"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Note: If you find this even marginally funny, please tell me and I will continue them for the rest of the season.
I was going to create a Choose Your Own Adventure for this whole season, but then I realized the team was 5-3 and trying to rewrite history is better left for crappymovieadaptations of goodbooks and romanticcomedies. So starting from last Saturday’s loss to Penn St., you and YOU ALONE are in charge of how this season ends!
(okay, not really, but this is totally epic sounding. In fact, the only impact I’ll have on this season is if UM loses to Purdue, at which point I will recreate the following clip, but with GERG in the role of Will Ferrell.)
You are standing in front of your TV, mouth agape as a walk-on QB playing in his first game for PSU helps to shred UM’s defense along the way to a 41-31 loss in Happy Valley. Your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband has gone into the other room to “check my e-mail” and “see about going out to brunch” with her/his parents on Sunday. Your dog, a loyal companion through it all, has spent the last hour trying to rest at your feet but is constantly interrupted by your loud and profanity-laced mood swings as the second half of the game played out. The chances that he will chew apart one your shoes while you sleep is approximately equal to the 3rd-down completion percentage by PSU this evening.
With the night still young, you have a couple of options. If you…
A) Give in to your growing ennui and curl up in the fetal position on the couch and watch reruns of Say Yes to the Dress with your wife/girlfriend, GOTO ENNUI.
B) Rage against the world by grabbing all of the alcohol from your refrigerator, including that novelty six-pack of Thanksgiving-style beer your uncle gave you in 2008, and dump it all into a bucket and chug away, GOTO BLINDER.
C) Fire up the laptop, jump on mgoblog.com, and go through every new Board and Diary post and blanket agree/disagree with the sentiment, GOTO ADDICT.
After watching the third straight episode with the “cliffhanger” about whether the girl will be able to afford her dream dress (hint: she can, even though it “totally” breaks her budget), you realize there is more to life. You look into your loved one’s eyes, see a bright and beautiful future filled with laughing children, romantic trips, and unicorns with rainbows for horns, and a hint of a smile slowly creases your lips. Then you remember J.T. Floyd giving a 15-yard cushion on 2nd-and-21 and scream out in agony “Why GERG why?” and fall into a quivering, whimpering heap.
12 hours later, you are wearing the same clothing as the night before and are sporting a very not George Michael 5 o’clock shadow while sitting across from your parents-in-law in a “cute” bistro in town. You chew on a piece of toast, and it tastes like sadness; your mimosa burns your throat like a million suns of despair; your eggs benedict are a little runny. GOTO WEEK-ILL.
Named after the effect it has on the imbiber, you guzzle this concoction until all you see are stars and that small purple elephant in a sweatervest that seems to pop up more the past few years. You then walk into the kitchen and proceed to have a nuanced and passionate discussion with your blender about how the 3-3-5 defense simply is not a suitable base formation for a defense with a below-average secondary and linebackers who have trouble maintaining their gap coverage and tackling in space. Later reports to the nursing staff at the hospital by your loved one characterize this conversation as “a bunch of grunts, cackling, and arm-waving like Steven Tyler during a live performance of ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’” followed by you head-butting the refrigerator and suffering a concussion. You are placed on the “physically unable to perform” list for home chores and the doctors suggest you turn to watching “something less stressful, like the UFC or dress shows” on the weekends for the rest of the season. THE END.
After dis/agreeing with every poster who calls for RR and/or GERG to be fired and questioning why you are still a fan for 4 hours, you go to YouTube and watch highlights of the New Math game against MSU until you pass out on your keyboard and begin to drool. At least that is your excuse you give the next morning for why this clip was playing in a loop when you were found in the morning. GOTO WEEK-ILL.
By Wednesday you are feeling better about the past weekend, as the cool fall air, left-over Halloween candy, and flood of rationalizations lead you to believe that the PSU game was an aberration of sorts.
“Maybe McGolin is just a good QB. You know, he almost beat out Boldin to start the year. Plus, Martin was out for most of the game.”
“It was a night game in Happy Valley, and there was some questionable officiating.”
“The position changes are going to take time to fit in.”
“JoePa just wins footbawwww Gameshesh at Penn STTAAAATTTTEEEE!!!”
The degree to which your mood has lifted is highlighted by your complete non-reaction to the news that JT Floyd will be out for the season due to injury. You think, “eh, I guess it doesn’t really matter who gives a 8-yard cushion to a receiver on 3rd-and-3. Might as well be a freshman.” Also, you take solace in the fact that the Angry Michigan Hating Secondary God is running out of victims, so it will hopefully move on to another team soon. Just to be safe, you stop by Bed, Bath, and Beyond on the way to work to pick up extra candles for your shrine to Charles Woodson, Leon Hall, and Ernest Shazor.
Your spirits are further lifted when the NCAA report is released on Thursday effectively eviscerating the Free Press’s hackneyed expose against the UM program and exonerating RR and the rest of the staff for what amounted to some extra stretching and someone watching practice who shouldn’t have been there. Against your better judgment, you visit the Freep website to see if they are printing a mea culpa. To nobody’s surprise, Rosenberg and the paper are sticking to their ridiculously misguided and hollowed-out guns.
This reminds you of the text-based adventure game Zork, in which Rosenberg is the troll standing in front of the bridge that you are trying to cross. After a number of syntactically-correct but apparently illogical commands such as “Show truth about non-countable hours” and “Question whether anonymous sources are disgruntled former players”, you would have simply turned off the game and went back to playing ColecoVision version of Frogger. Today, you just say “whatever” and figure you’ll never visit the site again unless Drew Sharp publishes something REALLY dumb. You expect to return in 3 days.
After sifting through the various Illinois previews that all point to UM losing the game, you realize that UM has been a favorite and lost, and upset as a dog, so you steel yourself for 400+ yards of rushing by the Illini and hope Denard and Co. can keep pace.
A) Believe that UM beats Illinois, GOTO ILL-WIN.
B) Believe that UM loses to Illinois, GOTO ILL-LOSS.
Scheelhaase throws only 8 passes all game (completing 6 for 150 yards and 2 TDs) and the Illini rushing attack eats up the UM defense. On the 8th missed tackle by Cam Gordon that lets a player get loose for another 10 yards, you yell to no one in particular that this game could not possibly get worse. Your significant other asks what quarter it is, and you realize there are 8 minutes left in the 1st half. Michigan keeps it close, but in an all-too-familiar script, UM falls behind early and the defense can never get off the field without giving up points. UM loses 44-30, and the pilot has definitely turned off the “Do NOT Panic” sign in the cabin. GOTO PUR-WEEK.
UM rushes out to a quick 14-0 lead as Denard houses runs on the first two drives after the defense records two (!) straight stops, one a punt and the other a fumble by Leshoure in the red zone. The Illini’s run defense, highly-ranked coming into the game, proves to be no match for the midline and the simple zone read as run by a Dilithium-infused QB. The Illini are also not helped by their head coach, who reminds people why he was fired by Florida and nearly canned by his current team by never throwing the ball even though UM puts 9 guys in the box. Illinois threatens throughout the game, though, and even ties it late at 31, but a 45-yard bomb to Junior Hemingway (!) gets the offense into the redzone, where Vincent Smith (!!) drives it home for the game-winning TD. UM fans across the globe let out a collective breath as the team becomes bowl eligible, making everyone a little sad when they realize how this used to be a foregone conclusion. GOTO PUR-WEEK.
Coming off an emotional home game against Illinois, all the talk turns to the Boilermakers and resident Village People Motorcycle Guy*stand-in Danny Hope’s decimation of a once-proud program. Coming off two straight losses to the Boilermakers (and unfortunate theme during RR’s term as head coach), UM will be looking for revenge in West Lafayette. As you guessed it last week but still is a shocker, but Drew Sharp AND Michael Rosenberg have disparaging things to say about the UM program and Rich Rodriguez. Combined, the articles include about 2.5 factually correct statements and/or opinions. Few people notice, though at least one brand-new MGoBlogger creates a post about it just so that people can rant. People scream “groupthink”, and we all tell them to shut up or else we’ll all neg-bang them.
All week fans hear about how bad Purdue is on offense and defense, how they have one of the worst offenses AND defenses in the conference. UM fans know that such stats mean nothing when playing UM’s defense, but spirits are still high. Based purely on the rate at which Purdue has been losing QBs this season, the starter for the game will be a true Sophomore Mechanical Engineering student named James Sampson who led his dorm team to the semi-finals of the Purdue Intramural Flag-Football playoffs. Despite the near-certainty that he will throw for over 250 yards and have a 3:1 TD:INT ratio and the game is on the road, this still looks like a near-certain win for UM. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, Danny Hope is still the coach.
A) Believe that UM beats Purdue, GOTO PUR-WIN.
B) Believe that UM loses to Purdue, GOTO PUR-LOSS.
Sampson does not disappoint, giving a shout-out to his ME peeps after his 3rd TD pass puts Purdue ahead to stay, despite a late UM drive to tie that ends with the incredibly predictable blocked 30-yard FG. All the custom-fitted cups in the world cannot protect you from the metaphysical dong punch that racks your body after this loss. Alcohol barely numbs the pain, but the dream of prehistoric otter-sized ennui setting in is the only release you seek. GOTO BLINDER.
Bowl hurdle overcome as well as a very rare road win, you are quietly content that UM will play beyond the OSU game. Beating Danny Hope 51-21, RR lets loose a trademark kinda-smile and GERG actually receives a complement in the press conference for “only making the walk-on look like an All-City QB out there.” Sunday is the most beautiful day of your life. Your breakfast tastes better than any meal you and I have ever tasted, members of the opposite sex seem particularly attracted to you. Your dog seems genuinely happy to see you when you walk into the room, not the faux interest-if-you-have-a-treat veneer it usually puts on. All is right in the world, and you prepare yourself for the next two games believing that UM is back on track, or at least no careening off the tracks into a school full of baby bunnies.
TO BE CONTINUED?
* Little known fact, his name is Glenn Hughes. Thanks Wikipedia!
when I was talking to the blender? It made some excellent points, but in the end we agreed that Craig Roh is not a linebacker. Turns out from recent reports that Craig and my blender are on the same page.
Please keep this up, I was too drunk or too sad to know what actually happened until I read it here.