The Story, 2008

Submitted by Brian on August 26th, 2008 at 10:58 AM

The thing about time machines is this: you show up with a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper, and the day after tomorrow’s. On day one, you loudly proclaim “I AM FROM THE FUTURE” and people laugh at you and you make bold proclamations about newsworthy events, holding up tomorrow’s paper. The next day you’ve gained some credibility but skeptics remain, so this time you show them the day after tomorrow’s paper, which just has one story on the front page. The headline, in “WAR”-sized caps: “HOLY CRAP, THIS GUY IS FROM THE FUTURE.”

Your credibility established beyond a doubt on day three—which is sometime in late August, 2007—you sit the Michigan fanbase down and carefully explain everything that is going to happen to them over the next twelve months, at which point they laugh at you again.

Travelers pursuing this course of action are strongly recommended to depart before September. Buy stock in Ann Arbor Torch And Pitchfork, Inc., before you go.

crable-argh

If you’re not out by now, you screwed up, Bakula

Right, so all that happened. We didn’t listen! We didn’t listen.

It all went down. The Horror. The Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game. The resumption of normal service against Notre Dame and Penn State and a bunch of other teams before the Ryan Mallett Experience and Chad Henne’s traitorous shoulder submarined a promising(?!) season. Defeating the Tebow Child by scoring 41 points and deploying an all-shotgun spread offense that looked like it came from, well, the future.

Mike Hart fumbled twice inside the five in that game. Of course he did.

Then Lloyd Carr retired and things got weirder than the absolute weirdest things that had ever happened before. Kirk Ferentz was considered. Bill Martin was on a boat when Les Miles’ agent frantically attempted to reach him; Miles then theatrically signed a contract extension with his Damn Strong Team(tm). Greg Schiano chose Rutgers—Rutgers!—over Michigan. Brady Hoke was theorized.

A few days after the internet burned down, Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez, a man with a four million dollar buyout at his alma mater. Twelve months earlier he turned down six bazillion dollars from Alabama to stay at said alma mater, saying he planned “on being here a long time.” Michigan had acquired a former coal miner from Grant Town, West Virginia, running the swankiest offensive system this side of Urban Meyer. Mere hours before the news broke the most likely candidate seemed to be Hoke.

Michigan fans put the gun back in the drawer; the level of drinking remained constant but the intent shifted 180 degrees.

It was at this point the clocks started to melt. Some guy named Dave Hickman published a story in the West Virginia Daily Whatever claiming Rodriguez had somehow gained access to the Sacred Single Hard Copy Room where West Virginia kept the Sacred Single Hard Copies containing every piece of information WVU had about its football team. He then shredded all of it, laughing maniacally, as dozens of onlookers let Sacred Single Tears roll down their cheeks. The complete implausibility of it all was no obstacle to the story’s ascendance into fan lore; this blog started a series tracking the “West F-ing Jihad” as a nation got its clucking seriously in gear.

We could go over the events that followed, or we could just sum it up in video form:

Everything about this is perfect, from the impotent rage of the West Virginian to the skeezy hotness of the prize to the vaguely douchy New York frat vibe given off by the West Virginian’s target and eventual victor. Oh no he di’in’t, said everyone, and this blog attempted to slay all of them with the Power Of The Internet. It didn’t work.

Things reached their peak weirdness a week or two later, when Hickman – the guy who wrote the article that started the whole mess – wrote a column that actually contained this sentence: “Go ahead, name one thing WVU has done to antagonize anyone.” He followed it up with this defense of the article he wrote, which I remind you was written by him and was also authored by him and all other various sorts of things that involve choosing and ordering words to form sentences:

The shredding accusations, you say? Yes, WVU officials commented on it off the record, but the issue had festered for several days without a word from West Virginia until the media pressed the issue. [emphasis mine] At worst you can argue that was planted by WVU, but even if that were the case, the information about Rodriguez destroying files was true. [and, of course, by “true” he means “not true in any way whatsoever.” –ed]

I’m neither proud nor surprised that in the recesses of the old site there is a draft of a post titled “I want to fight Dave Hickman.” (On the other hand, I am a little surprised I had the sense to not publish it.)

Sample sentence: “Oh, I don't know, you stupid [redacted], maybe we could check the GODDAMN ARTICLE your GODDAMN IDIOT EDITORS APPROVED with YOUR GODDAMN IDIOT NAME ON IT and this GODDAMN IDIOT QUOTE IN IT:

“It’s unbelievable. Everything is gone, like it never existed,’’ said a source within the athletic department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Good, bad or indifferent, we don’t have a record of anything that has happened.’’

Which is an outright lie that you gullibly printed.”

And so on and so forth for the entire irritating summer. Some offensive lineman transferred to Ohio State, blasting the “erosion of family values” as he went. By mid-August more words had been written about a football coach accepting his second job in seven years than Tom Zbikowski’s boxing, Brady Quinn’s sister, and Joe Paterno’s potential retirement combined.

Now we play the games and put this all behind us. Thank God.

jiminychristmasroving

So. Here we are. Which is… somewhere. The acquisition of Rodriguez is thrilling in the long term but extremely painful as far as the 2008 offense is concerned. Mallett, Manningham, Arrington, and Mr. Plow all lit out. Terrelle Pryor chose the wrong school. The leftovers at quarterback are a walk-on, a Lurch-sized redshirt freshman, and a true freshman very few thought was a quarterback. One starter returns on the line and the first guy off the bench could be a true freshman.

The outlook is grim. For the first time since 1985, Michigan was omitted from the AP top 25. The coaches deigned to include Michigan at #24, possibly because they weren’t supposed to vote for Duke any more.

And you know what? This seems like great fun. Michigan’s going to run out on the field and play like they’re one of those teams trying to make inferior talent work. They’re going to line up in the shotgun without a huddle. When whichever quarterback happens to be that play’s piñata raises his leg, the team will glance to the sideline and get the new play in. On average, this will be a run that goes for six yards.

At no point will they assume physical or mental superiority over their opponent. Their plan is to raid the endzone as best they can, which may be “not very well at all,” but by God they’re going to try on every snap.

It’s going to be a fiasco. It’s going to be ugly and tantalizing and dispiriting and awesome. I can’t wait.

Comments

Tim Waymen

August 26th, 2008 at 11:15 AM ^

I aked this yesterday, but I didn't get any answers and I'm an impatient bastard.

Does anyone know when the 2010 Rivals100 comes out? Yeah I know, I'm
contributing to the problem. How is Michigan doing with some of
the 2010 QB prospects, namely Devin Gardner and Cornelius Jones?
Scout lists Jones with interest only in Michigan, and Gardner is from
MI so that must help. ESPN had an article on some of the 2010 QBs, and
said that Gardner had "Vince Young potential." I wouldn't take that too
seriously, but it's encouraging nonetheless.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/recruiting/football/news/story?id=3525080

 

Not from yesterday: who was the name of the fake guy who (hilariously) claimed to be posting stuff from the future on messageboards but then disappeared, after which some believers put up a website dedicated to him?

 

mjv

August 26th, 2008 at 11:44 AM ^

Was that my heart and various organs have a difficult time functioning well when the football team applies crazy stress and mood swings.  (Remy's last second FG to down the Irish, immediately followed by The Hail Mary Horror.) 

I suspect that we are on the brink of another such adventure.  grab the pepto... 

on the bright side, I am far more up beat on the future today than I was in 1994.

cfaller96

August 26th, 2008 at 11:56 AM ^

I agree and disagree with Brian.  The abandonment of the DeBord/Carr "Lightswitch Offense" is very, very welcome, no matter what the short-term price.  I look forward to seeing an OC and a HC that look to score on every damn possession for years to come.

Having said that, however, I am worried about my emotional state as I watch this offense try to score on every possession but still somehow look hapless for long stretches, especially on the road.  The uncertainty of whether the team can "pull it out" in the clutch will most likely not be healthy for me, my marriage, my relationship with my pets, etc.

This must be what "lesser" teams' fans feel like all the time, and my previous attitude must be what they refer to as "Michigan Arrogance."  Now I get it.  Hey look, I just had an epiphany!

baorao

August 26th, 2008 at 12:05 PM ^

to see an 8-4 season as a success for once. Even that is probably bloated optimism at this point, but oh well. I appreciated the stability of the last 12-20 years, but I haven't had this much nervous excitement for a season opener that I can remember (I'm 27 if you're wondering).

jamiemac

August 26th, 2008 at 12:09 PM ^

So, this is the first time since 1985 that the AP did not vote Michigan in its pre season top-25?

 Well, its worth mentioning we ended up ranked #2 in the final AP poll at the conclusion of the 1985 season. Bo's highest final ranking ever, by the way.

Remember fellow Michigan boosters: Its always darkest before dawn. And, the sun begins its rise on Saturday morning.

Ive never looked more forward to a football season than this one. I cant wait to see it unfold and I know its going to be better than the assorted Doom and Gloom predictions that are out there.

I look forward to sharing the ride with all of you.

See you Saturday, and Go Blue!!!!!

Other Andrew

August 26th, 2008 at 12:23 PM ^

Thank God we can finally play a game. This has been an exciting, but rather excruciating offseason. Time finally gives us something to measure. Dont' suck, don't suck, don't suck, don't suck. I'll be saying this until we prove we don't suck. Please don't suck.

 Also, I just moved after five years in the same apartment. Certain important records (including my will and the title to my car) were nowhere to be found. I should have had a Sacred Single Hard Copy room whereby I could have avoided all this mess!

Kolesar40

August 26th, 2008 at 12:33 PM ^

That are in no way related. 1) In RRod's pursuit of creating a superbolic accelerated, mega offensive juggernaut he needs to focus on the state of Michigan. MSU has quietly made some in-roads and that will hurt us in the long run. Been saying this for a while, but its true.
2) Being that it is game week, do we get previews, preps, etc... from Brian? I am not sure if there is a weekly sched that exists (ie Wed Utah Off, Thur Utah Def etc...).

I am so excited that I already planned my whole Saturday (cant make it to the Big House) and it starts off with a 7am rendition of the Victors CD which will wake up my wife, piss off my neighbors and bring goose bumps to my skin.

GO Blue!

ShockFX

August 26th, 2008 at 12:38 PM ^

"1) In RRod's pursuit of creating a superbolic accelerated, mega
offensive juggernaut he needs to focus on the state of Michigan. MSU
has quietly made some in-roads and that will hurt us in the long run.
Been saying this for a while, but its true."

 So if the state of Michigan doesn't have what he needs to create a superbolic accelerated, mega offensive juggernaut, he should focus it on it anyway due to one game a year against Michigan State?  Who the fuck cares about Michigan State?  They don't recruit nationally, they are a nothing in the big picture.  They aren't an emerging power by any means.  Any by inroads do you mean a bunch of players Rich Rod and Lloyd didn't even offer?

Kolesar40

August 26th, 2008 at 2:02 PM ^

Chill out bra, I mean bro. The fact that we dont offer doesnt mean they are not going to be players (see Vernon Gholston). My point was that I hope we don't overlook the homegrown talent because we recruit nationally. The fact that we do recruit nationally is the reason that we should not overlook Mich recruits. It has nothing to do with the 1 game a year vs MSU, but it does allow us to maintain status in the state when a stud comes about.

mth822

August 26th, 2008 at 12:48 PM ^

In times when there are unknowns, like RR and Michigan is now, people pick the known, i.e. MSU. Hell they can change commitments over night or transfer anyhow. In state recruiting will go up. For now the long distance love  and postcards is all we got. But it's working.

mth822

August 26th, 2008 at 12:45 PM ^

  1. The O-line is troublesome. Poor coverage leads to a load of bad things. but if they can find a way to get it done the whole team will come to life. We have no Alex Boones, Joe Thomas, or Jake Longs but they can play with heart and not be a bunch of Tin Men. Beyond that we're golden!
  2. This is a team made for the moment it is in. Now here's the kicker. Teams like MI, young, old, inexperienced, they tend to make luck happen. This is a team that will need some lucky bounces, bad throws from opposing qb's, and some magical play calling. They say you make your own breaks I suppose.
  3.  I do not want to see MI jump past 20 though should they win. If they are 3-0 after Notre Dame then fine. But let them excel slow. I hate it when they one win and then go to 15 from being unranked.

sca1zi

August 26th, 2008 at 1:12 PM ^

.. will I get an Xbox 360 elite, or a an exploding box of schrapnel and cholera?

Either way is fine by me.

Saturday can not get here fast enough.

mjv

August 26th, 2008 at 2:15 PM ^

To quote Kolesar:

"The fact that we do recruit nationally is the reason that we should not
overlook Mich recruits. It has nothing to do with the 1 game a year vs
MSU, but it does allow us to maintain status in the state when a stud
comes about."

Under that logic, we need to offer every single recruit in every state in the country so that when a stud comes out of a given state, we have a shot at him.

Our status as a recruiting force is winning and putting players in the NFL.  The risk with national recruiting is if you are tyring stretch for recruits who are beyond your grasp, and you fail to land the out of state talent and you leave the instate talent for someone else.

We have no data to support that RR is unable to land the out of state (as well as instate) talent he has pursued.

chitownblue (not verified)

August 26th, 2008 at 5:18 PM ^

MSU beat us for two recruits: Norman and Baker. Their other top recruits are a QB that wouldn't fit in Rodriguez's system in a million years, an o-lineman we didn't look at, and an RB (Caper) out of the Kevin Grady mold - but worse.

turbo cool

August 26th, 2008 at 6:06 PM ^

i wouldn't worry too much about lil bro making 'in-roads' with the talent in michigan and us overlooking them. that's just not the case. look at guys like Tyler Hoover from last year. he was recruited by us and lil bro but he picked lil bro. he liked them and grew up a state fan. that's just part of having the in-state rivalry. believe it or not, but not everyone in michigan is a michigan fan. there are some green and white fans as well.

 this year msu has got off to a solid start but that doesn't mean our instate recruiting is in shambles. they got Edwin Baker, good for them. he was sold on lil bro. he picked them over us, florida and many others. we'll be fine. we'll continue to recruit nationally and also poach the top talent from in-state that we NEED. we're not going to just ofer everyone cause they're from within the state, i.e. lil bro.

 

GO BLUE!!!!!!! i can't wait for the season to start... 

hat

August 26th, 2008 at 9:31 PM ^

Fantastic summary.  And lines like  "the level of drinking remained constant but the intent shifted 180 degrees" make this site a can't-miss.

JWG Wolverine

August 28th, 2017 at 11:40 PM ^

I AM FROM THE FUTURE!

Just know that the next six years or so will suck for the most part, but a man who you already know and love will eventually become your coach. In order to prevent any paradoxes I'll just give you a hint:

"We're gonna beat Ohio State and go to Pasadena, I guarantee it".