Forty Years in the Big House by Jon Falk is a follow-up to If These Walls Could Talk. Falk is, of course, the long-time equipment manager for Michigan who was hired by Bo Schembechler. He retired following the 2013 season, and it’s implied that maybe he just didn’t see eye-to-eye with the direction of the program under the leadership of former athletic director Dave Brandon. In a curious twist, this post-retirement book, Forty Years in the Big House, wraps up a career . . . that still continues. After his replacement, Brad Berlin, moved on to other things, Jim Harbaugh asked Falk to come back as the equipment manager this off-season. So far I have not heard about any changes to that agreement, so maybe Falk will get in one last season (or more) to add to his 40-year career.
Anyway, the book is a collection of stories, mostly from his time with Bo Schembechler. It’s a walk down memory lane, and hardcore Michigan fans will enjoy the names, games, and events referenced here. Some of the chapters and themes get a little repetitive, but that was the same case in If These Walls Could Talk, so I was prepared. The book was co-written by Dan Ewald, whom I remember encountering first as an author when I read Hello Everybody, I’m George Kell (side note: I don’t talk much about other sports and teams, but the Detroit Tigers were my first sports infatuation and the first professional event I attended). Both gentlemen are getting up there in age, so I can forgive a little bit of repetition.
I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read, and I finished it over the span of two days. The biggest thing I took away from it was about doing something you love, doing it with passion, and being dedicated. I’ve read that people should change jobs every seven years to avoid stagnating, but this is a guy who worked 40 years at the same job and still talks about how much he loves the school, talks about crying at certain events because they mean so much to him. He loved Schembechler, loves the players, and loves Michigan. It’s hard not to appreciate his dedication to and love for the University of Michigan. Plus there are some good stories in there about Jim Harbaugh, Tyrone Wheatley, and Gerald Ford, along with many others.