What was that on the side of Michigan's football helmets during Saturday's 58-0 win over Minnesota?
Those, Wolverines fans, were numbers. Just like the ones Michigan wore on their throwback helmets against Notre Dame on Sept. 10. And they'll be on those helmets for the rest of this season.
The players liked the look of the throwback helmets so much that the seniors approached coach Brady Hoke to ask if they could keep wearing them. Hoke gave the go-ahead, allowing Michigan to wear the helmets in every Big Ten game this season.
"That was my decision, because we want to honor those guys who wore those numbers before," [Hoke] said.
It'll be interesting to see what sort of reaction Michigan fans and bloggers will have to the helmets coming out of the weekend. I imagine the initial reaction for many was similar to mine.
"What are you doing, putting something else on those helmets?"
But I'm kind of a purist when it comes to those helmets. I don't want to see the old helmet stickers return, either. (Though I know a contingent of fans — perhaps a sizable one — feels differently.) Hey, I didn't want to see shoe company logos on the jerseys, either. There's a fight that was given up long ago.
But the numbers grew on me as the Minnesota game progressed. (They were my favorite part of the throwback uniforms, anyway.) They're not too big and are placed perfectly. They don't take away from the wing design and certainly don't cover anything up like helmet stickers would.
I guess if I really wanted to be nitpicky, I might wish that the helmet numbers were in more of a block style like the jersey numbers are. But that's really slicing it thin, and I don't feel that strongly about it.
For a one-season flourish, why not? As Hoke said, the helmet numbers some of the players that wore those numbers before by harkening back to past eras of Michigan football. They also add something special to Hoke's first season as head coach. And perhaps most importantly, the players wanted the helmet numbers to return. Obviously, this holds some kind of meaning, even if they just think the numbers look cool.
Hopefully, the 2011 Michigan football season is remembered for bigger things. But this thing has kind of a special feeling to it.