Brilliant, Nick. Home run. This exhange is exactly why I wanted to see this feature return.
things go poorly
by Nick RouMel
Bo was dead. Brandon was quite sure of that. The Wolverine coaching legend died in 2006, just before #2 Michigan was to play #1 Ohio State. They lost that game en route to a post-Bo record of 50-41.
Brandon was trying to fix that. He had done everything, from restricting student seating to proposing fireworks. Yet here his team stood, on the brink of what might be another mediocre season.
And there Bo stood. The Bo statue, that is, at the newly renovated Schembechler Hall. Brandon liked to come here, to gain wisdom from his mentor, when he was in crisis.
Bo had never moved before. Not his statue, anyway. Brandon squinted. Perhaps he was just tired. Kickoff for the Appalachian State game was less than twelve hours away, and Brandon’d had a long week. He rubbed his eyes and turned towards his car, to go home.
“Brandon! Drop and give me twenty!” It must have been Nussmeier. He was a cutup, that guy. Thought he’d be a studious type, but when he showed up for his first meeting in an Al Borges mask, they knew he was a joker.
Brandon turned and froze. It was not Nussmeier, but Bo who stood before him. “Let’s take a walk, Brandon.” Brandon had no choice.
It seemed as if the walk to the stadium took hours. It was daylight when they reached the tunnel. Brandon was compelled to run, and was surprised to burst onto the field to a deafening roar. Michigan Stadium was filled, and Brandon was bewildered.
“Where are the flyovers, Coach? The big video screens? How will people be able to watch the game - or see Beyoncé?” Brandon’s eyes fixed on the student section. He saw happy young people streaming in with friends, choosing their seats. Some were carrying quarter kegs with game tickets taped to them.
Brandon wheeled to Bo, and gasped. “They’re sitting where they want?!!!!”
Bo wasn’t there. He was on the sideline, barking at #85.
Brandon smiled at the memory. He had come out of South Lyon High School as a quarterback, but in three years under Bo, he played only a few minutes of one game as a defensive end. He once said, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was the hot-shot kid coming out of high school with nine varsity letters, and I learned that didn't count for very much.” Bo’s defenses gave up a mere 83, 57, and 68 points in Brandon’s three years with the team.
“The team.” Bo jarred Brandon from his reverie, reminding him: “It wasn’t about you. Or anyone else. It was only ‘the team, the team, the team.’”
“Why do you say it three times?” Brandon asked. But the ghost was gone.
Brandon awoke. Had he dreamed? He remembered a football game, a glorious win, and Bo was carried off the field. The scene abruptly changed. There was a tiny college, that came to the Big House without fear. They blocked a field goal, and won. They beat the storied Wolverines. It was called, simply, “The Horror.” Brandon smiled. Wouldn’t it be nice to have people remember that again? He showered, dressed, put on his suit and tie, and whistled “The Victors.” It was game day.
There was no such thing as ghosts - and Bo was indeed dead. Brandon was certain of these things. Yet for some reason, he felt a chill as the jets roared over the stadium.
APPALACHIAN STATE 30, MICHIGAN 28
By Heiko Yang
It was a dark and stormy night, the best of times and the worst of times … and uh … beware the ides of March, quoth the Raven … Rosebud.
Sorry Nick, I can’t do it. You win. Except for the part where you predict a Michigan loss, which I will get to in a moment.
But first, hello! It’s good to be back. I took a hiatus from the blog after last season to defend my thesis and then start clinical rotations, but I am so happy that it’s finally football season again and that I get to continue writing a weekly Punt (or Counterpunt, because Nick is an overachiever and finished his creepypasta like a month ago because he’s weird). Third year of medical school has been both mentally and physically draining, and I’ve been looking forward to having something to look forward to, if you know what I mean.
It is a little weird being a fan again. Not that I haven’t rooted for Michigan since the beginning, but for the last three years I’ve been watching Michigan games from the press box and following the team as a member of the media -- someone who is more or less in the know but not encouraged to emote about things for fear of being unprofessional. The way I dealt with this was with wry humor: whenever something good happened, I laughed. Whenever something bad happened, I laughed. And when Michigan State happened last year, Ace and I sat in a car in East Lansing and had an inebriated contest to see who could come up with the saddest song ever. Anyway, there was never any cheering or booing in the press box, but by golly was there a lot of laughter.
I’m glad I don’t have to do that anymore. As a fan, and as a student, I finally get to wear one of those yellow t-shirts I got many years ago and show up to today’s game 15 minutes late and then cheer freely with all my friends in section twenty-whatever. I think I’ve missed this experience more than I know, because I don’t think there is anything more cathartic than yelling opinions like an idiot at people who can’t hear you.
Well, nothing except putting your opinions on the internet. So here are my opinions for today:
The offensive line will be fine. They will be limited all season by size and experience issues, but playcalling will put them in a position to succeed, and they will be no worse than a middling Big Ten offensive line.
I’m more excited to see Jehu Chesson and Freddy Canteen than I am Amara Darboh and Dennis Norfleet. This is not a knock on Darboh or Norfleet, I just have this feeling that Chesson and Canteen will be bigger playmakers from people who have been privy to Michigan’s practices.
Devin Gardner is going to be rusty. It’s to be expected for a guy working with a new O-line, playbook, and playcaller. And coming off a broken foot. He will be throwing the ball away more often than not. But here’s a bold prediction: his first past of the season won’t be an interception, like what happened last year.
I’d like to see if Greg Mattison switches between “over” and “under” defense. Michigan could easily accomplish this while leaving the same players on the field, and it would be an interesting wrinkle for teams preparing for primarily an “over” look.
Brennen Beyer is going to get a sack before Frank Clark does.
I wasn’t here for the HORROR pt 1, so I feel like I can say this freely without feeling like a kid who just said “bloody mary” five times in the bathroom at a slumber party: Michigan is going to win easily because of sheer athleticism and being mentally prepared to quickly stomp out any sign of … hey why did it get so chilly in here all of a sudden?
Sorry, I digress. A couple more opinions: Adam has been doing a fantastic job with the press conference duties. Keep it up, man! (But try not to get carpal tunnel!) Oh, and I miss Al.
Appalachian State 6, Michigan 42
Brilliant, Nick. Home run. This exhange is exactly why I wanted to see this feature return.
This was great. Good to see you again Heiko. Go Blue
Lightning never str -- aww, fuck these guys. 134-0.
Punt, you ignorant slut
Enjoyed the post, great to have Heiko back.
And yeah, Michigan is not losing this game. The first game Appalachian State was a fairly good team that Michigan took lightly. This Appalachian State team is not.
Heiko!!! I feel like my morning is complete now.
Heiko, you should keep in touch with Al and let us know his whereabouts and what he's up to. I worry about that guy.
Also, this was awesome. Thanks guys.
Good stuff and I agree
Nice to see this again!
Great writing. Perfect length, content, and style for pre-game, game day content. Thanks both.
What a nice thing to read. The Punt / Counterpunt didn't match, but who cares. Both fun to read.
Regarding the "Punt" piece, and thoughts on Brandon, it helped me to crystallize some things. Football is just a game. With all the money and amenities and stuff, it is just a game. There's something simple and pure and cathartic and fun about a game like football. That's part of what makes Hoke great. He's a big goofy kid with a twinkle in his eye who cares for the kids and wants them to enjoy the game. Brandon can make things nice, we're ok with that. But when the stuff around the football becomes too commercial and too jaded and too plastic, we're not happy. I'm juxtaposing this in my mind with the gif of fireworks over the Rose Bowl that Brian . . . liked. Fireworks and hot dogs and brats and bands and apple cider and a warm Fall day and a good game, it doesn't get better than that. Rihanna and Superbowl and jumbotron scoreboards and massive speakers with massive rock pounding in your ears and Chevy and Ford and AT&T and $1,000 seats glassed away with furs and leather and armani, not so much.
Heiko . . . I loved his piece. What an awesome guy, managing to do reporting 3 years while a med student. I missed him. This will guarantee I read this all season long. I also missed his banter with Al. Al Borges. . . I liked him, and the OL debacle completely undid him. It is really sad, and Al didn't compensate for the youth and inexperience of the line. What can you do. As I read this, I think that Al compounded the problem (see what Brian wrote,) but if there had been an experienced OL, with good OL recruiting, I think Al would have been fine. C'est la vie. Nuss is good, and if we can manage to have a great year and still keep Nuss for two years, it will really set Michigan up fine.
Great to see Heiko back! Go blue!
Great stuff. Good to hear from Heiko again. It's been too long,buddy.
Thank you both. I miss you Heiko but am happy you are well under way towards a noble profession.
Good to see the return of PT/CTPT again! This year's opening exchange kind of gave me chills and I don't even know why.
App St 0
Listening to the streamed broadcast and you guys.
Best wishes to Counterpunt Emeritus, and welcome back to Heiko as his worthy successor.