(A note: As much as I savor beating ND every year, I often view them as a sort of peer. A powerhouse of old that has stood the test of time. Many of the axioms applied to them can be applied to us. And so, I think it is important as we find success, that they do too.)
So, I just had a revelatory experience, and it has set my wheels turning, and great gouts of black, sooty smoke are now pouring from my ears and nostrils as the long dormant steam engine of my brain slowly creaks, whines and moans its way to life; its cold, dead boiler furnace stoked to a flaming heat once more.
Among my other duties here at work, I run the shipping and receiving desk. One of my coworkers just came up and placed a book into a large padded envelope, sealed it, and weighed it for postage. It occurred to me that he was, at that moment, standing literally in direct opposition to progress. In a day in age where information storage has boundless capacity but takes zero space, media mixes with complete freedom, and any idea, anything without actual mass can be transported to any destination faster than the speed of thought, to mail a book is just... I'm not even sure how to describe it. It goes way beyond ludditeism. It is archaeic. It is the old man standing on his porch yelling at whippersnappers, only the whippersnapper is THE FUTURE.
And yet, he had a good reason for this ancient communication process. He had sold the book (on the internet, oddly enough), and was sending it to the purchaser. And I have no doubt that the purchaser was convinced absolutely that this book contained the answer to their problems, and that having it mailed to them was by far the best way to get it. And that is where ND enters the picture.
We have a common frame of reference, as Michigan fans. For years, we ruled upon the field and off of it. Not one could compare. We dominated with National Championships and Michigan Man bloodlines. We were immortal in the way that the kings of old were immortal. Nepotism. Our progenitor was the program, and properly chosen and raised, it would continue. And so slowly, like the kingdoms of old, we decayed. National Championships and undefeated seasons became Rose Bowl wins and 11-1 seasons, which became Big Ten Co-Championships and 9-3 seasons. But things were fine, because we were immortal. We had our book, we were mailing it, and because that had always worked, that would continue to work.
Then, somewhere along the line, someone with great wisdom and foresight said, "Wait... just because the program has been founded in Nepotism doesn't mean it is the same as it always has been. When it becan, it wasn't about the control, but about the results. And if we're doing it the same way, but only achieving 2/3rd's of what we were, then this is not the same.
So, we took and we cut up the book. We scanned it into the computer. We edited it, and searched for up to date information. Then, we sent it out by email, complete with pictures and videos and sound files and automatically updating graphs, complete with Quarterback Runs and Spread Passes and a modernized playbook. And it was painful. And it still is painful. But because of it, we are on our way back to the true roots of the program. To dominance and National Championships.
So to ND fans out there, who I see as our hated, evil brothers in some weird way, I say if you want to get back to the true place where you started, look what you've got in your hand. It's a book, old, hardcover, titled "Knute & Tradition". The leather binding is cracked and worn. The pages are stained and dog eared. When you read it, it is the same book as you've always been reading, but the message doesn't seem quite as clear or forceful as it used to. So you know what you need to do. Instead of mailing that book to the next generation of ND fans, head to that scanner and fire up Wikipedia.