Sunday, November 23

On Going Home Again

Recently, Life Magazine released all of their photos online via Google. It's a remarkably large archive, and of course the first thing I did was search for University of Michigan Football. That didn't exactly provide a motherlode of shots. But when I dropped the word football, all kinds of interesting aspects of life in Ann Arbor were revealed. Student nurses supervising while sick children play with live animals. Young dudes gathering to strum guitars in a dorm stairwell. Young couples openly defying the town's "kissing ban". And of course, excited students cheering for some reason:
Dude in the glasses seems less enthused, but his hands are gigantic!

It's neat to see all these things because even though they're from over fifty years ago, they remind you what college is all about. The times were different, and therefore so were the standards. But the goals were the same. Maturing to adulthood in such a place is a luxury, one that often takes a long time to appreciate. It's a big part of why we watch college football in the first place - to remind ourselves of those salad days.

I came back from Argentina this weekend, in large part to return to my college town, reunite with old friends, and cheer on the team one last time this season. Perhaps foolishly, and perhaps because I haven't seen but four of the games, I thought that we had a chance to compete in this one. That we had played better on the road is where I hung my faith. Catching a glimpse at the still-in-progress Michigan Stadium gave me pause. "How can a team play in front of girders and expect to succeed? No wonder they stink here." From nearly the beginning of this game, however, what I saw appalled me. Like many other bloggers, I have understood the need for patience this season. But in the last game of the year, against our rival, it was a pathetic display. We all know that there is a limit to the team's talent. But they looked disorganized and passionless to me.

A tradition for us at this reunion is to visit the old college homestead, drop off some fresh beer for whoever happens to reside there now, and briefly reminisce about who passed out where. For the first time, we were not allowed inside. They wouldn’t even accept the free beer. Maybe that’s OK. When I was in college, we never lost 42-7 to Ohio State. Actually, we beat them three out of four years. This rejection was perhaps indicative of how the mood has soured. Stewart Mandel claims that Michigan’s players didn’t “buy in” to Rodriguez’s system and his efforts this year have resulted in nothing but failure. Meanwhile, Brian defends the plan, and Dave stares off into the future with calm acceptance. I am afraid to say that after this game, I am inclined to agree with Stewart. My long-term hopes have soured a bit. I cannot blame a loss like this on talent disparity alone. Something is wrong.

When out at a bar in the after-aftermath, I talked to a girl who claimed to be friends with members of the team. She commented that when the team stays in their hotel for home games, they have bed-check at 11pm. Then some of the players invite their friends over to party. This woman seemed a credible source, though who knows if she has any idea what she's talking about. Consider this hearsay and rumormongering at this point. Then again, what kind of team plays so horribly at home? Perhaps the girders have nothing to do with it. If this is true, it is obviously unacceptable behavior. That’s all I’ll say about a rumor impossible for me to verify.

I used to hold up my four years of college as the unluckiest in modern Michigan fan history. After going undefeated the year before, we lost four games every season I was a student. We didn't beat Northwestern once. And the year after, the team won a National Championship. But the pain felt by current seniors has clearly trumped anything I endured. Right now, today, Michigan isn't really Michigan. That's a very sad thing.

But hey, they can't take the past away from us. We'll always have Tom Harmon and Charles Woodson and that time we stole the chairs from Burger King and used them in the kitchen all year. This season's over, and frankly I don't want to think about it ever again. The past may only be so much use, but I'll take it because right now, it's all we have.


The Chi$co said...

I agree with The Chi$co (myself): until RichRod produces results, we hold him to the flame.

Prior to weeks one game, RichRod commented in response to some reasonably upset fans, that they should get a life; "there are more important things than football." That cliche bullshit might float in West Virginia, but this is Michigan, Michigan --football-- which is bigger than any gift God has given us.

Shame on you RichRod for taking on this responsibility and failing to appreciate it.

Reed said...

Actually Chi$o, Brian detailed very clearly why your statements about Rodriguez here are misguided. Shame on you for not checking out the quote in its entirety and believe the Detroit Free Press (or whoever) cares about what he was actually saying.

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