Colors That Float

Submitted by Captain on April 29th, 2011 at 3:43 PM

This is an offseason post.  You’ll find no revelations buried in records or statistics, no concrete prognostications on the coming season, and it neither applauds nor condemns the recent coaching change.  It is merely one fan’s take on a somewhat transitory period of Michigan football.


Sometime after its owner has gone to bed, a Michigan jersey sprawled on the grass becomes indistinguishable from any other uniform.  The blues fade into green then scarlet then nothing at all; the burst of maize flirts with the audacity of Nittany white before settling into a muted gray.  The colors play their tricks and all that remains is crumpled fabric.


The uniform is not actually different in those hours after it was cast aside in triumph or defeat, but to a nocturnal observer its identity can feel temporarily misplaced.


Some colors just float on the light.


If rocks could swim, pigeons were toasters and the lunar cycle affected Michigan football, we would be experiencing those silent hours that are neither dusk nor dawn but that uphold qualities of both.  Today's Michigan fans are like those nocturnal observers, watching the same winged helmets crown the same fervent players in the same Michigan uniforms, but somehow the team's identity, that ineffable thing that makes it whatever it is instead of something different, has been temporarily misplaced.


This is not to say we find ourselves in, or anywhere near, the proverbial dark ages of Michigan football.  Instead we bask in the entropic calm of night, that recuperative time only partially remembered in the infancy of the following day.  The night comes and it goes and it is not good or bad; while it's here our visibility is diminished and our perception is skewed and identities might become misplaced, but in the morning we are usually stronger because of it.



Some praise the Lord for Light,
The living spark;
I thank God for the Night
The healing dark.

~Robert William Service


Exeunt the night.


You may think that Brady Hoke is a god or devil, and you'd be wrong.  If you tell me he's lucifer, you've stumbled closer to the mark but most likely by awkward chance.  It's been 108 days since Hoke was hired, no games have been played, and how he will fare in the coming season is a fair question for better time-travelers.  Although his success may still lurk in the realm of our collective optimism, Brady Hoke is already bringing something palpable to this team.  It's light materialized into rote sound bytes about "toughness" and "fundamentals."  It's identity.  It's the dawn that ends the night.  


Michigan may have the reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year, but the sharpest weapon in its arsenal at the moment is a newfound sense of self-definition.  Six months remain to dissipate the lingering darkness, but already the contours of the future program are becoming visible.


Sing to the colors that float in the light;

Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!

Yellow the stars as they ride thro' the night,

And reel in a rollicking crew;

Yellow the fields where ripens the grain,

And yellow the moon on the harvest wain; Hail!

Hail to the colors that float in the light;

Hurray for the Yellow and Blue!

-Charles M. Gayley, 1878


Just about everyone knows the chorus to the fight song, but many fail to recognize the above words as those to the alma mater.  It's said that these words earned Gayley the sum of ten dollars after he entered them into a contest at the University of Michigan.  Today they seem to hold a certain magic, a special meaning for a team battling the haze of the early morning and struggling to find its identity.  As this team rides thro' the night, these words offer a reminder of what awaits in the coming dawn.  


The light is coming, and the colors are beginning to float.



The complete text and music to all three verses of "The Yellow and Blue" can be found here.  If you are one of the three or four people who follow my blog, I apologize for the repost.




April 29th, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

Good post Captain.  I almost couldn't get past the first paragraph because who would leave their jersey out overnight on their lawn?  That didn't make sense to me.  I'm glad I read the rest of it.  My favorite part was:

"Michigan may have the reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year, but the sharpest weapon in its arsenal at the moment is a newfound sense of self-definition."


April 29th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

I loved this post.  I will have to follow your blog.

I also love the Yellow and Blue -- all the lyrics, not merely the refrain "Hail."  I wish more people knew the words and would sing along.  (I also wish I could sing, but that is another thing.)

When I was in undergrad, I had a t-shirt that had the lyrics printed on it upside down, so that the wearer could look down and read the words.  It was great. 


April 29th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

Perhaps the best and most fair minded analysis of the perceived shift in program atmosphere following the coaching chase that I've seen.

Beyond the manball memes and talk of west coast schemes, it does seem like Brady Hoke is shaking things up. For reasons I'm rather uninterested in, he seems to have been able to get people to buy into his vision for the program. I, for one, am willing to share in the pre-season optimisim.


April 29th, 2011 at 9:24 PM ^

coming novels, I'm sure at least the first efforts will go over my head and be somewhat unrelatable. But very well written.
<br>It's good to see another 4* writer coming up on the roster.


April 30th, 2011 at 1:41 AM ^

Hurrah for you, sir. The new blog has promise: a little bit of Johnny RBUAS but the identity of the narrator is the fan instead of the player. Or as you put it:

As a confessed information addict I do not want to corral fellow junkies away from trusted suppliers, rather to entice them with a new syringe full of mixed metaphors, debatable grammar and Michigan football.

I'll take it. Especially if you keep up the "Better Know a Walk-On" feature. Bet you could score some interviews with them too.


April 30th, 2011 at 5:56 AM ^

quite possibly the classiest post I have ever read on this site. Very impressive & Very refreshing. If you can read that and not be moved, then you cannot call yourself a WOLVERINE. Keep up the good work. HAIL HAIL !


April 30th, 2011 at 9:15 PM ^

Well articulated piece. It 100% true. Every fan feels this way, but most (well I say most, but really just me) are unable to describe it in this manner.

Go Blue!


May 3rd, 2011 at 1:59 AM ^

give this guy/girl somemore props please. I thought of this post on Sunday nite. It's not about hate. It's about fear and change. It's about unity & optimism. It's about being sucker punched, and the next time we get the chance, we BELIEVE we will be vindicated. We wish ohio the best that fall Saturday... but we will enjoy every moment of College Game Day Final. GO BLUE
I don't know what the author of this post really meant, I just know I wouldn't have been to put in to words.