What if a man suddenly shut down in the line of duty awoke to a world unlike what he had known before? What if a football coach, coming off a great year and intense spring practices suddenly entered a world of true football dead season. Practices? Not allowed. Recruiting class? Done. Can it be true? Has the entire college football world gone dead? Is there any hope or escape from this seemingly endless nightmare?
In the coming months, we shall find out if, for coach Brady Hoke, there is any escape from...
If... you know, I get off my lazy ass and actually do it.
On Twitter earlier this evening, somebody made note of something they'd read earlier this year that seemed relevant once again. "2011: The Lost Season". When first made, the statement was tongue in cheek, impilying that so many schools had pending NCAA investigations that the entire season would be lost to eliminated records. Years from now, people would look at the college record books and wonder, "Why didn't anyone play football in 2011?"
In the wake of the PSU Sexual Abuse scandal, the phrase had taken on new meaning for the tweeter. To him, the scandals had amassed and amassed and reached a point where the 2011 season is better forgotten. The missing season is now a season in which the sport itself has gone missing, buried in a mess of too many lies. Too much hurt. Too much distrust and too much heartache. The season has spent too much time beneath a cloak wielding a dagger to be trusted.
I can't argue that point. Even though Michigan seems to have done everything right, I can't stand the abuse of young men willing to work hard and play harder, week in and week out by not following the rules, making illicit deals, or worse. It belittles the game to the point it's almsot easier to simply forget the year and hope another one like it never comes along. Right now, it hurts to be a fan of the system that creates and fosters these situations. We are very small but essential cogs in a very large machine that has corrupted its purpose. Something once as pure and simple as providing young men an opportunity to grow academically and cheer them on while they grow athletically has become very dark and sinister. It is ruled by money, unearned success and criminal behavior. And we are a part of it. It would feel a lot better to forget the whole season and pretend we support something much more pure, much more wonderful and idellyc. Right now, that's not the truth, but it would be easier.
It would be easier by far to declare this a lost season.
But to do such a thing would be to do a huge diservice to the very reason we are fans in the first place. At the heart of this broken, vile, soot-spewing machine lies the same power sources as there ever has been. Driven only by the desire for an education and the chance to play just a little bit longer, the young men at the heart of the game take the field every Saturday for joy and opportunity. Oh, some have pro-careers in mind. Some are less innocent than others, but it doesn't really matter. Not one is playing for position, wealth or illicit opportunity. Not one is playing because someone offered them a contract, or agreed to ignore and hide some wrongdoing on their part. They are playing because the NCAA told them they could earn a free education, develop themselves and maybe market themselves to football's next level, simply because they showed an apittude for it. And that, that is pure. A bit business-esque, perhaps. And certianly theres money to be made there. We can even argue about how that money is distributed, and what is fair.
It doesn't matter, really. There is no cloak and no darkness when the students take the field. They are playing for their university, and their university is educating them, and at that moment, nothing else needs enter the picture. At that moment, the machine is working. At that moment, everything is laid bare. There is no cloak and no dagger.
Two-Thousand-Eleven is a dark, dark season for college football. There have been misdeeds of every kind, and mistrust is present at every level. But so long as those young men run out of the tunnel to play for Michigan, and so long as we sing The Victors to support THEM, there will be an element of pure in a sea of filth.
This is not a lost season, because we still sing the national anthem and cheer the kickoff.
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.
You might recall that last year about this time, I wrote a song for the season, lyrics to Don McLean's American Pie. I felt the creative urge this year and Ive hit the legal pad again. Last year we were coming off a horrible, messy offseason, and something uplifting with a deeper message felt right. This year, Hoke has been recruiting so well and we're getting so much press, I'm feeling the rockstar vibe.
To the tune of Walk this Way - Aerosmith:
Brand new sideline mayor, always pointin’ at the players
The beginning of my new screenplay [Ed-M: ...that's not a screenplay]. I hope you enjoy!
From: The Ohio State Univeristy Office of Public Relations
Section 1: Recognizing an Emergency Situation
Recognizing a crisis is not always easy, but you can follow these simple guidelines to identify whether or not you are part of a crisis situation:
1. Are you, students, university employees or university property in immediate physical danger? If so, you are involved in a physical emergency. Contact local emergency dispatchers and university administrators. Refer to Section 2A.
2. Are you, students, university employees or university property involved in a situation that may have legal ramifications? If so, you are involved in a legal emergency. Contact emergency services if necessary, and contact the university legal department right away. Refer to Section 2B.
3. Are you, students, university employees or university property involved in a situation that may potentially reflect positively or negatively on any OSU properties or entities in the press, public, or with academic or athletic associations with which the university is involved? If so, the situation should be treated as a "Communications Emergency", and no action should be taken until confering with the PR department. Refer to Section 2C.
Section 2C: "Communications Emergencies"
As a state funded institution in the modern era, it is important to recognize that there is no such thing as "private communication," and any situation that deviates even slightly from your ordinary, daily tasks may constitute an "emergency." Emergencies may be positive, such as a large university donation, a success story with a student, or a faculty group that recieves praise for their efforts. Emergencies may also be negative, such as a student-athlete involved in illegal or immoral activities, a professor carrying on an improper relationship with a student, or a rash of poor attendance at lectures.
NOTE: All Legal and Physical Emergencies are also Communications Emergencies, but many situations may constitute a Communications Emergency that do not statisfy the other crteria.
In all Communications Emegencies, it is important to bring all relevant information to the attention of your supervisors and the university PR department right away. Remember that their job is to protect the interests of the university. That includes you. It is in your best interest to be as forthcoming as possible at all times. Furthermore, remember that no information is secret in the modern day, and sharing it with the PR department will ensure simple, easy information dispensation that either/both minimizes negative concepts and/or maximizes the positive.
NEVER ATTEMPT TO CONCEAL INFORMATION THAT
What conclusions can we draw from this snippet?
1. Tressel, Gee and the entire athletic department are illiterate.
2. It'll take months to clean up the mess in the PR offices.