State Of The Schwatevs

Submitted by Brian on September 3rd, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive line, the quarterbacksthe running backs, the receivers, the offensive line, special teams, the conference, offensive questions answered(?), defensive questions answered(?), and the prediction.

And introducing Honorary Season Preview Posts.
: Pelé as a Comedian.

Read them or don't, but it'll be your loss if it's the latter.

At some point in the increasingly distant past, my inbox became a triage center where the easily taken care of were quickly dispatched and the things that required some time sat, slumbering, until I made the effort to hack through the underbrush. As emails age they tend to keel over unaddressed, leaving a small but dedicated band of old-timers I guiltily survey whenever I accidentally hit the "home" key.

Right now the teetering old man of the inbox is an in-depth post about corrections and additions I should make to the UFR FAQ from last September. Number two came in two months later at five in the morning on November 20th, 2009—the day before Michigan lost to Ohio State for the eighth time in nine tries, two weeks after Notre Dame lost to Navy for the second time in three. It was a weird email and I feel very, very guilty for letting it molder so long:

state of the schwatevs...

Let's pretend for a second that you aren't, you know, a dork.  That you haven't read 'Song of Fire and Ice' (such as it is thus far) and that you don't know what Order of the Stick means and that you never made a joke involving the fact that Comparative Literature is listed as 'clit' and that memes aren't bigger than just memes and John Updike's death wasn't something you immediately had to form an opinion about.  Let's pretend none of that is true.  Pretend now you haven't got rhetoric and no awful conception of your own brightness, and that you're just into sports like urrybody else is.  Then, after that, tell me why do you care about football?  Really why.  It's important that you answer this question, I think.  I mean, it might help me figure out what to do with my life.  And you could tell people you once helped a drunk pre-med Notre Dame fan who got in to Notre Dame and turned it down to do Pure Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, effectively killing his father.

But how do you reply to that, especially when I haven't actually read Song of Fire and Ice, don't know what the Order of the Stick means, and haven't actually made any jokes about comparative literature? I did immediately envision all the unpleasant ways in which John Updike would liked to have described his death since there's no question in my mind that his morbidity fantasies involved barbarously sexing at least one but preferably several nubile innocents, so guilty as charged there. Even so, attempting to bridge the gap between this urrybody version of my mind and a drunk Notre Dame fan/philosophy major at Trinity College who makes it very unclear if he means the bit about killing his father figuratively or literally was not something I could do on MGoBlog D-Day, and not something I was inclined to in the malaise after.

Even as I try to summon up the answer now, the reason this email is still in the geriatric ward is clear. I don't really know.

I am 31 now, a dozen years removed from sitting in my girlfriend's parents' house during the '98 Rose Bowl, seething at how the people around me didn't care nearly enough. It's strange to me that I spent a lot of fall Saturdays in high school going to quiz bowl tournaments instead of being terrified about the outcome of a football game. I completely missed the Kordell Stewart Hail Mary and remember sitting in a car the following year, sick to my stomach as Colorado tried to reprise the feat. How could I feel that bad about a football game and not watch it? When did this start happening?

I have two prehistoric memories of football. In the first, I was very young and Michigan was playing Michigan State. I privately decided to root for Michigan State because everyone else wanted them to lose and this seemed unfair. That was sometime in elementary school. In the second, I fell asleep for the middle bit of the 1991 Rose Bowl. When I woke up Michigan was way behind and my dad was pissed off. I felt guilty. The next year I was trying to figure out some way an 8-0-3 Michigan team could leapfrog a bunch of teams for a national title and pretty pissed off when it didn't happen after Tyrone Wheatley gutted Washington. It happened then. Why? "I turned 12" seems insufficient.

Football came to me as something that was important long ago, so long that if its importance was ever external to the thing itself distance has obscured that. In the wash of items my mind has pruned out of memory must be the reactions of tall people who could do anything they wanted even after eight PM. They thought it was important, and now so do I. I could think up a dozen reasons I haven't forgotten, but they would be post-hoc justifications for something that already was. Football has migrated from reason to the reptilian part of my brain. Now it lives in my throat and has the power to close it at will. This is a terrible answer.

I can say that most of the time I like that I find football important. It gives life a rhythm. I think my favorite part happens on the first day of the new year, when I file into the stadium an hour early. It's still mostly empty then. You can spread out in the sun. In my mental picture of this my seats are high up in the corner so I can take in the whole vast breadth of the stadium. Perched there, looking down and across, the future stretches out across the horizon. Anything seems possible, and the wait is over.

mgoblue-banner mvictors


Enjoy Life

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:22 PM ^

Last year I wrote the diary "I feel sorry for those NOT passionate about sports". That says it all for me.…

It caused a bit of a stir. I was actually being generic to relate to lots of folks who are passionate about sports other than football.

But, for me, I really only give a shit about one spectator sport -- football!


September 3rd, 2010 at 5:25 PM ^

Somehow I missed Spencer's writting. I would have been lesser without reading it.

Brian, I ask myself the same question that you posed to yourself- and I come up with a similar vacuity.

It is important because that is who I am and what I have done, ever since I watched Jon Vaughn run wild in a loss to the Irish. Go Blue.

Crime Reporter

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:26 PM ^

We used to spend many weekends at my grandma's house in Tecumseh. There, by the fire place that actually burned real wood, I would sit with everyone on a crisp Saturday and watch M football.

My dad was usually in another room or reading a newspaper disinterested in the screaming at the TV. I got my passion from the mom's side. They would pace around the television and nervously jump up and down at key moments.

I learned this behavior at a very early age in the late-80s, although my earliest memories of Michigan football are Desmond Howard being tripped in the endzone on that failed two-point conversion.

Growing up, I didn't watch games every Saturday. Hell, I missed some of the best Ohio State-Michigan games in the 90s because I was outside playing or doing something else. The passion intensified in high school and college, where I would get pissed off to the point where I once punched a hole through my closet.

The last two year's, obviously, have made me even more passionate. My grandmother and grandfather are gone, so all that remain of the passionate fans is my mom and her twin sister. But often, they try to occupy themselves with something else when the game is on, so it's usually just me watching.

I can say my passion for Michigan has become somewhat of an addiction since The Horror. I take losses very personally, and it affects my mood. All the negativity and losses since the RR era began has strengthened this addiction even moreso to the point where I think it might be unhealthy. I'm constantly on this blog, and I follow every hiccup in recruiting. My sister's birthday is tomorrow, and I don't even want to go because it will be during the game.

So, I say all that and proudly admit, "My name is Crime Reporter and I am an addict."

Greg McMurtry

September 3rd, 2010 at 6:14 PM ^

that Des Howard trip game.  I was so pissed.  I was 11 years old watching the game with my sister at my dad's house.  My parents were divorced so I visited my dad every weekend, which made it great for catching games.  No one in my family was a UM fan before me.  I'm not sure how it actually happened, but glad it did.  MY first memories were guys like Tony Boles and of course Greg McMurtry, but I digress.  I remember being so pissed that Des got tripped and being 11 years old I would get in those "pissed all day, sticking out your bottom lip" moods.  For whatever reason, I also remember wanting to go and eat at a nice restaurant.  We ended up going to McDonalds and, to this day, that was the shittiest cheeseburger I've ever eaten.

Marc 71

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

Became important to me the first time I set foot in "The Big House" my freshman year 1967.  It became EXTREMELY important to me during Bo's first year.  It became INSANELY important to me the year my daughter enrolled at Michigan, 2005, and began drinking the same kool-aid as I did.  Well, not exactly the same kool-aid, thank God (think the late 60's)  But my passion for the Wolverines increased geometrically the moment my daughter set foot on campus.  We both bleed Maize and Blue.


September 3rd, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

I really enjoy posts like this, about the reason why any of this matters to any of us.  I'm glad that attending U-M is giving me a reason to come over here regularly, even though I actually care very little about the game-to-game minutiae of Michigan's team.

Does college sports matter too much?  Is the fact that it matters to so many people, people who don't necessarily share the stated mission of intercollegiate athletics, ultimately college sports' undoing? That's something I think about a lot.


September 3rd, 2010 at 5:33 PM ^

Brian, I too spent far too much time playing quiz bowl on Football Saturdays in the 1990s, and while I don't regret it, it's clear to me that spending time watching football on Football Saturdays is far more emotionally satisfying.

I cannot explain to you why I love Michigan football, but I think that's the point.

panthera leo fututio

September 3rd, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

Thankfully, '90s quiz bowl in the UP was contested mid-week, so there were never any important confictions. [Edit: I may be misremebering this mid-week thing]

When I think of my irrational emotional attachment to Michigan football and basketball, I'm reminded of the Chappelle PopCopy sketch: "A lot of people ask me 'Why? Why treat the customer that way?'  Cuz fuck 'em, that's why."  It's like that for me with Michigan football, except the opposite.

VaBeach Wolverine

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

My first football memory was at my aunts house in Traverse City. I dont remember how old I was but it probably was early elementary school. My mom's side of the family are all OSU fans being that my Grandpa went to OSU. I remember Michigan was playing OSU and I couldnt understand why my family was cheering for Ohio when we were from Michigan. So I decided I would cheer for my home state Michigan even though I had no understanding of football at that point. Pretty confident I made the right decision and haven't looked back since.


September 3rd, 2010 at 6:03 PM ^

We all had that time as a child where we were conflicted between cheering for the group our parents cheered on, and the fairness of the situation, not wanting those on the other side to feel bad.

As a child, I do not recall, but I was told, like any other child, every time any player took the ball into the end zone I cheered. It took me a LONG time to figure out that it was only good sometimes. I was just happy for the person on the field.


September 3rd, 2010 at 6:01 PM ^

I am not surprised that this question came from a Pure Philosophy major. It is challenging, emotionally important, and at the core of it, impossible. Anyone who has ever bought a fancy dinner or a piece of jewelry for a girl knows that they would never have done such a thing for themselves, and yet, it seemed the most important thing on the planet to do it for the girl, despite the fact that we couldn't begin to tell you why.

Oh sure. Intimacy, companionship, physical rewards. But those thing are available without the cost. There's always that girl where spending hard earned money and time on her seems the most logical thing ever.

Michigan football is our collective girl. We love her. We lavish her with attention. Who the heck knows why. But we see no reason to stop.


September 3rd, 2010 at 6:02 PM ^

about Michigan football until i set foot in the stadium my for the first game of my freshman year in 2005...right around the beginning of the worst stretch of Michigan football in history. I did not experience Bo, I did not experience Desmond or Braylon or Woodson. I have never seen us beat Ohio State.

What I did experience was tradition and belonging and pride. And at one point on on a crisp sunny fall day sometime during the '06 season I took a deep breath, half-drunkenly put my arm around a friend and said "the sun always shines on Michigan football."

Tomorrow someone in the big house will put his arm around a friend and spout off some similar grandiose statement, and at that moment everything in the universe will be right for him. Those moments are why I care about football.


September 3rd, 2010 at 6:04 PM ^

My very first college football memory was of that 98 Rose Bowl.  I remember my 6 year old self seeing a sign that said 12-0 and deciding I was always going to root for Michigan. it wasn't till 2002 really that my fandom became a weekly phenomenon where I HAD to watch the Michigan game that week.  I remember vividly yelling at the TV for Llyod Carr to go for it in 02 before the end of the first half against OSU. I remember my first and only lesson in the "don't ever turn a game off early" category in 03 Minnesota.  I remember being so upset that my mom wouldn't let me skip my 8th grade student council seminar in order to watch the 03 OSU game. I comforted myself saying we would obviously beat them again in the near future and I wouldn't miss it.

My AP Physics teacher asked me this question(why I care so much about sports). I couldn't answer at first, but now that I think about it, it's really a metaphor for life. You are going to have plenty of disappointments and rarely will you get exactly what you want, but it's the journey, the memories that are the most important thing. There is always hope that no matter how bleak something gets, it's always darkest right before the dawn


September 3rd, 2010 at 6:06 PM ^

My father and I will be in Section 46 Row 43 an hour or so before the game....spread out enjoying the sun.....or clouds, but either way looking out onto the horizon at the bright future.



September 3rd, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

"Why is football important to you, supposing that you have none of the characteristics that you have, except for the one that you like sports?"'s definitely a sport.  QED.

Six Zero

September 3rd, 2010 at 6:11 PM ^

Because it forges part of our identities, or at least our self-defined impressions of who we think we are.  There is no 'Brian Cook' without Michigan football;  There is no 'Blazefire' without the maize and blue... and you can rest assured that the person behind the identity 'SIx Zero' is not the same person without the Wolverines.

When we all die, the obituary that pops up in everyone's nano-fingernail phone will talk about where we worked, or the family we left behind, or even our legacies if we are fortunate to truly have one worth mentioning.  But for most of us, there will be no mention about how much he loved that football team up north-- and that's kind of a shame, because there are truly days, like today and tomorrow, that it means as much to us as our crazy careers, if not more.

It's hard to be a fan, because we don't actually have a say in the matter.  I personally can't do anything (besides my weird jersey gameday traditions, etc) to really help the team win... and yet it's something that is a part of me, something I take pride in, and take blame for from others.  How can someone take pride in something they have no control over?  It's quite simple, really...

Faith.  Faith and honor, and obligation.  Almost like religion, we are willing to put these parts of us in the hands of others, with the hope that they will do us all proud.

So Denard, Tate, Vincent, Craig, Roy, and everyone else-- We all give up a piece of ourselves to you.  Don't let us down tomorrow, brothers.  Play with pride, and play with honor.



September 3rd, 2010 at 6:58 PM ^

Football is important to me because from an early age my fondest memories are of my dad and I watching Michigan football.  He took me to my first game in 1985.  It was the Michigan vs. Ohio State game.  Michigan won and it was the greatest moment of my life short of when I got married.  I was 7 yrs. old at the time and still cherish the autographs that he took me to get following the game.  We went to every Michigan vs. Ohio State game together for the next ten years (until I went away to college).  At first we would get tickets from the scalpers.  My dad always had a way of finding the alums with extra tickets that just wanted to sell them for face value to some other passionate UM fans.  Later my dad finally got the season tickets that he waited for for so long and we went to plenty of other games in addition to the annual GAME.

Two years ago I got to take my step-son (11 yrs old at the time) to his first UM game.  He had been an Ohio State fan as we live about an hour from Columbus.  My dad was there with us, too.  When Michigan took the field the emotion of my first game came rushing back to me.  I couldn't help having watery eyes at the thought of introducing my boy to the thing that means so much to me and having my dad there with us.

This weekend is supposed to be my step son's weekend to spend with his "dad"(an OSU fan), but he informed his "dad" that he didn't want to go until Saturday evening so that he could watch the UM game with his mother and I tomorrow.

Michigan football is memories, and family, and love, and the joy that we experience when we win and the frustration of losses.  I couldn't sleep last night thinking about tomorrow and I am sure that sleep will be difficult for me tonight.



September 3rd, 2010 at 8:29 PM ^

In three weeks, I will fly from Dallas to take my 7 year old son to see his first Michigan game.  We will meet my friend from Chicago and his 7 year old son who will be attending his first Michigan game as well, the same friend who was with me at the 1998 Rose Bowl.  I hope our sons remember their first Michigan game the way you remember yours.


Edward Khil

September 4th, 2010 at 10:15 AM ^

Every time I talk to my Dad, the subject moves to the Michigan Wolverines.  He knows I won't call him after we lose.  And he knows it's me when the phone rings as the clock expires.

I will always remember him laying on the couch, watching a game, and kicking up his right leg enthusiastically and even hysterically when a big play happens.

I will always remember that.


September 3rd, 2010 at 8:19 PM ^

In 1995 my father took me to my first Michigan football game. I was 8 years old, and go ahead and guess which one it was. All I really remember is cheering "it's all over" when everyone was saying "over-rated" because I couldn't really discern what was going on. Also, that Michigan could do pretty much the same thing all f*****g day, and there wasn't a lot Ohio State could have to say about it. I also remember an OSU fan in a jersey and a red hat screaming "go bucks" at me from roughly 10-15 feet away, and me resenting that. F**k those people. Long live Biakabatuka in Wolverine Lore.

Anyway, I think for most people the fascination with football goes back to childhood. To me it revolves around two properties: 1. The violence and intensity of the game, and 2. That people around you when you're watching it obviously care about it.

First of all, I think it's clear when watching football, compared to other sports, that something intense is happening. The people playing are very intense. It is primal. The quick, short bursts that Europeans and people who watch continuous sports like soccer find so irritating (because of the delays) are really a strength of football. For the ~10 seconds the play is live, the players are playing with every ounce of intensity they can muster.

It is also quite organized, and I think this is apparent. All that intensity can be followed. It is not overwhelming. It is very concentrated, organized violence, which the mind can appreciate both in a pattern following sense as well as a primal, almost-animal sense.

Further, it's obvious that it's important to other people. Even an infant can sense this in seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the people around them. I think this happens as a child and I think this is what piques the interest. Something important is happening; it's written on everyone's faces, in their voices, and everyone wants to be around when something important happened.

Finally, football gets at us when we're defining out identities, etc. and it's a territorial/clan thing to some extent. I don't have to go into this I'm sure.

Maybe this made sense. At the very least it's proof that I am pumped up for this season.



September 3rd, 2010 at 8:21 PM ^

and I have been a football fan for almost 40 years. Maybe more than 40 years. I don't know.

I was born in Ann Arbor. Both my parents graduated from Michigan; my mother and her mother still live in Ann Arbor. My grandmother has always been a big Michigan fan; for years after we moved to Indiana, she would send me the preview section from the Ann Arbor News when it was NCAA time. (NFL as well, but let's not discuss that today.) She is still a Michigan fan and does not have a kind word to say about Ohio, even though she graduated from Oberlin at some point in the distant past, probably shortly before WWII.

I am an avid sports fan because I learned to read at a very young age, and when you are young, there are few things in the paper that are meaningful. (The "paper" is how we got our news decades ago.) Local and national news require understanding of concepts, even the weather doesn't tell you much that you can't see outside your window ... but W and L are easy to understand, and you only need a basic grasp of math to figure out that 10 goes above 9, which goes above 6 and 4 and 2 and 1, and thus you have "Big Two" and "Little Eight".

"Greater than" and "less than" come first, sometimes with a vocabulary lesson (I was so proud the day at preschool that I learned that it was correct to say "the Tigers beat the White Sox", not "the Tigers won the White Sox"), then simple math, percentages ... all through sports. This was before I knew about awards and mythical national championships and A is better than B oh no he's not oh yes he is, so it was all governed by rules that could be discerned from standings and schedules. (I was mystified about some things: why does Philadelphia have a college team, why were they hosting Army, and why was that in the Navy column?) It was funny to say things like Ohio Super Ugly because that was what you did with Ohio State; even a four-year-old knew this.

My one game in the Big House was in 1972; a friend's parents had tickets to the Minnesota game and wanted to know if I could go. All I remember is that it seemed the bowl extended as far above the entrance as it did below, that the game was never in doubt, and that we left early. (I was convinced for years that the final score was 49-0 and that we had missed the last touchdown.)

Even then, I knew that fall was an important time of the year. Maybe it was partly because I was taught that you rooted for the team in bold print, and in those days, all the professional teams in bold print stunk, even the Wheels and the Loves. But maybe it was because I was fortunate enough to be born in a town where football was king, and it was good, and so even if I had been tempted by baseball and hockey and basketball and soccer and such, football was always my first love.

Even now, 35 years after we moved, I root for Michigan, even after living in Bloomington and graduating from Purdue (IU basketball fans cured me of whatever part of me rooted for the Hoosiers shortly after I moved to Indy, so now it's just Michigan and Purdue). Even now, I dislike scarlet and gray, I root for Michigan and whoever is playing Ohio State, and I watch games pretty much every Saturday. I watch ESPN and ABC and CBS and Fox Sports Net and just about anything else that shows college football, even I-AA games, and DII and DIII playoffs in December.

I watch football because any year could be the year. This could be the year we run the table, the year we win it all, the year everyone has to shut up because even if it's a stupid BCS crock of something, if you are playing in the last game that means something and you win, it's important and everyone knows it, and when the season starts, that team could be your team and no one can tell you otherwise.

Because even if it isn't your year, you can still have a game where your team is a decided underdog, yet the other team's heralded quarterback is making dumb mistake after dumb mistake, and even though you're really only half watching the game because you can't believe it will even be close, you start watching more closely because they haven't trailed in the second half, and as people start to gather around the televisions, the clock runs slower and slower until it's hardly moving at all, but the score isn't changing enough, and if there are two things that both of my teams agree on, it is that no one likes Notre Dame and no one likes Ohio State, and for once during the season both parts of me are ecstatic, because the game is over and Ohio State has lost, and for one Saturday that season, everyone is happy because my team has won.

And even if it is a 7-4 or 6-5 record that Michigan brings into that final game in November, it doesn't matter, because if the last regular-season game is a win, then no one really cares about the other 11, not for that week, because that is the one that matters the most, and even if there are other, more important things that happen in real life, for that week and for some time after that, you don't need an internet connection to know how the game played out. All you need to do is look at someone who cares, and they can tell you without saying a word.

Nick Sparks

September 3rd, 2010 at 8:35 PM ^

I feel we have all identified a piece of ourselves with Michigan football.

It happened for a number of reasons. For me it was my dad taking me up to Ann Arbor for game days since I can remember for what ended up being some of the happiest memories of my life.

Whatever your own reason/memories, I feel that we all see a piece of ourselves in that winged helmet. When Michigan is bruised we are bruised. When the actions of those men in Maize & Blue bring us victory we feel victorious.

I feel that our attachments to this sport are most elevated when our team does something that seemingly defies logic.

When our team is truly put to the test, when a player is faced with a kind of pressure that we couldn't even imagine and despite it - no, because of it - he is able to elevate his performance to the level that even he didn't know he was capable of...

...There's not many things out there that can inspire us in quite the same way. In that moment we face the reality that we have the potential inside of us to overcome any obstacle that we face in our life and defy our beliefs regarding our own capabilities.

Although we stand on the edge of the abyss, we must keep alive the hope that we can defy the odds and achieve more than we ever thought possible. Without this hope - in the team and thus in ourselves, what's the point of living?

Go Blue!


September 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

Some random memories:

1. First game at the Big House, in the rain as a 1st year law student in 1989, watching Michigan dominate Notre Dame and still lose because of two kick off returns for touchdowns by The Rocket.  I learned to love Michigan and hate Notre Dame the same day.

2. Sitting down low in the corner of the end zone two years later in what turned out to be the perfect seat: I got to see Desmond Howard stretch out to catch the pass from Grbac.  Sweet revenge.

3. Learning the hard way at the Florida State game that the visitor tickets one can buy from a scalper look different from the home tickets.  Sitting in the middle of the FSU fans doing the annoying tomahawk chop as we lost by 20 points was no fun.

4. Seeing Desond Howard strike The Pose.

5. 1994 Colorado.  Ugh!  At least I was not there.

6. 1995 Virginia: Dreisbach to Mercury Hayes.  This was back when they had the Pigskin and Kickoff classics the week before the season, so this was the only game that day and I spent the entire day VCRing every highlight I could find, and there were a bunch of them.  Wish I could find that tape (but I could not play it even if I could -- who has a VCR any more?)

6. 1996 Northwestern.  I flew from Dallas to Chicago to see a 4-0 Michigan team lose to Northwestern on a last second field goal, back before Northwestern got somewhat decent.  Actually, we lost twice.  The first kick barely made it, Northwestern got a penalty and had to kick again.  They made it -- again.

7. 1997.  Too many wonderful memories to list, but . . . Win against Notre Dame, comeback against Iowa, seeing Woodson in person return the punt for a touchdown at  The Game (jumped so much my glasses flew forward about four rows); the Rose Bowl.

8. Brabbs making a long field goal after a gift 12 men on the field penalty and after he had missed an easy, short kick earlier the same game.

9. 2006, right before the Ohio State game.  Oh, life was so good.

10. Beating Florida for Lloyd's last game.  Other than that, not a whole lot of fun since The Game in 2006.  Hopefully, things turn around.



The FannMan

September 3rd, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

I was born in Akron, Ohio in February of 1971.  That means I will turn 40 in a few months.  The guys that are playing are literally half my age and were either not born or crapping their pants when I watched Desmond do the pose during my Junior year months after making what I will always call "The Catch" against ND.  So why do I care about these kids?  Why do I lose sleep about what the hell they do?  Why do I piss my wife off by spending time on this blog?  I care because of my father and grandfather. 

My dad grew up in Akron, where I was born.  (We moved when I was a very young,)  He was a huge Browns fan and kinda pulled for OSU.  However, he wanted me to pull for the home team.  That meant Michigan, Bo, and Bob Ufer.  He got caught up into it too.  He took me to Michigan games.  My first memory of Michigan football is listening to a Ufer game in a car as he drove.  Michigan scored but all I could hear was this Ufer lunatic screaming and a horn honking.  I asked, "What happened?"  My dad said, " Michigan scored a touchdown.  You have to wait for him [Ufer] to calm down,"   I think my dad converted from OSU to the Blue.  Then, he died when I was 14.  Before I went to Michigan.  Before, well, a lot of stuff.  But, not before he taught me to love football.

My materal grandfather was the only grandfather I had.  He grew up Catholic in Ohio.  He pulled for Notre Dame. He thought Lou Holtz was just about the best damn thing ever.  However, he loved it when I went to Michigan.  We talked about every edition of ND-Michigan and The Game.  He died 8 years ago.  But not before he taught me to love football.

These men are two of my heros.  I care about Michigan football because they (an OSU fan and an ND fan) taught me to.  Fucking cazy, huh?  I would literally give almost anything to be able to sit down with them, pour a few beers and watch football.  I have an mental image of heaven where they do just that.

As you can see from my signature, the family division has continued in my generation.  My little brother literally went to State.  More than that, my little sister went to Notre Dame.  Football remains a freindly family tradition.  (I have an uncle who still loves him some OSU.)  But it is never in your face, blog stle.  It is friendly ribbing and get-em-next year jokes.  Hell, my little brother stood next to me in Michigan Stadium watching Braylonfest in 2004.

I care because it is family tradition.  Michigan is my team in the great family split that is the fall.  I have taken my lumps recently.  But the years will continue,  The tide will turn.  One day, God willing, I will have that beer with my father and grandfather and tell them how much OSU and ND suck.  We'll all laugh and watch the game.

Go Blue. 

George Patton

September 3rd, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^


Loving college football is only human - the American version of tribalism based on family, faith, or class, like Rangers-Celtic or Barcelona-Madrid.  Despite growing up in Lansing, I chose to follow Michigan.  It helped that my dad had gone there and listened to Ufer on the radio every Saturday.  My friend Mike also told me that Michigan was a better school.  That was enough to help me stand up to the mob of Spartans.  Mike and I would trade insult for insult, and tough out the loss in 1978, because we were standing up for our guys. 

As a student, the meaning became more personal.  Besides just being on campus, I lived in South Quad as a freshman.  And, as it happens, Mike did too.  Seeing the younger players’ palpable fear of Bo was like an indirect experience of God.  We once ran into him on the Tartan turf, and couldn’t get up the nerve to speak.   John Kolesar lived up just one floor.  After OSU ’85, I told him he’d made a great catch.

As a young adult in Washington D.C., football Saturdays became an escape – time away from billing hours at the firm.  The tribal element also returned, as DC was littered with Penn State alums.    

Ten years ago, I moved to California, and the games are now my connection to home.  Unlike most of you, I hated to see Lloyd Carr retire, because it ended the chain of coaches that had been the one constant, beyond the stadium and the uniforms.  The remaining constant now is my love for the team. 

But that’s enough.  This is worst day I’ve had at work in months.  My reptilian brain wants only for the game to start.  I want to see the offense click.  I want things to go well for Rich Rodriguez.  And above all, I want my guys to show that they’re back.    


September 4th, 2010 at 12:24 AM ^

That we didn't play in the 1991 Rose Bowl. After '89 season, in 90, Bo's last; AFTER '91, the '92 where Washington's prison squad tore us apart; and after '92, to start '93 with sweet revenge. I say this not to be snarky, but because these are my memories. While Brian was napping, and others were still in diapers, I was suffering thru it. Seeing Desmond get tripped, in person, but not knowing that the barbs from Spartans were unjust till I got back to the dorm, and seeing the replays. What I'm saying, without going into my history (DHerrick covers it pretty well anyway; though Northwestern was back to back Big Ten champs those years ;-) is that all this history, glorious and painful, was once today. As another great philosopher says, tomorrow is just your future yesterday. Tomorrow is U-Conn. And it may be something you remember forever.

matty blue

September 4th, 2010 at 8:16 AM ^

i was a state fan growing up.  my dad had gone there, briefly, before coming back to muskegon to work for his father in the family business, so it was bred into me.  most of my high school friends were and are state fans as well, and many of them went to state.  but i wanted to be an architect.  so - ann arbor it was.

i bought season tickets, because hey - football.  that, and they were MUCH cheaper back then.  i think we got half off the face value, so a season package back in 1983 was something under a hundred bucks.  a lot of money back then, but WAY less "lot of money" than it is now.

i remember walking into the stadium for the first time.  1983, washington state.  i was sitting by myself, as i hadn't really met anyone in the dorms.  it still takes me a while to become friendly to new people.  sitting there in the end zone, i watched the band do the run-on, then form the block 'm,' perform the intro for 'hail to the victors' as they marched toward me, then blast into the chorus and head back upfield.  i was absolutely hooked, and still am to this day.

dad sent two more of us to ann arbor and gave up a lot to get us there.  one  of us - my youngest brother - was a team manager under mo, which meant he was on tv a lot (and i mean a LOT) as a freshman...which meant mom and dad watched every game, just to see him.  i was doing my grad work at the time, which meant that i got my brother's 'family tickets' on the fifty in the parent's section.  i sat next to des howard's family a couple times.  matt dyson's dad called him "junie."  when my mom and dad used the tickets, my brother got my future ex-wife and i tix from one of the other players and we'd all tailgate at the golf course.  great times.  

at that point, dad was a full-on michigan fan.  he was always old school, LOVED to recite woody's old line - "three things happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad" - to me.  loved it when we'd go full-bo and reel off an 18-play, 8-minute drive.  which happened less and less, but still.  he was there for The Catch against ND.  i was in a bar with a shitload of notre dame fans that couldn't get tickets (and no, i'm not 100% sure which was the better spot).  dad was absolutely giddy at the golf course after the game.  "goddammit," he said, "that was fucking crazy.  i'll bet you a million dollars that grbac called it at the line."  he got a block 'm' sticker for his pickup.  started wearing a soon-ratty michigan sweatshirt.  got a plain blue hat with the yellow 'm' on it, just like bo wore.  that christmas, my sister (also a grad) came home from maine with my dad's first grandchild, and we all watched the rose bowl together.  at one point, he looked at his three current or prospective grads - two of us in the house and one standing next to gary moeller in pasadena - and said "i can't believe i'm a goddamn michigan fan."  but he was smiling ear-to-ear when he said it.  he was so proud that, coming from a family of seven kids who had a sum total of one year of college, he'd forged four college grads, three of them from one of the world's great universities.  he was all in.

dad only got two years of 'all-in', though.  he died in january of 1993, after years of too much beer and red meat and no exercise.  we put his ratty michigan cap in the casket during all the visitations and services.  mom said he would have insisted.  he never saw me get my master's, never met my two kids.  never saw me divorce, never saw me become an alcoholic, never saw me get clean and sober.

dad has been gone for 17 years, and i still miss him every day.  it's keener on opening day of the football season, though, when i put on his ratty old hat and turn on the tv.  i won't wear it the whole game - i have other hats that fit me better, and eventually they get thrown across the room - but for a little while, it will help me remember him.  maybe it'll feel like we're watching together, just a little bit.


September 4th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

I am 31 too and my memory always transports me back to the Hail Mary game, the 1992 Rose Bowl, and Tyrone Wheatley... My dad took me to a Tigers game at Cleveland on my birthday the same day Mercury Hayes caught that blessed pass against the Barber-twin led Virginia Cavaliers. The baseball game was rather boring as I yelled out "Touchdown Michigan" into the basically dormant Jacobs Field.

"It gives life a rhythm." Well said... I know it does for me

As I wait for another year to kick-off...filled with anticipation - anything is possible