by Nick RouMel
Bo was dead. Brandon was quite sure of that. The Wolverine coaching legend died in 2006, just before #2 Michigan was to play #1 Ohio State. They lost that game en route to a post-Bo record of 50-41.
Brandon was trying to fix that. He had done everything, from restricting student seating to proposing fireworks. Yet here his team stood, on the brink of what might be another mediocre season.
And there Bo stood. The Bo statue, that is, at the newly renovated Schembechler Hall. Brandon liked to come here, to gain wisdom from his mentor, when he was in crisis.
Bo had never moved before. Not his statue, anyway. Brandon squinted. Perhaps he was just tired. Kickoff for the Appalachian State game was less than twelve hours away, and Brandon’d had a long week. He rubbed his eyes and turned towards his car, to go home.
“Brandon! Drop and give me twenty!” It must have been Nussmeier. He was a cutup, that guy. Thought he’d be a studious type, but when he showed up for his first meeting in an Al Borges mask, they knew he was a joker.
Brandon turned and froze. It was not Nussmeier, but Bo who stood before him. “Let’s take a walk, Brandon.” Brandon had no choice.
It seemed as if the walk to the stadium took hours. It was daylight when they reached the tunnel. Brandon was compelled to run, and was surprised to burst onto the field to a deafening roar. Michigan Stadium was filled, and Brandon was bewildered.
“Where are the flyovers, Coach? The big video screens? How will people be able to watch the game - or see Beyoncé?” Brandon’s eyes fixed on the student section. He saw happy young people streaming in with friends, choosing their seats. Some were carrying quarter kegs with game tickets taped to them.
Brandon wheeled to Bo, and gasped. “They’re sitting where they want?!!!!”
Bo wasn’t there. He was on the sideline, barking at #85.
Brandon smiled at the memory. He had come out of South Lyon High School as a quarterback, but in three years under Bo, he played only a few minutes of one game as a defensive end. He once said, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was the hot-shot kid coming out of high school with nine varsity letters, and I learned that didn't count for very much.” Bo’s defenses gave up a mere 83, 57, and 68 points in Brandon’s three years with the team.
“The team.” Bo jarred Brandon from his reverie, reminding him: “It wasn’t about you. Or anyone else. It was only ‘the team, the team, the team.’”
“Why do you say it three times?” Brandon asked. But the ghost was gone.
Brandon awoke. Had he dreamed? He remembered a football game, a glorious win, and Bo was carried off the field. The scene abruptly changed. There was a tiny college, that came to the Big House without fear. They blocked a field goal, and won. They beat the storied Wolverines. It was called, simply, “The Horror.” Brandon smiled. Wouldn’t it be nice to have people remember that again? He showered, dressed, put on his suit and tie, and whistled “The Victors.” It was game day.
There was no such thing as ghosts - and Bo was indeed dead. Brandon was certain of these things. Yet for some reason, he felt a chill as the jets roared over the stadium.
APPALACHIAN STATE 30, MICHIGAN 28
By Heiko Yang
It was a dark and stormy night, the best of times and the worst of times … and uh … beware the ides of March, quoth the Raven … Rosebud.
Sorry Nick, I can’t do it. You win. Except for the part where you predict a Michigan loss, which I will get to in a moment.
But first, hello! It’s good to be back. I took a hiatus from the blog after last season to defend my thesis and then start clinical rotations, but I am so happy that it’s finally football season again and that I get to continue writing a weekly Punt (or Counterpunt, because Nick is an overachiever and finished his creepypasta like a month ago because he’s weird). Third year of medical school has been both mentally and physically draining, and I’ve been looking forward to having something to look forward to, if you know what I mean.
It is a little weird being a fan again. Not that I haven’t rooted for Michigan since the beginning, but for the last three years I’ve been watching Michigan games from the press box and following the team as a member of the media -- someone who is more or less in the know but not encouraged to emote about things for fear of being unprofessional. The way I dealt with this was with wry humor: whenever something good happened, I laughed. Whenever something bad happened, I laughed. And when Michigan State happened last year, Ace and I sat in a car in East Lansing and had an inebriated contest to see who could come up with the saddest song ever. Anyway, there was never any cheering or booing in the press box, but by golly was there a lot of laughter.
I’m glad I don’t have to do that anymore. As a fan, and as a student, I finally get to wear one of those yellow t-shirts I got many years ago and show up to today’s game 15 minutes late and then cheer freely with all my friends in section twenty-whatever. I think I’ve missed this experience more than I know, because I don’t think there is anything more cathartic than yelling opinions like an idiot at people who can’t hear you.
Well, nothing except putting your opinions on the internet. So here are my opinions for today:
The offensive line will be fine. They will be limited all season by size and experience issues, but playcalling will put them in a position to succeed, and they will be no worse than a middling Big Ten offensive line.
I’m more excited to see Jehu Chesson and Freddy Canteen than I am Amara Darboh and Dennis Norfleet. This is not a knock on Darboh or Norfleet, I just have this feeling that Chesson and Canteen will be bigger playmakers from people who have been privy to Michigan’s practices.
Devin Gardner is going to be rusty. It’s to be expected for a guy working with a new O-line, playbook, and playcaller. And coming off a broken foot. He will be throwing the ball away more often than not. But here’s a bold prediction: his first past of the season won’t be an interception, like what happened last year.
I’d like to see if Greg Mattison switches between “over” and “under” defense. Michigan could easily accomplish this while leaving the same players on the field, and it would be an interesting wrinkle for teams preparing for primarily an “over” look.
Brennen Beyer is going to get a sack before Frank Clark does.
I wasn’t here for the HORROR pt 1, so I feel like I can say this freely without feeling like a kid who just said “bloody mary” five times in the bathroom at a slumber party: Michigan is going to win easily because of sheer athleticism and being mentally prepared to quickly stomp out any sign of … hey why did it get so chilly in here all of a sudden?
Sorry, I digress. A couple more opinions: Adam has been doing a fantastic job with the press conference duties. Keep it up, man! (But try not to get carpal tunnel!) Oh, and I miss Al.
Appalachian State 6, Michigan 42