THE JONZON CREW RULES SPACE AND TIME AND HATS
This happened so long ago that I don't remember why this daft idea came into my head. But the thing the daft idea spawned still exists and reminds me every Monday that I need to take the trash out. It has been part of my life probably about as long as my wife has. Longer. We go back, this thing and I.
It is a Kylie Minogue-seeded Pandora station. Kylie Minogue is an Australian pop chanteuse who was massively popular in the UK and Ireland about 15 years ago, about when I spent a summer in Ireland because it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Spoiler: it was a good idea.)
I am trying to get the station to play Korn. Because they both start with K, get it? I call it Kylie To Korn because I am an admirably direct person, or uncreative. I have checked that Pandora will play Korn, because God how disappointing that would be if I found out it wouldn't.
At this point I urge the reader not to get all judgy about the destination. Hearing Korn is not, say, beating Ohio State and then winning the national title. Hearing Korn is a disappointing experience for everyone except a very select and shrinking subset of aging nu-metal enthusiasts. Korn is no longer a band. It is an abstract concept. I mean this literally and figuratively. When you think about Korn think about a quixotic, meaningless quest that has become deeply embedded in your very being by sheer dint of longevity, and how it would feel if you finally reached the promised land. You wouldn't even hear the Korn. You'd hear Handel's Messiah.
I will not make a Hanson To Handel Pandora station.
I will not.
I made promises to people.
you are and then you aren't [Patrick Barron]
Here's Michigan football a year after This Is The Year. Good news! It was pretty much the year, what with Michigan hogwalloping everyone they came across until a very weird, punter-focused night in Iowa City. If Kenny Allen hadn't gone on the fritz against Wisconsin, Michigan would have started the year by cruising to nine straight two-score-plus wins. Everyone got drafted. Multiple outlets have declared their 78-0 whomping of Rutgers one of the worst football games every played. Fancystats loved Michigan, and lo, they should have.
Even after The Year ended with what can only be described as a wet fart, ludicrously optimistic predictions weren't actually far off. Their losses were by one point, three points (in double overtime), and one point, all more or less on the road, two of them with a severely damaged starting quarterback. Michigan went into Columbus and felt like the better team for 75 of the 60 minutes. Amidst this very cathartic feeling they suffered a cripplingly sad series of maximally-devastating setbacks that allowed OSU to escape their own stadium with a win, thereby obliterating the feeling. A few weeks earlier, Penn State blocked 75 different Ohio State kicks, punts, twitter accounts, cheerleaders, pieces of legislation, and novelty license plate holders to acquire a not-at-all dubious victory, because life is fair and everyone gets what they deserve.
What I'm trying to say here is that despite the brutal end to the season, Michigan was good as hell last year. They weren't good enough to survive their QB melting down or a referee rogering in Columbus or the absence of both Jabrill Peppers and the offensive line, but in a slightly different universe they were. One where Speight's a tiny bit more accurate or Darboh's a tiny bit better at catching passes a tiny bit behind him. And while it sucks so much that This Is The Year was a 10-3 jam—please see previous paragraph—if we can get past the, like, wins, man, we can see a deeper truth. Because wins are a social construction, man.
What's more important than wins, he said, sobbing softly onto his keyboard, is what Michigan looked and felt like once it became a Jim Harbaugh/Don Brown co-production. Harbaugh made the best possible hire at DC—college DC lifer with an insane track record and spread specialization—and followed that up by adding Greg Frey and Pep freakin' Hamilton at the same time he loaded Michigan to the gills with highly touted space cowboys who are not only highly touted recruits but also future astronaut doctors. Astrodocs. Whatever the technical term is.
This is a transition year between The Year and The Year, unless it isn't. They'll have to get lucky on a couple freshmen and one right tackle, but teams have been luckier. Just not Michigan.
the author the first time a Nirvana song was available [Bryan Fuller]
Kylie To Korn is actually great fun. Pandora stations alter themselves when you thumb a song up or down. Down means you never hear it again; up means you hear it more and the song insinuates itself into the DNA of the station, pushing it more towards the thing you just approved. This is how one gets from Kylie to Korn. I made rules: I could not downvote a Kylie song, and once I thumbed something up I couldn't take that back.
The station is thus a map of how I got from Australian pop chanteuse to what is now a near-comprehensive 90s grunge station. "Lovefool" is on there, because at one point anything that sounded vaguely indie was a priority. So is something called "Space Cowboy" by somebody named The Jonzon Crew. I mean. The hats. Hell yes this was a good idea.
The main problem now is that the station is very good at playing stuff somewhere between great and tolerable but now I have to thumb stuff like Staind up as we try to stumble our way to... some Korn song. I literally could not name one. (Again, Korn is a metaphor.)
So here's the 2017 football season. As we work away from the Hoke-era-type substance, desperately thumbing up anything that looks like a functional offensive lineman, we reach a pleasant, if probably unsatisfying, plateau. Michigan has eight games they're going to be double-digit favorites in and four that will determine their year. One of them is going to be Nickelback—the thing does occasionally play Nickelback. We may have to not only endure a Staind song but feel like that song is not just past but prologue.
Or maybe not. Look at that beautiful terror above. Michigan is still loaded in their front seven; they've got a Returning Harbaugh Quarterback. The roster is packed to the gills with blue chips. A freshman wide receiver might not suck. Capital-Y Years: there are going to be a lot of them coming up. It would be far from the weirdest thing in the history of college football if this was one of them.
Michigan test drives its new program in 2017. Flip on the radio. Every track could be the end of a journey that started with the Horror or a hot Australian lady, and ends with the most satisfying sports thing of your life. Or, yes okay, a Korn song.
It's a metaphor! Jeez!