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Some (probably) untold Woody stories


Wolverine Spy
I just bought Jim Brandstatter's book Tales From Michigan Stadium and there was a few Woody stories in the book that I figured I'd share because most of you probably don't know them.

Secret Shoes

The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State has spawned lots of stories. This one comes from equipment manager Jon Falk. It really points out the kind of attention both teams focused on each other throughout the season. Buckeye head coach Woody Hayes was legendary i his obsession with keeping Michigan o his radar screen, and this tale from Michigan Stadium is a perfect example.

It was i the mid-to-late 70's, according to Falk. "We were playing on that Tartan artificial surface," Jon says, "and when it rained it was really slick. It was like playing on ice. I remember Ara Parseghian calling Bo and telling him about some football shoes that were made over in Canada. The shoes were supposed to be great on a wet artifical surface. So Bo told me to get some, and I ordered a few pairs to check them out.

"The last scrimmage before the season, fortunately for us, it rained," Jon says. "Well, I put those shoes o a few guys, and after practice the kids told me that the new shoes were a lot better tha the ones we had been wearing. We ordered 150 pairs of those shoes the very next day. We flew them in from Canada and had them here. We only used them when it rained. They were way too 'grippy' when it was dry.

"All season," Falk remembers with delight, "I'll be darned if it didn't rain almost every home game. Teams were coming in and slipping all over the place, while we were standing in there with good footing Even the Minnesota equipment guy called me Sunday morning after we beat them 45-0. He asked me where we got the shoes. He said his job might be on the line if he didn't find out about our shoes.

"I can remember walking into the locker room on rainy Saturdays," Jon says, "and I'd yell, 'OK guys, it's a Tiger Paw day. It's time to get those Tiger Paws on.'"

All was going along well with Jon and the shoes until the week before the Ohio State game. Apparently, the Wolverines' footing on wet days was under consideration in Columbus. "An article came out in the Columbus Dispatch," Falk says. "Woody Hayes was quoted as saying that Michigan had secret shoes! Woody said, in he article, that he had been studying the films, and he found out about these secret shoes that Michigan wore to play on the wet field. Woody went out and got the shoes for his team for the game against us."

Jon says the suspicion about the shoes was an issue right up until game time. "The day before the game, Ohio State came in to work out," Jon recalls. "I had left our locker room door open. I came walking up the tunnell, and I saw some Ohio State players sneakig across the way into our locker room. They were looking at our shoes! I heard them as they came out, and they were sayig, 'Yeah, they're the same shoes.'"

As it turned out, the shoes didn't help the Buckeyes. Falk remembers Michigan winning the game 14-6 the following day. But Jon says he'll never forget the attention to detail by Coach Hayes. He studied the film and made some phone calls. He identified the shoes and got some for his team. He had put his squad on equal footing, so to speak. It's no wonder why Woody won so much at Ohio State. He didn't miss a trick.

He Never Missed a Trick

It seems that a lot of the great stories surrounding Michigan Stadium just happen to include Ohio State. Maybe it's because of the rivalry. Who knows why, but it just seems that whenever Ohio State and Michigan get together, a story develops. Such is the case with the Friday before the Buckeyes and Wolverines met in 1977.

The weather for that November game was iffy. There was a forecast with a possibility of snow, so the field at Michigan Stadium was covered with a tarp. Michigan didn't practice in the stadium that day, and neither would Ohio State. At least, that was the plan.

Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk was the man assigned to tell Woody Hayes, when he and his Buckeyes arrived, that the field was covered and practice would have to be cancelled. Jon recalls that Friday afternoon as he waited for Coach Hayes. "When he got off the bus at the stadium, ready to practice, I walked up to him and said, 'Coach Hayes, just so you know, you're not going to be able to practice today. The field is covered because of the threat of snow. Michigan didn't practice, and you won't be able to either.' At that point," recalls Jon, "he grabbed me and jammed his index finger into my chest about five times, and he said, "Every time I come to Michigan, all they want to do is screw me, screw me, screw me!"

Falk laughs about it now, but at the time he had a job to do, so he responded, "Yes sir, coach, I know that, but you're still not going to be able to practice on that field. Well, he went to the locker room with his team, and I'll be darned if he didn't get one of the guys who took care of the field to help him take the tarp off half of the field. He talked the guy into helping him pull the tarp halfway off the field, and by God, Coach Hayes took his team down on that field and practiced."

Jon says he was unaware of the practice until Ohio State was finished, so Falk went and reported to Coach Schembechler. "I told Bo that Woody had gone over and pulled the tarp off and practiced anyway. Bo looked at me and laughed," recalls Falk.

"'He pulled the tarp and practiced anyway? Bo asked. I said 'he sure did.'"
According to Falk, Bo smiled and said, "The old man doesn't miss a trick, does he?" Jon responded, "He didn't miss one today, because he practiced, and we didn't."

As I get to more Woody stories, which I'm sure I will, I'll be sure to post those as well.
Brett; Here is another one for you. Back in the late 70's Coach Hayes owned a little nissan pick-up truck and drove it regularly to park in his assigned position at St. Johns Arena. Well soem of ohis assistants decided to have fun with the "OLd Man" and positioned thier cars much closer, creating a very tight spot for Coach Hayes to pull into. All of them on the 2nd floor were anxiously awaiting his arrival and sure enough Woody pulled in to a very "tight position" and not realizing the difficulty he would have trying to get his over sized body out of the truck. Woody realizing that this dilemma was something that he could not overcome paused for a few moments and suddenly decided to back the truck straight out until he could free his body out of the truck and then proceeded to the back of the vehicle and shoved it in to place of his assigned designated area. This was an exerpt also from the book " Hotline to Victory".
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