When his Big Ten coaching peers heard that Bo Schembechler had left for a vacation in Denmark and Norway late last spring, several of them suggested sarcastically that Bo probably was off looking for a Scandinavian placekicker. Not really. Bo has a 25-year-old ex-GI, Mike Lantry, to do the placekicking this year, and he did not have to go out of the states, just out-of-state to come up with a big parcel of new talent for Michigan's team.
Schembechler always seems to be coming up with something. In his three seasons as coach at Michigan, the Wolverines have been to the Rose Bowl twice and have lost only three regular-season games. And considering imported talent like Gil Chapman, a wingback from Elizabeth City, N.J., the people around Ann Arbor expect Schembechler's success to continue. Chapman is only a sophomore, but after he scored on a 60-yard pass play in the Michigan spring game coaches and alumni were seen jubilantly patting each other on the back. "He's the fastest player I've ever had at Michigan," says Bo, adding that Chapman scored more than 300 points in high school despite having 22 touchdowns called back.
Another newcomer likely to help replace the 13 graduated starters from last year is sophomore Dennis Franklin, a quarterback from that football-rich town, Massillon, Ohio. Schembechler probably will start by alternating the three junior quarterbacks he has returning but by the end of the season, just about the time that Purdue and Ohio State roll around, Franklin to Chapman could be a familiar—and winning—play.
Michigan does have some good veterans left from last year's 11-1 team. Ed Shuttlesworth gained 875 yards at fullback in 1971—even though he started only two games. This season he should do even better.
With Chapman and Shuttlesworth, and a herd of other winged feet, Michigan will have decidedly more speed, but the success of the season may well rest on the broad shoulders of two tackles, Fred Grambau on defense and Paul Seymour on offense. Both are fifth-year men, having been red shirted because of injuries, and Seymour, at least, will have a new and difficult chore. He is a converted tight end who stood out as a blocker for two seasons before Schembechler decided his 6'5", 231 pounds could be put to even better use. Seymour's replacement, 6'6", 225-pound Paul Seal, is no less impressive physically.
The Wolverines have one other thing in their favor. For each of their home games at Michigan's stadium, 101,000 fans turn out to offer enthusiastic support. Thus bolstered, the Wolverine teams have not lost at home to a Big Ten team since 1967. Since they play Ohio State in Columbus, that record should continue.
After Stanford decided to drop the nickname "Indians," leaving the warpaint routines to William & Mary, the Ripon Redmen, the Central Michigan Chippewas and innumerable others, some of the suggestions for a replacement were awful. "Cardinals" and "Thunder-chickens" were two temporary choices. "I thought they would come up with something better, but Thunder-chickens isn't that bad an idea," said new Head Coach Jack Christiansen. "Look at some other suggestions: Pinkos, Cockroaches and Warmongers."
Whatever Stanfordites decide to call themselves by the time of their opener versus San Jose State, the team is going to be quite different from the one that beat Michigan 13-12 in that Rose Bowl thriller last season. Coach John Ralston left to join the Denver Broncos and was replaced by Christiansen, who coached the San Francisco 49ers for five years before joining Ralston's staff in 1968. Thirteen Rose Bowl starters are gone, including Quarterback Don Bunce and Linebacker Jeff Siemon, but Christiansen has enough good material left on The Farm to make a run for a third consecutive Pacific Eight championship. Much depends on Quarterback Mike Boryla, son of ex-pro basketball player Vince (now president of the Utah Stars). He hopes to fill Bunce's shoes the way Bunce filled Jim Plunkett's and it should help that he inherits Bunce's three best receivers. Boryla did well in the spring game but was outplayed by JC transfer Dave Ottmar, who completed 18 of 24 passes and nearly punted the ball out of the Palo Alto city limits. Junior John Winesberry from Oklahoma is moving from wide receiver to running back because, Christiansen says, "We'll have a better percentage handing it to him than passing to him. He's got to be the key to the offense this year. He doesn't know where he's going, so I don't know how the hell anybody else does." Back also is Rod Garcia, who kicked the two field goals against Michigan.
With numerous painful losses on defense, Stanford can't be anything but easier to attack this year. The backfield will be good, with Charles McCloud, a Texan who has not allowed a completion over his head in two years, and Randy Poltl, who had 14 tackles against Michigan. Christiansen must find replacements in the line to aid Pierre Perreault and Roger Cowan. Those two helped make last year's team the best in the league against the rush and in total defense. The newcomers in the middle are a pair of 220-pounders, Pete Hanson and Barry Reynolds. There's experience at linebacker with Jim Merlo and Pat Moore but neither is equal to departed All-America Jeff Siemon. Still, Christiansen is confident, at least outwardly.