In November 2009, Dave Hirth didn’t know what to do. Here, in the middle of another bad Michigan football season, the co-owner of the M Den, the school’s official sports retailer, was forced to place his order with adidas for the following year’s jerseys. What number would he pick when the team didn’t have a clear-cut star?
“For the first time in a long time, there was nobody,” Hirth said. “So we made the best decision, which was to buy a large quantity of blank jerseys.”
In the Ann Arbor store’s long history, they had never done this, but that decision will at least pay off a bit when No. 16 jerseys hit his store again today.
That’s the number of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson of course. In two games, the kid they call “shoelace,” since he doesn’t tie his shoes, has accounted for 885 yards of total offense. Last week, his 258 yards in a win against Notre Dame broke the Big Ten rushing record for a quarterback and put Robinson at the top of the Heisman favorite list.
The M Den quickly sold out of the No. 16 replica jerseys it already had made when Robinson got hot. Today, the store received the blank jerseys that they had screen printed ($60) with the No. 16 and the sewn jerseys, which cost $75, will be in next week thanks to around the clock work. For fans with total confidence in Robinson, the authentics cost $150.
“Sure this is Michigan football, but we’ve never really had a rockstar like this before,” Hirth said. “We’ve had great players, but this kid has a cosmic impact. Desmond Howard was great, but he tied his shoelaces.”
Hirth says he’s happy about the program and happy for Robinson, who he describes as a humble kid. If Robinson continues to shine, Hirth is going to have a good problem.
“There’s no way we can make enough jerseys to keep up with demand,” Hirth said. “It really takes four to six months to make these jerseys. So we have to be content with what we can get.”
Even though the No. 16 sales are clearly because of Denard Robinson, Hirth said he doesn’t believe student athletes should get a royalty cut of their jersey sales.
Update: "M-Den and other key retailers received significant re-stock today of #16 Michigan jerseys to meet the high demand," said adidas spokesman Paul Jackiewicz. "Adidas is in a great inventory position to meet current and upcoming needs."
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