As 2016 comes to a close on MGoBlog, we find ourselves deep into bowl season, watching unlikely matchups produce unlikely outcomes before tens of people in most cases. Indeed, as I post this, we are mere hours from our own bowl, and come what may, the Orange Bowl is a rather nice achievement in only the second season of “The Harbaugh Era” here in Ann Arbor.
We began the year with a bowl win against Florida, so it would only be fitting for this team, which came so close to being in the playoff and was well within the range of being in for most of the regular season, to beat another major P5 school in the state of Florida. When that game kicks off at 8 PM tomorrow evening (those of you reading this after the game can just skip this part), we will all be united in our wish that Michigan makes the Seminoles leave Sun Life Stadium sad.
After a year in 2015 which went far better than expected perhaps, we went into this season with some elevated expectations, maybe far beyond what we thought they might have been. That is to say, many of us – myself included – altered our theory on the trajectory of this team based on that first year. Still, as I have had time to process what happened in Columbus and what happened in Iowa City, I find myself mostly at peace with where we sit as 2016 comes to a close. I know several people were saying “this was the year”, much of that because of all the talent that is either graduating, leaving for the NFL, or potentially (as of this moment) leaving for the NFL. That being said, I have a suspicion that we will have multiple opportunities for it to be “the year” under Jim Harbaugh – I find myself not terribly worried about that, even in the face of disappointment in November.
On a personal note, in a year that began with a health scare for me, watching Michigan football – and really Michigan athletics in general – continue to provide us with great moments is something that was essential to me getting over what I had been experiencing, at least on a psychological level. We can argue about the status of Michigan basketball, but in those weeks back in January when I was basically confined to my house and not allowed to even lift a fucking garbage bag, Michigan basketball was something that helped me get through. The point here is that as a proud alum and fan of my alma mater, it means more to me than most people appreciate and in some eerie moments in my life, I came to appreciate how much it meant. “It” being Michigan, of course, and Michigan athletics being, in a way, a practical expression of all that.
Even through an OT season which was a little more trying than usual, culminating in a couple stints in June and July where there was not a new thread for almost a day, we managed to stay together as a community, despite things like “The Walking Dead” and “Game Of Thrones” obviously not being everyone’s cup of tea. It is during those moments in OT Season, however, when I think we learn the most about each other – that is to say, that this site is populated with a significantly large group of hopeless nerds, and quite honestly, I think we’re all the better for that. If nothing else, even if you’re starved for sports content in those early summer months, you can find some personal enrichment. Not many blogs which cover one university’s athletics for the most part can do that for you. It is one of the things that makes this place unique.
I would like to close this out by saying a couple things. First, hopefully everyone had the best 2016 possible and hopefully everyone has an even better 2017. Second, as much as some of you have seen me bitch on Twitter, I am actually weirdly proud that I find myself a moderator on this site and – while I know some of you disagree with the means and methods and deletions quite strenuously – I still do my best to help the staff make it a nice experience and will work to do better in 2017.
Have an excellent New Year,