Space Is A Big Place

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2008 at 4:05 PM

This picture evidently has a grip on me.


It was the centerpiece of the letter from the editor in Hail To The Victors 2008 and the desperate, searching column following the Post Apocalyptic Oregon Game. And why not? It’s perfect for this place and time.

On the right, Bump Elliot, fired/resigned/retired but at the press conference introducing his replacement. He looks like he wants a sandwich and is thinking about asking that guy off camera if he could get one, but he knows that losing to Ohio State 50-14 is not the kind of thing that helps the sandwich acquisition process.

On the left, Bo Schembechler. He looks like Bo. He is obscurely confident, staring at something. Maybe it’s a wall. Maybe he’s thinking about making that wall the best damn wall that wall can be. Maybe it’s a pair of pants, and Schembechler is devising a motivational method that will get the pair of pants to tailor itself into the best damn pair of pants it could be. It is not a sandwich, or Bump Elliot would be looking over there. It is probably not an elephant or a meerkat or any sort of African land mammal. Other than that we don’t know.

In the middle, Don Canham. In marked contrast to the men flanking him, Canham is sporting an expression of crystal clarity. Staring off into the middle distance, he draws his mouth tight and hunches forward. “God, I hope I didn’t screw this up,” he thinks. In a moment he’ll speak into the thicket of microphones in front of him, introducing the man to his right and hoping against hope that this man from Miami of Ohio can beat back the Buckeye menace. Together they will build an empire.

We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.

The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.

I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.


Here goes nothing. Go Blue.



August 29th, 2008 at 5:22 PM ^

There are traditions that take time to build. What the former coaches built is worth keeping. But to improve or add to is now the utmost concern. I would say that tradition will make greatness out of any coach or player. But it took many coaches and players to lay that framework. The symbolic rebirth of a program is coupled to a new stadium being built.

 In the words of Yoda,"Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

It's time move on as a program and forward as well.


August 29th, 2008 at 5:50 PM ^

On the eve of the new era, Aragorn would tell us:

"Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my
brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of
me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our
friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An
hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing
down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold
dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men [Champions?] of the West!"

Emil Faber

August 29th, 2008 at 6:53 PM ^

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispian's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. 

  (Henry V, 4, 3)

Blue Durham

August 29th, 2008 at 9:38 PM ^

Very reflective, Brian.  Take solace that all of the previous seismic shifts in coaching have gone well.  And just look how well it has worked for Notre Dame... er scratch that.

Excellent quote, Emil, I also thought of it myself reading Brian's post.  In the play, Henry V states this before the battle at Agincourt.  Historically, Henry V and the English, outnumbered 4 - 5 to 1, lost less than 100 men to the French's 7,000 to 10,000 killed.  Lets hope the M - Utah game results in a rout on par with that.


August 29th, 2008 at 11:43 PM ^

I think what WoJo said is especially prescient.  The Michigan fanbase is about to find out what not having Bo or Lloyd is like.  7-5 might have been a bad year before, but a 7-5 year this year would keep me pretty satisfied.  I just hope, god forbid, if we have a bad year, that it's a speed bump and not the river Styx.

 All in all, I am excited, though.  There's something nice about watching a team fight on game to game, and not being a bitter bunny demanding an annual B10 championship that won't happen.


August 30th, 2008 at 7:34 AM ^

Gameday is a reward for the players and work for the coaches. Today there are players on the field who think they'll be SO monumental to the success of Michigan. And then there are players, Zoli, Lopata, Graham, Morgan who know they will counted on. There are usually some unlikely heroes though. That goes to you George Morales!

Walmart Wolverine

August 30th, 2008 at 10:27 AM ^

Interesting.  From the pic, the only electric media coverage of the Schembechler hiring came from the four local tv stations.  With Rodriguez the national media pushed the local guys to the walls.


August 30th, 2008 at 11:13 AM ^

Yup, Canham has just raised one cheek off the couch and is about to let one rip.

The thing that's always struck me is how old Bo looked at a young age. In that photo, he was only 39. He looks like he's 50.