- Dan Murphy, ESPN Staff Writer
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Michigan football plans to retire (or re-retire) six jersey numbers worn by former famous Wolverines this year at a ceremony before the Ohio State game in Ann Arbor on Nov. 28.
The six jersey numbers were worn in recent games with special “Legends” patches on the shoulder. After speaking with many alumni from the program, the school has decided to pull those numbers back off the field. The numbers include 98 (previously worn by Tom Harmon), 87 (Ron Kramer), 48 (Gerald Ford), 47 (Bennie Oosterbaan), 21 (Desmond Howard) and 11 (Albert, Alvin and Whitey Wistert).
Interim athletic director Jim Hackett released a statement this afternoon and explained that former players and the families of the “Legend” players were on board with the decision.
“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall,” Hackett said. “Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found an area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”
Michigan decided to return those numbers to the regular roster in the 2012 season under former athletic director Dave Brandon. Brandon, who resigned last October, introduced the idea at a 2011 game against Notre Dame when Desmond Howard’s No. 21 jersey became the first to receive a “Legends” patch. Howard’s number was never officially retired, but that will change at the Ohio State game in November.
The only current Michigan player who will be affected by the change is linebacker Desmond Morgan. The fifth-year senior wore No. 48 last year and will have to switch to a new jersey this season.
On Tuesday, head coach Jim Harbaugh said he doesn’t think Michigan will wear any alternate uniforms in its final season with adidas. The school signed a 15-year contract, which will begin next summer, with Nike earlier this month. Harbaugh also said the team is considering adding pride stickers to Michigan’s helmets this year, but hasn’t reached a final decision on that subject yet.