A foursome was nice enough to let me play through this morning (if you live in Chicago and enjoy golf, highly recommend morning rounds at Marovitz/Waveland). One of the members of their group was wearing a Michigan hat and it was at that moment I realized how excited I am for the season to kick off. "I love your hat, I can't fucking wait until Saturday", I exclaimed as his grin began stretching around his head. I played a hole with them and we talked briefly. I found out he, like myself, is not an alumnus of the great instituion God graced us with some 192 years ago.
As I'm sure many of my fellow non-alums are, I am incredibly sensitive when someone attempts to call me out for not being a real fan because I didn't go to the school. I typically give the same spiel when such questioning of my fan credentials begins. I regale them with tales of all the triumphs and heartbreak I have witnessed in Michigan Stadium since first stepping foot in there at age 6. I note that my familial roots are planted firmly in the state, having been born there with parents who once called Livonia and Redford Township home. I tell them that some of my fondest childhood memories are throwing the football with my old man on the golf course before a big game. I then typically finish with, "fuck yourself", and start to tell them all the things about their own team that they don't know. Inevitably this discussion is only going to end badly, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would lead to making an OSU grad and fan weep.
Picture it: Charlotte, NC, October 30, 2004. Date sound familiar? About 10 of us from high school, a group that has remained oddly close, found its way to the hotel bar mid wedding reception. Michigan was losing to State. We all know what unfolded over the next couple hours.
As a Toledo native, I unfortunately have a handful of friends that attended osu. As fate would have it, they were there with myself and a couple other UM fans to witness Braylon's greatness on that day. As the drinks added up and the game continued on into the darkness, the dissenting voice began talking shit about how I am not a real fan. My friend was well aware of my lifelong love affair with all things Michigan Football, so my typical rant simply wouldn't suffice.
"Fuck you Dave."
"No, Fuck you Dave."
"Fuck you Dave!"
This conintued for what felt like 3 Navarre scrambles from the pocket* (I know he wasn't the QB, simply a measurement of long periods of time). As it turns out, repeating "Fuck you" or some variation thereof to a lifelong friend that you only see once or twice a year is all it takes. Here came the waterworks.
While the catalyst for his tears may seem underwhelming, watching tears well up on his face as Braylon sealed the game created a synergy of joy I have yet to re-create.
He is still one of my best friends and we joke about it often. He will stand up in my wedding and I will do the same for him.
Holy hell do I love college football, sharing it with friends despite their rooting interest and sweet jebus, I love the Michigan Wolverines. I'm all in.
*1 Navarre scramble is equivalent to 2 fortnights.
First of all, there is no chance that Rodriguez did not cover all the bases regarding the practice time rules. And I guarantee you, all great college programs currently toe the line on practice time, as they should, and in doing so, even inadvertently help the NCAA redefine the line itself, or remove ambiguity. Any real issue is any ambiguity itself. And these great programs will operate within that ambiguity, until the NCAA removes it.
What is so despicable is the timing and target of the Rosenberg and Snyder article, trying to achieve notoriety by launching this mud on the one program who is in perhaps the biggest transition of its storied history, and to the same storied history that perhaps has helped draw so much interest to college sport itself, in that Rosenberg and Snyder have a job to even write about it. It is one thing to make a claim when on a program when it is in full swing, but it is quite another when the program is understandably trying to make a smooth changeover. It is not easy being the WINNINGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATES and trying to return to that greatness. And if it requires additional non-mandatory work, so be it. Rosenberg and Snyder saw an insanely underhanded opportunity, and they went for it. They did not go after the established USC, they went after the easier target, the one that is nearby, and one who has a coach, who perhaps, cared too much for what his old WVU program thought of him, after he left. Now today we have another alum Drew Sharp chiming in, misunderstanding the coach's emotion for fear instead of care, perhaps deliberately.
So you say, what good will come out of this ?
The investigation will reveal that there were no violations, but will serve as a way for the NCAA to find flaws in their rules whereas incoming players are concerned and the communication to them on what is mandatory and what is not.
Then, as the Wolverines are kicking the snot out of the rest of the Big Ten and are perpetually in the national Top 5, that the national perception will remain that our program is the best partly because players work the hardest.
But best of all, this BS will serve as the agent necessary to truly bring the team together, since there is NO better way than to solidify comraderie than to create and Us vs. Them mentality, especially when it involves all the work and effort they put in. In a good way, it gives an OBJECT for all that work and practice.
The following is a notably famous quote....
"Any greatness that has not attracted envy, jealousy, accolades and praises from all corners has not yet attained enviable standard."
It should not be a shock, of the current attack on our coach and program, nor should it be going forward. And our program sooner than later, in this transition, will arrive at that enviable standard of its past, and in the meanntime will bear the brunt of envy.
Having read the article and the response, I'm pretty comfortable in knowing that the NCAA is not going to drop the hammer on Michigan. There will likely be no probation or scholarship reduction. All this is a distraction. One that will blow over soon. So why are we so upset? Why can't I get excited about the season again?
The fact is, the story is out there, and herher everyone laugh at scUM (uh .. we still went 3-9 last year). Also, everyone laugh at Tennessee, USC, PSU, and Iowa, etc., schools whose issues are, in my epinion, far more serious and pervasive than Michigan's. In fact, almost all schools have some experience with this level of "distraction". The deeper question is, why are we, as well as the national media, so concerned?
Is it because we run a squeaky clean program? Or because we never get in trouble? For those that think the issue stems from the fact that Michigan never, ever dreamed of skirting a rule prior to Rodriguez, I submit David Terrell's "3.3" GPA. Anyone that is familiar with DT knows that he was not the "bomba$$student". Something always stunk about that to me. Love it or hate it, but the puppet show that is Michigan football shows strings when you look close enough. Maybe DT was like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Or, maybe something fishy was going on.
So, is it that we never get in trouble? There's no doubt that we haven't been in trouble, especially in football. But, we aren't immune to bad press. I'm a biased observer, but it seems like the press can't wait to pile on Michigan. Likely caused by years of excellence and large fanbases of our three rivals, but when Michigan does bad, for a lot of the country, the news is good. Lest anyone forget, we are not the only historical powerhouse (or the first) to lose to a D-IAA team. Just the most publicized.
IMHO, what's happening here is a boiling over of frustration. It's easy to deal with the negative when we own the Big Ten, save OSU. Things are much more personal when we're losing. However, it is important to note that, perhaps other than Notre Dame, we are the school that people love bad news about. Bad news about Michigan and ND sells.
With that backdrop, I think Bo/Gary/Lloyd is what Michigan needs. A headman that treats everyone outside of the program as a liability. An insular program that defends those inside aggressively, and keeps outsiders at bay. Also, we as a fan base, need to take a similar stance. Are we perfect? Nope. But, with the good and the bad, Michigan football is ours. As a fanbase, we need to understand that others love to tear our institution down. And we need to move on. So what that there are some silly accusations being leveled (it's not like we're paying off players, having player's get arrested, or cursing in practice). We need to be confident enough to blow it all off and move on. Stay excited for the season, and hopefully not feed the machine that will chase off RRod. To the extent that he isn't a homegrown "Michigan Man", the guy cares ... about the team, about his players, and about the institution.
Go Blue! Let's beat the Bronco's on Saturday!
After all of the events over the past few days it is crucial we show the team they have our support. There have been a number of great ideas passed around the board and one stuck out in my head. A chant. It would be a great way to show the entire program our support in one unanimous voice.
So what to cheer?
We need to keep this simple, classy, and meaningful. Why not take the very slogan the team has been telling us over the past couple of months?
When should we do this?
The best time would be right before kickoff. Let the team take the field, hear our fight song, and touch the banner. When all of that dies down we start. A slow chant would be best to ensure it doesn't come out as too jumbled.
How can we do this?
This NEEDS to start with the student section.That is the heart, soul, and voice of the Big House. I imagine we need one group (at least 15) the start the initial chant. Any volunteers? If enough people have exposure to this idea they will jump in too. Having a queue crew is key though!
How to spread the word:
- Spread this to rivals, scout, and any other site you visit to get your Michigan fix.
- Email your friends that will be at the game
- Tell the Daily (maybe they would be willing to help out)
- Tweedle-dee (twitter) it
- Mention it in your Facebook status
- Whatever you can do to get the word out
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like this would be really well received and could help jump start the season.
Here is the sad part, as much as I want this to happen I won't be there to see it fail or succeed. I don't live in Ann Arbor anymore (wooo class of '07), but this is now a goal of mine and hopefully yours. Our present to a team that has worked it's butt off over the past 8 months (voluntarily).
Are you all in?
___I miss Lloyd Carr. You look up the word integrity, there is a picture there of Lloyd Carr. When the players heaved Lloyd onto their shoulders after that win over Florida I will admit that I bawled like a little girl. Whatever you thought of Lloyd as a football coach(and he was far from perfect), you had to admit that he was(is) a tremendous Michigan man.
___I have been critical of Rich Rodriguez on many occasions. I've complained about the defense. I've complained at length about the quarterback situation. Mostly though, my complaints stemmed from the fact that he is not Lloyd Carr.
___It's time we all got over that. Lloyd isn't coming back. And whatever you think about Rich Rodriguez as a man(And I myself see no indication that he is not a very good man) he has shown himself to be a very good football coach. If we give him four years, I can gaurantee that Michigan will be playing in BCS bowls every year again, facing the #1 or #2 team every three or four. If we do not let him do it here he WILL do it somewhere else, and we will be back to square one watching a less talented coach and less talented recruits try to rebuild this program from scratch.
___Now the program is facing attacks from all sides. The former entity known as the Ann Arbor news tries to invent an academic scandal that does not exist. The local FM radio station is pushing 24 hour spartan propaganda, talking about a "lock down" of the state recruits--well, the ones outside the rival top 100 anyway. Now MSU's program is dominating the state, what with their second win over UM in this decade. Those idiots at 97.1 probably haven't had to refill their viagra prescriptions for the last year. Now the Detroit Free Press is seeking out disgruntled transfers and preying on over-trusting(dont want to call them naive) freshmen trying to build another scandal. Now the Free Press is trying to equate a pay for play basketball scandal that occured before some of these players were even born with the horrible possibility that Michigan practices too much.
___It's clearly compromising their educations, what with the team recording the higest grade point average ever.
___The most troubling thing about the most recent attack is the likelihood that some coward drawing a check from the University is actively working to sabotage the program trying to get Rodriguez out. It looks like someone within the athletic department is feeding the Free Press these stories and telling them which former players they can milk the most venom out of.
___In the face of all these attacks from within and without there is only one thing we can do. We need to get behind our guy. Whatever you think of Rodriguez's style or personality, he is the man that is leading our guys against the group of retards and assholes otherwise known as the local media. He is the man that is leading them against our hated rivals. Rodriguez needs and deserves our support, and we all need to fall in line behind him.
___We need to get out to that Western game and make noise like that stadium has never seen. Win or lose, we need to get out and do it again for Notre Dame. We need to start buying those All In For Michigan towels like they are going out of style. I dont care what you do with them all. Some superglue and a certain publication's building comes to mind. Or some superglue and a certain reporter's car.
We need to get after the Free Press's largest sponsors--Varsity Ford, Belle Tire, JCPennies, and Kroger. They've all got phone numbers and email options under "contact us" on their websites. I will post them if you like. We need to let them know that we will not stand for their continued financial support of these irresponsible sensationalists. Let them know Briarwood Ford, Kohls, Meijer and Discount Tire are just down the road.
___Mostly though, we've just got to get behind our guy. And give him the time he needs to bring this team back where it belongs. Shoulder to shoulder with the best teams in college football.
I've also been a fan of the Rodriguez hiring. I still remember how excited I was when I checked my Blackberry on a train from New York to Washington on a Saturday afternoon and the Rodriguez rumors had hit the web. I also don't blame him -- much -- for last year's 3-9 season.
All that said, I think the turn in events makes it unlikely this hiring will turn out happily in the long term. I believe it will end in one of two ways: Michigan will go 5-7, 6-6 and 7-5 and the fan base will turn on Rodriguez; or Michigan will go 9-3 and Rodriguez will say I can coach just about anywhere so why do I need this crap and decide to start over somewhere else.
One of my responsibilities in my job is to act as an ethics advisor for a government agency. I regularly brief senior executives who join the agency about the ethics rules. For the most part, they are compliance rules -- don't work on things in which you have a financial interest, don't accept expensive lunches or gifts, etc. I also, however, talk about the infamous "Washington Post" test. Essentially there are a lot of things one does that are perfectly legal but have an appearance of not being kosher. If the Post -- or the Times or CNN -- get wind of the issue, the initial story is on page 1. When the story fails to pan out, it winds up on page B19. Everyone sees the first story; no one sees the exoneration.
So how does that impact the current situation. Well we all know the initial story is on page 1. The exoneration may come, but do you think the Freep is going to put it on page 1. Do you think ESPN is even going to run stories saying that nothing came of the allegations.
I'm not sure exactly how it came about but Rodriguez has done things to make himself a target. Perhaps it's jealousy. Perhaps it's that Rodriguez is a little arrogant. Perhaps he failed to kiss a couple of asses early on. But, whatever the issue, there's an issue. Once that happens, you have to be squeaky clean, or the first inkling of an issue will make it to page 1 and that appears to have happened here.
The fact that Rodriguez is doing exactly what 100+ other coaches is doing is irrelevant. No one else cares.
There may be some things that can rescue the situation. Perhaps the most likely is that I'm wrong about Rodriguez taking a hike. Hopefully his skin is a lot thicker than most people's and that that 9-3 season will not only quiet the critics but make him satisfied with his lot in Ann Arbor. Other scenarios are some of his brethren coming to his defense. We're not fans of Jim Tressel or Kirk Ferentz, but if they were to come out and say we've seen the stories and don't think there's a story, that would help immensely. Someone in the MSM could do some investigation of Rosenberg and totally destroy his story. If that were to happen soon, that too could lead to a favorable end to the story. I am, however, not optimistic and that makes me a little depressed at a time when I -- we -- should be looking forward to a season of redemption.