we thought we were (a crappy, young, inexperienced team).
Who We Are
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.
hopefully you read into what i said to see that. our secondary is shit because we have freshman walk-ons. what does that mean? OH WE HAVE 1ST YEAR DEFENSE. as much as I HATE to say, AGAIN, we have to grow in the next year... we have to.
it's like having a kid who has to be made fun of 10 more times by the kids he thinks are his friend before he realizes to grow up and move on from them. ugh. we're that parent now.
What exactly is love?
love is following your team every game despite 3-9 and the advent of BTN and not having the dish and then hoping and praying into every pre-game report and scouting detail of recruits and seeing 4-0 and thinking oh shit this could go bad and then it does go bad but hey we beat Notre Dame and then oh shit iowa/meh/psu/illinois and gettin fired up for fucking PURDUE and seeing them drop a loaf while rednecks cheer for a school they didn't know existed til it was on before their fucking matchup and then STILL, STILL caring enough to man-up, wear your UM hat for another week and feel privileged to be an alumni while treading water and surviving another day with your head above water
THAT is love. for football at least. we might SUCK but i'll be damned if I don't shame anyone who turns us into THAT fanbase we've looked down on for almost 5 decades. because FUCK THAT.
love means never having to say you're sorry -- oliver barret iv
Nicely put. I too have invested too much of my life into this team, perhaps a little unhealthily. But it is the passion in this sport and many others that drives that investment to greater boundaries.
It hurts. This loss hurts even more because it is probably our last chance at making a bowl game via the 6-win clincher. I will still continue to watch these last two games (As I have watched every week with hope and promise) and I will continue to love this team.
This team was expected to be at this spot preseason. Perhaps winning/losing to different teams, but 4-0 really fucked us up and thats mostly due to emotion. But I'm not worried, we'll be back. Eventually.
I was raised on maize and blue. My earliest memories are of tailgates on the golf course and old bluehairs yelling "down in front", including my dad. Last year was an ugly train wreck. This year is indescribable. The joy of September, turned into the disappointment of October and looks pretty grim for November.
Win or lose I love Michigan, I support this team and this program, that will NEVER change, but the way this team is losing lately is getting toughter to stomach.
On to Madison. Go Blue.
God damn if I wish we could just have every stupid idiot who calls into any Sports Radio program shouted down with "On to Madison, stfu." Instead Valenti will act like Christ himself ordained him heir apparent of superiority and Ride the Wave of MSU wins while claiming RR reportedly wet himself and will be fired after OSU. Valenti would declare a puppy poorly bred if it peed on a carpet simply to make himself look more intelligent. Huge would probably proclaim that piss stain the best piss stain the state had ever seen but I digress...
I won't rehash what has been said. And it doesn't matter if make some nothing bowl where we'd face another 6-6 team on a Tuesday night in late December.
But there is one thing that is bugging me. Michigan, for better or worse, is at a cross-road. We now risk being labeled a "quasi-tomato can", as the rest of the league sees us.
Do we want to be the next Minnesota? Or Indiana? My buddy who went to Wisconsin called me after the game, and said he can't wait for next Saturday. What am I to say? In the good old days, Wisconsin might beat us every tenth year or so.
I am hopeful that we right the ship next year, but, man, in the meantime, this is rough. I am hanging in there, no matter what.
that each of us is on mgoblog hours after another painful loss is proof that we love this team.
But this is exactly the time to be ALL IN.
I was shaken after the Illinois game. It was the first time I started to wonder whether RR would succeed here. I still believe he will have M a consistent top 10 team, but Illinois caused me to be less sure than I was. They appeared to have finally broken at Illinois, lost the will. My greatest fear was that they lost the will for the season, but Purdue showed they didn't. They fought, played with heart. They improved from Illinois.
Yes, this is the time to be ALL IN, because the team is.
I love Michigan and no matter the record I will watch every game and watch it passionately. Every week it is just harder for me to support Rich Rod. I spend so much time and money into Michigan football and so do many others. That is why it hurts so much to see them play like this. If Rodriguez does stay I will support him and devote my time and money for the team, but I still think some changes are necessary in the staff.
Great post. As I was reading this, all I could think of was last year's fandom badge awarded after the Northwestern game.
I don't believe we are fully eligible for the level III badge again as this knife-in-the-fucking-heart game featured a functional Michigan offense (!) However, the onside kick and the subsequent deep ball over Kovacs head definitely merits consideration for the level II variety.
Just remember - although distinctly improbable - a win versus Ohio State could cure all.
Last year, that team was just plain BAD. We were already 3-7 when we lost to NW in some of the worst conditions for a UM game I can ever remember.
This team SHOULD be at least 6-4 if not 7-3 by now!
Fortunately, before the season, someone wanted to buy my PU tickets so I gladly sold a pair for $100.
In spite of the beautiful day, I didn't feel good at all with a 24-10 lead. This team is just plain cursed, cussed, jinxed, you name it. Bad Karma all around. That fumble and easy one play TD drive made me feel "here we go again!"
One simple question for the readers...why does UM always seem off-guard for the fakes, on-side kicks, etc? You'd think that the players would be ready after any amount of coaching. No, Im not buying the "freshman didn't listen" crap. Our only fake this year was the much-maligned Zolton run on 4th down deep in our end that was stuffed by MSU.
Anyway, thank goodness I have You Tube along with some old tapes about when Michigan pulled out a tight game (or avoided) such mind-numbing meltdowns.
p.s. RichRod, quit the yelling at the players, as if we know it doesn't work with this group of guys.
Awesome post--this is exactly how I feel, too. What exactly is normal re: the impact of Michigan football on one's life? I probably have a problem, too, if there is such a thing. I just don't know how to be any other way.
im honoured your first comment was on my post. i spelled honour like a brit. have at you!
Let me know when you are coming to Canada and we can open the quality Canadian beer.
god bless your people and the Labatts they brought to those who stepped off the Mayflower.
Thank you for posting. I now know im not alone
3-9 followed by 4-0 followed by 1-5 has been a roller coaster. While we've made progress against clearly inferior teams (WMU, EMU, DSt) we've regressed against the B10. The regression is the most disappointing part of the season. I've always been an RR supporter. I've always quietly resolved that "Those who stay will be Champions". I've always felt that we'll be back because Michigan must reclaim its place among the college football elite. But, the last 5 losses have chipped away at that mindset. If we get trucked by UW and OSU, it will get even worse. Every game that goes by where we don't see some positive step forward is disheartening (at least today we had Roundtree step forward). I'll still be hopeful for next year because I'm Michigan through and through, but it will be harder to be realistically optimistic. In the end, the lows always make the highs that much sweeter. I just hope we see some signs that the highs are forthcoming.
We've regressed in the Big Ten record-wise (albeit by just one), but the scores have been closer overall this year have they not? MSU was a two touchdown loss last year, this year it was tied after regulation, etc.
I think we're the Anti-MSU-2008 team. They were not quite as good as their record suggested because they won a lot of close games. We've won two close games, but we've lost a few as well.
Thanks for the post, man.
If we could just put together a great game for both the offense and defense, for 60 minutes, for these last two games and the bowl, that would be quite the cure-all.
I Bleed Maize and Blue.
Follow Blue into the depths of hell if necessary. I guess my real question is, where were these types of posts in the waning days of Lloyd's tenure?
Getting through the rough times makes me appreciate the good years when they come. I lived in Alabama during the down years when Alabama completely dropped off the radar for several years, but the one thing I noticed is that their fans were always Alabama fans regardless of the record. Sure they moaned a bit, but any school with that kind of reputation and tradition eventually turns its program around.
I think true Michigan fans see things the same way, and the program will be back. Still think we can suprise Wisconsin, and will root for the upset against OSU. GO BLUE
While this year has been really up and down I think we all need to keep our socks on. While our defense looks really bad there have been so many worst to first cases in recent years that I don't give up hope. Too many comments have been about how we don't have good personnel on the defensive side of the ball however I see guys making it into the opposing team backfield before the ball carrier has made more than a couple of steps. The problem is that they a falling for the fakes and overrunning the play. Some experience and maturity will overcome this. We just need to be patient which our society doesn't have much of these days. Some are also concerned that the Barwis conditioning program may not be working. Personally I think this will show up next year in a team that will be able to outlast anyone.
Just my opinion of course.