Dave Brandon lays out 'Legend' jersey plan, says Michigan still working with family of Tom Harmon
The old way of retiring numbers was "lousy."
And the new way fixes the issue.
"The Michigan tradition for retiring jerseys in football was a pretty lousy one," Brandon said earlier this week. "Most of the players with retired jerseys, the ceremony consisted of the coach going and telling the equipment manager not to give out that number.
"Other than President (Gerald) Ford, there was never an on-field celebration. We did research, and 99 percent of our fans couldn't name the jerseys that were retired -- either the numbers or the people. … And I thought that was horrible."
Brandon unveiled his "Legend" jersey program last season by honoring Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard before the 2011 Notre Dame game. For that game, and for the rest of the season, wide receiver Junior Hemingway wore a special No. 21 patch on his shoulder to honor Howard's achievements.
This season, wide receiver Roy Roundtree takes over the No. 21 -- and the special patch and commemorative locker that goes along with it.
In addition, the Wolverines will unveil four new jerseys this season -- honoring Ford's No. 48, Ron Kramer's No. 87, Bennie Oosterbaan's No. 47 and Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert's No. 11.
Each uniform will be honored with a special ceremony prior to kickoff of one hame game throughout the season, starting with Oosterbaan's No. 47 before the Air Force game on Sept. 8.
From there, one player -- chosen by head coach Brady Hoke -- will wear the commemorative number for the rest of the year.
"What you'll see is exactly what you saw with Desmond," Brandon said. "The team will come out and warm up and the jersey won't be on the field. The team will go back up in the tunnel, we'll do the ceremony during pregame and when the team runs back out of the tunnel there will be a player wearing that jersey."
One number that won't be re-circulated this season is the No. 98 of former Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon. Harmon, who passed away in 1990, will be honored with a ceremony prior to the Michigan State game -- but his jersey will not be handed out that day.
Brandon said Michigan is in discussion with the Harmon family to find a way to eventually re-circulate his number, and said one reason it won't be re-issued this season has to do with logistics.
"Obviously we love it when the families are part of this, because it's a celebration," Brandon said. "It's an opportunity for us not only to recognize and celebrate the legendary player, but also provide a lot of positive feelings for the family members.
"It's not that we're looking for consent, but we love to have the families participate. In virtually every other case, we've been able to work the timing of the game with the availability with the appropriate family members to make it a neat celebration. … With the Harmon family, it's probably a little trickier because they're busy. We're working through that."
Brandon was quick to point out that future seasons will not see such a high volume of Legend jersey introductions (as it will this year), and that the program will be something that happens "ever so infrequently" from here on out.
Asked whether or not he'd consider making the famed No. 1 jersey an official Legends uniform, Brandon said he wasn't touching that one.
"I don't want anything to do with the (No.) 1 jersey," Brandon said. "I have no opinions, views or interests with the 1 jersey.
"That's totally a coaching decision."