"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Everyone has their own special reason for hating Notre Dame, and rather than analyze the weather, matchups, or what Jim Rome said yesterday, I'd like to hear why Notre Dame has a special place in your heart. I'll start: Why do I hate Notre Dame? The Notre Dame Grotto is totally misleading. When I think of grotto, I think of this:
Notre Dame's Grotto is a little different...
Truth in advertising anyone?
And the game rolled on. Denard left, Denard right, Denard up the middle. Molk opening up a hole, Webb making a block, Odoms shoving a cornerback downfield. Block, block, block; tackle, tackle, tackle; most decisively, win. I was thrilled, ecstatic. But strangely: saddened. Why? Because I found myself with one simple wish: for Bo to have seen it.
I don't know how he'll put it years from now when he's looking back on it, but I think it is safe to say: these past few years have been some kind of waking nightmare for Coach Rod. One damned thing after the next. Accusations of the loss of tradition, assertions of cheating, and the stark reality of losing. Mostly, the losing, probably; but the other things, well, they didn't help.
There were those who got confused over what a Michigan Man was. They thought it meant "descended from the Bo coaching/playing tree". A bad, awful definition, failing the most simple of tests. Yost? By this definition, nope. Crisler? Sorry. And thus, Coach Rod? No chance. He wasn't from Bo. He wasn't of Bo. And thus, from the hills of West Virginia, Coach Rod was the dreaded Other. He was a charlatan, a simpleton, a snake-oil salesman. He was no Michigan Man.
His practices were too tough, there was too much cursing, yelling; they're driving the players off. Where are the family values? But remember this: it is said that for Bo's players, game day was a relief; it was the practices during the week that killed them, that they were afraid of. By the time they got to the game, well, that was the easy part*.
Practice Makes Perfect
On Saturday we saw something that had long been lost in Michigan Stadium. A level of toughness and execution we haven't seen too often this past decade. I remember seeing it once, in 2002, when Iowa came in and blew us off the ball in a humiliating 34-9 loss. And again when Oregon came and dismantled us in 2007. And I remember thinking: when did they start doing that to us? Shit, it used to be the other way around. Maybe we saw glimpses of it from time to time (OSU 2003 comes to mind), but that was the exception that proved the rule. Something from the old era was lost, missing, gone.
So this is what Saturday really was. Not just a win. Not something for Coach Rod to get the media monkeys off his back. Yes, it will do that (for a time, until the next loss), but that's not what was important. Because what Saturday represented was much more. Yes, the form was different: the spread and not 3-yards-plus-dust-cloud. Yes, the emphasis was different too: more offensive-minded than defensive, perhaps. But there was a critical sameness: tough, hard-nosed football. Block. Tackle. Execute. Bo-style football. The basics. The essentials.
There is a story Bo tells in John Bacon's book**. It is about how Bo felt after the 6-6 season. Maybe the game was passing him by, he thought. He went to some clinics taught by one of the young hot-shots of the time. The hot-shot, as Bo tells it, described all the new schemes they were using on defense. But one coach had the presence to ask, "If your schemes are so good, why did you give up so many yards last year?", to which the hot-shot replied, "Well, we probably didn't spend enough time practicing tackling." Blocking and tackling, that's what the game is about! It reinvigorated Bo. And that is what we saw Saturday. And it reinvigorated us all.
There were a number of milestones this past Saturday. One of the best debuts by a U of M QB ever. The first time in 21 years, as told touchingly by Michael Taylor on WTKA this morning, that an African-American took the helm of our beloved team. The first win of the season, and perhaps the first real win of the Coach Rodriguez era.
But make no mistake. There was really nothing new here. This was a Michigan Football renaissance. Emphasis on "re", as in again. A re-birth. Of what Bo created here long ago, what he first shouted to the world with a stirring 24-12 win.
The 1969 Upset of the Century
I don't believe in God, or Heaven. I don't think Bo was up there somewhere looking down on the game. But I do wish he could have seen it. Because when that hole opened up courtesy of Molk and company, and Webb came across to seal off the UConn linebacker, and Denard burst through on his way to the endzone, it wasn't some fancy new offense or scheme that did it. It was the blood of a hundred young men who don the Maize and Blue each week. It was the sweat they put in on each long, hot, grueling summer day. It was the tears they cried when Brock Mealer reached for the the banner and touched it, ever so gently.
It was goddamned Michigan Football. From a Michigan Team, coached by a Michigan Man (in the truest sense).
And Bo would have loved every minute of it.
Those who stay...
* From the excellent reminiscing of "Those Who Stay" by Curt Stephenson. Not particularly well written, but a fun read nonetheless.
** Pretty sure this is where I read it. May also be in Albom's book. Both should be read, of course.
With the rash of injuries and attrition our secondary has suffered the past couple of years, I looked elsewhere to see if any one group on any team suffered as much as our secondary has.
Alas, I found the Denver Broncos whose RB corps has been depleted during the off-season from injury.
- Knowshown Moreno injured his hammy on the first day of practice
- Backup Correll Buckhalter went down with a hip injury that same day
- Newly signed LenDale White sprained his ankle on his first full day of practice then proceeded to rupture his achilles, taking his talents to the sidelines for the rest of the season.
I would say our secondary has suffered worse than the RB's of the Broncos but at least Michigan isn't the only team with an Angry BLANK Hating God.
Just sharing some pictures I had from this weekend. I went to the game and had good seats, row 19 on the 32 yard line. I also went on an Alumni Association tour on Sunday, lots of the same things that other people have posted, got to see the $$ seats, and also got a little preseentation on the history of the Big House. Also got to tour the locker room, and the best part of the tour was the chance to run out of the tunnel and play around on the field of the big house.
Band Getting Started
The B-25 Flyover... he was LOW
He came around for another pass... again, LOW
Brock Touches the Banner
The Team touches the Banner
The A-10 Warthogs weren't as low, but were sweet
Good view from the seats (Pics at the game were all taken on my Droid, this is with the Droid Zoomed in)
Locker room, didn't smell bad for it being like 20 hours postgame
Tom Harmon's Heisman, on display on the Club Seat Level
Played a little catch on the field after the tour.
Outstanding weekend all around. Go Blue
I checked the ticket spreadsheet and didn't see any listed. Was just wondering if anybody on here has tickets to the game, or knows a cheap way to get one. I only need one ticket. Thanks for the help.
I think all of us here owe mgoblog a big thank you both for occupying us and keeping us informed during the long, cold offseason. The difference between mgobloggers in the know and the average Michigan fan is just astounding.
Before the game, I talked to my brother (class of '95) who is and has always been a diehard football fan...but not an mgoblogger. He (like most non-mgobloggers) was telling me how we were about to start another losing season and RR was going to get fired, etc. I didn't even respond, blood just boiling, gritting my teeth. I knew, thanks to mgoblog, that we would have a kick-ass offense, and while the D might be suspect, we should be able to compensate for that on offense.
Of course, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, especially on defense, and don't claim to have predicted the outcome perfectly (I predicted 42-24). But, mgoblog allowed me to enter the game optimistically, knowing all of our players, rooting for our HC and looking forward to a much improved season. Thank you Brian, and the rest of the community.