spoiler alert: i linked this
100% worst thing ever
So this week a group of a certain kind of idiot students tried to get the student body to fund a Frankenstein-ian effort to
replace compete with the best fight song ever composed. Once the entirety of the soul-possessing Michigan fanbase wanted to slap them in the face, they withdrew this petition to make way for an amended version that makes it clear they'll keep The Victors alongside their proposed abomination.
Today they're still fighting—one made a radio appearance to complain that his talking points were getting all scrambled in the mad rush to explain to him just what a bad idea this is. In the show he clarified a number of things, like that they've gone to "many" student groups to get more spoons into the kitchen, and addressed important things like the song's branding and a documentary film about how it was made, but haven't actually, you know, written any song. He also emphasized that they don't want to get rid of the The Victors (just have it compete with their self-aggrandizing golem), and expressed hope that it would get picked up around the country, like how Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind became a sort of anthem for the Yankees.
Ace and Brian already addressed how the thing and the guy proposing the thing are ridiculous (and Brian had to explain his tongue was in his cheek afterwards). Since the offseason generates user content at a slower pace, in lieu of Dear Diary* this morning I wanted to talk about what's so irreplaceable about The Victors, and provide a little deeper discussion on the topic than the prima facie "ungh that's horrible."
Change? Michigan has, in fact, changed its fight song several times in its history. Most notably, they replaced The Victors with Varsity for a time, because once Michigan had rage-quit the Western Conference, "Champions of the West" no longer made any sense.
An early favorite, and still the opening of any glee club concert, was Laudes Atque Carmina (Praises and Songs), written by Charles M. Gayley, class of 1878, and arranged by Albert Stanley. Here's the line I love:
Oohhh decus omnium
O salve Universitas Michiganesium
What a perfect description of the Michigan zeitgeist: "Glory and Victory—oh, and be virtuous in everything while you're at it please kthx."
|Apparently we have to explain why this is worth keeping around.|
This is probably a more applicable sentiment today than hailing long-dead heroes for conquering Maroons and Fighting Methodists.** But it's also in Latin, and dated, and pedantic, and most importantly nobody knows the words unless they've done glee.
The anthems of Michigan's songbook† range in tenor from bawdy drinking songs to, well, pretentious drinking songs. The majority of them come from before World War II, and for a very good reason: that's when people used to sing a lot.
In the time before recording/playback devices, the way a hit song spread was by printing the sheet music. The way they got music into a bar was to get everyone in the bar to sing it. Michigan students would bring their songbooks to dinner, or dorm meetings, and certainly the game. As many students knew the verses to The Victors as could name the quarterback. The most typical extra-curricular activity was to cross Division‡ to their favorite pubs, fill a mug, and join the chorus.#
For thousands of years, getting drunk and singing together was one of the best parts of a human existence. Psychologists even found that most peoples' brains are wired to fire off the same happy feelings you get from love or a massive success when belting out a song surrounded by friendly people doing the same (no matter how it comes out). Biologically, we sing our fight song for the same reason we gather with 113,000-odd people to watch college football: The Natural High.
These things are not manufacturable; they are eruptions from abnormally articulate ids that by astronomical odds came out both cogent and catchy. The chance of finding one is the same likelihood that whatever just escaped from this guy…
…just happened to be organized into a comprehensible language that both rhymes and fits a Souza meter. Mankind's best effort to R&D this phenomenon resulted in heroin.
This stuff has to come from a random and deep subconscious because the brain cannot devise its own distraction.‖ Football came out of some students with a field and a ball who wanted to get their rrraaaarrrgh out. The Victors came out of Louis Elbel in the following state:
My spirits were so uplifted that I was clear off the earth, and that is when “The Victors” was inspired. To my thinking, Michigan Spirit needed a fitting paean, a clarion call — something simple but grand and heroic, something to let out on. Very shortly the strain of “Hail to the Victors” came to mind, and gradually the entire march. I am interested in the psychology of composing, but never have been able to answer satisfactorily just how a “tune” originates in my head. It is easy enough to make tunes, but sweeping, inspiring strains are not made — they flash unawares. And so it was with “The Victors.”
The Victors, like college football, is a weird configuration that happened to bring out a mass, biological, positive feel. Finding a thing like that is like capturing a moon: if it's a little un-genuine it'll crash, and if it's a little unpopular it'll shoot off into space, and if it's not awesome nobody will notice it.
Hail and Unite, then, is the equivalent of Disney suggesting we add a 1,000-mile radius Mickey Mouse (or maybe a Jar Jar Binks—we don't know—but we are talking to lots of interest groups and might have it designed by Bill Watterson and Matt Groening, and our marketing program uses lots of power words) to Earth's orbit, then saying it's okay because you still plan to leave good ol' Luna in the sky for the sake of the traditionalists.§ Even suggesting this shows a staggering misunderstanding of where moons come from, the physics involved, or why people like the one we have. You should not be involved in anything having to do with moons.
Could there ever be another song added to the pantheon? Yes, absolutely! It's a very big bowl; there is room for more than The Victors, and Varsity, and the alma mater, and Let's Go Blue, and the cowbell, and Hawaiian War Chant, and Temptation, and the shortened version of Temptation we sing to rub in the fact they have to give us the ball back now. Most of the glee club's lineup is pre-1940 for the reason above, but every half century or so one of the many new arrangements is canonized.¶ There could be a young savant sitting in the Music School right now who, in the course of a jubilant, all-maize bus ride from Columbus to Ann Arbor late next fall, will gurgitate a timeless thing that'll trick all future generations of Michigan fanbrains into releasing their jealously guarded serotonin.
There's a reason only a handful of schools have found their "Hail!", their "Ramblin' Wreck", their "Rocky Top" or their "Echoes." If you need Eminem (or the version of him you can get for $1,000) to make it cool, you're doing it this way:
the internet never forgets.
And if you're ever talking about how to market a work of art before it's even created, you are doing it exactly wrong.
* Dear Diary in Latin is "Carus Commentarius" and I am highly tempted to change the name of the column to that.
** Chicago and Northwestern
† One claims Ann Arbor should rank with Socratic Greece and Newton's Oxford. There's another called "Michigan Men" that begins with the line "Rum pum pum pum! Rum pum pum pum! Yiddy yiddy iddy yiddy Um pum, Um, pum, Um pum um." Another you might have heard is I Want to Go Back to Michigan.
‡ Division Street is named such because it was literally the division between the city and campus, which was dry.
# Little Brown Jug was one of the most popular bar songs of the early 20th century, if you ever wondered how an oversized, half-blue/half-maroon cask that used to be white got termed as such. If some local bar wants to start a 1910s-style drink-and-sing night I am so there.
‖ You can't hypnotize yourself, for example.
§ And the Michigan Alumni Association on it.
¶ The last was Michigan Remember, a poem from 1963 and set to music in 1993.
So a business school student and his LSA buddy had a spectacularly bad idea. No, we don't need a new fight song to pair with The Victors, the best fight song in the long and storied history of fight songs. That suggestion alone is enough to make an idea very bad indeed, but what sets this bad idea apart is the details. Lord almighty, is this just the worst of ideas. Why?
WE ALREADY DID THIS. Remember "In The Big House"? Dave Brandon already tried this. When Dave Brandon tries something, it means you should never, ever try to do that thing again.
WHY IS THIS EVEN A GOAL?
“This project is meant to be, number one, extremely unique,” Weiss said. “The goal of this song is to get a lot of big names that are associated with the University.”
I'll try to ignore that the kid called his unoriginal and terrible idea "extremely unique" and address the idea that the University of Michigan needs "big names" associated with it.
I think we're good, thanks.
FINE, LET'S HEAR YOUR BIG NAMES.
While the song’s lyrics and tune are still undetermined, Weiss said it is the organization’s aim to involve big names in the music business and University alumni to contribute to the song. For example, he said Weinberg wants to get Eminem involved.
Weiss also said that David Banner, a rapper and music producer, has already agreed to produce the final product.
I'd laugh if not for the overwhelming feeling this guy is serious, which makes me quite sad. Let's start with Eminem.
- Not an alum! You probably knew that.
- In fact, his daughter goes to Michigan State.
- Peaked in 1999, hasn't made good music since 2002. His new music is basically the old music with more yelling, less novelty, worse production, and an unfortunate amount of auto-tune.
- Is gleefully misogynistic and homophobic in his music, which probably isn't the ideal way to represent the University.
- Charges in the neighborhood of $30-40K per verse, so not only is he a bad idea, he's an expensive bad idea.
In the other corner, we've got David Banner, who's from Jackson, Mississippi, and is inextricably associated with Southern rap. His solo career peaked in 2005 with the club single "Play" and he hasn't released a major label album since 2008. It's a little shocking that a current college student would suggest David Banner, because I feel old playing "Cadillac on 22's" in my car. I can't imagine most students associate the name David Banner with anything outside of the Incredible Hulk.
HERE'S WHAT AN EMINEM/DAVID BANNER COLLABORATION WOULD PROBABLY SOUND LIKE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2015.
“The Victors” could soon have a modernistic younger sibling.
If a resolution presented to the Central Student Government on Tuesday night passes, the body will provide funding to a group of students looking to develop an additional thematic song to play at University athletics events.
Central Student Government.
I don't know who you are. If you're looking for jobs I can tell you I don't have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired from the internet. Skills that make me a nightmare for people who will be in job interviews with people who have googled you. If you vote this down unanimously, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for your facebook photos. I will not scour your instagram. But if you vote for this, I will find your linkedin. I will find your whole internet. And I will kill your search results.
dude annihilated his twitter page two seconds after I found it
The patient zeroes:
Business sophomore Adam Weiss, a representative on the CSG Assembly, spoke on behalf of the song campaign, which he called “Hail and Unite.” He said his friend, LSA senior Mike Weinberg, conceptualized the project.
“This project is meant to be, number one, extremely unique,” Weiss said. “The goal of this song is to get a lot of big names that are associated with the University.”
"Extremely unique." #expelAdamWeiss
Caris LeVert came up limping following the final play against Northwestern last night and was seen on crutches after the game. Today, Michigan confirmed our worst fears—LeVert will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury:
Junior guard Caris LeVert of the University of Michigan men's basketball team injured his left foot during Saturday's (Jan. 17) game vs. Northwestern and is scheduled to have surgery this week. He will miss the remainder of the season following a 12-week recovery and rehabilitation period. LeVert had surgery on the same foot this past May.
"Caris has been working so hard this season, and for this to happen is very unfortunate," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "If we know anything about Caris, he will do everything it takes to not only get better but to help his teammates during this time. He is a tremendous young man who I will really miss coaching the remainder of the season. However, I am optimistic he will have a complete recovery."
"While this is obviously not what I wanted, I know this team will come together and be stronger because of it," said LeVert. "Now more than ever, it is important for all of us support this team. For me, I am familiar with the recovery process and what work lies ahead for me. I am very confident that I will return 100 percent and have already begun work to ensure that happens."
This is obviously a huge blow to Michigan's hopes of making even the NIT. LeVert leads the team in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks; with Derrick Walton limited by injury, LeVert has often been the only Wolverine capable of creating his own shot. Freshmen Aubrey Dawkins and Kameron Chatman should see a major uptick in minutes with LeVert sidelined.
If this is the end of LeVert's Michigan career—despite a disappointing season, he's still been projected in the first round of the NBA draft by many experts—it's certainly been a good one. Here's hoping for a speedy and full recovery.
These are actual quotes from Brady Hoke's presser this afternoon. I could not make them up if I tried, because they are appalling. Click the stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk, speculation, innuendos, whatever.” — Brady Hoke.
"We would never, ever, put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma." — Brady Hoke.
Hoke says he thought hit on Morris was targeting
— Alexa Dettelbach (@asdettel) September 29, 2014
Hoke on playing guys with concussion symptoms: "I would never put a kid in that situation, never have, never will."
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) September 29, 2014
Hoke on whether the athletic trainers did tests on the sideline, “I assume so.”
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 29, 2014
Hoke says he wanted to get Gardner back in (presumably without a timeout), but was told no, "By that time, Shane's on the field."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 29, 2014
Hoke: on the criticism: "When your integrity and character is attacked that’s really unwarranted."
— angelique (@chengelis) September 29, 2014
Hoke on whether he will act different the next time: “I don’t know, I think that’s hypothetical.”
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 29, 2014
9/27/2014 – Michigan 14, Minnesota 30 – 2-3, 0-1 Big Ten
Look at this photo and tell me he is not concussed, TELL ME. (Photo Credit: Leon Halip, USA TODAY) pic.twitter.com/FNR75YG2Sv
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 28, 2014
Brady Hoke is too incompetent to be Michigan's coach. He's too incompetent to be responsible for 85 kids who might get badly hurt at any moment. Hell, he's too incompetent to run a Hooters. Do not eat the chicken at Brady Hoke Hooters. That's not chicken.
And that's the nice way to interpret the information presented to us. It's one thing when Michigan is sending out ten guys in their dinosaur punt formation, one thing when they have the country's worst offense relative to available hyped recruits two years running. It's one thing when Michigan is pretending to try by getting Devin Funchess's ankle mangled in the waning moments of a 31-0 game. These are all fireable offenses, but year-end fireable offenses.
It's another thing when the Yakety Sax chaos that has come to symbolize the Hoke regime puts one of Hoke's "115 sons" in danger, as it did Saturday.
Shane Morris had just taken a headshot from a defensive end. He momentarily lost the ability to use his limbs. There was no real reason for him to be in the game anyway, what with his 49 passing yards and air of being totally overwhelmed. And Hoke threw him out there, because he "didn't see" his quarterback stagger onto one of his offensive linemen.
Even if that implausible excuse is true, somebody did. The announcers did. Doug Nussmeier—who was desperately trying to get his quarterback to fall on the ground—did. There were 80,000 people still in the stadium looking at the quarterback, and
knew Shane Morris had just had a very bad thing happen to his brain. When he was left in, they booed vociferously. This is where we're at: the guys booing in the stands are doing so because they fear for the players' health.
This is a long, long way from the "they ain't got no heart" guys from the Rodriguez era. Booing is now the only agency you have when something reprehensible is going on in front of your face. It's gone from childish to necessary.
Brady Hoke had no idea, and even more damningly nobody on his sideline had the sense to overrule the guy who purports to be the head coach. Some guys started yelling at Russell Bellomy to get his helmet on when Gardner lost his a couple plays after entering; Bellomy tried about 50 because he never dreamed he'd go in a game again. Morris re-entered the game. Did he have a concussion?
"Shane's a pretty competitive, tough kid. Shane wanted to be the quarterback. Believe me, if he didn't want to be, he would've come to the sideline, or stayed down."
That is unacceptable. Brady Hoke should have been fired walking off the field.
Dave Brandon is too stupid to be Michigan's athletic director. After a day-long lambasting culminating in ABC's World News Tonight slamming the program, they released a breathtakingly tone-deaf statement that is a flat-out lie.
We generally never discuss the specifics of a student-athlete's medical care, but Shane Morris was removed from yesterday's game against Minnesota after further aggravating an injury to his leg that he sustained earlier in the contest
This is how Shane Morris aggravated his leg injury.
Who are you going to believe, Dave Brandon and his lawyers or your lying eyes?
It does not matter whether Morris was concussed or not. What matters is that Shane Morris showed obvious signs of a concussion immediately after taking a wicked head shot and was permitted to stay in the game, then re-entered some 90 seconds after departing, well before any serious concussion check could be completed. The NFL's process takes 8-12 minutes. The NHL requires players suspected to have sustained a concussion to be removed from the ice and taken to a quiet place for evaluation.
Michigan was flagrantly negligent about Shane Morris's safety. Period.
And then they lied about it. To your face. Because they think you're too fucking dumb to do anything about it.
Michigan's athletic department has been insulting the intelligence of their fans for years with offended statements about how they weren't really going to do the thing they said they were going to do and the thing you're mad about definitely is your fault, not theirs. That was bad enough for petty things like noodles; this is the athletic department lying to the nation about a matter of real import.
Brady Hoke is either a liar or an idiot, and my guess is both.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) September 29, 2014
This opinion is universal outside a small corps of true believers who have inexplicable faith in the people who are just in charge of the Michigan athletic department. Hoke has been condemned by the ESPN announcers, Deadspin, Business Insider, Yahoo, Andy Staples, Nick Baumgardner, Wojo, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel, USA Today's Nicole Auerbach, CBS, CBS again, USA Today's George Schroeder and virtually every other person to offer an opinion about college football this year. Hell, a news program aimed at olds did a segment on it, just after they talked about ISIS.
The die has been cast. Until Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon are removed from this program, This Is Michigan: incompetent liars.
I can't stand by and watch this anymore.
This program is broken. The coach is too dumb to be in charge of other people. The athletic director is so loathed that when the remainder of the student section started to chant something after the concussion fiasco, they went with "FIRE BRANDON." Tickets go for two cokes, and that's too expensive.
Stephen Ross is defending Brandon, and I feel helpless. The thing I love most in the world has been held hostage by unacceptable people. So I'm going to do two things.
I'M NOT GOING TO THE MARYLAND GAME. (Unless Hoke and Brandon are gone.) This is going to break a home attendance streak dating back to the 1997 opener, when I was a freshman, but it's the only thing I can do to show my disgust at the state of the program. I'm not selling my ticket—not that I could sell it for anything. I am eating it. I urge you to do the same. Yeah, it sucks for the players. I am more concerned about sending a message about the program as a whole than making anyone feel bad.
Do it for all of us. I hate it with the fury of a thousand suns, but this is the only thing we have left.
I'M RUNNING FOR REGENT IN 2016. I don't know how or with who yet, but the board of regents is a broken institution that privately conspires to vote unanimously in favor of everything, in violation of the law. They accepted the presence of Dave Brandon; they run the worst FOIA office in the country; they are supposed to be the check on an increasingly overpaid and unaccountable administrative class at Michigan. They are failures.
Leaders and best. I still believe that. Goddammit, I do. I started the Every Three Weekly with Amol Parulekar and Mike Chu and Paul Malewitz and Michigan allowed that to happen despite it being an obviously not-great idea for them. I learned how to code; I didn't go to my discrete math class for the entire semester and that was cool; I got my brain rearranged by Stephen Kaplan in an immensely productive way. Michigan is awesome. It is awesome in spite of the people in charge of the university's front door.
I love this place, which gave me my education, livelihood, and wife. I am going to do the thing I can to try to help it.
Because this is not Michigan.
[After THE JUMP: more reasons to fire Brady Hoke.]