It could, perhaps, be defined as a bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to Sweet Home Alabama, a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash…
Irony could also be defined as follows:
A man swears under his breath and loudly and obnoxiously ridicules his team’s head coach while using demeaning rhetoric towards the state of West Virginia and towards the program for making the mistake to hire someone from such an inferior geographical region and inferior group of people.
Now, imagine this event occurring on a bench in the southwest corner of Michigan Stadium, and the man has cheered avidly all day for his maize and blue team, all while making multiple comments throughout the day about the beautiful venue steeped in history and tradition.
If you do not understand the irony, please read further.
We thankfully do not hear the belittling West Virginia rhetoric too often on the boards of mgoblog, but I am confident that we have all heard someone, somewhere, subversively or matter-of-factly, make snide, rude comments regarding the fact that our current head coach originates from the state of West Virginia.
I hear it often, and I laugh and shake my head at fans of our other rival schools who think it’s a funny joke that Rich Rodriguez was born, raised, played football and coached football in the state of West Virginia.
I do not laugh, however, when our own Michigan fans make the same snide remarks. I become frustrated and saddened, as our program’s proud history is intimately intertwined with that Wild and Wonderful state…
Fielding H. Yost, our man, our legend, the original epitome of a "Michigan Man" - who made our football tradition legendary, who oversaw 6 national championships, who designed and built our athletic campus including our beloved football stadium and hockey arena, and who gave our Athletic Department its strong identity which it maintains today - was born in West Virginia and played at WVU.
Every time a Michigan fan makes a sarcastic comment about Rich Rodriguez's West Virginian background, it is ironically ignorant - unless of course, they intended to throw Fielding Yost and the history of our program under the figurative bus too.
Now, do these things mean the current coach will be as wildly influential? I have no idea. Two data points do not equal correlation. This diary is not about his success or failure.
This diary is about our school’s history and our fans’ recognition of it, especially since we are always the first to flaunt our great history and tradition - a history and tradition footed in solid marble by Fielding H. Yost!
My plea to you is to please help educate our fan base to stop making silly remarks regarding West Virginia as some second tier state producing second tier people when the rich and beloved history of our program is based off, yes indeed, a man from West Virginia.
If you hear a Michigan fan make this mistake, simply kindly inform them of the facts about our history, as one can attempt to debate scheme, offense, recruiting, or leadership all day, but the history of the University of Michigan and its strong influences are not subject to debate.
Thanks for listening and thanks for your help!
Relevant aside: Lloyd Carr was hired from West Virginia prior to the 1980 season. Coach Carr was hired to serve under Don Nehlen when Nehlen was hired at WVU, but Carr did not stay long, as Bo Schembechler sought out his assistance only a few months later. Carr was only a coach at WVU during the offseason prior to the 1980 season.
In an annual tradition, the Thursday night before the Ohio State game, a group of Michigan faithful walk through the Ann Arbor cemetery, visiting the graves of Fielding Yost, Bo Schembechler, and Bob Ufer.
We meet at the Burton Clock Tower on Central Campus at 8pm. Some people bring flowers or candles, or nothing at all. Most people come decked out in Maize and Blue.
This is truly a moving experience, and one that I recommend for all who have a chance to attend. It's a solemn reminder of the reason we all love Michigan, and it really gets you in the mindset for the weekend.
The Ann Arbor Observer article from a few weeks ago (print edition) about Belford Lawson, the only African-American on the varsity football team under Fielding Yost, is finally available on the web.
I started a thread about the original print article a few weeks ago, but that is buried by now so I have started this new one.
For your listening enjoyment, Mr. Bob Ufer.
A Michigan football historical parallel I found interesting:
Fielding H. Yost died in 1946. The 1947 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 1947, Fritz Crisler handed the reigns to 42-year-old Benny Oosterbaan, who Crisler described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Oosterbaan proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by retiring Ron Kramer's #87 while he was still on the team. While Crisler had never had a season worse than 7-3 or finished worse than tied for 4th in the Big Ten, Oosterbaan had two losing seasons in his 11 years at the helm, as well as 6th and 8th place finishes to cap his tenure before handing off to Bump Elliott.
Glenn E. Schembechler died in 2006. The 2007 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 2007, Lloyd Carr handed the reigns to 44-year-old Rich Rodriguez, who many described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Rodriguez proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by ending the tradition of having season-long captains. While Carr had never had a season worse than 7-5 or finished worse than tied for 5th in the Big Ten, Rodriguez set the Michigan record for losses in his first season and then ...
Obviously the comparison is ridiculous (Oosterbaan did win a national title and 3 Big Ten titles; Crisler was the outside hire and Oosterbaan was a Michigan guy, whereas Lloyd was inside and RichRod was not), but here's hoping we're not heading for the 1950s and 1960s of Michigan Football (which included a span of 17 years with one Big Ten title from 1952-1968). I guess the bright side is that even if we are, history would indicate that this won't last forever, and that the next Bo is coming around...in 2028 or so?
First "Game" vs. Buckeyes:
Fielding H. Yost, 1901: W, 21-0
George Little, 1924: W, 16-6
Tad Wieman, 1927: W, 21-0
Harry Kipke, 1929: L, 0-7
Fritz Crisler, 1938: W, 18-0
Bennie Oosterbaan, 1948: W, 13-3
Bump Elliott, 1959: W, 23-14
Bo Schembechler, 1969: W, 24-12
Gary Moeller, 1990: W, 16-13
Lloyd Carr, 1995: W, 31-23
Rich Rodriguez, 2008: ________
Go Blue, Beat OSU!