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Posted on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Brady Hoke says Michigan plans to re-issue Gerald Ford's retired No. 48 jersey this year, no plans for No. 1

By Nick Baumgardner

Desmond Howard became the first ever "Michigan Football Legend" last season.

And now, it appears a second "Legend" could be in the works.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke told Jox 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. on Tuesday that the Wolverines have plans to honor former President Gerald Ford's No. 48 next season.

"We're honoring Desmond Howard now every year with one of our players (senior receiver Roy Roundtree) who really deserves it," Hoke told the station. "We're going to do the same with Gerald Ford's jersey here this year."

UM MSU Gerald Ford halftime.jpg

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke told an Alabama radio station Tuesday that the program has plans to honor former President Gerald Ford's No. 48 next season.

Larry E. Wright | The Ann Arbor News

Ford, who won three varsity letters at Michigan from 1932-34, was named Michigan's Most Valuable Player as the team's starting center in 1934.

His No. 48 is one of five numbers that are retired by the program. The Wolverines retired Ford's jersey in 1994 during a home game against Michigan State.

The last Michigan player to wear the No. 48 jersey was linebacker Dave Dobreff in 1992.

Michigan's other four retired jerseys are: No. 47 (Bennie Oosterbaan), No. 11 (Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert), No. 98 (Tom Harmon) and No. 87 (Ron Kramer).

Last season, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon honored Howard, one of Michigan's three Heisman Trophy winners, with the original distinction of a Michigan Legend prior to the team's home win over Notre Dame.

“This is a great way to honor our legends,” Brandon said at the time. “Desmond will be the first in what will become a unique way to honor some of our Michigan football greats.

“Many of our current fans and players don’t know or remember the five jerseys that we previously retired and who wore them. The concept is a visible representations of iconic figures in our program’s storied history that fans across the country will see every Saturday.”

As for Michigan's other legendary number, the No. 1, Hoke said there are no immediate plans to have a player don that uniform.

Although, that doesn't mean another won't get a shot to wear it down the road at some point.

"I think in the near future, but I can't tell you it'd be this season," Hoke said. "That's something we're doing a lot of thinking about.

"There's a lot of things we're looking at doing. Right now, that No. 1 is still hanging in the locker."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

How Hokie. Retired means RETIRED. Disrespectful. No threat!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

I wrote an article about this too. Check it out! The M Block!!! GO BLUE!!!


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

I know a lot of people think it's an absolutely great idea put forth by "the greatest coach in the history of the world". I wonder how many would have the same reaction if Rich Rodriguez would have proposed this.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

It is a terrible terrible idea.. WHY? I agree with Chris Potter what about Charles Woodson , he has done so much for Michigan. President Gerald Ford was a legend let him stay that way. Did they get a permission from the children of Gerald Ford?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

>>> Did they get a permission from the children of Gerald Ford? In a word: "Yes"


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:14 a.m.

I like the idea, but I'm also not crazy about it. I would though however like to hear why people voted for who they did.

Christopher Potter

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

Please explain: Why does the jersey #21 rate as "special" and #2 doesn't? Was Desmond Howard more of a "Michigan Legend" than Charles Woodson? And why does he get exclusive citation for the number? Does anyone recall a guy named Biakabutuka who also wore #21 and ripped Ohio State up, down and sideways? That seemed pretty legendary to me. Hey, Dave Brandon: Why don't you initiate a fan poll in which we can vote on who was the best U-M gridder to wear each number 1 through 99, and have the largest vote-getters "specialized?" Sounds like even more fun than turning up M-Stadium's recorded music to ear-splitting decibels or putting the players in clown-suit uniforms for the big games! Chris Potter P.S. to Dave: I vote Democratic (I know you don't), but sometimes tradition surely trumps innovation. Please recall we got rid of the Halo, and we can also get rid of you.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I hear that Brandon wants to run for governor in Michigan. He was voted off of the Board of Regents. Never could get past Little Caesars. Nothing more than a poor man's Mark Hollis! Can he get WJR back rather than have Michigan sports broadcast on a 2nd rate network? If he were smart he get rid of "Frank" and "Brando". Those 2 are an embarrassment! There is no threat!


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

They just started the Michigan Football Legend program last year. Give it some time to play out before complaining about who isn't included. Woodson WILL get there, rest assured (as will AC; and the other two retired numbers if their families like the idea). It's just that the timing last year was such that it made sense to do Howard at the time, to coincide with his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Woodson will most certainly get there, too. As for "Touchdown Tim", he was quite a good back who had a great day against OSU to cap off an excellent year. However, overall for his career, as good as he was, he was only "quite good". Michigan has had 126 first team All Americans (including 20 multi-time first teamers), and Biakabutuka is not among them. If Biakabutuka clears the bar that we set for getting a Legend Patch, then we would have to have about 200 of them. This is meant to be a more exclusive honor than that.

Steve McQueen

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Wearing #48 would be an incredible honor for Jordan Kovacs. Richly deserved too.

Dexter Man

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

Who dreams up these things? Must we change everything ? Eliminate the Rose Bowl for the Big Ten champ. Take numbers out of retirement. How about replacing the winged helmet?


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 4:58 a.m.

Princeton wore the winged helmets first. Michigan wore them second. Point proven. No wonder that they named a basetball arena after Fritz. No threat!


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Stolen from Princeton? Apparently you didn't know that Fritz Crisler, the coach who brought the winged helmet to Michigan, coached at Princeton prior to coming to Ann Arbor. He was the one who introduced Princeton to the winged helmet. Michigan didn't steal the helmet; Crisler just brought his own innovation to Michigan. Nice try though, you clearly know your Michigan facts.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

It would be a good idea to replace the winged helmet...stolen from Princeton! Michigan's newest "tradition" is 0-4! Where's the threat?

Paul R Lamse

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

Was Ford's number retired because of his football (or leadership) skills? Or because he was President? The others I understand.

Jim Osborn

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Because of his football team leadership skills. Have you heard the story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Game? If not, go see the movie "Black and Blue". The University of Michigan football team was scheduled to play Georgia Tech in 1934. Gerald FOrd's best friend and team mate, Willis Ward would not be allowed to play because he was black and this southern team would not play Michigan if they fielded him. Michigan wimped out and benched Ward. Ford then refused to play as well. The news spread about this and angered of many U-M faculty and students. Protests followed... go read the book or watch the movie. Ford woas too much of a gentleman to have used this in his race against Jimmy Carter.

Paul R Lamse

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

To me, putting a number on a shelf is not so much of an honor. Even at 69 years old, I haven't seen most of those players play, and I can't imagine how a 20 or 30 something year old can relate either. "Out of sight, out of mind." I love what the Tigers do with the statues and the numbers. Always visible to the fan. I'm not sure what to do, but putting them out of sight doesn't do it for me.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

you Blue and Yellow fans amaze me.whatever story the athletic department puts out you automatically buy into.this is purely and simply a PR move.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

Did you read ANY of the comments?

Wendy Moore

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

For what purpose?? What is the master plan here that is being hidden? What is the benefit that we "Blue and Yellow" fans are missing? Incoming players can now pick any number? Is that the big payoff? What you are saying just makes no sense!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

it's retired how can you let anyone wear it?

Wendy Moore

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

It cracks me up how many people think that Michigan is so desperate to put these numbers back into rotation, that they have come up with a "spin" or a "scheme" to do it. This is being done as an honor, and no other reason. Michigan football does not need to put 5 retired numbers back into rotation, just because they need more numbers. They want to continue this unique way of honoring their legends that they began with Desmond. You can like or dislike the idea, but those of you that honestly believe that this is just "spin" so they can get those numbers back into rotation, that is just plain foolishness!!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

TRU Blue aren't you.wake up this is a PR move.Nothing More, Nothing Less.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

Isn't this a contradiction? I mean, how does wearing somebody else number, that was retired to honor them, going to honor them? Wasn't retiring their number an honor to them, making sure nobody else would wear that number? I'm confused. There has to be a better way to honor a historic player that has already been honored by retiring their number.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Yes, I too would be honored to wear another legends number. But the point is not to make the current players feel honored, but to honor the past player. UN-retiring their number does not honor them, IMHO. Retiring their number honors them, oh wait, they already did that, but now they are UN-retiring it. It just doesn't make sense to me.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

I would feel honored to wear a number. Maybe giving the players an honorary number might drive them to work harder, prove that they can be just like the players that wore it before them. But maybe that's just me.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Only time will tell. This is one of those ideas which needs to be demonstrated before it can be judged. My vote is, "wait and see."


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

how can you unretire a number.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

I WOULD LOVE TO SEE DENARD WEAR NUMBER #98 in Columbus this year, and let him digest the footage of Tom Harmon tearing up the turf, through the air, on the ground, and with his foot, on his way the only standing ovation for an opposing player in Ohio stadium history. Question, if Denard had a legendary performance, in that game, with that jersey, would the losers in Ohio give him the second ever standing O? Something tells me they would not.


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Won't have to worry about it. Your team is going to get stomped in Columbus. Where's the threat?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Absolutely terrible idea and not very well thought through. How are they going to guarantee that the young man representing the Legend will be a fine upstanding citizen/football player? What happens if/when he does something stupid to disrespect and and embarrass the Legend's number and the University? It does happen you know. Out of respect, leave the Legend's numbers alone.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

Keep shaking the old out of this football program, Coach Hoke and AD Brandon! This sounds like a fantastic new tradition, what an honor to wear President Ford number it will be for the next generation of players. Now, let's get some big home-and-homes on our schedule, Michigan can't be outdone by Sparty, with home-and-homes against Oregon and Alabama beginning in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Be fearless! Go Blue!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Didn't know coach Hoke was a Democrat.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

If more than one player has a standout career wearing a legend number, it just adds to the legend. Just like with the #1 jersey. If it was me that made the number legendary or added to it's legend, I'd rather see it on a special player on the field becoming more legendary than sitting in a case somewhere obscure collecting dust.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

I think they should just say they're taking President Ford's number out of retirement, or un-retiring the number as Craig Lounsbury says. The "honor" part is just a way to put a positive spin on it. I wonder how the Ford family feels about this. It would be nice to get a quote from one of them on it.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

I say, if they want to honor these old guys and numbers make a nice big flag for each of the 5 retired number's and find 5 students to run a lap around the field with the flags at some opportune time during the game. But don't don't don't unretire them. It looks bad. Thats my opinion.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Great idea!! This number should probably be reserved for a leader (and best!). That seems to translate to Jordan Kovacs out of the names suggested in the poll. It also seems like it's about time to "retire" #1 for Legends recognition!


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Kovacs is a mediocre player. Ex walk on is a great story. No threat!

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

I don't like the idea. I understand that in football, unlike other sports, retiring a number is not practical. This is why 21 and 2 are still in use. But the retirements happened, and they need to be respected.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

BiSD, While I understand your point it essentially calls for an end to the sports tradition of retiring numbers. Because to retire a number has traditionally meant no one else will ever where it. Clearly there have been exceptions over the years but that has been the generally accepted definition.

Blue in San Diego

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

I think this is a good idea. Yes -- the retirements happened, but the problem is that we forget the players who are retired. Keeping the numbers in circulation with special patches means that there will be commentary about the former player whenever the current player is highlighted. It makes the Michigan football tradition have more relevance for the modern and future fans, who might otherwise not be familiar with Oosterbaan, the Wistert brothers, or this Ford fellow...

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.


Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

how about putting a poll option... David Brandon sits in a corner for 48 minutes with a dunce cap on? Consider that my vote.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

I must be dimwitted. I read this twice..... Are they going to "unretire" a number and spin that as an "honor"? I'm not sure I would have ever retired Gerald Fords number to begin with but once its done its done. You don't unretire retired numbers...unless your a bush league organization like the 1993 Detroit Lions.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

The idea is very neat, but the only question I have is really going forward: How do the current crop of athletes (and future athletes) develop their own legacy and number if they are wearing a legend's number which is given as a reward? Desmond wore his 21 for his entire career and established it as a special jersey; same with AC (which then morphed into Derrick Alexander, Butterfield, Edwards). Now it is to be with President Ford. What about Denard? What if he finishes with a championship, a Heisman, etc? Well, he has 16 so that is not a retread. But what kind of legacy could Roundtree even have since he only switched number this years? It is something that DB and coach Hoke probably didn't consider. How does a star become a future legend with his own unique jersey?

Paul R Lamse

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

A "new" star could have his 3 year number honored, as that's how most of us would remember him. The old honored number wouldn't be significant to him.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Perhaps have a player wear his own numbered jersey for the entire season, then honor that players accomplishments by having them wear the Gerald Ford #48 jersey during the OSU game only. Then the announcers, etc can talk about it's significance during the most significant game of the season to further immortalize Ford while keeping the jersey mostly retired and still giving that player their own number with which to build their own legacy.

Nick Baumgardner

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Heartbreak wins the question of the day award. Great point. What happens if another player has a "legend" season in another legend's jersey? Very interesting indeed.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

This is a good idea. It should make some appreciate the meaning of the retired jerseys being worn by those who earned the honor of wearing them. Given the corps of recievers coming in, it wouldn't surprise me to see ole number one be worn in a few years. GO BLUE!!


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

DRob has no legacy other than 0-3 vs. Michigan State! No threat!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

In keeping with Hoke's mantra, I'm guessing they are going to the individual player and allowing them to decide if they want to give up their number in favor of the legends jersey. That way the player decides their own fate in terms of legacy. Also, with D Rob's example, if he wore a different jersey, I'm not so sure his legacy would be in jeopardy as number #16.