Tuesday, October 21

So What Now?

I'm dreading this posting. A lot has changed in just a few weeks. I'm afraid of what I will convince myself. I'm still having trouble getting over the Toledo loss. While most of the Michigan blogosphere has rightly been defensive of the team, given the bare cupboard and new system, I don't know what to believe. Losing to "little brother" did little to help matters.

When people, usually the most fair-weather of Michigan fans, would complain over the years that "Lloyd Carr needs to go," I would always respond with the same question: "Who do you want to hire, then?" None of these folks ever gave me a halfway decent answer to that question. One said "Marty Schottenheimer." Part of the problem was that they never appreciated Carr, which to me, meant they never appreciated Michigan. We may not have had the flashiness of the mid-90s Florida Gators, but every year, we had the chance for greatness and at worst found ourselves in the Alamo Bowl. Even when Michigan was "terrible," Michigan was always good. And I think it's especially clear now how many people took that for granted.

For the last ten years, friends and I have participated in a weekly college pick 'em contest. Put simply, you pick the winning team for each game among the AP Top 25. In ten years, I have never once picked against Michigan, no matter how grim a game may have looked. There was no point in playing the game if I couldn't pick my team. But Penn State was an entirely different scenario. The spread was 23.5, and I was certain it was low. While I didn't hesitate to pick Michigan, cross my fingers, and hope for the best, others changed their approach. That they ended up picking correctly did nothing to assuage the outrage and incredulity heaped upon their heads by those who kept the faith. But now that the dust settled, and Michigan has lost to our "little brother," these acts of "treason" stand significantly. This isn't just about razzing our buddies.

I go back to those whiners that demanded a coaching overhaul. I wonder what they have to say this year. My guess is that they're not watching games, and certainly not reading this blog. They've moved on to Halloween costumes or winter vacations or something else to complain about. But the rest of us are still here. And we're trying to deal. Dave is numb. Brian, defeated by ennui. Hoover Street wants the season to be over. Wolverine Liberation Army sighs and then dutifully trudges onward. And Vijay is resorting to picking winners of all the other games. The bloggers are not dead inside, but in a sense, they are creating shelter for hibernation. Me, I just feel more disconnected every week. If I could get the slingbox to work, maybe I could share in the pain better. But reading boxscores of these games is like living through the last scenes of Chinatown every week. I'm helpless and frustrated. People here keep telling me to forget about it, that I'm living in one of the most exciting cities on the planet with summer just around the next corner. And maybe they're right.
Jake can't forget, and neither can I!

But I can't help noting that the life of a Michigan fan has changed dramatically this season. And honestly, it's OK for people to view it differently. My friends who have "turned their back" on the team have every right to do so. But I can't. I didn't go to Michigan for the football team. I went because it was the best education I could get and the right environment for me. My first steps into Michigan Stadium were on a gorgeous August day to watch the team trounce Washington State. I arrived and left by myself, not knowing anyone else who had tickets yet. That was really my first steps into this game, and even though that contest was hardly significant, I know now that it stirred something in me that has only become stronger every year until it culminated in a 22,000 mile road trip. Michigan football isn't that girlfriend I can't quite get over. It's more like a part of my family - suddenly in the role of the unreliable uncle who you have to forgive all the time.

I'm going to stand by this team, even if some of my buddies can't or won't. In the aftermath of my stunned, "woe is we" posting after the Toledo loss, some commenters reminded me that when we do bounce back, and we surely will, it will be all the better for this suffering. I don't doubt that. Though I have some great friends here in this new country of mine, none of them is a Michigan fan. Actually, none of them is a college football fans at all.

The past can't be taken away. We won a National Championship when I was 22 years old. We've been good ever since I set foot on campus. Maybe a little suffering isn't so bad. And hey, AARP Magazine named Ann Arbor the best city in America for retirees. (#1 in the nation, baby!) I just hope I don't have to wait until I'm that old for the joyful times to resume. But even if I do, I'll always consider myself a Michigan Man. I don't know how else to live at this point. Now let's get Uncle Borracho to rehab, quick.

5 comments:

Whiskey Bottle said...

That uncle needs to stop showing up drunk and ruining everybody's thanksgiving. Sad thing is, my family celebrates thanksgiving every saturday all fall long. Really odd. So believe me when I tell you it gets pretty old.

Of course, there was that one time he at least stepped up and punched that fat sconnie neighbor in the face. That was cool. But then, he went out and shat in the bushes again.

PMaz said...

I never pick against the Patriots in the NFL pick 'em either, so I am glad to hear that. When I think Toledo, I think Nick Kaczur.

Anonymous said...

good post, andrew. although it kills to me watch these games, in my heart i really believe in the future of this team. it is obvious that these kids are trying. they work hard, and they seem to be real gentelmen. i am proud of the kids, not so much for their success to date, but for the journey that they are willing to take. if we were watching rocky IV right now, it would be the part where adrianne yells down the staircase... "you can't win." a lot of fans are saying the same thing, but faith is not just for the players. the harder the quest, the more rewarding the achievement.

living in florida, everyone seems to know that it is just a matter of time for richrod to pull the pieces together. after watching and listening to richrod, i believe he is the right man. i've been wrong before, but he is a competitive winner to the core. i'm sure les would have been just fine also, but he was also handed a strong lsu team so it is hard to compare his situation to richrod.

go blue!
tp

Anonymous said...

Well said Andrew. As I have always believed we need a change and unfortunately not everyone can adapt to to change. The system works. We have a 6-6 275 lb freshman at quarterback averaging 40 yards of rushing per game. Not to mention they guy runs worse than John Navarre and has no experience running a spread option. I often wonder what would have happened if we did have a true spread option quarterback this season....

Either way we have to ride it out as fans. Frankly I think we have been taking for granted all of those wins to teams like Toledo, Indiana, and many, many others. This season will humble us, and we needed it.

mack

Anonymous said...

So what now? We lick our wounds. We check our pride at the door. We keep pressing forward. We stand by the team. We keep tailgating. We keep attending games. We keep our faith in our new coaching staff and all the great, talented players that placed their faith in their own personal futures by choosing to play for the Michigan Wolverines.

If there is one thing that burns me more then anything is how quickly so many Michigan fans are to condemn RichRod and burn him at the stake after just 7 games. I understand its born out of frustration and being helpless as to being able to do anything to fix the problem. But targeting RichRod is the easy thing to do. It’s a short cut to thinking, and I do not think its fair, and I do not think it helps any one out...

And if I have witnessed one thing about the strength of our coaching staff and the character of our players this season, just watch in amazement how the players have reacted to the adversity. Remember, these guys are not used to losing so many ball games. They are not used to be considered the door mates of the Big 10. Yet, each and every week, they show up inspired, ready to battle. Just look at their faces when they take the field this Saturday. You will know something right is going on in that locker room and on that practice field, and you can find a glimmer of hope for the future...

Rob

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