Illinois 38, Michigan 13; 5-4, 1-4
Dictionary.com defines the Blue Screen of Death (or stop error) as such:
Definition: a bright blue screen displayed by the Microsoft Windows operating system when it cannot recover from a system error; abbreviated BSOD
The parallel I am making is obvious. Michigan football is Microsoft Windows. And a system error has caused it to freeze, crash, and reboot. The problem is, stop errors aren't random, flukey occurrences. They happen when something has become fundamentally broken or corrupted, and they continue to pop up until you go in, spend an eternity sifting through your computer and find what's fucked up and fix it.
Michigan experienced a horrifying stop error on Saturday. Against a team that had not stayed within 10 points of any I-A opponent, Michigan lost by 25, and in a sport full of subtleties that often escape the eyes of those untrained to watch for them, the turning point on Saturday was blatant, obvious, and horrifying. Failing to obtain one yard on four straight plays cannot be pinned on coaches, on players, on training staffs, on playcalls. It is pinned on all of the above. It is a fundamental failure on all levels of football when you have four chances to get three feet and fail every time. It's an indictment on everything you've done to prepare yourselves for the moment. It's an indictment on Roundtree for being inexplicably caught from behind, it's an indictment on the offensive line for not being able to create one measly hole, it's an indictment on the running backs for not being able to push the pile 36 inches, it's an indictment on the coaches for waiting until 4th down to put the power back in the game, and it's an indictment on everyone for what transpired afterwards.
For the past 22 and a half months, I have had a spot on the Board of Directors for the Rich Rodriguez Defense Corporation, somewhere next to Brian Cook and Rick Leach. I've shouted down naysayers at Michigan Stadium, played the e-bully on the internet toward people who micromanaged and nickeled and dimed every little fucking thing. I've constantly linked to material from MGoBlog which perfectly illustrates how the predicament we're in cannot be pinned solely on Rodriguez but on like a dozen different people over the past five years. I've stepped back when I needed to step back because wolves have to have a deer to hunt, and I've lashed out when I needed to lash out because sometimes ignorance must be called out for what it is.
At some point, "all in" becomes blind devotion. At some point, all true believers find themselves questioning that in which they have invested so much. For me, I reached that point some time around 6:00 Saturday evening, sometime between Illinois's 70-yard touchdown and Michigan's 10 trillionth fumble in the last 21 games. So now I'm stuck in no man's fucking land. I'm not about to plunge myself off the cliff and join the people I've spewed virulent hatred at for the past year plus...but I may need to take a leave of absence from the Board of Directors. I keep telling myself about the freshmen at QB, the walkons on defense, the abysmal linebacking situation, the absence of depth in the secondary...and it offers no comfort, because we just lost by 25 points to a team whose only prior win was against a 4-4 I-AA team. When faced with that reality, there isn't much to say that will make anybody feel better.
I'll be at the game on Saturday against Purdue, and I hope like hell that we win, because 6-6 seems like the best case scenario at this point, and good luck getting to six against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Other than that....whatever. I got nothing to say.