You have been granted access to a DeLorean time machine and one round trip's worth of plutonium to go to any date in Michigan history. What would it be and what would you do? Back to the Future rules apply.*
* (So for example you can't go back and hire Harbaugh in 2008 unless you are actually Bill Martin or something. And you can't run into your former self, else risk causing a major paradox.)
David: Again, there are a handful of appetizing options here -multiple OSU games come to mind, along with the '98 Rose Bowl, The Burke Shot, or even some of Yost or Crisler's teams- but I will have to go with the defining Michigan moment of my life: August 26, 1995.
|This baby's over!|
Michigan was trailing the Virginia Cavaliers 17-0 with 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The game came down to the final play, as Mercury Hayes beat Ronde Barber on a corner route and dragged his foot in the corner of the endzone on a 4th down pass from Scott Driesbach to win the game 18-17 as time expired. I was ten years old, sitting alone in my Grandma's living room.
As the referee's arms went up, I screamed and went absolutely bananas. People came running down the hall to see what had happened and if I was ok (my family had no previous connection to Michigan and were not big sports fans, when I wasn't around). The next few hours, I really don't remember, but I do know that I decided that day that I was going to have to figure out a way to get into school at the University of Michigan. I had rooted for Michigan for a few years, at that point, when I could manage to see games, but after that Virginia game...it was done. I knew that I wanted to be a part of Michigan forever. As I got older and people would ask me about college and where I wanted to go I would always answer, "I'm going to go to Michigan." And it all really was affirmed in me that day. So, to be in Michigan Stadium (or in that corner of the endzone on the field) for that game would have been pretty cool.
[After the jump: If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're going to see some serious shit.]
Adam: If I'm at the mall and run into a scientist who is much older than me and probably crazy and happens to have a DeLorean time machine I'm probably going to run the other way but that doesn't answer Seth's question, so for the purpose of this post I'm setting the destination time in the car to November 23,1940, the day of Tom Harmon's infamous final game.
People talk about Jordan's flu game in NBA circles, but often overlooked is that Harmon was sick the week before the 1940 Ohio State game. According to this article, Oosterbaan wasn't even sure he could use Harmon on defense until he showed up at practice on Thursday, told Oosterbaan to stop worrying, and then up and left to go get more rest.
Harmon was right; he intercepted three passes, returned one for a touchdown, rushed for two more, carried 25 times for 139 yards, threw for over 150 yards, punted three times (and averaged 50 yards), returned three punts, and kicked four extra points.
That list is insane, but imagine how mind-boggling it must have been to see that in person. I've only been able to experience Harmon as a galloping grey ghost on grainy film via YouTube. I want nothing more than to put on a suit, throw on an overcoat, don a fedora, and watch Harmon lay waste to Ohio State in the Horseshoe in a performance so awe-inspiring that the people sitting next to me, the people who buoyantly paid to watch a potential Michigan loss, give him a standing ovation.
When someone mentions Harmon the images my mind conjures are still; that's not the case with other legends like Howard or Woodson, and the reason is obviously time and the capacity to record and preserve games. The DeLorean gifts me the ability to experience Tom Harmon's play as it should be seen: in vivid color and with the preternatural skill on display that's still talked about in hushed tones decades later.
Alex: This is a really tough question, but I think I'll go with the Rose Bowl after the 1997 season, not because it was a particularly thrilling game and not necessarily because it helped seal Michigan's first national title in forever, but because watching a game in Pasadena is one of those few things (sports or not) that I feel like I need to do. The Rose Bowl is the dream destination for Big Ten fans—it's a gorgeous stadium, the weather is invariably beautiful, and, unlike UCLA's home games, the place is filled with fans, some of whom have traveled thousands of miles. Of course, by choosing the 1998 Rose Bowl, I'm picking one that allows me to see both a Michigan win and the most fearsome defense in recent program history. Plus I don't even remember that game happening; I was four years old.
Brian: So I'm trying to think of a way to actually impact the course of football without being Bill Martin and coming up with not much. I guess now that I am armed with the knowledge that large swathes of Louisville's basketball team that played Michigan in the national title game were recruited thanks in part to The Best Little Sex Worker House In Louisville I'd go back to the approximate time and place of those events and break that story then instead of now.
There's an at-best 50/50 chance that does anything since the NCAA is as consistent as Michigan's deep passing game, but if I'm trying to improve instead of observe that seems like the lowest-hanging fruit that doesn't involve, you know, serious crimes. Crime is bad! Don't crime.
If I'm going back to merely observe, give me the Mad Magicians.
Ace: I can't think of anything to meddle with that won't risk violating the stated rules, so take me all the way back to the Point-A-Minute teams of Fielding Yost. I've always been fascinated by the early days of college football; seeing how the game worked in its infancy and how it evolved under arguably the greatest coach of his era would be remarkable, and it's not like we have game film from the time to be able to do that now. As a bonus, I'd get to be around for the birth of traditions such as "The Victors" that are still around to this day. (Yes, I realize "The Victors" predated Yost, but you get the point.) As an extra bonus, I could grow a handlebar mustache without being called a filthy hipster. Add in the chance to watch Willie Heston and I'm totally on board with this.
Seth: Better learn the words to "Varsity" first, Ace.
Nobody here suggested going to the future. I had thoughts about going to, say, 2115, and pulling a century's worth of data on future NFL players and Michigan's rivals, like that one guy did who was feeding Mo and Carr insider info on all of Cooper's teams. But this is fraught with so many perils. Like, what if Ohio State had gotten tired of Cooper and instead, like, hired some guy more successful out of a rogue YSU program. Plus life has some seriously awful things left in store for me and people I care about; I don't think I can take finding out about all of it at once.
So here I am back to being another observer instead of an agent, and my answer isn't even a good one. I'd gather up some valuables to pawn for old currency, go back to 1985, pick up some vintage Michigan stuff at Moe's, and watch one last game with my dad. Sorry if that's heavy.