chance of bowl: 13.6%
As I watched Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees @ Tigers the other day, a thought began to pour over me. It reached its peak at the conclusion of the 5th inning.
Superman was beating the tar out of Doomsday. One of the few adversaries with a good chance to fight back, and it was fast becoming a good old fashioned ass kicking. Blow after blow planted squarely and fiercely in the vulnerable midsection; too fast, too powerful, too perfect for even the faintest glimmer of hope to fight back. In just ten punches, the Man of Steel had defeated evil with grace, style, perfect technique and raw power seen only beneath blue moons and in the wildest of dreams. The MVP was king of the mound, high protector of Detroit and all that is good and right in the world. A man of inhuman power and ability. A banner for truth, justice and Victory. I swear that I saw his cape fluttering in the breeze as the crowd stood together to cheer their savior, dumbstruck but to awe his power. The only question was would Doomsday even bother to pick himself up and take the rest of the beating he so rightfully had coming to him?
Welcome, sports fan, to the rationality juncture. The rationality juncture permeates our lives nearly completely. Anywhere a conflict, struggle or challenge exists that we are party to, we often end up standing before the rationality juncture, forced to pick a route. You and I both know, rationally, that the big gainer stock won’t rise forever. Conversely, rationally, we know that the economy will not perpetually tank. We know if we keep driving too fast through the hairpins, we will skid out. We know if we stick to our diet and exercise, the pounds will start to come off. We knew, rationally, that Verlander was not going to strike out 12 more batters and that things would get tight in the game. We knew that Doomsday could punch back.
That night we stood at the rationality juncture with a decision to make. Do we turn down the rational path, applaud lightly, but expect change and thereby minimize disappointment? Or do we walk straight ahead, sucking great lung-fuls of air to scream out our hero’s name? Do we expect a fight back, or do we ready our cameras for the next superhuman volley? Do we accept the chance of failure or cheer the certainty of success?
Sports fans in Michigan have spent a lot of time becoming exceedingly familiar with the rationality juncture as of late. Its twists and bends, various and diverse ways it presents itself, and its ability to inflict massive pain or incredible pleasure, or both have become common to us. It can be lightning quick (Did that play just destroy all hope?) or season long (Will the Lions go undefeated to the Superbowl?). Should we be rational and accept that it was just one play, or should we start the pity party now? Do we want to remember that the Lions are still young and will lose, or do we want to ready our Superbowl party guest list?
U of M fans stand at a unique and far reaching juncture. We’ve been to this party before. And undefeated start against overmatched opponents with a bit of luck and a lot of Denard magic. The rationality juncture stands screaming before us.
“Don’t take that road! It leads to self-delusion and eventual heartache!”
Buckeye fans now understand. They stayed straight where the rationality juncture turned, and now they’re looking for someone (Jim Bollman?) to throw their disillusionment at every time Joe Bauserman throws a pass at air. It would have been much easier to begin with tempered expectations.
Our QB is magic. Our coordinators are the best money can buy. Our coach excretes precious metals.
Our QB is magic. Our coach is a true innovator. Our team is so fast and perfectly built for our offense.
Do you not see the rationality juncture crying out, “Stop This Insanity”?
I saw Verlander’s flowing red cape. I also saw 2 runs in the first and a murderous lineup. I saw what was rational. I still believed in the cape. For all the reasons, right and wrong, sensible and ridiculous, I believed in a superhero.
The contributors of this blog will give you the numbers. They are an interesting and fascinating way to get a handle on a game or a season. They, quite effectively, tell us why something happened. They’re getting better at projecting what will happen. They are giant road signs pointing down the turn-off at the rationality juncture. But they are not why we are sports fans.
We are fans because we believed that a five foot ninja could stop North Dakota. We are fans because we believed Darius Morris would shoot successfully. We are fans because we believed in 30 seconds.
Some of these beliefs left us overjoyed. Some left us heartbroken. The rationality juncture pointed us away from all of them. And nothing could be sadder than believing that D-Mo would find iron or the clock would run out.
The team is 5-0, again. The rationality juncture beckons you to turn. Go Straight.
Believe in Superheroes.
This is a call for calm. I’m not a writer, and a one-time-only-before-now diarist. I’m writing today to call for calm and patience. Sure, Hoke may not be what we all wanted, but we won’t know for a while. It’s been well documented that Rich never got the support he needed, and whether that’s his fault or the alumni/boosters/NFLer’s fault is up for debate, it could be 50-50% for all I know on everyone’s part. What’s important is not to make the same mistake. Just because Rich didn’t get a fair shake doesn’t mean we should set Hoke up for failure as well.
I was (am?) a Rich supporter. I thought we had the chance to be Oregon within a year or two. Since that train has sailed (thanks Austin), it’s time to get behind our coach and our program, and my reason for doing so is people who are a lot smarter than myself (and probably you). First off, Dave Brandon seems to have botched this royally. But just 6 months ago we were all celebrating the “Pimp Hand” and watching Dave dominate the B1G discussions, seal up the game at Jerryworld, the Big Chill, setting up the ND Night Game… Dave has done some good things. He also was tapped to run Domino’s – a giant corporation, and then hired by the University to be AD. Brady Hoke has been coaching football for years, and just might know what he’s doing. Mary Sue is a smart lady, and she’s done some pretty good things for the University too – including the largest fundraising campaign ever, netting (IIRC) > $2 Billion. With a B.
My point in mentioning this is I’m an alumnus, 2009 Mechanical Engineering. I consider myself decently smart, and as we’ve seen from MGoBlog, this is a place for smart people who know sports (especially football) to discuss sports (especially football.) We often say that this is the best place on the internet for a myriad of reasons. The analysis and discussion found here is ridiculous. When my Dad (who played high school football) asked me to explain the Zone Read and how to defend it, I showed him some MGoBlog diaries. We get amazing analysis of recruits, breaking Michigan news, etc. all right here. But we are not more qualified than Brandon, or Mary Sue, or Hoke when it comes to Michigan football. We are fans. Some of us live and die with the Maize and Blue. Some of us even coach football – and I often defer to you when I have football questions. But none of us are Athletic Directors at a D-I university, much less one as great as Michigan. None of us are college football head coaches. A few of us (Mainly Brian) make their living discussing and analyzing college football, but for the rest of us, this is a hobby. If we were such great decision makers, coaches, etc. we’d be doing it for a living.
This may blow up and be awful. This may work. I’m not saying we should blindly follow the leaders – we can question them and be supportive at the same time. But for the time being, until we hear from Hoke, hear from the current players, see the spring game, let’s not cry DOOM for Michigan Football. Make no mistake, I’m not thrilled with the hire either, but let’s support The Team and see what all of these people can do. Brandon was hired for many reasons. Hoke was too. They're better at running and coaching college football than I am (and probably you are too). Let’s give them our support and see what they can do.
A nice pick me up video by the YouTube user InRichRodWeTrust called We'll Make It I Swear. On a week that has offered little hope, here is some, be it false hope or not.
1. reducing the ridiculously high turnover rate, and
2. added size in the trenches -- on the OL and especially DL to stop the run.
I still think those two areas will be greatly improved from last year. As for turnovers, UM finally has a experienced QB and offensive line. That should help a lot Think of the turnovers that stick out from last year (Purdue, Iowa, MSU in OT, OSU all game, etc...)
As for the size on the DL, we have added A LOT of good weight. Plus, our yound DL has added experience. The 90th run defense should be quite a bit better.
Even if the DB play is as bad as last year (it was looking improved, but see above), which is as bad as possible, I think the team wins at least 2-3 more games based on the factors above.
What are some Michigan games from the past, not necessarily just last season, that give you hope for this season? Games that make you go all Obama with a big, confident, "Yes We Can!"
For me, there is one in particular. After faltering out of the gate so badly in 2007, my family and I went to Metzger's one Saturday for my mother's birthday. And sitting there, drinking a massive stein of Warsteiner just a few miles from
an empty Michigan Stadium while the team was in South Bend (Edit: Bad memory, sorry. Game in AA), I, and almost everyone in the building, gradually pressed our way into the small bar area to watch a team that some were dumbfounded as to how they could be so bad, and questioning whether anything would ever go right, pulled its legs up under itself and laid a 38 point, shut out drubbing on a packed house of Irish fools.
Then I knew everything would be alright.
(Also: ND's Yakety Sax performance didn't hurt anything.)
I am impressed with the tone here at MGoBlog, for the most part. Most of the posters/commenters acknowledge that Rome was not built in a day, and that given ample time, Rich Rod will be able to implement his offensive system. I thought that the defense played particularly well yesterday. To that point, any of the MSM writers who believe that Tressel took it easy on us are missing the point- that WAS Tressel-ball. That is how they play, under Tressel. They do not seem to have the quarterback necessary to run up the score, or the coach/mindset required to do so.
HOWEVA, I do want to call out a certain segment of the U-M "fanbase". If you sold your tickets to a Buckeye yesterday, please go straight to Hell. There was entirely too much red in the stadium. If you didn't choose to go to the game simply because you thought we would lose, also please go straight to Hell. Either you are a fan, or you are not. If wins were guaranteed, they would be meaningless. It is the possibility, and the unpredictability that makes being a fan great. The idea that sometime in the 3rd quarter, a victory was possible over OSU gave me hope. Sure, we would up losing. It happens. This just in- Michigan will lose another game at some point. That doesn't mean you don't go. If you sold your OSU ticket, why did you buy them in the first place?
One of the better parts of yesterday was after the game. My seats are down near the wall, and Brandon Graham's folks were shaking hands with students and alumni, and fans. I told his father that "Regardless of wins or losses, it has been a true pleasure to watch his son play football for Michigan." Which it has been. It has been a privilege. Thank you seniors.