The Story, 2010: Step Forth

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Part one of the season preview. Previous editions: 2008, 2009.

About a month ago the series of posts about the last decade of Michigan football struck upon the worst 11 plays the program suffered through since everyone started wearing those sunglasses with zeroes in them on New Year's Eve. The commenters were united in their opinion of these posts:

face-meltI was with them. But it seemed not only wrong but impossible to evaluate the last decade of Michigan football without enumerating the many offenses we have suffered. The story of the aughts was Roman decline. Skipping straight to Mario Manningham with one second on the clock would have been fiddling in the ruins.


It's about seven AM on the first game week of the 2010 season. Since I am a blogger and was an engineer before that, the last time I was up this early I was 19, in the second and last of the nepotistic internships I spent the first couple summers in college fiddling away at. My mom did the driving, so she set the schedule, and I spent a couple summers groggily pawing for an alarm clock with an "6" in the hour column and sulkily resenting how useless caffeine was for me. Mornings make me stabby.

But I'm up and the feed reader's here. This is what it provides around 7 AM on August 30th, 2010:

  • Yost from the M-Zone unearths himself after two years of retirement to photoshop Jim Delany, David Brandon, Gene Smith, and Gordon Gee onto the horsemen of the apocalypse.
  • UM Tailgate commemorates ten(!) years on the internet by reminiscing about old times when there were bowl streaks existed and no one wondered if the coach would get fired.
  • Maize and Go Blue emerges from long hibernation itself to survey the state of the program, addressing the "constant ridicule" he is "bombarded with."
  • In the aftermath of last night's Mad Men, GIF PARTY deploys this, in which we are Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell is the universe:


  • The AP has another story on the one thing that seems to generate good press about the program: a Christmas Eve car crash in 2007 that killed people near and dear to Elliott Mealer, tore his rotator cuff, and paralyzed his brother.

It's been a ragged, weary summer, one that followed a frustrating collapse and a false but panicky NCAA apocalypse and the crater of '08 and I feel like I've been talking about how tired and frustrated and burned out I am for years now—the first sentence of last year's Story was "I'm tired"—which only makes the conversing about how it's tough out there for a Michigan fan more tedious and wearying and makes you want to go idle your time away on anything other than, say, the Ohio State UFR, missing for the second consecutive year. What felt like diagnosis and honesty last year now just feels like whining.

A brief survey of themes from last year's game columns:



Get Out Of My Cab

I've got no real analysis of either team other than they're both worse than I thought. I'm burning out after two years of almost unrelenting misery, and looking forward to football season being over for the third straight year. I mean, when Michigan was down to Purdue in the second half, some fan ten or twenty rows behind me kept shouting "they've got no heart" over and over again as the guy in the row in front of me called for Rodriguez's firing. Having a conversation about Michigan football right now is trying to remember that episode of GI Joe where Destro finds a secret ninja manual in a volcano*** that allows him to kill people with precisely-applied touches: if you can just remember where the red dots are you can spare everyone a lot of pain.


The Sea Wants To Take Me

A serious thematic analysis of the Wisconsin game is pointless. Michigan's defense is exactly as horrifying as it's been all year. Everyone wants to fight each other in the liveblog. When the MGoPosse assembled to record this week's podcast, Paul said "at least we didn't muff a punt" and I responded "they didn't punt." (It turns out they did punt once in the first half, and Junior Hemingway misjudged a short one, almost fumbling it.)


October Spawned A Monster

Love, that November October
Is a time
Which I must
Put out of my mind

092609_SPT_UN v IU_MRM

Oh, one fine day
Let it be soon
She won't be rich or beautiful
But she'll be walking your streets
In the clothes that she went out
And chose for herself


The Only Thing Corey Liuget And I Will Ever Have In Common

To paint with broad strokes, I probably don't have much in common with 6'3", 290 pound black guys from Miami who think it's a good idea to play for Ron Zook. Our worlds are unlikely to intersect at a Lil Wayne show or the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Cory Liuget has probably never thought to himself "that reminds me of a Morrissey song." Of late, I think that all the time.

But at around 6:30 on October 31st, 2009, we both felt like we had been punched in the dong. In Liuget's case, this is because he had been punched in the dong:

In my case, and probably in yours, you had not actually been punched in the dong unless you had decided at some point that going outside with your buddies and punching each other in the dongs was preferable to watching the metaphorical dong-punching that started when Roy Roundtree's knee hit the ground at the one yard line and has not, to my knowledge, stopped. If you managed to miss this play and its aftermath because you were outside getting punched in the dong, congratulations: this is the one and only time when your decision-making skills will ever be regarded above average. Punch yourself in the dong in celebration.


It is evidently my opinion that Morrissey sums up Michigan football of late better than anything else, and, well, yeah. Fey, petulant, wildly schizophrenic, once part of something great and now stuck in a self-loathing rut, extremely likely to fumble anything it's carrying if hit by a 250-pound linebacker, Michigan is Southpaw Grammar/Malajusted-era Morrissey to atomic precision.

But then there are the Mealers, who don't so much put the above rending of fishnet shirts in perspective as obliterate the petty concerns of everyone who pays into the fandom industry just so their boring lives can sometimes feel titanic. Elliott's mother from that AP article above:

"I questioned why I missed my opportunity to go to heaven," Shelly Mealer said Sunday night in a telephone interview as her voice cracked with emotion. "Still, I have my moments wondering if I can do this. But I know I'm here to take care of the boys because my husband always was the one who led us in his positive and optimistic way."

Elliott himself:

Elliott Mealer still feels a sense of regret and guilt for offering his girlfriend the outside seat in the back the car because she was feeling ill.

"It could've been prevented, I guess, and it could've been me," he said softly. "It's kind of a difficult thing to think about."

Elliott's brother Brock was told he'd never walk again and the "best he could hope for" was for the pain to go away in time.

Right now it's easy to be the world's most cynical man ("I don't always drink beer, but when I do I make sure to remind everyone it's made from rice and by Belgians"). This site's already thrown up Henri the Otter of Ennui and packed it in with the site slogan, until recently "nevermind, PANIC aaaaeeieieie," and every hot seat list has Rich Rodriguez foremost on the chopping block. The secondary preview begins with "what's the point of anything?" Penn State fans with short memories are making each other's dangly bits tingle by speculating about whether Michigan will ever come back. I just told that New York audience that I don't think Rodriguez is going to make it.

Brock Mealer's going to walk, though. On Saturday he's going to get up and walk under the MGoBlue banner in an act of defiance aimed at no one in particular. From the outside, what happened to Elliott Mealer and his family looks like an event that would physically and emotionally cripple anyone it happened to. It's orders of magnitude beyond any of the things I—we—have felt sorry for ourselves about over the past couple years. Something in them was resilient, though, and with the aid of this staff they'll reclaim a small part something they thought lost on Saturday.

They can—probably already have—transfer this to the people around them. As I said about Manningham :01:

In the end, the game served as a reminder that bitterness is no fun, faith is rewarded, the kids on the field are more resilient than we are, and sometimes they can let us borrow some of that.

For both us and the team it's time to put away the eyeliner and walk.

running-into-wallsnewspaper blackout poems



August 30th, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

And yes I did read the entire post. 


Ya dong punches are funny.  HAHA, we've all been punched in the dong from Michigan Football. 


BRIAN COOK IS ALREADY WRITING OFF THE FOOTBALL SEASON.  He's come and gone to NYC and told people that RR will not make it.  He's put up "YOU CAN NOW PANIC".  His preview of the secondary is a shame to everyone that plays in the secondary. 


I'm not saying that we are going to go 13-0 or that we'll go 0-13.  I'm saying that we are 0-0 and to take this season one game at a time.  I understand that it's his job to preview the season but when you write that paragraph you aren't previewing the season, he's previewing RR's obituary. 


August 30th, 2010 at 11:27 AM ^

I think he's summarizing the pain of the past more than anything.  Where the last three years have left him.

He's not writing off the season, or Rich Rod.

As I read it (and interpret everything through my own biases), I see it as a lot of pain, and lowered expectation that anything good might happen.

But that will make all the victories (literal, metaphorical, tiny, whatever) all the sweeter.

And yes, I'm a little distraught that he doesn't think Rich Rod will make it.  My feeble brain refuses to comprehend such a possibility.

Go Blue.  Please win this week.


August 30th, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

Let's all remember this is a game. Let's have some hope and belief that this season will be a success. Cheer the kids on and have some fun. No sense in giving up hope before a down is played. Like it has been said many many times before, RichRod has done a lot more with a lot less at WVU.  There is your glimmer of hope.




August 30th, 2010 at 11:07 AM ^

If you were my wife, I'd say take another Xanax. But, you're not. You're a guy, so I say, "quit being such a p-ssy."

Sure, two straight years of losses are wearing on anyone. The economy sucks, lots of people are out of jobs, and no one - and I mean no one - in D.C. or Lansing seems to know what to do about it except bitch at each other.

Well, guess what? The sun still shines, babies still smile and coo, Brock's going to walk under the banner on Saturday to 109,901 screaming cheers, and these are still the Michigan Wolverines getting ready to play football. And, you get to make a living in your M Go Blue boxers, sporting a remote in one hand and an adult beverage in the other.

There are lots of people who would gladly switch places with you.

Have some faith, man.


August 30th, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

I suspect that Brian, by saying he thinks Rodriguez won't make it, is predicting far worse than 8-4. The talent and experience deficiency in the secondary as well as suspect linebacker play make 6-6 predictions well within the realm of possible and would probably lead to a dismissal. Of course, if we score 40 points a game and go 6-6, I bet Rodriguez is back and I personally cannot envision a scenario where he should be dismissed with 8-4 or 9-3


August 30th, 2010 at 11:12 AM ^

And then we have the MGoBlog faithful who fawn over his every word. 


Here's my preview:

This year is going to be fun.  It's going to be a shoot-out and Al Pacino's speech will aptly apply.  We will fight for every inch and hopefully that'll make the difference between winning and losing.  Take every game for what they are: The greatest sport, in the greatest stadium, with the best team in the world. 


I'll be there Saturday screaming my lungs out.  Will Brian Cook?  Or will he be sitting there with head phones in his ears listening to emo music? 


August 30th, 2010 at 1:58 PM ^

But yes, man up, quit the whining, and FIGHT! What happened to Take it Like a Man? Good for the reader, but not the writer? Yeah, for all those that said it, there was an attempt at the "Look Mealer has it bad...but the whole 'the best thing anyone can write is about death and maiming..."....? I mean, wow, I get the point, but it comes off horribly. Take It Like a Man, Brian, and stop Aiiieeeee'ing all over the place.


August 30th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

as to the Horror, does anybody have a link to Mich. v. Appalachian State review/reaction blog from this site.  I know it may seem like a suicidal act to want to read it, but I do just for historical purposes i.e. I just wikipedia(d) the Apollo 13 Space mission just to read about it. (I am not going to get anything done this week at work, period, so I am just rolling with it.)  if anybody has a link to this blogs aftermath of the Horror, put it up for me, would ya?


August 30th, 2010 at 11:27 AM ^

how little is comprehended from the entirety of some of the work here.  I think if Brian wanted the piece to be just the first paragraph, he would have ended there.  Unbelievable. 

Though I don't envy your situation, I do applaud your tenacity and certainly your work here. 

On a side note, any season preview should end with this photo.


August 30th, 2010 at 11:27 AM ^

Last year a team cobbled together from freshmen, walk-ons, disgruntled/questionably-intentioned vets, and one force of nature (#55), was one win away from a bowl game. They:

-Lost to MSU in OT

-Lost to Iowa on the final drive

-Lost to Illinois after the infamous "Pokemon Stand" at the one yard line

-Had one viable option at QB (a spindly true freshman) who played the second half of the year badly hampered by injury.

-Lost Dave Molk to injury at the start of the spiral. Before that the line was becoming reliable.


It's game week, so the tissues get put away, you trade your Morrissey for the Smiths at their peak (or whatever gets your RAWKs off), and you begin a tea and honey drinking regimen that will have your throat ready to contribute to the intimidation of the UConn Huskies. It's time to get that hard edge!


August 30th, 2010 at 11:29 AM ^

Bouje is melting down, Brian is going mopey, leaning on Morrisey lyrics and I am already  fretting about pointspread movement for this weekend's games.

Sounds like we're all in midseason form.

Should be a fun three months. Perk up Fearless Leader, it's about to get really interesting and hot in here.


August 30th, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

I'm just sick of Brian's defeatest WHOA IS ME attitude. 


We're fucking Michigan.  We should expect to win every year. 


If we start of 0-2 then yeah PANIC RR is done.  BUT LET THE KIDS PLAY THE FUCKING GAMES!


August 30th, 2010 at 11:44 AM ^

Come on, man. I love this blog, but you're getting seriously... depressing. And needlessly so. Nobody is ever going to degrade a sports blogger for being eternally optimistic about the team he blogs about. So maybe  there's a lot to be depressed about with the team. It's not ALL depression. Kick yourself in the ass and get moving. Go outside. Breathe. Remember that life is good and football will be fun. No matter what.


August 30th, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

Did you read the entire post?  That was the WHOLE POINT of the column.  Especially pay attention to the ending poem.

The whole point of the column is:

"We're in the shitter.  I even think we're in the shitter.  But the sun rises, the games are yet to be played, and the impossible isn't.  They told Brock he'd never walk.  Saturday he will.  And if Brock can do the impossible, so can this team."