This needs to be said and frankly I HATE reactionary posts so this isn't one of them.
Let me preface this post with the following: I grew up a Michigan fan. I did not know how much I loved the U until I attended in 2002 and how much of an awkward choice it would be to graduate in three years but for the fact that, upon graduating, I missed it so much. Further, I'm applying in about two weeks to return to Ann Arbor for grad school (x3) in order to finish my education where I began and where I loved.
I have never cared this much about Michigan football.
To the point it is honestly screwing up my life.
When Rich Rodriguez was hired I was ambivalent and optimistic. He had the pedigree and he is a strong voice, albeit a bit "don'tchaknow." 3-9 was rough but I got over it looking at the team and looking at the uphill battle the coaches (and team) faced in such a year.
4-0 was amazing. The pep in my step and all-around joy of seeing success was amazing. Somewhere in there I realized that by hitting bottom I had suddenly cared so much more about this team. Somewhere in the failure and ridicule I realized I too had put myself against the wall and decided I would love this team more than I had before, when it was easy.
"ALL IN" seemed a bit easy to fall into when your team goes 3-9 and you've followed long enough. It was more a rallying cry (publicly) for those fans who enjoyed the ride and had been dissuaded. PR at its best. But I was happy to see myself (and the alumni) fall in. Because this is Michigan. And we love Michigan.
Somewhere after the MSU game my heart broke. I had an awful 3-4 days and was kind of scared if it was just a dose of genuine, gosh darnit depression or if I cared that much. The Iowa loss clarified. I love this team so damn much that their loss genuinely loses me. I can only fathom what it means to be a player. But as the losses have piled up, it, to a degree, has become closer of an experience.
God am I happy for Brandon Graham. Good for him. To avoid a year of professional football so as to be the voice of this team... to say that UM would beat MSU in such a down season simply because SOMEONE had to be a voice, regardless of rationale, to keep that team through practice and into the game... my local alumni group practically broke the bar (literally) when he scored his touchdown against Delaware State. Not because he had achieved a milestone (which he had) but for the fact he had returned and deserved every f'ing stat possible. For God's sake he should return a punt return and throw on an awkward down just because, dammit, he came back. And that means something.
The losses have been rough. I drove 20 hours to Michigan to spend my birthday in sleet and poor football watching PSU stomp Michigan because this team means something to me. And it was awful and my heart broke as the tackles did and Michigan fell deeper into the pit that has fortuitously developed after Illinois. And don't get me started on Illinois because I drank way too much to anger-f@#k the demons that emerged from that game.
But the Purdue game just happened. And the Defense under GERG really stood up... the first half. And the second half happened and there was freshman and youth and blocking the receiver when the quarterback is 5 yards past the line of scrimmage and is scoring andohmygodhewaspastthelineofscrimmagetackletackletackle. And my heart broke. And I was an a-hole to my wife on the phone when she checked in on me and I quickly scrambled to make sure this team, that I love, doesn't affect my personal life. The answer to making that not happen isn't clear. But not many answers are clear. Except finding out just how much love for this school... and team... is healthy. And in that, I guess it's a growing experience... much like this team is going through.
I guess why I made this diary is simple. For those of us All In, the road is narrow and uphill. The likelihood is 5-7 and the off-season is going to be months of looking at checkbooks and wondering "why did I spend $50 to drink at the bar and watch non-Siller shred us in November." This is difficult and not even close to the experience of overcoming kneeshoulderelbowhead like Forcier or any player is facing. But the fanbase has its own wounds. And they're licked (that's what she said).
I guess what I'm trying to say is the games have been lost and the faithful are hurting. The bandwagon who chose Michigan over MSU/CMU/EMU/GVSU/NMU/SMU/Toledo/FUOSU probably aren't as injured. But we are. And who knows if RR will be around in 2012. Or 2011. Or 20#$. But this will matter. Because you know whether sports mean enough to you or whether they're a Saturday. For me I have to find the healthy level to love this team. As I saw SEC fans cheer Purdue on simply because enough UM fans cared to show up, I knew this pursuit of glory despite bs would be uphill and callous. Sacking up is an understatement. But going Valenti on this team answers ZERO problems. We will find our own way to adjust but rallying around HR PuffnStuff will do nothing. Instead we have to find our own niches and work within them.
Not going to a bowl may be tough. Beating Wisconsin or OSU to go to the InsightPizzaKmartBestBuyOMGChuckyCheeseBowl will be epic. And some of us will deserve it and others won't. Complain all you want but it won't avoid fumbles, it won't avoid drops or picks or a game of inches. It will only help or hurt your ability to love this University.
As much as it hurts, I still love this University. And I will love this team. Even when it loses. Because I have to.
Because I Go Blue.
I encourage you to do the same.