This list is completely arbitrary and not a genuine analysis of the relative merits of state fossils.
Some time back, I created a small diary (click here to see it) which broke down the wins and losses of UM coaches in the modern era. The gist of it was simple: group wins and losses based on the size of the margin of victory or loss, and see what happens.
A few things stood out from that earlier post:
- Bo's first six years were ridiculous. His teams almost never lost! We'll likely never see a run like that again.
- Carr and Mo were quite comparable to the rest of Bo's career (excluding those six magical seasons).
- Carr's (very) slight atrophying was showing up in a few more close wins than what had been the norm.
Although I wanted to wait a few more years to do this, well, boredom set in, and thus again you get the Graph(TM), with Hoke's first two years included:
The graph breaks down each year into seven different groups: big wins (by 15 or more), medium wins (by 8-14), close wins (by 7 or less), ties (from when these used to occur), and close, medium, and big losses (the same margins apply).
There is also a summary graph for each coach (again breaking Bo into two groups, the first six years and the rest):
Cutting to the chase, we can observe the following:
- Hoke has restored one big part of the Michigan Expectation: a large number of relatively easy wins (dark blue part of the bar). Indeed, he already has 13 of these comfortable victories in just two years; RichRod had only 6 in three years.
- Hoke's current win percentage is in the expected ballpark (around .730, just short of the .750 we saw for Bo after '74, Mo, and Carr).
- Hoke isn't getting blown out a lot (also unlike the RichRod era, alas); an actual defense helps with this.
- Hoke's "close win" percentage is more like Carr's; a sign of the times, or a hint at future troubles?
Of course, all of this is quite premature, and the next few years will help us better understand how the Hoke era will likely proceed. And while 8-5 is OK in a given year, it is clearly not OK in the long run (at least, given the expectations we all have from decades of winning). Thus, as Hoke builds the team into his vision of Michigan Football, will he achieve at the level of Coach Carr (five seasons with at least ten wins, including one Mythic National Championship)? Will he continue to win the games we "should" win by large amounts? Will he secure his fair share of Big Ten Championships? Or (dare I hope) will he put together a run unseen since the legendary early days of Bo? Only time will tell.
My own feelings: having a real defense makes it all possible; stout defense makes most tough games close, and easier games into blowouts. If the offense starts to click, and "Good Borges" becomes the only Borges we see (particularly as the "right" parts are brought in via recruiting), it seems like Hoke is on his way to a successful career at UM.
What are your thoughts?
I was there.
The almost-perfect long weekend in the middle of the last semester of our senior year. Yeah, it was a little too expensive (even though we drove). Yeah, it made finishing our classes a little tougher (but who works much in their last semester of undergrad anyhow?). And it was a chance to see something special, a potential national championship. I had watched the last one on TV (and will never forget how clutch Rumeal was, hitting those two free throws). I had celebrated on South U. (as a high schooler) with the masses, but desperately wanted to see this one in person.
They held a lottery to see who got tickets. Can you imagine, not enough tickets to go see the the Final Four down in Louisiana? We won. I don't remember how many people applied, and I sure was hoping that senior status counted for something extra. But we won. And so, we went.
Welcome to New Orleans!
I was only worried about one game: Kentucky. Everybody thought they were the team to beat. And they were. A beast of a team. Led by Jamal Mashburn, they finished the season ranked #2 in the country (behind #1 Indiana, whom #9 Kansas later bounced to sneak into the Final Four); Michigan was #3, North Carolina #4. The closest (at the time) to all four #1 teams making it. How I still wonder about what would have happened had Indiana beaten Kansas...
Bobby K: Too Angry To Win
But I was there.
The Kentucky game went to overtime, Webber was a monster throughout. Look at his stat sheet: 27 points, 13 rebounds, 39 minutes of playing time. Yes, others had great games too (Howard, Jackson, Rose), but without Webber, the run would have ended. I saw a lot of Kentucky fans crying after the game. One shook my hand and offered up a weak but heartfelt "good luck"; I'll always think fondly of that small, silly moment. What luck did I need? I was just watching. Kentucky fans, man, kentucky fans.
One Kentucky Fan We Can All Get Behind
So we celebrated. A great night out on the town, as only the town that hosts Mardi Gras can deliver. And the knowledge that we had one more game, a winnable game against a good (but not great) team.
Mardi Gras Girls: No, We Didn't Meet Them
And I was there.
The team didn't seem to have their legs that infamous Monday night against UNC. I think Kentucky took a lot out of them. Watching UNC breeze by a lousy Kansas team on Saturday, I was convinced we had the tougher road, and during the last game it showed.
Don't Worry Sir, We'll Lose Easily
But those five guys (and yes, the others, too) had something, a toughness, a resilience. We managed to pull ahead with five minutes left. Someone told me one of those stupid stats which make you feel good but only in a false-bravado kind of way: Michigan hadn't lost a game that year when they were up with five minutes left. My friends and I exchanged high fives. We're going to win!
We Exchanged High Fives
But somehow they couldn't keep a guy in Donald Williams' face, and he kept making shots. Why was Jalen on him? I thought King would have been a better choice, more athletic, if shorter. But there was Williams again, making twos, making threes, and suddenly we were down.
F---ing Donald Williams (Looking Old Now)
I was there, and I remember when Webber traveled.
The whole place screamed "walk!" but somehow they didn't call it. Later, I felt thankful for the refs: they didn't want to decide the game on a stupid play like that. They just wanted to see it play out. But Webber walked, and then started dribbling like crazy up the court.
Fisher: What I Would Have Looked Like, Had We Had One More TO
Most of us were screaming "Time out!" How many goddamned basketball games have you watched where there are about 100 timeouts at the end, play moving glacially forward, the last 30 seconds taking 20 minutes? How can a team actually run out of time outs? I bet you Fisher thought about that for a long time after. If they'd just had one more timeout ...
Pelinka: Open For A Three?
Pelinka was open. The UNC guys were running around, crazy, double-teaming (turned out to be a good decision, huh?), and if Webber had just swung the ball to someone, anyone, I bet it would have made its way to Pelinka in the corner. You know, the guy who makes threes. For years, I would wake up in the night, and think about "what if Pelinka had gotten it in the corner?" Thankfully, that went away. Sport fans, we're nuts.
I was there, when all the fans looked at one another, confused.
What happened? Then some guy two rows in front of me, in that f---ing monster of a building where there wasn't much of a scoreboard anywhere near the court for players to see, said simply: "They don't have any more timeouts. That's a technical foul. We're going to lose." Our section, crazy with noise moments ago, jumping with the certainty that our guys were going to pull it out, fell slowly quiet. The UNC fans started to figure it out too; they all started to go nuts, as did their players on the bench. I still can't figure out the Dean Smith voodoo, his two championships not remembered for his team's greatness, but for the other team's failure in the clutch. For this reason, I still harbor an irrational hatred of Dean Smith.
The Dean's Voo-doo Victim #1: Fred Brown
Watching the brilliant documentary on the Fab Five the other day brought this flood of memories back. And what memories they were, and are. I've enjoyed the current season immensely, as Beilein and Co. have built up a team that is easy and fun to root for. But for two seasons in what seems like another lifetime, we had something more than that, something so rare and special that it is hard to believe it was Michigan basketball. We had rock stars for a basketball team. We cheered them on when they won, and we wept with them when they lost. We loved them, and so we wept.
It was a long drive home.
A Long Drive Home
As for the memories I have, well, scandals, banner-removals, or any other "official" process can't touch them. A memory of my own youth, a memory of a time where five kids made national headlines simply by being who they were, a memory filled with many joyous headlines, and finished with an unforgettable exclamation point, perhaps an appropriately tragic ending.
I graduated, I moved out of the state, but I will always have those memories.
You see, I was there.
[Ed-M: Bumped for excellence]
OK, this is not actually a work of staggering genius. You should definitely read the Dave Eggers book it refers to, though - good stuff.
Rather, it is a brief and simple explanation of everything that has happened or will happen in Michigan football. It is based on one simple idea: if you win a lot, you are a genius. If you win most of the time, the fans will grumble but tolerate you. If you lose a lot, you will get fired. I think we all know this.
To make this case, I have simply plotted the wins and losses over the years on the following bar chart, broken down by margin of victory. Here is the graph:
As you can see, the years increase over the x-axis (horizontal direction), and the number of wins and losses are plotted on the y-axis (wins go up from 0, losses go down; ties, when they still happened, are split as half for a win and half for a loss). Wins are broken down into three categories: wins by 15 or more (navy blue), wins by 8-14 (blue), and narrow wins by 7 or less (light blue); losses are similarly split apart, and ties are left white.
I think the graph shows a few important things. First, what an amazing run we had as fans. For almost 40 years, watching Michigan football meant losing a couple or three (close) games, and winning the rest; I wonder if there is any stretch like that in modern football history.
Second, and perhaps most key, is the era that spoiled us: Bo's first five years. What a f***ing first impression that man made! After a "pedestrian" 9-3 season in which he upset the best OSU of all time, Bo's next four years featured: a 1970 loss (by 11 to OSU), a 1971 loss to Stanford (by 1 in the Rose Bowl), a 1972 loss to OSU (by 3), 1973 tie (with OSU, and you know how that story ends), and a 1974 loss to OSU (by 2). Wow!
For those of you not old enough to remember (and this includes me, barely), can you imagine such an era? With a little more luck, Bo could have won three or four national championships. Simply stunning, and what a great way to turn yourself into a legend.
Third, the graph shows I think that in the following years, Bo settled into the pattern we are more used to, with a few losses here and there, and one Year of Infinite Pain before such years were named and blogged about. That year of course was 1984, a year in which Bo went 6-6, almost beat "national champion" BYU in a bowl game, and caused Bo to rededicate himself for his final stretch run.
Fourth, I think the graph shows why some people were unhappy with the Lloyd Carr era - though the general year-to-year record remained very similar to Bo's steady state (which I will demonstrate further below), there are a lot more close wins; in other words, the team continued to win at about the same pace, but more of those wins were in games that could have gone either way. And this makes sense: think back to all those last-second wins against Penn State, Michigan State, and others - we were continuing to win, but not in as dominant a fashion as we were used to.
Finally, I think the graph shows why RichRod was in no way going to get a chance to continue: too many losses, and too many of those in non-competitive games. It was just too much.
Anyhow, to sum up each coach, I also made a plot of their overall win/loss percentage. It is available here:
Instead of just showing Bo's entire history smashed into one bar, though, I separated it into the first 5 years and the rest. The first conclusion from this graph: how similar Bo, Mo, and Carr were, once you take away Bo's first five years! Almost identical, except for that one small difference: that Carr had a noticeable number more of close wins, and both Mo and Carr had a few more not-so-close losses.
And though it's unfair to take Bo's first five years out, those five years were so crazy and unusual, they should be separated and celebrated for what they were: one of the best five-year runs in modern football history. It is those years, I think, where we derive our modern expectations. We think we should always be like that, when in reality it's quite difficult to expect such near-perfection year to year. I think that expectation is what drove all the Carr grumbling, and perhaps caused us all to look to "reboot" the program instead of just "maintain" it.
Imagine a different universe where Bill Martin, instead of looking for the best national coach, was looking for someone steeped in the Michigan way, to maintain its current glory? Who would he have hired? Would one young coach at Stanford, full of Michigan spirit and not yet too full of himself, be considered for the opening? One can only wonder at what might have been, had we been happier with what we had.
[Edit: when I talk about Bo's first "five" years, I mean 1969 through 1974, which as you might have noticed, is six years.]
[Edit (2): Replaced stupid imageshack links with links to Picasa. Imageshack banned the photos; apparently too much traffic!]
Football is not transitive. What do I mean? Simple. If Team A beats Team B, and then Team B beats Team C, it does not mean that Team A will beat Team C. We all know this.
Proof of non-transitivity this year comes in the Big Ten. Let's look at the Big Ten Graph. The graph is simple to understand: each team is a node (circle), and there is an line connecting each team that played another team. The line is actually an arrow, making this a directed graph, in the obvious form: if there is an arrow from Team A's node to Team B's node, it means Team A beat Team B. Here is the graph:
The Victory Graph (Click on it for full size)
There are lots of fun cycles to find in the graph. For example, Minnesota beat Iowa, who beat Michigan State, who beat Minnesota. See how many of these three-node cycles you can find (there are plenty). Or not, depends how bored you are at work. There are bigger ones too: for example, Michigan beat Indiana who beat Purdue who beat Minnesota who beat Iowa who beat Michigan State who beat Wisconsin who beat Michigan. And it goes on.
The most amazing fact from the graph, thanks to Indiana finally getting a win, is that the graph is strongly connected. In graph terminology, this means you can get from any node in the graph to any other node, simply by following arrows, for all pairs of nodes. This really shows how non-transitive football is: you can use this graph to say any team "transitively beat" any other team, at least in the Big Ten this past year. For example, Indiana beat Purdue, who beat Minnesota, who beat Iowa, who beat Michigan State, who beat Wisconsin, who beat OSU. If football were transitive, Indiana "beat" OSU! Except when they played, of course.
One interesting metric for each pair of teams (A, B) is the shortest path to victory for A over B. Some of these "shortest paths to victory" are easy to find: for example, it is unfortunately the case that there is a short and quite direct path from OSU (at the top) to Michigan. Some are harder to see: for example, see if you can find the path where Michigan "transitively" beats OSU. This "shortest path" is actually long: 6 steps (the answer is at bottom).
We can then use this graph to order the teams a different way: what is the shortest path between a team and every other team in the Big Ten? Lower is better here: a path of length 1 means Team A directly beat Team B, whereas a path of length 2 between Team A and Team B means that Team A beat Team C who in turn beat Team B. Here is the full summary of the shortest paths between all pairs of Big Ten teams:
You can then use these to create a new ranking among teams, based on their average shortest path to victory:
This ranking kind of makes sense, too. If you beat a lot of teams directly, then you will have an average near 1 (note that even undefeated teams will average higher than 1, because teams don't all play each other). If you only beat bad teams, who in turn only beat other bad teams, your average will be higher. Thus, Michigan does poorly in this comparison; Minnesota does better because they beat Iowa, who actually beat some good teams (like MSU). Only Indiana fares worse than our boys in Blue.
You can also prune the graph to arrive at some interesting findings. For example, let's say we remove all edges where one team didn't resoundingly beat the other team. I will arbitrarily deem a win as a "strong" win when one team beats the other by more than 10 points. The graph now looks like this:
The Strong Victory Graph (Click on it for full size)
Wow, that is a much different graph! The first thing that stands out: there are no cycles in this graph. That means that if Team A "strongly beat" Team B, and Team B "strongly beat" Team C, that Team C didn't "strongly beat" Team A. There are no cycles here my friends.
We can also then use the "Strong Win" Graph to compute a new ranking. For each strong win, you get a +1, and for each strong loss, you get -1. Here are the teams, ranked by this new "Strong Win" scoring system:
This is actually a pretty reasonable ranking I think. Wisconsin is on top, because they beat the tar out of everyone (almost). Michigan State doesn't fare nearly as well as Wisconsin and OSU, because they had many close wins and one game where they were trounced (Iowa). Michigan ends up behind Illinois and Penn State in this ranking, because those two teams had a number of big wins, where Michigan only had one (Purdue, and barely "strong" at that).
Anyhow, that's a short look at how graphs can help us rank teams in different ways. And if you didn't like it, well, remember that I Hate Everything too.
[EDIT: Some people asked how I generated the graphs. All automated, given an input of games and scores. Some python code to compute shortest paths between nodes (there are some fairly standard algorithms for doing this) and then Graphviz to layout the graphs automatically. It would be easy to do this for any set of games.
One other note: the real point of the "Strong Win" graph is how silly it is that score differential is ignored in current computer rankings. A big score difference is a useful metric, and one that I think is better than many other simple ways of comparing teams. One could likely come up with a slightly more nuanced "Strong Win" definition (say, win by 10 and outgain the other team by some threshold number of yards); this was just a simple and easy way to start.]
The path for "transitive victory" of Michigan over OSU: Michigan beat Illinois who beat Northwestern who beat Iowa who beat Michigan State who beat Wisconsin who beat OSU. Ugh, it is really hard for us to beat OSU, apparently.
After games like this, or actually during games like this, I can feel a simple feeling inside of me: hate. A pure and simple emotion, and one that shouldn't be suppressed. And as the game progressed, I realize that my hate is very generic and can be applied to most anything and everyone. And yes, this is a form of therapy, so please indulge me.
I hate Matt Millen. Did you ever see a guy come less prepared to a game? A bunch of people have said "well, at least he's a good color commentator" which is complete horse crap - he clearly knew very little about Michigan and would just make things up on the fly about various players. Like that Mouton is one of those "smart, cagey" veterans who knows where to be on the field, but just gets beat physically sometimes (he seriously said something of this nature). And on and on. Man am I sick of Millen - and I won't even mention how he ran the Lions into the ground in epic fashion, or at least I won't dwell on it.
Millen: Bad at everything
I hate those goddamned three buckeye fans they show over and over and over and over again. You know the guys: cowboy guy in white, crazy hair with nut necklace, and silver face. All are pretty fat. Note to camera people: THERE ARE OTHER FANS IN THE STANDS. Christ, they should make a movie about them. It would go something like this: three losers get way over-dressed up every week to watch football. During the rest of the week, they live at home with their mothers, who beat them. It is not a good movie, probably foreign.
This is silver face. I hate him, even if he missed Stef.
I have Jim Tressel. Oh fuck all of you who say "well, he's classy" and all of that shit. He is a smug asshole and he coaches the other team - do you really need to pump that guy up? And seriously, if I hear him talk one more time, well, actually I never hear him talk, because by the third word, I am asleep. Could a guy be more fucking boring? And if I hear him talk about how this senior class is special, Christ, YOU SAY THAT EVERY DAMN YEAR. I hate you, and I hate your senior class.
A Hawaiian shirt, seriously?
I hate those little gold pants they give each buckeye who beats Michigan. It's a PAIR OF PANTS, asshole. I don't care about your stupid traditions, and I sure don't care how many pairs of tiny pants you have. Why don't you buy some tiny dolls to go with those tiny pants, that would be swell. At least by losing a lot, the tradition is being confused: current players probably just think Tressel likes tiny pants and gives them to the players at the end of the year. Of course, if they could stay awake during his speeches, they might know better.
Stupid gold pants: they are so special you can buy them on ebay.
I hate Jim Harbaugh. Why? BECAUSE HE IS NOT OUR DAMNED COACH. And until he is, I hate him, pretty much like I hate all other coaches.
See how it says "STANFORD HEAD COACH"?
I hate people who cheer for the "Big Ten" during Bowl Season. Christ, you think I'm going to get all excited for MSU or OSU during their bowl game? Fuck that - I cheer for them to lose, and I cheer for it to be a blowout. Really, the only thing that remains positive in my mind about 2006 was watching OSU get destroyed in the bowl game. The look on Tressel's face that night was precious. If you watch closely, you can see him reach into his pockets near the end of game, and rub a tiny pair of gold pants. Well, he is rubbing something in there, that I'm sure of.
Are you seriously going to cheer for this asshole?
I hate stupid fans. Especially when they call into talk radio, over and over again, to say the same damned things. I DON'T CARE IF YOU THINK THEY SHOULD FIRE RICH ROD. Of course, I also hate myself for listening to talk radio, which is generally a waste of time and grey matter.
This is Sam Webb, whom I actually like (Ira too).
I hate people who can't understand that we essentially started the entire football program over. It's kind of like a plane crashed with Lloyd's team on it, and we had to start from scratch. That's how you should judge the team, dammit. Almost everyone good on the team is a sophomore, and many of those would be redshirt freshman on a normal team. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? I KNOW WHY: BECAUSE YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE RANDOM FAN WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND BASIC THINGS.
This is the second hit for "dumb people" on google images
I hate people who cheer for Michigan to lose, so that we can fire the coach. There probably aren't many of you, but you suck. When you see a young team, physically overmatched in so many positions, trying so hard out there every week, even when the results aren't there, and you cheer against them, you are nothing but the most horrible kind of asshole. The team puts in a lot of effort, never quits, and all you do, sucky fan, is sit there and hope that they lose. Fuck off.
I hate Kirk Herbstreit. I saw him in person at a gameday once, and let me tell you, he is surprisingly short. And, surprisingly still a douchebag. I am hoping that he catches a stroke from Corso, though my sources tell me it isn't contagious. Oh well, maybe Corso, in some stroke-fueled rage, will stab Herbstreit repeatedly while putting on some kind of goofy hat. Desmond will just watch, smiling, and maybe do a Heisman pose.
Herby, you suck.
I hate all the links to articles in the freep or detnews. WHO FUCKING CARES? Do people read this crap anymore? Could it be any clearer that columnists for those papers are shitty writers with very little knowledge of sports? For god's sake STOP READING THOSE PAPERS AND THEN POSTING SOMETHING HERE ABOUT HOW BAD THEY ARE. It is not hard, you just remove the "bookmark" to freep.com from your browser, asshole. Newspapers are dying for a good reason - their only reason for existence was the fact that they could distribute information cheaply. Then came internet, and content mattered. OOPS! Bye bye shitty newspapers.
This is a crumpled newspaper. OH THE SYMBOLISM
As you can tell, I could go on, because right now, I am feeling a lot of hate. But there is one thing here that I love, which is true for most of you too: Michigan football. And that's why I keep coming back. Those kids who put on the maize and blue and fight every week, even when the odds are against them, well, that is what I love. I'll watch the bowl game, and cheer like hell for them to win, and feel sad if they lose, and then I'll prepare for the long off-season of crap, full of things I hate.
To those whom this article has offended, well, guess what: I hate you. And if you write "tl;dr" I hate you too -- at least try to be original, asshole. But if I bored you or was less funny than intended, well, sorry about that. It's the hate getting in the way of writing a quality diary, I swear it.
[A bit of mgofiction for a slow thursday before the game. Hope you all enjoy. Or not.
-- Coach S.]
[Fade into the locker room, just after the Wisconsin game. Coach Rod takes center stage, and starts speaking.]
COACH ROD: "I'm going to say one thing to you, men. One thing."
[Cut to the last drive of the Wisconsin game. Michigan down by 4, 35-31. 1st and 10 on the Michigan 24 yard line. 2 minutes, 13 seconds on the clock. Frank Beckmann announcing.]
BECKMANN: "Denard takes the snap, running right. Cuts back left, just tripped up! Gain of 5 on the play. 2nd and 5 coming up."
BRANDSTATTER: "He's been hard to stop today, huh Frank? Kept Michigan in this one almost by himself, over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns. You think he has another touchdown left in him?"
[Cut back to Coach Rod, in the locker room]
COACH ROD: "It's been a long year. Remember spring practice? Remember those long weeks you put in during the summer? Well, it's been a long year for me too. Did I do everything right? Hell no. I've made mistakes. Who here hasn't? We made some honest mistakes, and get raked over the coals for it. Wasn't easy for me, wasn't easy for my family. But as Mufasa said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Have we been killed, men? Are we dead?"
[Cut back to the game]
BECKMANN: "Denard back to pass, zings one over to Stonum, who drops it. Big third down coming up."
BRANDSTATTER: "Nice read by Denard, saw the corner playing a little off Stonum there. But gotta catch those easy ones. Don't want the drive to die here..."
[Back to the locker room]
COACH ROD: "Hell no! Not dead yet. No, not dead. And therefore, stronger. We are stronger. WE ARE STRONG."
[Coach Rod takes a deep breath, looking around the room. All eyes are on him.]
COACH ROD: "I want you all to think about what this team means to you. To be part of it. To contribute to it, no matter how big a contribution, or how small. Just like that little play out there on third down, right Kelvin?"
[Back to the game]
BECKMANN: "3rd and 5. Big play, not much time left, lots of yards to go for the win. Denard back to pass, passes down the middle to Roundtree, caught it! Roundtree dragged down from behind -- oh no, fumble! Who got it?"
BRANDSTATTER: "I saw Kelvin Grady running behind the play, and I think he just might have dived on the ball and gotten it. We'll have to see who's under that pile of white and red."
[The refs slowly peel one Badger off the pile after the other...]
BECKMAN: "Michigan ball! What a hustle play by Kelvin Grady! The play of the game! First down Michigan, ball at the 44 yard line. One minute and thirty on the clock. The Wolverines aren't dead yet!"
[Back to the locker room]
K. GRADY: "That's right coach. Like you said, never give up on the play."
COACH ROD: "That's right Kelvin. Never give up. NEVER give up. NEVER GIVE UP! This team has been down, this team has been beaten, but never once did I see any of you hang your heads. You kept fighting. The Wolverine never stops fighting, even when it's down. Even when it looks like the fight is lost, the Wolverine never quits. We fight to the end, win or lose, live or die. Right Stephen?"
[Back to the game. Michigan has advanced the ball to the Wisconsin 31, but it is now 4th and 1. Time is running out.]
BECKMANN: "Game on the line here. 4th and 1. Hopkins in the backfield, two receivers split right. Denard takes the snap, hands to Hopkins, who's hit in the backfield! He keeps his legs moving, spins, and dives, and drives the defensive tackle back. It's gonna be close!"
BRANDSTATTER: "I thought he was stopped short but he kept pushing! Depends on the spot, but he just might have gotten it."
[Refs bring out the chains...]
BECKMANN: "First down!! By the nose of the ball. What a second and third effort by Stephen Hopkins! 48 seconds left. Clock momentarily stopped thanks to the first down."
[Back to locker room. Hopkins nods at Coach Rod]
COACH ROD: "That's why we've been working this year, men. All year, every day, every hour in that weight room. It's for that yard when you need it on fourth and one and the whole game is on your shoulders. It's at that time when you see who is the better man. That is why we work so hard. THAT IS WHY WE WORK!"
[Nods around the room, and grunts of agreement. Coach Rod takes one more deep breath, and speaks again, his diction now at its peak]
COACH ROD: "But like I said, I've really only got one thing to say to you. One thing! It's not hard to guess. It's what we've been waiting for. And when the game clock ticked down out there a few moments ago, it's all I could think of. Just one damn thing!"
[Cut back to the Wisconsin Game. It's now 4th and goal, very little time left on the clock.]
BECKMANN: "4th and goal on the 2 yard line. 13 seconds left. Here it is, Michigan fans. 8-3, or 7-4? Win, or lose? What's the play call here Brandy?"
BRANDSTADTTER: "I think we all know who's getting the ball on this one, Frank. I just hope his shoes stay on."
BECKMAN: "OK, Here we go. Denard takes the snap. Takes a step forward. But then he steps back, jumps, and throws it to a wide open Koger. TOUCHDOWN MICHIGAN! TOUCHDOWN! He jump passed it on the last play of the game! Michigan is going to win, 38-35! The crowd is going crazy!"
[The stadium erupts, and then the band. The Victors will play on into the night... Cut back to the locker room]
ROD: "Just one thing on my mind after that game. Can you guess what it is? Denard?"
DENARD (softly): "Beat the Bucks."
TATE (louder now): "Beat the Bucks!"
ROD: "The rest of you all?"
TEAM (screaming): "BEAT THE BUCKS!"
ROD: "THAT'S RIGHT, JUST ONE THING: BEAT THE DAMN BUCKS! Now get outta here and celebrate. I'll see you Monday, and I tell you what, men: They better be ready down there in Columbus."
[Fade to black]