Rays of Light: Being Nice Gets You Beat

Former Michigan standout and Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray shares his candid thoughts on "stake gate" and sounds off on those that were critical of it as being "beneath Michigan" and "classless". The former All American safety reflected on similar acts during his days as a player and discussed how the attitude the 1997 championship team played with was a key element in winning.

EDT Note: I was on a bit of an island with my take on “stake gate,” but that has done nothing to change my stance.  I asked Ray for his take on the incident and the reaction.  The rest was radio gold.

Marcus Ray:  “I’m going to join this island with you.  I think you’re looking at it right.  All the antiques, they really don’t matter.  People say, oh that’s beneath Michigan, that’s not Michigan.  Well what is Michigan?  Because let me tell you something being nice from 1993 to 1996 got us four losses.  You don’t have to be classless.  I think that the performance if anything was classless by Michigan as far as their on the field.  That was more disgusting than watching Joe Bolden stick a little tent stake in the ground.  So what, he popped off, he went out there and Michigan couldn’t back it up.  In ’96 when Ohio State was undefeated, #1 in the country, we went down to their house on senior day and Bellisari and those guys were coming out the tunnel, Jared Irons is looking at me and I say Jared I’m getting ready to run on the field.  He said, no let’s wait, let’s be respectful and wait for Bellisari and his mom.  I said, Bo Schembechler said, there is no stragglers.  So if I run, you’ve got to run and guess what, I start winding up…you know how that little bull starts to come out.  I start winding up like that and I took the field and we all ran and bumped into Bellisari and his mom.  Is that not Michigan?  No, but so what.  We’ve got a psychological advantage over Ohio State.  We stomped on the O.  Kicked up some of the grass and looked at their sideline.  No that’s not Michigan.  No Lloyd Carr didn’t promote that, but we had a group of players who could back it up and we were ready to fight.  We went out there and won 13-9.  Then nobody complained then.  People tend to forget that ’97 was a bunch of renegades.  We got tired of being nice.  No we’re not going to help you up off the ground.  We want to talk to trash to you and your coach because it is all about an attitude.  So to sit there and act like, oh, antics or comments, man if that stuff works against you, then you weren’t ready to play.  If you say some bulletin board material and it gets another team ready to go, then they weren’t ready to play.  This game is won and lost on the field and has nothing to do with antics.  Like Terrance Quinn told you, hey, you know what.  We were on the punt return, I looked at the Michigan State in the face on the field and said, you’re ugly.  You’re ugly and your momma’s ugly and I’m about to block you and work you like a part time job.  The next thing you know that’s what happened.  When you play in these rivalry games, there ain’t no love.  That’s your enemy.  That’s your natural born enemy and you do whatever it takes to win as long as you play clean football.  There were times when I hit people on the sideline against Ohio State and I looked John Cooper in the face.  I said, if Pepe Pearson’s backup ain’t ready, it’s over, because he ain’t going to finish.  Which one of you had my jersey on this week on the scout team?  I was popping off like that and after the ’96 interception, I looked at John Cooper and said this is my house!  I’m from Columbus, Ohio, not you and he tucked his head and ran off the sideline and Michigan walked away with the victory.  Ask Bruce Madej, he was standing right there.  So when I saw Bruce, I said this is my house, oh this is our house.  I tried to get a little more Michigan.  All that nice guy stuff gets you beat.  Nice guys finish last and as long as you run a clean program, you play good football, I don’t care what you do if.  If he stuck a stake in the ground, he should have backed it up.  His teammates couldn’t do it, but I don’t have any problem.  You need attitude.  People tend to forget that the ’97 Champions, the best team in the history of this program had attitude, had renegades, had guys who went out and chocked the life out of people.  You don’t think we weren’t talking trash to Penn State.  You think it is Michigan to look Joe Paterno in the face and say, is he dead?  Is that Michigan?”

Sam Webb:  I think someone told me that some player on the ’97 team looked at Joe Paterno and said shut old man.

Marcus Ray:  “I said that.  I looked at Joe Paterno when Daydrion knocked out Bob Stephenson.  I said Bob Stephenson are you dead and Joe Paterno, hey get out of here.  No you shut up old man.  This is our stadium!  Oh that’s not Michigan, that’s beneath Michigan, but you’ll take the 34-8 win.  You’ll take the National Championship.  So it was about intimidation.  We were Michigan.  We wear the winged helmets.  We’re going to bring the fight to you and if there is a little bit of antics that go with it then so be it, but that how you roughhouse people.  You want to know the difference between going 3-9, 7-5, 10-2 and 12-0 is attitude.  We had guys that could back it up and go in your house and whoop you right in front of you and your family, take your food and run up out of there and you couldn’t do nothing about it.  Those are facts.  Part of me wished I had a Michigan flag because I would have stuck it right in front of Ohio State’s field in ’96.  I would have planted a Michigan flag right on that Spartan S, right in their turf and did the Tony Atlas Superman and say, now what are you going to do about it.  When we have four straight seasons with four losses, that’s what it came to.  We rewrote  how you play football at Michigan.  So all that, that’s beneath Michigan, yeah and that’ll get you four losses too.  Sometimes it may take a little bit extra, but the only problem is that you’d  better be able to back it up and don’t apologize after you do it.  You just own it.  Yeah, he stuck a stake in the ground, okay so what, we lost.  He didn’t back it up.  You don’t ever apologize to your enemy because he wants your neck.  He wants your blood Sam.  You understand?”

To listen to the rest of Ray's take, press play below.

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