(mods: feel free to bump or delete).
Having just completed my undergraduate education at Michigan, double majoring in History and Political Science, I am now struggling to find ways to apply what I spent 3.5 years learning to everyday life. (Hopefully, my smug COE and math-majoring roommates aren’t reading this right now…you were right, but who had more free time?). As an avid reader of MGoBlog and fellow MFootball obsessive-compulsive, I have observed the perfect storm that began with The Horror and ended with that sporting event somewhere in Florida on New Years Day both on the field and on the internets. After much musing, nail-biting, weeping, drinking, screaming, arguing, more drinking, xanax, drinking, and screaming, I think I’m numb yet clear-minded enough to really examine the pain that is Michigan Football since 2007, or rather, the mindset of those who obsess over it.
After reading countless threads and diaries, many of which were more focused on crucifying the OP for “idiotic” or “redundant” statements and wasting everyone’s time, I believe I have a pretty strong understanding of the state of the average poster/reader. As I’ve been reading lately, I’ve thought to myself: “Self, where have you seen this before?” And then it struck me. At least a smidgen of my education was relevant. Win.
I think we can all agree our program is in a full-blown “crisis,” and there’s nothing like a crisis to bring out both the best and worst in people. The way we’ve reacted and dealt with the current “CC” crisis is classic (or clinical) for people dealing with active crises. This post just explores our own behavior. I found it funny, others may not.
With credit to David Winter at Michigan, I present “Hot Factors That Affect Perception,” or factors that affect our perception mid-crisis, as applied to Michigan Football. Below are factors that affect perception during times of major crisis. I’ve applied some generalizations of oft-repeated tropes read on this board to show how our behavior is very much indicative of a group in flux. I’m not sure what I’m out to prove, as we kind of all know this is Very Serious Business. This just proves How Serious it is, as it has clearly affected our reasoning & logic.
You could take this as circular, I suppose: using specific criteria from crisis-analysis to prove we’re in a crisis, or vice versa. Or you could just take it at face value, or I suppose you could call me an idiot (though that wouldn’t be nice). This is not a Pro or Anti Rich Rodriguez entry, just an examination of answers & thinking on both sides of the spectrum. (FWIW, I want another year of Rich Rod).
–Group membership and social identity
· How often have we heard “this is Michigan”? How often have we asserted our place as a major CFB power? Isn’t that what’s driving a lot of this?
· No matter how much we acknowledge how bare the cupboard really was, how young our defense truly is, and that a major programmatic transition takes more than 3 years, many of us are still calling for Rich Rodriguez’s public sacrifice as a burnt offering to the ANGRY MICHIGAN FOOTBALL HATING GOD.
· “If we don’t act now, Michigan Football will forever be lost in a black hole of mediocrity.” We say this, despite seeing obvious progress and having a record-setting year on offense. Yes, we struggled against better opposition, but such is the case with gradual improvement.
–Stress- several subsets
· Reduced complexity of thinking
1. Not fully applicable to all, but very applicable to many posters. I don’t think I need to spell this one out. Read some of the threads and posts polluting the board here.
· Distorted, foreshortened sense of time
1. For those wanting to keep RR: “Only one more season, it’s not that bad. We can make it through.” Yet how much pain has every loss, every blown coverage, every UFR caused each of us? One more season is an incredibly long time, whether we like it or not.
2. For those wanting to fire RR: “We must act THIS INSTANT to hire Harbaugh. If we wait another minute, every professional and collegiate team will scoop him up with a $100 million contract.” We say this despite every report to the contrary that indicates he will not make an NFL jump yet and would kill 20 infants to come to Michigan.
· Reduced number of perceived alternatives
1. “If we don’t hire Harbaugh, there are NO OTHER FOOTBALL COACHES IN THE WORLD.” “Harbaugh or Rodriguez are the ONLY OPTIONS.” I know some of are saying “they’re probably the two most viable options,” but there’s a lot of us saying “they’re the only options, if we don’t have either of them as a coach, the Big House will spontaneously crumble.”
· Very clearly taking place. “Just one more year of RR, we’ve already made this transition. Even if we’re losing, we just need one more year. We need to see if this works (despite obvious shortcomings).” We keep saying “just one more year” to justify our sunk costs into this transition, even as many realize it’s just not working.
–Influence of language and metaphors
- Pretty clear here. Atomic bombs, sirens, “Decimated Defense.” We’ve created our own abbreviations and labels for threads discussing our coaching situation, and we’ve often talked more in terms of life & death than college football.
While I could have combed through the board for examples, regular readers will recognize all of these pretty quickly. I didn’t feel like calling specific users out with quotes, or spending several hours rereading painful threads. If anyone is studying Psychology/Political Psychology on a graduate level, feel free to expand this and go deeper.