Good stories, indeed.
"The best thing about doing his games this year simply is being able to go to the games," the father says. "I can go a day early, we can have dinner on Thursday night and just talk. Not about football. Just talk about anything. It's the college football experience. I can be a part of it with him, the way my parents were with me."
The broadcasting approach now is that the father can talk about the son, acknowledge the relationship. The father still edits himself—believes, in fact, that he might edit too closely, give praise too slowly—but can allow that he knows more than he's saying about the son. In two of the first three weeks this season the father was assigned to Michigan games, and the son directed the offense in both games, victories over Colorado and Notre Dame. "It's funny," the father says. "The first game of the season, I showed up with all these notes in my head. I was going over them, and I forgot Brian was playing. I always look at the quarterbacks and the kickers during warmups, and I said to myself, Hey, how's Brian doing?"
"Before the game he was nervous," the son says. "I said, 'You're more nervous about this game than I am.' "
ABC isn't nervous. It enjoys the situation. "Our position is, 'Let's loosen 'em up," Tortorici says. "This isn't going to happen very often. Let's take advantage of it."
Last spring the son received his bachelor's degree in environmental sciences, and he debated whether to return for a fifth year at Michigan. "I think his brother Jeff, who's a banker now, had the best argument," the father says. "Jeff told him, 'You know, you're going to be working for a long time once you leave college." The decision looks solid. After last Saturday's 37-0 victory over Indiana—in which the son passed for 204 yards and a touchdown in less than three quarters of playing time—the Wolverines were 4-0 and ranked sixth. Michigan could appear on two more ABC national broadcasts, against Penn State on Nov. 8 and Ohio State on Nov. 22.
The father and the son talk at least once a week on the phone—"more, if I need money," says the son. They compare notes, compare games, compare lives. They are able to enjoy this special year. The father is happily remarried, successful in investing in addition to broadcasting. The son is following in familiar footsteps.
"Just now there was a show on television, a replay of whatever Super Bowl my father played in when the Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings," the son says of Super Bowl VIII. "It was surreal watching it. He played so much the way I'd like to play. The announcer said at the end that my father had completed only six of seven passes passes, but that they all were important. That's exactly what I'd like to do. Complete six passes but have every one of them mean something. Win the game."
ABC, it should be mentioned, will broadcast the Rose Bowl.