"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
Desmond Howard took the time to come out and speak at the UM Club of Washington DC's annual meeting and scholarship fundraiser last night. I know this has been said before, but he's just a tremendously nice and genuine guy in real life. He walked around the room for about half an hour before speaking, just taking pictures with alumni in attendance, and then he stuck around for an hour afterward to sign autographs.
Anyway, nothing groundbreaking here, but I thought you guys might be interested in a few of the things he said in his speech and then in the Q&A session afterward:
- Predicted another 10-year-war between Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer - or, as Desmond referred to him, "Urban Liar" - but was confident that we have the better end of that coaching comparison.
- Said that Alabama is beatable because we're catching them early in the season, and Nick Saban takes a while (longer than normal, at least for the SEC) to work out the chemistry in his program. Cited last year's Bama-Penn State game as evidence that we could win.
- Predicted that a Bama victory would make Denard Robinson the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman trophy, and said that Denard and sophomore RB DeAnthony Thomas from Oregon are his preseason favorites for the Heisman.
- Said that his greatest football moment was being named Superbowl MVP.
- Wholeheartedly endorsed the "unretirement" of Gerald Ford's jersey, along with others, and seemed extremely excited that a former President would be joining him among the Michigan "legends"
- At the end, the alumni chapter presented him with an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in his honor at the request of Senator Richard Lugar. He seemed pretty touched by it, and I thought it was cool that the event happened to fall on Flag Day.
Like I said, nothing terribly newsworthy, but it was a great event and much thanks to the DC alumni chapter and to Desmond.
Probably has been discussed before, but besides Desmond Howard, who else deserves to be considered a Michigan Football Legend? Obviously the overwhelming choice would be Woodson, but who else among the greats of UM, have earned legendary status?
I haven't seen a thread about this, and seeing as how we're currently in 49th place I don't think there has been one.
College Gameday is having a contest to shoot a College Gameday commercial on a college campus this summer. The school with the most votes wins. Michigan is currently getting smoked and is in 49th place.
So yeah, go vote.
As most of you have heard RGIII will be the cover of the upcoming NCAA 2013. In addition to him though, the greatest Heisman winner of all-time will accompany him on the cover. Enter voting bracket. Daily you will be allowed to vote on who the best is. Right now it appears they are down to the final four and you will be able to vote for both Desmond and Barry to have them meet in the championship. Keep Voting.
Am I the only one who had a sour taste in his mouth after listening to Desmond Howard's remarks at the football bust last night? Howard went out of his way to comment on the Rodriguez era, clearly indicating that Rodriguez was a mistake -- he seemed to want to compare the hiring of Rodriguez to New Coke.
Now I was ambivalent about the whole spread option thing myself. I know a lot of well-meaning people were frustrated with RichRod, and Hoke's successes leave them feeling vindicated. But if we're being fair I think we have to agree that Rodriguez got some tough breaks (The Freep Jihad) and more to the point, the football bust is a time to celebrate this year, not dwell on the past. Desmond Howard has ample opportunity to criticize prior coaches and it is his right to do so, but last night was not the time or the place.
Some things shouldn’t be written about. They deserve far more than words could ever accomplish, regardless of how eloquent those words are or the sophistication of their arrangement. Then there are things that exceed even that. Things that make you want go, “screw it, I have to at least try and write something. If I don’t my brain is going to explode. Also, if I write about it, maybe I can make sure it’s true and actually happened. I don’t ever remember writing something down in a dream.”
That’s how last night is for me. I need to do write about it and hope that I can do it 100th of the justice it deserves, so that maybe one day I can look back and remember just the amount and consistency of the emotions I felt. This will probably be disorganized and random; a kind of mind drain that doesn’t care how it all comes out, as long as it comes out. I just need to get as much down as possible, hoping these thoughts don’t escape me before I can write them down. On with the show.
The day itself deserves its own diary, but that’s for another time or another person. Suffice it to say, Ann Arbor was flooded with excitement, from the first moments of College Gameday to the opening of The Big House’s gates, the city glowed. Walking up Hoover towards the woman about to be taken to her first night time ball and showed off for all of the nation to see, the sun silhouetted the crowds as it set over Main Street.
Fast forward to the pregame, and the excitement was reaching a fever pitch. When Desmond got Legended (kind of like being knighted), it made you wish there was something you could do besides cheer, that there was some other way to honor a great player and great man. Yelling at the top of your lungs just wasn’t enough. A few months ago when the whole “I should have my number retired” (not a direct quote) stuff was going around, I was a little disappointed. I knew Desmond loved him some Desmond, but I also knew he was a team player who loved our great university, and I felt disheartened that he would ask for such a thing. Yesterday, as he did his best Lou Gehrig impression during his speech, all was forgiven. He was a man truly grateful, acknowledging how blessed he was for every opportunity the team and, perhaps more importantly, university, gave him. A very rough paraphrase from what I remember is:
Every experience I had at this university, from the Diag to Schembechler to (5 or 6 more campus locations) has made...me....the man....I am....today.
His pearly whites glowed as he couldn’t hold back tears of joy and gratitude. What a fantastic start.
Then, in remembrance of the horrific tragedies from a decade ago, the whole crowd joined in a chorus of God Bless America. I’m pretty sure the band was playing the song on heartstrings, or cutting up onions, or releasing a massive dust cloud into the stands. A beautiful moment for a terrible tragedy.
When the game started, my biggest fears seemed to be coming true. Throughout this week, when asked about my predictions, I always cited a nervous feeling that ND would go up a couple scores while Borges tried to get a feel for the gameplan and our offense tried to settle in. That’s exactly what happened. The pom-pom I held had its handle slowly reduced in size as I slowly bent it and broke off pieces in frustration. Some girl behind me kept yelling “Oh no! He’s going to throw again,” every time Denard dropped back. I wanted to yell at her or just show her some highlights from our 2008 offense, but refrained. In truth there were times where I felt similarly, the dreadlocked, dilithium-powered powder keg of a big play looked very human at times. This did not feel like 2010 ND. All was not right.
Then Hemingway said, “pardon me, sir, but I have a ball to catch and a touchdown to score. It would be easier if you weren’t in the way, but instead I’ll have to jump through Michigan Stadium’s non-existant roof.” Adrenaline spike. 114,000 strong came alive again, individual maize plastic strings tied together rocking in unison to a chorus of The Victors.
Halftime was weird. There were people in costumes from a horror movie covered in flashing lights, some of which worked, some of which didn’t. I sat down and tried to relax, hoping my pounding headache would subside, because it every time I yelled on a defensive series, it got worse. A long day of drinking things that, while they contain water, make it their job to deprive your body of every drop of it apparently does awful things to the front part of your brain and makes it feel like it’s trying to escape out your forehead. Who knew? Yelling apparently doesn’t help, but dammit, I had a job to do. And that job was to be fan number 114 thousand-something who believed that an extra yell from me would make Tommy Rees stop correctly checking out of plays when reading blitzes or make Michael Floyd want to just sit down and take a break for a minute. Jesus Tapdancing Christ, Michael Floyd. But, I digress.
Normally I’m very good at remembering the exact sequence of plays and all major events in a football game, but I think I blew a couple fuses. The next thing I really remember was Jeremy Gallon pretending he was in fact, a gallon rather than a pint. We were clapping, screaming, jumping up and down on a surface small and slippery; the biggest 5 foot nothing player you’ll ever see had given us hope. Also, Jeremy Gallon, I know you’re not reading this, but I owe you an apology. Whenever ND punted I did my best Smalls from The Sandlot impression when he sticks his glove in the air and Benny the Jet bats a fly ball right into it. “Please catch it, please catch it,” I would implore in your direction. I’m done with that. That was last year. You’re a different player, and you showed an incredible amount of heart. No more finger crossing from me. Apology to imaginary reader over.
Somewhere in the fourth quarter, during a TV timeout, I remember turning to my alum friend who was in town visiting, telling him to break out his cowbell again. He of course kept it after he graduated, its large dent still there from when I shoved him over in last year’s Illinois game in celebration. He picked up his drumstick, striped in alternate maize and blue tape and rapped out a “Go Blue.” He went through the appropriate number of verses, but I wanted more. “GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!” I yelled, doing my best Dan LeBetard impression. The mood was right and I watched as people around me nodded emphatically when he struck it up again; they wanted more too.
Writing this is a lot more difficult than I anticipated - my thoughts are just so scattered. In truth, I’m not even going to touch the breakdown of Roundtree’s Braylon impression or Vincent Smith going HAM or any of that. What I will say now is that the next time anyone ever tells you that the Big House is a “wine and cheese” crowd, tell them to kindly shut the hell up. When Seven Nation Army came on, that place absolutely erupted. I’ve been to my fair share of college football games, including big time SEC matchups, and while I won’t say it was louder last night, I will say I don’t remember anywhere else being louder. I had goosebumps on my goosebumps. Anyone in a 10 foot radius of me got repeatedly throttled or hugged or high fived throughout every glorious or disheartening or breathtaking moment, and nobody cared. Why? Because they were all doing the same thing. Controlled, glorious, fantastic chaos. Want to say something negative about our crowd? How many stadiums stay brimming with tens of thousands for what, an hour after the game?
As I walked home, I just kept thinking about how people years from now will still talk about the 2011 Notre Dame game the way that talk about the most legendary of moments. The walk home could’ve been for 5 miles, for all I cared. I floated back. As I hydrated at my apartment to go celebrate fully, someone across the street was playing House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” On loop. For at least a half hour. And the only reason someone would’ve called the cops to complain was if they turned it off. I’ll never watch a Wisconsin game the same after that.
Trying to end this feels like trying to wrap up that game, which is an impossible task. It’s futile. Describe colors to someone who can’t see. Read every book ever written. Capture a unicorn. All pale in comparison to the difficulty I’m finding trying to write this. I guess there’s really only one thing to say. It’s great. To be. A Mich-i-gan Wol-ve-rine.