This is my first post on this blog in any form. I am, all things considered, a Newbie here…so go easy on me. My virgin post. :-)
I want to begin by saying, as I dip my toe in the water of diary posts, that MGoBlog is without a doubt the best UM sports blog on the web. Brian’s material is well researched, thoughtful and well written. And he posts daily. Which when you are an addict is a good thing.
Since it is my first post, a bit about me. My name is Steve and I live in London, ON. UM athletics, especially football, has been a growing obsession with me since the mid-90’s. I am not a UM alumnus. [Hopefully an EMBA or some such thing in the not too distant future will rectify that] I got hooked on UM football, its history, its tradition and its personages while doing a Masters of Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids. As a Canadian boy raised on hockey, hockey, hockey, coming to Michigan was like being thrown in the deep end sports wise. Nobody cared about hockey, not the way we do in the frozen north. And so, lost and looking for sports friends, I pulled a Casper and took the college football plunge.
At first I spent a lot of time getting acclimatized to the sport. 120+ teams. All those different leagues [conferences], and the best part, the part that really ended up grabbing me was the voting on who was the best team. As I learned to tread water, this is what hooked me…a couple of beers and a group of buddies could argue endlessly over the best team, the best school, the best program, the best era. Ahh to be young and hot-headed again.
Then I fell in love with the game. Being in seminary [and the 10 years of active ministry after that before getting into real estate sales…my current profession] meant I was busy a lot on Sundays. No NFL for me. That meant that Saturday was a perfect day to immerse myself in football. I watched everything. [Oh how I miss ESPN here in the frozen north…by the by…this is what you get when you vote Democrat/Liberal/socialist/communist…no free market media access...our satellite providers are restricted in which networks they offer…so no ESPN]. I love the scale of the game. The players seem human still. They make mistakes. They play for a scholarship and the pride of their school. There are walk-ons and practice squad guys who pay their own way and work out hard just to don the uniform and be a part of the tradition. There are still scholar athletes. Think Rolle of FSU who may have to choose between going pro all and a Rhodes scholarship. There are the weird and wacky traditions. There are the rivalry games. The fight songs. Where in this modern world would the fight song survive if not for college football?
Eventually just being a fan of the game was not good enough for my buddies. Going to Calvin, a D-III school with no football program, meant that I had to pick some “other” school. Too many of my buddies were Domers, and being a contrarian, I picked the “local” [come on if you could pick any “other” school would you pick Western Michgan?] school with the cool helmets, that was on TV all the time and had a shoot-from-the-hip ex-coach with his own TV show and all his talk about tradition and the Michigan Way. I loved Bo. I read his stuff. I used his insights as sermon illustrations.
Then there was 1997. I learned about such things as Michigan Defense. There was Woodson. The anger that came when we got jobbed in the voting. Everyone knows that if we went against Nebraska that year we would have crushed them. But the beauty of it is we will argue it until the Lord comes again and clears up all mysteries concerning his game. Yes football is God’s game.
Ever since then, even though life has carried me to places where I have had to hole up in my home office and listen to radio broadcasts with a weak scratchy signal. I have had to read on the internet. And year after year my passion for this school and its football team has grown. And all this without seeing a game at Michigan Stadium. Obligations and finances have always conspired to keep me away. Now that my real estate business is growing that will soon change. [YEAH!!!] Fall in the life of the church is the busiest time of year and the hardest to get away. Real estate slows down in the fall. Working for a charitable organization does not mean there is a lot of disposable income. Real estate is steadily giving me the means to realize some dreams and once the debts accumulated in making the change to real estate have been paid off [seven months without making a dime…ouch], my deposit for seasons tickets will be sent out. Next year the plan is to come down to a couple of games…once with my boys and once with my buddies to tailgate like grown men who make serious coin and drive Suburbans.
It was wonderful to be in Ann Arbor this summer [we have friends in the area who work in the university health system] for the arts and crafts festival. It was great to be there and not have to worry about overdoing it with fan wear. My doorbell plays the Victors. I could dress seven days a week in Maize and Blue wear. I have a “dress” UM cap, my casual cap and my gardening cap. It is fun to be in London and proudly wear the Maize and Blue. It gives me many opportunities to talk football and hand out business cards.
I loved Lloyd Carr. I loved that he had a life and a disdain for the media. I loved that he read and had other interests than football. As a man, there are few finer than Coach Carr. But you could see his passion and his drive to win were diminishing these last few years. It was good that in spite of the Horror, he was able to go out on a high note. No JoPa here.
And with that introduction, I just want to say I am totally psyched about the Rich Rodrigues Era. I love the media access. I love all the press conferences. I love the little videos very morning getting us pumped and introduced to the team. I love the “Camp Confidential” puff pieces. I love his ability to play down expectations. I think this comes because he has high expectations for himself and for the young men in his program. I like hearing about how tight the guys on the team have become, how they have banded together [to survive Barwis???]. I am a Barwis porn addict. I have the sneaky suspicion, in spite of the sick feeling I get every time I think of the O-Line, that we will be…dare I say it…respectable and competitive. And when I think of the future and Coach Rodriguez being able to recruit ever better classes, that we will be the next USC, the next dynasty. A national championship? Back to back championships? Ruling a decade or more?
I AM TOTALLY PSYCHED!!!!
THE UTES ARE COMING TO TOWN THIS SATURDAY!!!!!
EVENTS ARE STARTING TO TRANSPIRE!!!!!