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Posted on Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 6:55 p.m.

Behind The Music: How Michigan picks songs for its football practices

By Michael Rothstein

The DJs set their songs, surfing through iTunes, CDs and MP3s in order to put together a compilation of music each day for Michigan football practice.

At a college football program, there should be no surprise that the selections aren't at random. In fact, there are two people in charge.

Recruiting coordinator Chris Singletary and external relations administrative assistant Dusty Rutledge split the roles of music selector and sound guy for the Wolverines. Their duties range from meeting with coaches about potential musical themes to having a quick coordination of playing the “Ole, Ole” song when the kickers line up for field goals.

The playlist is at 300 songs and growing, almost all coming as suggestions from players and coaches ranging from rap to the Four Tops to a recent play during stretching, “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”

“That was the weirdest,” Singletary said. “The kickers and the specialists, that’s their request. They love that song.”


They’ve had varied playlists, too. In one practice, the soundtrack bounced from “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” by Twisted Sister to “Swing” by Savage. The only rule is this - the music played is clean and without cursing.

Otherwise, players and coaches can submit whatever they want. Other programs play music during practice as well, but not every program allows players to have such a large say in what is played.

“Whatever we need to do to get practice going the way Coach Rod wants it to go and have the players juiced up and having some fun while they are working hard,” Singletary said. “That’s one of the things they did at West Virginia and brought it here and the players seem to really love it. It’s a change of pace for everybody and it’s fun.”

That was evident during recent practices as offensive linemen seemed to be moving during stretching in some coordination to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and Greg Mathews appeared to be dancing around as a way to loosen up before catching punts.

Not to say there isn’t a purpose behind it. The music is being used at points to teach quarterbacks to speak up in huddles and to simulate crowd noise. For every “Stanky Legg” during a stretching drill, Singletary and Rutledge also work in “Jump Around,” which is a staple at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium and “”Kernkraft 400,” (better known as Zombie Nation, which is actually the artist), a popular Penn State pick.


“When you hear those things also, it teaches them how to deal with the crowd noise and with distractions,” Singletary said. “With the offense, how the quarterback’s really got to be loud on the signals from the sidelines and that nature and also to get their voices up so that the rest of the linemen can hear what they are saying and the receivers.

“So at the end of the day, there is a method to the madness.”


Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 3:10 p.m.

It is an interesting technique. I just hope the players choices don't serve as a distraction becuase they are dancing instead of practicing. A suggestion I would have for the DJs is some live cuts that have crowd noise in them...perhaps some Frampton comes Alive or Bob Seager and the silver bullet band live in Detroit

Laura Bien

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 12:23 p.m.

Showed "Cotton-Eyed Joe" vid to my husband and haven't heard him laugh so much in a while. The cacti and randomly-stuck-up handfuls of olde-tyme-kountry-style straw add a lovely, surreal accent. The lyrics, sung by a male singer, are also mind-bending: "If it hadn't been for Cotton-Eyed Joe, I'd have been married a long time ago." What in the Sam Hill does that mean? Ah, phooey, doesn't matter--it's a delight! Thanks!

Michael Rothstein

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 11:32 a.m.

Glad to hear so many people liked the Cotton-Eyed Joe video. I really couldn't stop laughing for like 15 minutes afterward. There's a couple other good ones out there. As long as CEJ remains in the Michigan rotation, I'll throw one in the practice observations whenever it comes on the playlist I hear. Because, well, they are hilarious.


Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 11:18 a.m.

The Cotton-Eyed Joe video was excellent!

Michael Rothstein

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 8:25 a.m.

Greg, You're probably right unless the "Gettin busy" phrase meant studying playbooks. Not that I was around for Lloyd, but Michigan's practices are just much more, well, fun than a lot of other football practices I've been around.

Greg Dooley

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 8:23 a.m.

I was wondering the same thing, thanks for this post. I'm not sure you'd hear the phrase "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom" during one of Lloyd Carr's practices.


Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 10:56 p.m.

Music has always been an important way I do many activities. Thanks for this article and a bigger thanks for adding YOU TUBE examples for each song discussed. This example of richer content in an article contrasts to what would have been in the old AA News. (good as it was)


Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 8:52 p.m.

Michigan definitely needs to start a rowdy crowd roar tradition like those above...too much stuff shirts

Laura Bien

Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 8:48 p.m.

Interestingly offbeat story. "Cotton-Eyed Joe"? Weirdly enchanting song and video.


Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 5:50 p.m.

With Theo and Will on guard, Vic'tries won't be hard. Will is a singin' And Theo is bringin' A ticket to the Big Dance card! (BCS, that is.) -Theo Ceeohaich '09 Nice to see ya again, Will!! You, tater, and trashel did a marvelous job during my sabattical. I see we're now nearly troll-free and our way to a marvelous season. Lookin' forward to more of your smash hits! Best regards, Theo


Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 4:58 p.m.

I wonder if I should send them my newest song? It's called, "Cryin' Time Again In Columbus."