Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford’s jersey number among those ‘unretired’ by Michigan


A little less than two decades after it was retired, the jersey number worn by a man whose post-Michigan exploits made him famous will be put back into circulation this season.

Speaking to a radio station in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday morning, Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke confirmed that jersey No. 48, previously worn by former UM offensive lineman and ex-President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, will be issued this year.  Just who will wear the jersey was not divulged by Hoke.

The number was retired in 1994 and is one of five to be bestowed with that honor.  The family of Ford, who died in 2006, was consulted prior to making the decision.

Instead of having a retired number, Ford’s No. 48 will be emblazoned with a “Michigan Football Legend” patch, similar to what the school did with Desmond Howard’s No. 21 last season.

“I think it’s a much better way to memorialize and honor those folks,” athletic director David Brandon had told the Detroit News. “In making the decision in how to do this going forward, I have consulted with people who follow the program and consider themselves experts. I would simply say, ‘Name the numbers and the players that have been retired.’ They may name one or two, but they can’t name all five.”

In addition to Ford, the other four numbers belonged to Tom Harmon (98), Bennie Oosterbaan (47), the Wistert Brothers (11), Ron Kramer (87).  The school has also had conversations with the family members of those players, although there’s no word on if/when those numbers will be put back into circulation.

(Photo credit: Michigan athletics)

UPDATED 8:32 a.m. ET: Michigan has also announced that the jersey numbers of Kramer and Oosterbaan will be put back into circulation as well.

“The success and acceptance of the Desmond Howard ‘Legend’ recognition led to conversations with the family members who had retired jerseys, several of whom were never recognized or celebrated in the appropriate manner,” Brandon said in a statement. “The Ford, Kramer and Oosterbaan families want to see their family member honored in this way.

“This program is about tradition and legacy and this is a unique way to recognize these great Wolverines.”

Brandon also clarified that there have been no discussions with the families of Harmon and and the Wistert brothers about unretiring those numbers.

Former Texas A&M WR Thomas Johnson arrested on murder charge

Thomas Johnson
Associated Press

A very disturbing story has emerged out of Dallas, where former Texas A&M wide receiver Thomas Johnson sits in a Dallas County jail cell after allegedly admitting to hacking an unsuspecting jogger to death with a machete.

Just before 8 a.m. Monday, authorities say Johnson went to White Rock Creek Trail, a popular jogging trail in northeast Dallas, and randomly slashed a jogger to death. “It appears Mr. Johnson picked this victim at random. Absolutely random,” Deputy Chief Rob Sherwin told the Dallas Morning News. “He just attacked him. … It’s just very unusual. It’s quite shocking.”

Johnson then walked away from the scene in search of a cell phone. An onlooker had already dialed 911, and when police arrived Johnson allegedly told them there was a man “laying down with a sword in his head and not moving.”

“I just committed capital murder,” Johnson said and then repeated, according to his arrest affidavit. The only motive police reported was that Johnson was angry at his situation in life at the time of the slaying.

The victim, an unidentified male between the age of 25 and 35, passed away at a nearby hospital.

Johnson, meanwhile, remains in a Dallas County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Johnson was a highly-regarded member of Kevin Sumlin‘s first recruiting class at Texas A&M. As a true freshman in 2012, the Dallas native caught 30 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown through the Aggies’ upset of then-No. 1 Alabama and then simply… disappeared. He went missing for three days in November 2012 before turning up back home in Dallas. His mother told the San Antonio Express-News last April Johnson would like to return to college football, but a return to the game never materialized.

No punishment from SEC for Bielema’s sideline interaction with Alabama player

Bret Bielema

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.

“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”

That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.