By failing to qualify for a bowl game for the first time in thirty-three years, the Michigan football team missed out on some nice perks. Bowl game sponsors shower participants with gifts, and schools frequently present the players on winning teams with gaudy rings. The U-M won’t have to worry about that expense this year—but last month the public was able to purchase a piece of Michigan’s finest season in more than a half century. In December a 1997 Michigan national championship ring was listed on eBay. According to the seller, it was originally owned by Demetrius Smith, a fullback on Lloyd Carr’s great team. While it’s not clear how the ring ended up on eBay, Smith’s dismissal from the team in 1999 might explain why he and the jewelry parted ways.
The NCAA limits the value of gifts to players, and the seller disclosed that the gems are synthetic. Whether it was the fake diamonds, the economy, or a downtrodden fan base, no one stepped up to offer the $3,600 starting price, and the ring went unsold.