Brian used to write about "badges of fandom" after some of the great Michigan comeback wins after being down late. Namely the Wisconsin game last season and the Penn State game in 2005 and the MSU game the year prior. It made me so sad to see those three people leave such a great game early, especially when they probably pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of sitting in the front row, in section 4. Everyone who bought tickets both for the whole season and who came to this Notre Dame game definitely earn badges of fandom in my mind. There was a shockingly high turnover of people not renewing season tickets for this year, because they had given up on Rich Rodriguez after only one season...but in a way it is like a great purge of all the old codger Michigan fans who complain about missing the old days, and never stay for the times that Michigan has a memorable comeback win. They are the ones who missed out on this game, and if the only drawback is giving the true Michigan fans the chance to buy a ticket to a game or finally move up the season ticket waiting list, then it is fate that we all got to witness the defining moment (so far) in the Rodriguez tenure and start to believe that Michigan will be OK.
I salute everyone who was inside the Big House until the end, making it the loudest I have heard in as long as I have been going to games (since about 5 years old in the Desmond Howard days).
But on to another thing that struck me, and that was the Irish band. I had to sit two rows behind them for four hours, and they really earned some respect from me. They were loud (but respectful), never sat down, and definitely overpowered the faint sound of the Michigan band coming out of the other corner. And at the end of the game, even though some of them looked like they had just had their kitten thrown off a skyscraper, they lined up, and raised their instruments to play the Notre Dame alma mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother" as all their remaining fans joined in singing. Ohio State does the same thing after games, even after ones they lose, and it always gives me pause at the undying love these bands and fans have for their schools.
I *always* stand there in silent respect and watch these traditions, out of a love for college football, and it also always reminds me that Michigan foolishly doesn't do their own version.
I have been quietly hoping for years that someday, Michigan would take up the same tradition...to especially overshadow the shameful "You Suck" chant after third down stops...but it never happens. I think this might be the year to start that tradition, because Michigan only ever plays "The Yellow and Blue" once at homecoming, and that's it. Rich Rodriguez has done a fantastic job getting some new things going at games and pumping some new life into a somewhat sleepy fanbase. I hope there are others out there who would join me in possibly getting RR to start an alma mater tradition to go along with singing "The Victors" in the student corner after games. After all, we want to show up the Irish and Buckeye bands in every way, don't we?
Go Blue, and here's to hoping for some more magic before the season is done!
My son was a Michigan fan, but not a Michigan Football Fan until Saturday. On games days, he would (with prompting) wear Michigan clothes and would cheer when dad cheered, but was really more interested in Star Wars, Legos or "playing" than watching the game. After the game, he would remember who won but not the details. In short he was going through the motions and not really committed.
This always perplexed me. We raised him right. The only sports paraphenalia our kids are allowed to were are Michigan or the Detroit Red Wings. The kids all learned to boo Ohio State at an early age and the Victors was one of the first songs they learned.
Part of it is my fault. We have had season tickets since he was born, but until Saturday he had only been to 3 Michigan football games. This is due in part to his own soccer/hockey schedule and in part due to my wife's desire to go to the games as well.
Also, he was scarred by his very first game at the Big House. The 2006 Northwestern game. We had spoken for weeks that at football games we only leave our seats at halftime and that we stay for the whole game. He was ready and he was excited.
We dressed as dryly and warmly as we could but it was miserable (I don't know what the actual temparature was but it felt like it was 36 degrees and it rained nonstop). He started shivering before the end of the 1st quarter. He made it until halftime on the promise of getting out of the rain and hot chocolate. At the half, we crowded under the stadium and got our hot chocolates. One sip . . . two sips . . . No effect, I look closer and he is on the verge of tears. I tell him that "it is ok if he wants to leave." I carry him back to the car, wet, frozen and shaken. He perks up a little on the drive back and listens to the game but isn't really interested. Verdict: still a Michigan fan (phew).
Game 2 was the 2007 Notre Dame game. He enjoyed it, but it didn't seem to make an impact on him. Verdict: still a Michigan fan
Game 3 was the 2008 Utah game. He was hot and uncomfortable and again he enjoyed it, but it didn't seem to make an impact on him. Verdict: still a Michigan fan.
Game 4 was Saturday. He was excited about going to the game, but not to the same extent I was. While we carpooled with our friends who sit nearby, the adults talked about the game and my son read his Captain Underpants book.
We arrive at the game early to watch warm ups. My son's most important concern is what is he going to get. Nachos. Fine choice. Works well with my pre-grame routine of Mr. Spots. We watch the warm ups while he eats his Nachos.
First half. He is standing on his seat for every play, but midway through the 2nd starts leaning against me in his "I'm tired" sort of way. Halftime comes, he's so tired he doesn't even ask about going to the bathroom. Good thing, I doubt we could have made it there and back during halftime. He spends halftime, trying to take a nap on the bench.
Second half. He gets up and is watching the game, but still leaning against me. As the quarter progresses, he gets a second wind and starts watching more intently and cheering louder. By the end of the game, he is standing on the bench without leaning against me and screaming as loud as he can. At the end of the game, he wants to be picked up so he can see the team in the corner singing the victors. He joins in.
Sunday morning. He sees me watching the game on DVR. Climbs onto the couch and watches it with me. Providing commentary as we go. "I remember that play dad." "Watch what happens next dad." "When can I go again dad." Verdict: Michigan Football Fan.
Weis' halftime speech
He told his guys their mistakes were the only reason they had not already put the game away. That is not a 100% unreasonable assessment of the first half, but...functionally stupid. You hear that, you think, "it's true, we're a lot better. We'll pull away easily once the penalties stop." What Notre Dame needed to hear was something to keep the fire there. Something like "we're only up 3--this is their stadium and to leave with with a win we will have to wrench it from them with the fight of our lives." ND could not have looked more listless on our opening 3rd quarter drives. There was no fire; it was like they did think the game was easily in hand, and the scoreboard would inevitably catch up to reflect the superior play. Instead things changed in the 3rd quarter. We started to outplay them.
What an underrated kid. And to begin with an aside, one of my favorite Mgoblog diaries ever was the one a few weeks back where someone broke down the joy of watching Odoms block out in front of a long run in the game at Minnesota. Great insight, great story, so true. It made me appreciate his Denard block that much more the following week...Well if you watch the Stonum kick return TD you will see that for the second straight week our longest big play run was sprung by a monster block from tiny Martavious. There was a guy in Stonum’s lane. Odoms--the other returner back deep--kept his eyes fixed, timed his break perfectly, and hurled his whole body into him. He was frozen in place. Stonum was past them both, made the one cut he needed, and ran free. Great block, good fundamentals, huge heart. Is he not Wermers' type of crowd? Who would not want to play next to a guy with that kind of enthusiasm and selfless guts. He is a less featured player this year, but you don't see him Clemonsing on us, and I don't expect he ever will. He doesn't block like a guy that would mope. I love that kid.
He also made two huge catches in the final drive. Forgotten now, he made a ridiculous grab with a man draped all over his back on a critical 3rd down. [EDIT: multiple posters have already pointed out the same stuff for Odoms--apparently he is not forgotten; good for our fans].
Nice to see him have a great game at Michigan. He made a huge catch down the sideline when it was 0-0, and provided the perfect bookend with the decisive TD. That dig route was a thing of glory. Route running matters. So does a QB with accuracy and timing. That play looked easier than it was.
Ouch. Honest appraisal demands at least one negative observation. I don’t want to be mean, so I will not go into details, but wow. If you ranked all Big 10 linebackers on a two factor scoring system of (1) decisiveness and (2) ability to not get washed out of an interior run play...he would not torch the competition. If you want a microcosm of Ezeh's performance, locate him on the final ND touchdown run. Suffice to say that is not where you want to find your inside LB on a power running play.
Cissoko (& rest of D)
On the more-maligned Cissoko: I have more sympathy for him. He was playing NFL talent, injured, in one of his first career starts. Yes he was beat several times. But he continued to stay fierce and confident even when the action on the field made this seem mildly irrational. That is a good thing...On the rest of the defense I have no major comments. The pass rush was poor, but the holding was ubiquitous. The pass yards were high, but the receivers were other-wordly. I thought Warren was excellent. I am not going to fault him for standing in the same vicinity when Floyd finally landed after catching a ball 10 feet up in the air...I am glad Stevie Brown once again made a big play. I am almost starting to feel guilty for blaming him for everything that when wrong in my life in 2008...and who was that safety?? I am glad that at least he knew he was on the team, so he knew to show up beforehand and put on a jersey and everything.
Charlie's decision to pass
I do not like Weis. His next-day whining is just the latest example of everything wrong about him--not a winner, not a leader, self-indulgent, doesn't think ahead, name drops Tom Brady when his name should be kept holy and sacred, etc. I do not like the guy. But I don’t think the late-game passes were as dumb as everyone now says (with the benefit of hindsight and their spectacular failure). In that moment, with ND having a chance to win the game with a first down or two, and our secondary having been abused the way it had...are you really telling me you weren’t praying for 1 yard runs up the gut? That you weren’t terrified when Clausen launched one deep? The stadium held its breath, and not in a 'something great's about to happen' kind of way. It was a 'dear god no' kind of anticipatory silence. You want to make plays that make your opponents feel that way.
Based on the way that game was going, I do not blame Weis for wanting to try to win with the ball, rather punting away and pinning his hopes on stopping a pretty-good offense using 4 downs with nothing to lose. I would want my coach to do the same. As for the type of pass, Brian makes a great point, it may not have been wise. But the other way to look at the lobbed fly pattern is that while calling any pass was aggressive, calling that particular one was relatively conservative. There was no time in the pocket, no risk of a sack/fumble. High likelihood of a catch or interference call. On that first pass Warren just made an outstanding play. On the second, Evans just wasn’t looking for the ball. If Floyd was was still in that 3rd down pass may have sealed the game. And just like that Weis is a genius--blah blah blah, say the pundits, he didn't sit back, he played to win, trusted his guys, etc. You see my point. Throwing was not stupid strategy in my opinion. Although I think a play-action pass to Rudolph would have been a surefire death nail. Thank god he didn’t call one.
There is not much for me to add. We all saw the same things. What a joy to watch someone who can (1) see our open guys and (2) get them the ball. What a strange sensation to watch a QB in a winged helmet drop back, see the pocket collapse, see him sprint for his life, and be envisioning anything other than impending doom. By the final drive, the blitz was breaking through our line and I was having what must have been the same internal reaction as Tate--no big deal, is somebody open downfield? I have watched several QBs that could scamper away from a pass rush and keep scanning downfield. I’ve never had the pleasure of cheering for one. It is great.
As terrific as Tate was, Minor and Graham remain our proverbial Peters. Upon those rocks we will build our football team. Graham, unfortunately, was swallowed up by the jersey seizing spiderweb of ND behemoths all day--tough labor for him. Minor, though, was able to break through. No one thinks he was 100% healthy. But who could tell he wasn’t when he had the ball on Saturday? He started each half with powerful, assertive runs that exploded into the ND backfield. He got us rolling, gave us confidence. Gave us a lead at the start of each half. Matthews got to celebrate the game winner. Stonum got conference accolades. Tate has enjoyed a season’s worth of press adoration the last 48 hours. Minor did his work quietly, particularly in light of all of the wildness that came after he made his strongest contributions. But he was huge. Passing picked up in the second half after our running game finally began to look threatening at its beginning. Minor did that. Great game from a big-hearted player.
I won't lie--I really like the guys on this team.
Release sent out by UM.
PARK RIDGE, Ill. – University of Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS) and sophomore wide receiver/kick returner Darryl Stonum (Stafford, Texas/Dulles HS) were named Big Ten Players of the Week by the conference office Sunday evening (Sept. 13) following the Wolverines’ 38-34 upset victory over No. 18 Notre Dame Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Forcier collected the offensive player of the week honor and Stonum received the special teams player of the week accolade.
Forcier tossed the game-winning five-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Greg Mathews (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater HS) with 11 seconds left in the game. Forcier completed 6-of-7 passes for 55 yards on the winning drive. He scored his first career rushing touchdown earlier in the four quarter, a 31-yard run on fourth down that gave U-M a 31-20 lead. Forcier finished with 310 yards of total offense against the Irish as he directed six scoring drives (five touchdown and one field goal drive). He completed 23-of-33 passes for 240 yards and two TDs and rushed 13 times for 70 yards and one score. He is second in the Big Ten and 21st nationally in pass efficiency (161.7 rating).
Stonum was a big factor both on special teams and offensively against the Irish. He returned a first quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give Michigan a 14-3 lead. It was only the third career kickoff return for Stonum, whose previous returns came on a 20-yard return in the opener against Western Michigan and a 24-yard return against Utah last year. He also batted down a Tate Forcier 50-yard punt at Notre Dame’s four-yard line and contributed on the team’s punt return unit. Offensively, Stonum was the team’s second-leading receiver with four catches for 54 yards against the Irish.
This is the first conference award for both players. Forcier and Stonum will lead the 25th-ranked Wolverines against Eastern Michigan Saturday (Sept. 19) at Michigan Stadium. The game will be broadcast nationally by the Big Ten Network starting at noon EDT.
After our final touchdown Saturday as I jumped up and down yelling like a crazy man and giving high fives to everyone in sight, I was overcome by a feeling of complete euphoria (an intense, transcendent happiness combined with an overwhelming sense of well-being).
This, of course, was not the first time I have felt this or the most pervasive feeling of euphoria I have had. It has happened dozens and dozens of times. But, I realize that virtually all of the times I have felt this way, it was because of my passion for sports (primarily U/M sports).
I have friends who question my sanity because I am so passionate about Michigan football. When I tell them every fall I will be gone most weekends for the next 3 months, they look at me in a very strange way. When I explain that I can’t go biking or kayaking or whatever because the M away game is on TV, they roll their eyes.
On Sunday morning as I prepared to drive the 250 miles north to our home in Boyne City, a thought snuck into my mind. How do all the people who are NOT passionate about sports experience life?Are there really 100’s of millions of Americans who have never experienced the overwhelming euphoria that I (and many others) had experienced less than 14 hours ago? Is that really possible? Do they actually go through life without ever totally losing their minds in happiness and joy? How do they survive?
Really, I mean that: How do they survive?
EDIT: Since some have misunderstood what I actually posted. To Clarify, I never posted nor hinted that I have never experienced the joy of a sunset (I have hundreds of pictures of sunsets) or the overwhelming emotion of a child's first step or a million other wonderful things. But, I have done all that and have also gone bat crap crazy at a football game (many times). If you have not gone bat crap crazy at many points in your life, I repeat my question. "......"
However, this isn't really about that. For the second week now we've had piped-in music to the Big House, and as angry as I was at first, I can see the potential, especially with the band becoming even harder to hear this year than in years past it seems. But, the way the music is currently being managed is beyond asinine. Despite that, the music is a good way to keep the less than dedicated fans (which, less be honest, the Big House is full of) attention held for more than a 15 second play. Here's a few suggestions I have to improve the music system to allow it to keep the crowd pumped while not angering traditionalists too much (don't take this the wrong way, I consider myself one of these):
1. For the love of god, have some respect for the other portions of game day. Too many times yesterday and during the WMU game did I notice the piped-in music being played over the band, or over the cheerleaders trying to organize a stadium-wide cheer. This is unacceptable and beyond disrespectful to the band and cheerleaders. If you're going to pipe in music, only do it when there isn't something else currently going on.
2. Know when to use the music. This is another big one, there were quite a few occasions yesterday where the music was played on short breaks, and ND would time their snap to right after the music stopped. This gave them a little window of quiet between when fans were singing along with the music before they began their general Michigan is on D raucousness. Also, there were a few times where a song which took time to build up into the energetic section (namely the Eminem song) was used in a time span where it didn't have time to reach the climax, leaving it just some ineffective piano riffs.
3. Get a larger/better selection of music! I fully appreciate attempting to make a Michigan/Detroit tie in with the music, but we need more than the same four songs repeated ad infinitum all game. The AD could easily stick with the Michigan theme and get some much better pump-up music. What about some Nugent (I would love to hear Stranglehold pumped in), KISS, or even work from some former UM students (Iggy Pop and Andrew W K, I don't think Madonna fits the niche of stadium pump up music)? Aside from Michigan-related artists, it would also be alright to break the theme a few times, as they already have done with AC/DC and Guns and Roses, to get some more variety in the music.
So as much as some of us hate it, the music is here, and is unlikely to go anywhere. However, the AD could be much smarter about how it's handled, and I feel like these suggestions would be good directions to go in to provide a much better experience for everyone.
What do you fellow mgobloggers think?