Alabama-Michigan, 12 Years Later: Ron Bellamy Looks Back
Now a high school football coach, Ron Bellamy had just turned 18 when he played in the 2000 Orange Bowl.
Bellamy, a Michigan graduate and a five-year National Football League veteran, was a member of one of only three Wolverines teams to face Alabama, although both programs are among college football's oldest and most storied.
On Jan. 1, 2000, Bellamy had just turned 18 at the end of his freshman season when he started for Michigan in the FedEx Orange Bowl at Miami. Michigan won, 35-34, in overtime, and the two teams haven't played each other since then.
Q: You were only a true freshman that season. Was that your first trip to Miami? Do you have any souvenirs?
A: We had a blast. That was my first time to Miami and I had just turned 18 years old. The ambiance was electric. At that time of year, it was freezing in Michigan. We couldn’t wait to get out of Michigan and go down south for New Year's. We stayed in luxurious hotels and after practice, we got to see everything you can see in Miami. The organizations which run the bowl game treat the players very well — I still have an Orange Bowl t-shirt, my game jersey, a straw hat and a watch.
Q: You were a wide receiver on a team which won the game, in which David Terrell, another wide receiver, was honored as Most Valuable Player. Does the unit get any special credit when the game is over?
A: We joked about it at the time, that that game was DT's "coming out party." He had a great sophomore campaign in the regular season and we said that if he has a big game in the Orange Bowl, he's going to go pro after his junior year. After he had that game, and it was sensational, we knew that he was leaving early, because whatever he did after that probably wouldn't compare. (Ed.: Terrell was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft.)
Q: You also started at cornerback against a future NFL MVP in Shaun Alexander, Alabama's starting running back at the time. How was that unit able to maintain against such an offensive attack?
A: That was a phenomenal game. That team, I believe, had 13 or 14 NFL Draft picks and ran through the SEC (Southeastern Conference). It was a lot of fun. You had to be physical and match their intensity.
Q: You were coached by the current Michigan head coach Brady Hoke when you were in school, as well as the current Alabama head coach Nick Saban when you played for the Miami Dolphins. What was your first reaction to hearing that Michigan would play Alabama in these circumstances? What are you looking for when the game kicks off?
A: I was bummed it wasn't going to be in Ann Arbor! I would love to have gone, because it's going to be a rock 'em, sock 'em football game that should be a lot of fun to watch. I know both coaches will have their teams prepared. It'll be a matter of who makes the least amount of mistakes.
No. 8 Michigan kicks off against No. 2 Alabama at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday at Arlington, TX.