Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: If These Walls Could Talk by Jon Falk

Peg Canham (former A.D. Don Canham's widow) and Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk

Given to me as a Christmas gift, I recently finished the book written by Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk and author Dan Ewald.  Called If These Walls Could Talk, it covers the last four decades of Michigan football from Falk's perspective.

The narrative moves chronologically from the beginning of Falk's career at Miami (OH); to following Bo Schembechler north to Ann Arbor; to Schembechler's successors Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, and Rich Rodriguez.  Along the way, Falk shares many light-hearted stories about the four coaches and various players along the way.  But make no mistake - this book is an ode to Coach Schembechler.

I asked for the book because I thought Falk might share some inside stories about the Michigan football program, and there were numerous anecdotes about Bo, the Ohio State rivalry, and star players from Michigan football history.  But rather than making the book about Michigan football, it seemed to dwell on Falk himself.  And while I'm sure Falk is a nice enough guy, there seemed to be a lot of filler and fluff.  Ewald inserted countless tributes from former players and co-workers riffing on what a great guy Jon Falk is, how he develops an almost coach-level rapport with the players, and how former players and coaches always make a point to stop by and say hello to Falk when they're back in town.

This is not to say that the book is a pointless read.  There are occasional interesting tidbits.  But if you're looking for dirt on anyone, you won't find it.  In fact, the downest and dirtiest Falk gets is when he chastises Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn for badmouthing Michigan . . . and then praises Glenn for stepping up like a man and taking the admonishment in stride.

As one might expect in a book about an equipment manager, this book is intended for only the most hardcore fans, and since I write a Michigan football blog, I guess I count.  The biggest factor that kept me turning pages was the chronological order, which made me think there would be some juicy or interesting stories about the Carr or Rodriguez regime coming at the end of the book (there weren't).  But the fawning stories about Bo Schembechler and rivalry games made it a worthwhile read for me.


  1. Thanks for the review. Now I'll have no temptation to ever read it.

  2. I've read a lot of your stuff and know you're an intelligent writer, so I don't think you'll get ornery over me nitpicking your spelling. I think the word you want in the review is "rapport" re: Falk's relationships with the players.

    Thank you for the review and all of your objective analysis about the team I love the most.

  3. @ Anonymous 1:54 p.m.

    You are absolutely correct. That's what I get for not proofreading.