It is Wednesday and I am finally starting to come down from the "high" that was Saturday. As I stop and think, my fandom had become stagnant much as the Michigan program had from 1998-2007. I am 30, grew up with Bo, MO, and Lloyd. I loved them all.
But Saturday I felt something I cannot remember feeling before. In my lifetime I had not known a horrible season. After 1997, the program clung to a protective-type "play not to lose" mentality that typically yielded 8-9 wins per year despite NFL players all over the field. After 2007, I felt the program needed change. It was bittersweet to see Lloyd go and I cried when Lloyd was carried off the field at the Citrus Bowl. I loved Lloyd but was glad to see he left at the right time.
I was also glimmering with hope and confidence at the prospect of Coach Rod coming aboard. I had watched Texas, Oregon, Appalachian State, Ohio State, etc run their spread offenses all over us in recent years and it was clear that we were losing ground (it was like working for the Big 3 and watching more fuel efficient, economical foreign cars take over the automotive industry).
Last year was a very tough year but I looked at the personnel and knew Rodriguez was not to blame (not completely innocent either). Bottom-line is that this program may not be BCS material when it is all said and done this year, but there is nobody with any objective intelligence that can look at the first two games and not say that we have the ability ot be a top 5 team in the coming years.
In Lloyds last few years, it was all about getting 8-10 wins and remaining respectable. Now, I am thinking beyond Big Ten Championships and thinking about us as a true national powerhouse again. I know, I know. It's only two games, but this progress is significant and can't be ignored. In 2005, if we had started 2-0 with wins vs. Western and ND, it would have been no big deal and expected. However, after 3-9 last year, it is great.
But it goes beyond that. There is a vibe; an energy, an excitement around this program that hasn't been there in my lifetime (even 1997). Change is polarizing at first, but as the program continues to improve and produce wins, heismans, and championships; everything will come back to the middle and the universe will calm.
Right now, it is Eastern week and I am so excited to watch on Saturday that I can hardly concentrate at work. Yes, that's right....Eastern week! I just can't wait to see this team play again; win or lose, even against a team that doesn;t make for an exciting match-up on paper.
Change has come to Ann Arbor and I feel very confident that it was the right move; saving us from slipping into a 2nd tier powerhouse capable of producing big revenue, the occasional league championship, but an inconsistent national relevance.
As much as tradition thrives in college football, modern and recent dominance has come from the programs with cutting-edge scheme and top notch talent. Michigan has had the latter since I can remember but the scheme was falling behind the major programs.
Coach Rod brings the scheme and Michigan will always get the talent. This team has a great start to being a major contender in 2010..., 2011 for sure. 2009 has started great but I am still not expecting anyhing beyond 9-4.
Without 3-9, I may never have appreciated this 2-0 start like I do right now. I used to expect wins against the MAC. I was nervous as hell before Western after last year. The win felt as good as the 2007 Florida game to me. ND...even better.
I guess what I am longwindedly saying is that this is freaking great and without 3-9, would just be expected. When your expectations get lowered by a tough bout of adversity and you see a response that looks better than it ever did, it brings about a new emotion. Combine hope, happiness, anticipation, nervousness and you get this. There is energy in the Michigan Universe that I do not ever remember. It's the energy that comes with the possibility of this program turning into what we all want.
Can''t wait for Eastern. Go Blue!