After the big game in 2007, his personality changed. He had a seizure. He was soon diagnosed with a brain tumor. He fought it valiantly to include high risk, low reward surgery, but died just a few months later at the age of 43. He left a wife and four boys under the age of 13. He was a good man, a good father and a good friend. I should have been a better friend to him but life is busy and you never expect a timetable for such things.
The neighborhood did what it could to pitch in. I would mow his lawn frequently until the boys took over. Brian was always working on some project in the yard. Seeing these uncompleted jobs really hit home with me, truly representing a life cut short, incomplete. I digress. I guess that gradually life returned to some normality for his family. They seem to be doing pretty well, all things considered. His wife said that he will be honored in some way at the OSU/Navy game. Sam/Pogue, if you are there, lift a glass or doff your cap for my friend and neighbor. I will be fortunate enough to be at the Big House with my two sons.
I am more excited than I have been in a few years for the upcoming season. I hope to see Michigan return to winning ways. I'd love nothing more than to put it to those bastards from Ohio. But when I roll into the neighborhood with an "M" plate on the front of my truck, I am greeted by blond boys making goofy OH-IO hand gestures. I have to smile. It lends some perspective. Three and nine seasons, "being owned" by Tressel, even Rosenberg's "shocking" revelations don't seem to matter much. I just plan to enjoy the ride. Here's to a great, successful, safe and healthy football season to all--even in Ohio.
I was taking my son to visit colleges last weekend and since we were at Stanford, we took in the USC game. Some general and disorganized observations (and obviously personal opinions):
The USC and Stanford band contrast was awesome. I am the first to admit, I'm not a band guy. Much like competitive cheerleading, I appreciate the dedication and talent but its just not my thing. However the dichotomy was fun to watch. The USC band is huge and takes the field methodically to that tune that they play over and over at games. They take themselves so seriously. The Stanford band, in what seem to be smoking jackets and fishing caps, along with various members poorly dressed in X-men costumes, scattered onto the field into formations with the theme that was basically, "How George Bush can screw up in his remaining days in office."
I thought that the contrast made the USC band look ridiculous, but admittedly I am a fan of irreverence. I am sure that Stanford has a fight song, but it seems to be replaced with Free's "Alright Now" which they play after every score, accompanied by their dancing tree mascot.
The crowd was at least half USC fans. If there is such a phenomenon as 'Walmart Wolverines', there has to be a much larger contingent of 'Target Trojans'(OSTTE). Most appeared as though they had never set foot near the USC campus. They had many annoying traditions (verbal trumpet noises and goofy hand gestures). I had no stake in the game but given the above, and my love of the underdog, I pulled for Stanford.
As far as the game, Stanford totally outplayed USC in the first half in every phase of the game except kickoff coverage. By the end of the 3rd quarter USC had pulled even in pass and run yardage. Ultimately, they had too much talent for Stanford. I left fairly unimpressed with USC. My impression of Harbaugh's team is that they are well coached. I have not been a fan of his public statements and he was not ready for a stage like Michigan, but I think someday he will be a player. I hope, of course, that we are then several years into the RR reign of awesomeness. Rich will then turn the program over to coach Hart who then gets a chance to stick it to old man Harbaugh for his past sins.
I was hoping to see a repeat of last year and it certainly was no SEC experience, but it was a good time.
This season has been hard. Most reasonable people expected struggles. New system, few returning offensive starters--all the usual (and valid) reasons have been listed. I think, however, few expected it to be this bad. And even if you did, the despair of actually witnessing the end of so many streaks-bowls, winning seasons, MAC domination, etc. has been painful. So as you leave the stadium Saturday or disgustedly turn off your TV, try not to feel too sorry for yourself. You will be surrounded by your loved ones today. You will sleep in your own bed. You may be blue for the next few days, but your life will return to normal. But if you do find the malaise too much to bear, snap out of it. You have it easy. Think about Paul.
Paul Bunyan has been with us since Spartan Bob fell asleep at the clock. In fact, Ann Arbor is his home. He likes it here. Except for an occasional short stay in (shudder) East Lansing, he has a pretty good life. He likes political discourse. He enjoys trips to the museum. He's not comfortable ending his sentences with "Brah".
Imagine his first terrifying moments. "What? I have to leave? Go with who--them?" Remember the gut wrenching scene from Kramer vs. Kramer? At least that was the kid's mom. His little wooden fingernails could not claw hard enough. "Wait, I've got an axe!"--useless. I can see him staring helplessly like that little boy being driven away by pedophiles in Mystic River. Packed up and carted away by mouth breathing barbarians with lower SAT scores than his old illiterate buddy, Pecos Bill.
Think of the first night. Imagine The Shawshank Redemption except with more sodomy. The tribal tattoos. The acrid smell of burning couches. His self loathing over his wooden arousal at being stroked by skanky, beer swilling harlots who managed to cobble together enough sentences on their admission applications to avoid LCC. Would he ever be able to look at a beer commercial again without a flashback? "My God, is that a mullet? What IS a Brah? Are they going to watch 300 again?"
He tries to turn his thoughts elsewhere, but this only makes matters worse. He thinks of his old pal, Babe. But the blue ox is over at the vet school. From 9-5 she undergoes painful, Mengele-esque experiments in which the researchers search for answers already discovered at places like Iowa and Indiana decades ago. At night, she endures unspeakable violations by drunken Spartans who are too hideous to even coax an MSU coed into bed. Can an ox have a pretty mouth?
So quit feeling sorry for yourself. Paul and Babe have to endure this horror for a year. Support RR. Get behind the team. Muster the resolve of Mel Gibson in Ransom--"Give me back my Bunyan!" Next year we must bring him home and keep him here. I only hope he can forgive us.
I have been exasperated with some of the recent threads even mentioning the firing of RR five games into his tenure at Michigan. Anybody with half a mind could see that this year would be a struggle. We sustained the loss of all time record holders in passing and rushing, the loss of a number one draft pick on the line, two explosive receivers and instituted a brand new system with players often ill equipped to run it. Hell, if Lloyd Carr were here, can we honestly say our record would be different? The recruiting class looks to be awesome.
I decided to review some of RRs pressers for some reassurance or to see what some of these naysayers are picking up on to suggest such a brash, ill-conceived course. Then it hit me. I, like Colonel Kurtz “… realized--like I was shot...like I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure”. RR does need to be fired, and fast. But not for the reasons our Friends would suggest.
Rich Rodriquez is going bald. Sure, he can cover it up with a hat. He can try to fool himself and others with his oh, so short haircut, but the end is coming. Soon he will display, in the words of George Costanza “the classic horseshoe pattern”. No big deal, right? It doesn’t take hair to win football games. WRONG! Hair and winning college football go together like Joe Paterno and a change of underwear.
Let’s look at the all time win leaders in college football. John Gagliardi at St. Johns College in MN, 453 wins and going strong and pretty good hair for an old guy. Eddie Robinson had a nice natural going. When it receded with age, so did his success. Amos Alonzo Stagg had some wiry Mark Twain lettuce. Bear Bryant had some good hair under that hounds tooth hat. Three words for Pop Warner—thick, thick, thick. Delaware’s Tubby Raymond (a former Wolverine under Fritz Crisler) was, and is, a silver fox. E. Kentucky’s Roy Kidd and Pacific Lutheran’s Frosty Westering were receding and bald, respectively but they were 1AA and lower—THIS IS DIVISION 1 FOOTBALL! Paterno will begin to lose skin before he loses any hair and Bowden has lost more games than strands of hair in the last few years.
If we were talking basketball there would be no worries. Your Tarkanians and Auerbachs glorious pates reflected well upon their programs. One might feel the need to bring up Knute Rockne. Yes, he was quite successful for a follicularly-challanged coach. I will address that in another piece entitled “Why Knute Rockne had to die”. I would also counter with Jimmy Fuckin’ Johnson.
Therefore, I am a flip flopper. I was wrong. Despite all rational arguments to the contrary, RR needs to go. I will join the ranks of those calling for his soon to be shiny head. Begin the next coaching search in a barber shop. Might I suggest one in Baton Rouge?
I'm disappointed that this will be a tough year and more than likely, winning season streak and bowl streak go by the wayside. However, losing what we did on offense, installing a new system without the appropriate personnel, and being thin at the o-line, this was all pretty predictable.
Teams that may be lacking talent, but possessing experience and leadership win some games they shouldn't. Teams with talent, lacking experience make mistakes and lose games that they shouldn't. UM should have won the game today, but they made unforced errors. (I will allow the Grady fumble and the 2 INTs as forced errors, dropping kickoffs and fumbling in the backfield I would consider unforced and do not credit these to ND.) RR was correct in that this team is not good enough to play poorly and win.
I think that we all hoped that this team would win some tough games, have a few positive surprises on the offensive side of the ball, get stronger as the year went by and be anchored by a very strong defense. The offense has been about what should be expected given the above considerations. The defense has not been horrible IMO, but has been disappointing given most expectations.
All and all, this year will be (and already has been) tough. I do feel that regardless of the competition, the offense has improved measurably each week. I do feel that Threet is the guy and despite his fumbling problems today, he has improved as well. (I don't recall Tacopants in the game today.) I am concerned because his knee injury today seemed to be suggestive of a meniscal tear. My hope is that he continues to improve to the point that next year we will be able to gradually work in the QB that ultimately better fits this system. I think Mcguffie is going to be special.
I have faith in RR's system and his ability to coach. I hope this translates into continued improvement. If this happens and we can shore up some problems on defense, I hope we will win more games than we all currently expect. This was the first game on the road for many inexperienced players in tough conditions. It showed and we lost a game that we should have won. This is just the beginning. Despite the fact that we all feel that we have been "fed up with losing" the last few years, overall as a fanbase we have been pretty spoiled. I look at the offense and think that with some improved O-line play(ers) and a QB who is a run threat, we will be awesome. It just won't happen that way this year.