Sunday, September 6, 2009

Some Kind of Wonderful

Grand Funk Railroad - Some Kind of Wonderful

Found at

Michigan 31, Western Michigan 7; 1-0

When people become accustomed to one thing for so long, it becomes the norm. It becomes the standard upon which all other practices related to it are compared. We develop an attraction towards the most basic things in our lives, and any deviance from the base must either be pre-approved or it must be criticized, critiqued, and eventually broken down, destroyed and remolded until it fits the standard we have grown so fond of.

Last year didn't feel like football for Michigan fans. There was grass, and turf, and helmets, and players, and wristbands and ankle tape and fans and bands and fight songs and even actual footballs, but it didn't feel like football. This isn't a vague way of saying "Michigan Football", either. It just didn't feel like anything remotely resembling the game of football so many of us have grown up with. Football involves blocking, and passing, and catching, and tackling. None of the above were common occurrences for Michigan last year, and the whole thing felt foreign. When the offensive linemen went to block, they often failed, and it looked wrong. When the defenders went to tackle, they often missed, and it looked perverse. When the quarterbacks went to throw, they often scrambled our brains, and it looked broken. In all the football we've become familiar with - not just of the Michigan variety - quarterbacks are supposed to smoothly wind up and deliver. It's not supposed to look like you're asking penguins to defuse nuclear weapons. It's supposed to appear simple and perfect, as if it's second nature. In watching Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan flail through 12 games of horror last year, we lost our way as football fans. We forgot what it was like to see a quarterback accomplish the most basic of tasks in the most basic of ways.

That's why when Tate Forcier rolled to his left and fired a dart to Junior Hemingway for a five-yard completion on his first pass as Michigan's starting quarterback, Michigan Stadium roared. Five years ago, this is met with the generic applause of a generic Michigan's QB completing his generic first pass of the season against a generic MAC school. This time, it was as if Tate had a message for a million Michigan fans across the world: Hello, I'm a real quarterback, and I'm here to help. And the fans heard his message, and reacted with thunderous cheers for one of the most simple aspects of the most complex game the world of sport has to offer us. After a year of wretched absence, the standard base is returning to Ann Arbor.

Perhaps it's fitting that such a generic act was met with grandiose cheers. Because really, this isn't generic. This is not your typical football team. It's a team that has seen the man they've bought into go through a type of odd, twisted hell. People who possess the power of the pen abuse that power to produce illegitimate claims of dishonesty. Talking heads talk excessively about a leader of men who is doing a shitty job of leading. Alums of a mighty school break ranks to perpetuate these lies on national television. It's a firestorm, and the reliability of the flame-retardent suits is dubious. And through the flames, this has evolved into something bigger than football. This is about the pride of a man who just wants to be given a chance to coach football. Ironically, it's about the pride of a man who deflected every question on Saturday about what the day meant to him, instead choosing to give us that sheepish grin that was hauntingly absent on Monday when he had to defend all that he stood for.

It's not going to be perfect. The assassin-like efficiency we saw from Tate Forcier will be off some days. Sometimes he will throw, and the wrong man will catch it. Sometimes the magic we saw from the youngster called Shoelace will simply result in a fumbled snap and a three yard loss (or worse). The....fundamentals (!!!!!!) we saw from Greg (GERG) Robinson's defense won't be as sharp sometimes. Tackles will be missed. Assignments will be blown. There will be losses.

But for now, enjoy what we witnessed on Saturday. It's what people like Brian Cook, myself, and so many others have spent the last year defending. If 2008 was the endless abyss, then the opening act of 2009 was a lifeline plunged deep into that abyss for us to grab onto; a lifeline telling us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that the endless abyss isn't so endless. That sometimes when you're on, you're REALLY fucking on.

So enjoy it. It was some kind of wonderful, wasn't it?

1 comment:

kevin said...

I was watching the game at my friend's house. He has a giant TV and I don't (yet). He is more of a Penn State fan, but he wants Michigan to be better also. During the 3rd Quarter, he said, "Kevin, calm down! You guys are killing WMU. What are you worried about?"
I said, "It is like a dream I don't want to wake up from. Also, I am waiting for us to fall apart."
I am so thankful we didn't. We could have easily won 45-7 if we hadn't given Nick and M.C. Dave a shot, and I am totally fine with that. It was actually a Lloyd Carr thing to do. No reason to beat up an in-state team worse than we did, except Sparty...they are REALLY asking for it.