Sunday, November 18, 2007


I tried. I tried my damndest to keep the faith. I tried to believe that this wasn't over, that this couldn't be the end that the fates had designated for us. This couldn't be the way Mike Hart and the seniors ended, could it? Was the world really that cruel? If there is a higher power, is he that sadistic, that when we roll the dice on Senior Day, we come up snake eyes?

In the first quarter, something magical happened. Henne wasn't being especially good, but Hart was finding room, and out of the blue, somebody on Michigan's staff called for Henne to pick up the tempo. So he did. And for a moment, Ohio State was off balance. Michigan, the slow, plodding tyrannosaurus, was moving with the velocity of a velociraptor, and the Buckeyes didn't know what to do; they were on their heels.

And then Vernon Gholston demolished Schilling, sacked Henne, and Michigan settled for three. I clapped a bit, trying to remain optimistic, trying to convince myself that we were in this, that this wasn't a mirage.

But in reality, that was it for Michigan. When the Buckeyes took the lead in the second quarter, I shook my head a bit. I think deep down, right then, I knew: The status quo was intact. And nowadays, the status quo is something we as Michigan fans are trying so hard to ignore, but it's so blatantly obvious, and it punches us in the stomach every November: Ohio State owns us. Tressel has this game down to a science. He's playing chess, and Lloyd's playing checkers.

When Chris Wells made it 14-3, I battled myself internally. I tried desperately to cling to something, anything. A thousand cliches danced through the cauldron of emotions in my head, but nothing worked - the eternal pessimist and cynic that I've become over the past 19 years won out, as he always does. I knew it - the game was over. And I accepted it. And that sickens me. I've gotten so used to disappointment, that I've learned to live with it. Even against the team I hate more than anything in the world, I've accepted defeat. And yesterday, Jim Tressel took my dignity. He took my pride, and he stole my honor.

I've cried enough tears for Mike Hart, Chad Henne, and Jake Long. There were no tears yesterday, because I'm simply out of them. When Chris Wells crossed the goal line, my mind disconnected, and more importantly, so did my heart. Tressel stole any shred of resolve I had left. One day he may pay that debt, but the future is for fools in denial about the present. All that matters is right now, and right now I've got nothing left. I've got no fight left in my stomach. I've got no resolve left in my eyes. And I've got no passion or desire left in my heart. I am a beaten, beaten man.

After the game, someone asked Lloyd the inevitable question about today, wondering if this was his final game in the Big House. In years past, Lloyd would've smirked like he always did and murmured quietly, "Next question." That wry smile of his is something we've all grown accustomed to. The one that says "You know I'm not going to answer that, but you asked me anyway." The one that conveys a strange mixture of wisdom and arrogance. How dare someone be ballsy enough to ask that?

Only this time, Lloyd answered. He dodged it, but he answered. He said that there would be a day to address that, but today wasn't that day. Well, Monday is that day. And Monday, Lloyd will lay down his sword. The old warrior who rides into battle on his horse, only to look to his right and see that his commander isn't there. In the end, all roads lead back to Bo.

I imagined to myself what Saturday was like for Lloyd. A year later, no Bo, but the same old enemy at the gates. I can't imagine Lloyd breaking down in private and crying, begging Bo for forgiveness for losing to Ohio State on the anniversary of his death. That's not Lloyd. But I imagine him getting home, his tie undone, his hair slightly disheveled, the frown on his face a little bigger than usual, a slight twinkle in his eye. He retires somewhere in his home to himself for a bit, maybe sits on a couch without changing or anything. Maybe having a scotch. Does Lloyd like scotch? I don't know. Who cares, it's my scenario, dammit. So he's got the scotch. He fiddles with the glass a bit, clinking it on his wedding ring. The gleam in his eye gets a bit shinier. He doesn't shed a tear. He just reminisces. Reminisces about simpler times. Times when he felt younger, times when he wasn't being heckled, times when he didn't have such a hole in his heart.

The disconnect I'm feeling right now won't go away. It doesn't matter what happens from here. The Alamo Bowl beckons us once again, I suspect. I don't care. One last chance for Mike and Chad to try to salvage something in their careers. Probably one last opportunity for Mario to dazzle us. God, I need to dedicate a blog entry to Mario alone. What a roller coaster ride these last three years have been with him. It'll be hard, though. It'll be hard to think about Chad and Mike and Jake and Mario without thinking about the 39 points they put up on the same Ohio State defense in Columbus last year, and the 3 they put up on Senior Day this year. That's like swallowing sand. It's horrible and disgusting and there's no rational explanation for any of it. There never is. But that's reality, and reality is almost always irrational.

Lloyd's going to retire on Monday. He's not going to ride off into the sunset like he probably wanted to. Instead of leaving to applause and tears of joy from those who adore him and worship him, he'll leave to quiet resignation from those who acknowledge what he's done, but remember what he didn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

take it easy