding” things to talk about.
3) Bill Martin – In the spring of 2001, Martin – per his usual form – twisted my question around and asked me who Michigan should hire as its next basketball coach. My first choice was WWF superstar “The Rock.” And as for my second choice, I’m still waiting for Tommy Amaker’s “thank you” note in the mail – along with a hefty “finder’s fee.”
4) Josh Moore – Discussing everything from Robitussin to his buddy Shaq, this 7-footer was the most eloquent basketball player never to complete two years in the Maize and Blue. Damn those pesky final exams.
5) Jalen Rose – The former Fab Five star tells me how much he “loves the Daily” after he played at the Palace. And then he takes me down memory lane of those infamous days of Michigan past. No matter the sanctions, those games sure did exist.
Top five times I was called out by athletes or coaches.
1) “What an idiot.”
Legendary Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson said this about me behind my back, just one day after I had asked freshman phenom Jeff Tambellini if he was the type of player that would bolt the Wolverines for the NHL early – and two years after I went to practice every day covering his Wolverines, developing what I thought was a unique type of respect with the Red Baron.
2) “You’re a mess.”
Michigan offensive coordinator Terry Malone jokingly (I hope) quipped at me after watching me frantically run back and forth in my interview process. Little did he know how true that statement is.
3) “I didn’t understand a word you just said.”
Former Michigan left wing Josh Langfeld confusingly stated in response to a question that I apparently mumbled during a post-game press conference. So, I’ve been known to talk faster than the speed of light – is there anything wrong with that?
4) “Hey, look, it’s Joe Smith, the guy who’s gonna write some more negative articles in the Daily.”
Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards said before blowing me off after his Wolverines won the Outback Bowl this January. Guess he didn’t like my “season is a failure” column after the Ohio State loss. Oops.
5) “Man, you got to do better on your picks!”
Michigan captain Bennie Joppru ripped me for my infamous – and horrendous – staff picks this year. Hey, everyone has a few bad weeks – I just had a few where I went 4-12.
Top five times I’ve jinxed someone with hype
1) Women’s hoops program – I wrote a column last year about how fans were missing out on the “best kept secret” in ‘M’ sports. Guess there were more secrets than I thought – just not a lot of wins.
2) Gavin Groninger – Bragging about Gavin lighting up Michael Jordan at a summer camp counselor’s game a few summers ago didn’t help Groninger’s shooting stroke – he shot 17.5 percent this year.
3) Tyrece Butler – Sorry Tyrece. Guess the “Butler a slam dunk in ‘M’ receiving core” headline after the Western Michigan game was a little too premature. Didn’t know Carr would play him so sparingly the rest of the season.
4) Mark Kosick – As if wearing Berenson’s and former Hobey Baker Award winner Brendan Morrison’s legendary No. 9 wasn’t pressure enough, my incessant hype of the highly-touted forward helped him become a “healthy scratch” by senior year.
5) ‘M’ secondary – Maybe I shouldn’t have hyped the “Wolfpack” before the Iowa game. What was the score of that one?
Top five road trips
1) NEEEEEEBRASKA – Need I say more?
2) Tampa, Fla. (Outback Bowl) – Stops at the best steakhouse were sizzling and trips to the “hospitality bar” were quite welcoming, but they weren’t as interesting as our crazy cab driver – who sneakily drove us to a whorehouse. Now that’s a mess.
3) Kent, Ohio – This Podunk town was where I covered the field hockey team becoming the first Michigan women to ever win a national championship – and likely the only one I’ll see in my four years at the University.
4) Madison – Nothing like spending your Thanksgiving in the Cheese State. And eating McDonald’s instead of turkey for that holiday meal was priceless.
5) St. Paul, Minn. – Gotta love driving 12 hours straight, then curling up on a television stand to get a few winks before covering my second-straight Frozen Four.
Through all the messes, trips and call-outs, I’ve realized I had the best job a college kid could have.
And with no time outs left, I have no regrets.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.