Monday, April 14, 2008

Destination: Denver...WCBN Style

Here is the first installment in our series documenting the WCBN trip out to Denver

Wed 4/9

12:30 PM EST

Andrew and I merge onto I-94 West in Ann Arbor on our way to Chicago Ohare Airport. I flew out of Chicago because flights were $250 cheaper than they were out of Detroit. Andrew’s dad is a pilot for United so he flies for free – with the catch that he has to fly stand-by. Ohare is a United hub which gave him the easiest route to Denver.

3:30 PM CST

Our Toyota Echo pulls into the Ohare parking structure having made great time, barely hitting any of the much feared Chicago traffic. We park in the “Chicago Bears” level and head towards terminal one.

3:31 PM CST

As we walk towards the terminal I do the standard pocket check to make sure I have the important things – wallet, cell phone, keys. Oops. Forgot the last item on that list. Sure enough I peek in the passenger window and see my keys sitting on the seat. Trunk’s closed, doors are locked, so I place a call to the Ohare parking services – figure we may as well get our money’s worth as we’re paying $30 a day for the car to sit there and listen to the Chicago Bears theme song on repeat. Lucky for us, we have five or six hours to kill and the service is complimentary!

3:45 PM CST

After checking in, we survey the departure board for perspective flights for Andrew. . Note: this was the day American Airlines decided to cancel 900 flights. This presented a problem for Andrew as all those AA customers jumped him on the stand-by list for the 8:00 and then the 9:40 flights. Also complicating matters was the fact that the 4:50 United flight to Denver was delayed for three hours while they searched for a pilot.

5:00 PM CST

Having not eaten all day, we decide to grab some food. The most appealing option at the time was Magic Wok. Since all the tables in the food court area were packed, we take our orange chicken over to the closest gate. Sure enough the flight out of gate C36 was bound for Beijing. So as we at our fake Chinese food in shame amongst the fine folks on their way to authentic orange chicken we decide to so some planning ahead and find out how to get from the Denver Airport to our hotel.

5:45 PM CST

We call our esteemed Sports Director, Tony Bolton, who had already arrived in Denver to inquire as to whether or not our hotel offered a free shuttle. While Tony couldn’t answer that question himself, he was able to provide us with the phone number so we could call the hotel ourselves…or so he claimed. After dialing the 5th number that Tony gave us (encountering a variety of SIDs and NCAA media relations people) I got through to the hotel and discovered that our best bet for a shuttle was going to run us $20.

7:15 PM CST

We head to gate C42 to await Andrew’s first chance to get on stand-by. Andrew is representing the fine people at United Airlines so he is well-dressed in khaki’s and a polo, but I’m all decked out in my maize Michigan hockey jersey. As we’re sitting, waiting, wishing (gotta love Jack Johnson whether he be the LA Kings defenseman or the Hawaiian singer) for Andrew to get on this flight, an older gentleman spots my jersey and walks up to us, striking a conversation about Michigan’s Frozen Four chances. We ask, “oh, so you’re a Michigan fan?” He responds, “Michigan Fan? Son, let me show you something,” pulling off the ring from his right finger and extending it out to us. “This is the 1979 Rose Bowl ring. I was the captain on that team, I played center for Ricky Leach for three years and then for Archie Manning for three more in the league.” As the conversation continues, we ask him what he thinks of Rich Rodriquez, he cuts us off mid-sentence, “Love him, absolutely love him, hell I got him that job.” Now this is pretty surprising to Andrew and I since the common perception is that the former players were against hiring a “non-Michigan Man.” He laughs that off saying that the alumni all love Rodriguez and then goes on to shock us when asked about Lloyd Carr, “We hate that son-of-a...” Apparently this former player used to coach high school football in Colorado and sent the tapes of five players to Carr with the hopes of eliciting offers from Michigan. Not only did they not get offers, but Carr refused to even watch the tapes. We continue talking to this former player for the next 15 minutes during which he offers several times to send us back a cocktail once we board the plane. After we tell him that Andrew is trying to get on the flight stand-by and I’m ticketed on the 9:40 flight, he laughs again and tells us to hand over our tickets, he’ll take care of it for us and get us on the flight as well as bump us up to first class. Well unfortunately, he was able to beat Ohio State, beat USC? but he was unable to get us on that plane. Big prize to whoever can guess the player that we met. Leave your answers as a comment below.


Anonymous said...

George Lilja, am I right?

Matt Boyer said...

George Lilja is correct

Matt Boyer said...

Fun Fact: Lilja played for the Browns during "The Drive." He and Stu both carry the emotional baggage of that loss to this day

Stu said...

George Lilja is incorrect. weren't even there to meet him! You're just riding high off the Tigers comeback win and Indians comeback loss

Wade said...

1978 Walt Downing was the center, and captain, 1979 Rose bowl UM lost to USC, in the Charles White LIE game, he fumbled at the 5 and dove into the endzone without the ball and the ref (BIG 10 Ref) put his arms up TD, the ball was in a Michigan defense players arms at the 3. replays clearly showed that he lost the ball at the 5, and never had it close to the endzone.

side note, there was a small earthquake during the game..

Matt Boyer said...

Stu... Lilja was the captain of the 1979 and the guy you met wasn't even the center for the team. He must've had a few cockatils himself on the flight...

And your damn right I'm riding high! 6 in the 8th for DET and Borowski gives up a HR to Manny in CLE!

Maize said...

Downing was the center and captain in 1977, so he would have played in the 78 Rose bowl, Lilja was the center of the 79 team, but they didn't play in the Rose, they didn't make it, and Ricky Leach was gone. the center for the 78 team that played in the 79 Rose Bowl was Steve Nauta, and Ricky Leach was a senior. USC won 17- 10 and yes it was on Charles White non TD, that was a fumble that wasn't called.

Tony Bolton said...

Wow, do I really have to come on here and straighten you guys out? The co-captain of the 1979 team was John Arbeznik, the other co-captain was Ron Simpkins. John earned his Rose Bowl Ring for playing in the 1979 Rose Bowl against USC, which M lost 17-10.

John was then elected co-captain for the 1979 season in which the team went 8-4 and played in the 1980 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

Stu and Andrew met and talked with John Arbeznik.

Good Lord.

Here if you don't believe me, straight from the Bentley Historical Library

And Matt, maybe you should leave the story and trivia questions to the ones who were actually there.

Matt Boyer said...

Hey, the question was misleading. It wasn't worded properly.

And Tony: Sorry I couldn't make the game. Only 18,000 people attended. Looks like I wasn't the only one who didn't go. Can't wait till 2010 Ford Field and 40,000 empty seats.

Maize said...

The Jan 1st 79 Rose Bowl team, would have been the 78 regular season team, so the captains for that team was Russell Davis, and Jerry Meter, but the center was Steve Nauta, and nope he wasn't captain. The person they said they met, claimed he snapped the ball to Ricky, well Ricky wasn't there for the 79 Dec bowl game against N.C, so who was captain or center on that team doesn't matter. Really the facts don't add up, as no player on Michigan could have been center and captain and played with Ricky leach.

"pulling off the ring from his right finger and extending it out to us. “This is the 1979 Rose Bowl ring. I was the captain on that team, I played center for Ricky Leach for three years"

The center on the 79 Rose bowl team was Steve Nauta and the captains were Russell Davis, and Jerry Meter

Stu said...

sorry for misleading anyone. The guy seemed like he may have had a few concussions in his day so perhaps he was a little confused about what position he played. Either that or the Bentley Library page isn't exactly accurate. I'm thinking that he spent time at both center and guard and either misspoke or forgot?

Maize said...

John Arbeznik played left guard, in 78 and 79, and in 77 he was a back up right guard, he was right that he was a captain, but it was a year after Ricky graduated, and he was on the 79 Rose bowl team, he just wasn't a center.. It's possible some time at Michigan he took a few snaps at center.. really its all good..

snauta said...

I'll try and find out who this guy is for you if still interested. Sounds like John Arbeznik.

barbeznik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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