A reader at MGoBlog recently got to tour Michigan Stadium and its locker rooms, and one surprise that he saw there—we assume it's a he because there were a bunch of dads on the tour with their four-year-olds—was a special locker for Roy Roundtree, classed up with dark wood, as part of the Michigan Legends program that has been started.
According to the tour guide, four more similar lockers have been ordered.
We're on the record as supporting the Michigan Legends program, and that's because it's better to pay homage to the legends of the team in an active sense like this than just taking numbers out of circulation and expecting fans to understand why.
But there's a nuanced point to be made about this, and as much as the sports wing of the Internet abhors nuance, we'll try anyway: this special locker isn't a bad idea, but it's better to want it than to have it.
Allow us to explain.
The nice thing about the "Legends" uniforms that Michigan is bringing back into rotation is that, aside from the patch, they're still just Michigan uniforms like everyone else's. The only difference is that the number has more historical significance.
If, say, the special uniforms were maize while everyone else's were blue, though, that would be different (and probably illegal). It'd be, well, a bit much. And that's sort of where we are with the wood locker.
It doesn't accomplish much but to set the player in it apart. It's not more functional or anything, it's just something that guy (or eventually "those guys") gets to have and the rest of the team doesn't get to have. And that's fine, perks can be cool—Urban Meyer's system thrives on those—but by and large, it seems like the locker room's an odd place to go about singling out players.
But if this isn't about the actual player at all—if it's about everyone else—then there's some value to this.
You want to give players something to strive for. You want to be able to bring recruits into a locker room and say "You come here, son, and this wood locker's gonna have your name on it one day." You want to add mystique for those that don't have it and want it.
So in that sense, yeah, this is a pretty stellar motivational tactic. It's just that once you have it, the benefit pretty much stops there.