Inside the Ford School: Michigan Football 101

It’s the first day of Fall here in Ann Arbor, which means college football is in full swing. While last season looked a bit different due to public health restrictions, Michigan Stadium is open again and fans can be there in person to watch the Maize & Blue take to the turf. 

If you’re new to the University of Michigan, the hype around football can be a bit overwhelming. Game days in Ann Arbor brings tens of thousands of people from all over the country and world to our little corner of the Great Lakes State. So whether you’re returning to the Ford School or setting foot here for the first time, let’s do a crash course on the basics of Michigan Football. 


  • The University of Michigan’s athletic teams are known as the Wolverines, known for their distinctive winged helmet design and bold maize (yellow) & blue uniforms.
  • Since 2015, Jim Harbaugh has served as head coach of the Michigan football team. Previously, Harbaugh was head coach of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal football team. A “Michigan Man” through and through, Harbaugh previously played for the Wolverines as a quarterback from 1982-1986. 
  • The Wolverines play at Michigan Stadium (known as “The Big House”), a massive 107,601-capacity arena that is the largest stadium in the U.S. and the third-largest in the world. 
  • The Wolverines play in the Big 10 Conference and have major rivalries with the Michigan State Spartans and the Ohio State Buckeyes. 
  • The Michigan Wolverines are one of the most successful collegiate football programs in history, holding the record for all-time wins and claiming 11 national championships. 
  • On any game day, you can be sure to hear “The Victors”, the famous fight song of the university. 
  • The only Michigander to serve as president of the United States, our namesake Gerald R. Ford, played football for the Wolverines in the early 1930s before attending Yale Law School and enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

The 2021 season for the Michigan Wolverines:

  • The team is currently 3-0 to start the season after wins against Western Michigan, Washington, and Northern Illinois. 
  • This weekend at 3:30 PM ET, the Wolverines will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan Stadium for the annual Homecoming game.
  • After their undefeated start to the season, the Wolverines are currently ranked 19th in the nation in college football. 
  • Going forward, the Wolverines are set to face the Michigan State Spartans (Oct. 30), the Penn State Nittany Lions (Nov. 13), and the Ohio State Buckeyes (Nov. 27) in Big 10 matchups sure to entertain. 

We could go on and on, but hopefully we’ve given you enough of the basics to really ace those on-campus conversations throughout the season. Stay tuned for more from “Inside the Ford School”.

Inside the Ford School: Policy Pitch Competition Recap

With the semester underway and students, faculty, and staff returning to Weill Hall, the Ford School’s annual Policy Pitch Competition returned for the fourth time on September 14th. Every Ford School MPP student is required to complete a ten-week summer internship between their first and second years in the program. The Policy Pitch Competition gives Fordies an opportunity to share their experiences working in the policy world and reflect on the skills developed and lessons learned. 

At this year’s event, twelve second-year Fordies put on a show for the audience and judges. We’re so lucky to have such a talented, passionate student body here at Ford, and this event was yet another reminder of the special people who make the Ford School what it is. 

Fordies in the Fall 2021 Policy Pitch Competition:

  • Marissa Uchimura, REDF 
  • Maheen Zahid, Save The Children 
  • AJ Convertino, NASA 
  • Kristina Curtiss, City of Detroit 
  • Yasin Shafi, CARE 
  • Bethany Haddad, State of Michigan 
  • Priyanka Panjwani, GAO 
  • Clare Knutson, City of Detroit 
  • Linh Tran-Phuong, City of Chicago 
  • Pisacha Wichianchan, FINRA 
  • Doug Ortiz, Detroit Future City 
  • Justine D’Souza, GAO 

A panel of three judges (Ann Arbor City Councilor Linh Song, Washtenaw County Commissioner Justin Hodge, and Sam Geller ‘17 of the City of Detroit’s Budget Office) evaluated the student presentations and declared Marissa Uchimura, Linh Tranh-Phuong, and Pisacha Wichianchan as first, second, and third place winners, respectively. Audience members were given the chance to vote for their favorite presenter, with Bethany Haddad being crowned the winner of this prize. 

We’re so proud of the students who took part in this event and shared their internship experiences. With the fourth annual event being such a success, we can hardly wait for year five in 2022! 

Be on the lookout for more events happening at the Ford School!

A New Semester at the Ford School

It’s the start of a new semester here at the Ford School and the doors of Weill Hall are finally open once again. For the first time in months, Fordies are coming together in person to dive into the challenges facing our community, state, country, and world. 

Students from numerous backgrounds returned to Weill Hall, some fresh off summer internships, others new to the area and ready to embark on the exciting challenge offered by life at the Ford School. 

Though the semester is in its early days, events are already underway on campus to help Fordies connect with one another and the broader world of public policy. 

Last week, students, faculty, and staff got together outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and some ice cream at Ford’s Fall Launch & Ice Cream Social. On Thursday, UM students had the opportunity to hear from the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission about the new process for mapping Michigan’s congressional and legislative district boundaries for the coming decade. 

As we kick off Week 2 of the semester, we’re celebrating the Michigan Wolverines’ dominant 47-14 victory over the Western Michigan University Broncos last Saturday. Here’s hoping for another win this weekend as the Wolverines take on the Washington Huskies. Go Blue!

Distinguished alumni, faculty, and leaders from a variety of sectors are always coming to campus to discuss the topics of the day. Be on the lookout for exciting Ford School and UM events in the coming weeks!