Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Over the Hills and Far Away

Ohio State 21, Michigan 10; 5-7, 1-7
Led Zeppelin - Over The Hills And Far Away

Found at

So, I took the last 10 days or so off to sort of decompress. Or maybe decompose. Didn't login Blogger, didn't do much of anything, just let the stress of another painful season bleed away. Mostly, I just sat down and enjoyed football again. That's not an easy thing to do when the team you love the most seems hellbent on reserving you a seat at AA meetings years down the line. But it's a process. There are so many other rivalry games around the country I love watching each year. The Backyard Brawl. Texas/Texas A&M. I watched the Iron Bowl, despite my bitter jealousy about how quickly Saban has turned Alabama into the destroyer of worlds, how quickly he's turned the tables on the team Bama fans lust to dominate, how quickly...well, you get my point.

...Oh, the Michigan/Ohio State game. Right. was better than last year. And it was better than 2007.

That doesn't really make anybody feel better, I know. But for the first time since 2006, Michigan showed some semblance of competition against Ohio State. The 2007 game was "close" in the final score only. The 2008 game was...well, yeah. So if you're looking for moral victories, there you go, I guess. The whole "little brother" meme that Mike Hart started with MSU in 2007, as nauseating as it is, applies here. Michigan is, at the moment, the little brother. And try as hard as he could, little brother was held at bay by big bro. We landed about one good punch, when Tate Forcier scrambled around and threw across the field to Vincent Smith, who made a move and scored.

Ohio State responded by imposing their will on Michigan's handicapped defense, running it right down our throats. And when Brandon Graham rose up to blow up two straight plays inside the 10, Tressel did what Tressel has done since 2001 - have the perfect fucking playcall against Michigan. Seriously, there was one play that could've worked against an all-out jailbreak blitz - a screen play. And Tressel called it, and it worked. Game, set, match. We've seen this story before. All the blood, sweat and tears put in by one of the finest warriors to wear a winged helmet, erased in a matter of seconds. If Brandon Graham were any less of a man, he would lay waste to those who play behind him. But that's not Graham. And that's not Michigan. At Michigan, when you lose, you lose with your head held high.

You can't help but wonder, if the Football Gods exist, what did we do to incur their wrath? Did Bo take some sort of safeguarding aura with him into the afterlife, exposing Michigan football to all the evils and all the pitfalls of the real world? Is it fate that two of the more prominent "Michigan Men" in coaching today have also spit on their alma mater, giving many pause as to whether or not either of them could be welcomed back, but at the same time having enough support to create factions inside our fanbase bent on pursuing them? Is it fate that a common occurrence like a player transferring when a new coach comes in turns into a Quisling-like betrayal with said player spewing diarrhea from his mouth while his father - also a "Michigan Man" - sanctions and funds his son's defection to the Dark Side? Is it fate that when Michigan secures a studly five-star running back from their backyard, he endures a career of disappointment, while when Ohio State secures their own five-star back from their backyard, he spends three years laying waste to those who oppose him before jetting to the NFL?

It's a cruel mistress, this game we call football. One minute, she gives us that "come hither" look, a certain gleam in her eye that promises so much more than we can imagine. Promises of roses and winged helmets raised to the sky as the sun fades away into the Pasadena evening. And the next minute, she is the ice queen bent on castrating us, causing us so much pain we just want to curl up and wait for it all to end, because we just can't handle any more disappointment, and any more close calls, and Manningham breaking free in Columbus, and Hart slipping on Ohio State's shredded field, and App. State, and Oregon, and a painkilling shot gone awry, and the last two years of endless agony. It gets to be too much, and we try to stay even-keeled, but we can't, because we've invested so much love into these people whom we don't know, it drives us mad to see them suffer.

It drives us mad to see an uncorruptable smile with so much anguish behind it...

...and it pulls at our heart strings to think what horrors the next set of smiles may have to endure.

Rich Rodriguez loves Michigan. Not like you and me do. He doesn't sit back in his chair in the middle of the day and see Charles Woodson in his mind's eye, running down the sideline while David Boston clenches his fists, knowing his nemesis has vanquished him. He doesn't go on YouTube for the hell of it just to watch some of Wolverine Historian's work. No, Rich Rodriguez loves Michigan in the sense that he understands what a special place it is, and he wants nothing more than to bring the glory we all strive for back to Ann Arbor. Why? Because, and some fans somehow don't grasp this, he wants this more than any of us do. 8-16, 3-13 in two years is a garbage record that stinks so badly it's covered in flies. And nobody wants to change that more than Rich Rodriguez does. He's not a politician, he's not a poet, he's not anything complicated or even deep. He's just a football coach. He just wants to be left alone and do his job. He knows he hasn't delivered like he has to. But all the "negative" qualities people have heaped upon him - things like cussing in practice and screaming at players and coaches in games - these are the qualities of someone who has a passion deep in his gut, the qualities of someone who loves what he does and wants nothing more than to be the best at it. He's a simple man doing a complex job at an abstract place, and whether or not it can work yet hasn't been determined. We'll know better in a year. For now, Rich Rodriguez is going to do what he has to do - he's going to sell the dream to young men across the country. The dream that we all know to be a reality, even if it's gotten blurred lately.

So for now, let the hatred subside. Acknowledge that we're in a bad place now - but also acknowledge that the man in charge wants to be the first one out of it. Salute those who have put in the work. Nod in appreciation to one of the finest players we had the privlege to watch take the field in the Maize and Blue. 268 pounds of twisted blue steel.


Jack Dingess said...

It's about fucking time you got back to this blog. Your final take of RR is spot on. Only an idiot would disagree. We seem to be overrun with idiots at the moment. Watch how many jump on the bandwagon if RR is given the time he needs.

Victor said...

RR wants to go to the top of the mountain, but he knows to survive there you need to have all the right supplies with you, it's safe to assume if you make it to the top of the mountain and survive, that you also have all the supplies you needed at the other various parts of the mountain. It's no fun getting to the top and getting killed.
RR has the same goal as all UM fans have, get to the top and thrive. I have no doubt he and Michigan will.

Credit said...

Great post. You and I have a tendency to make very similar comments, but you always express them more eloquently than I do.

TrueBlueMan said...

Excellent submission. Thank you!

Jeff said...

this is a solid post, couldn't agree more

Anonymous said...

well done sir, well done...

STW P. Brabbs said...

Good post overall, but two things:

1) Apparently, Tressel wanted to get out of the screen call but didn't get a timeout in time. Pryor actually made a hell of a play to get the screen to work with the all-out blitz. I thought the same thing you wrote here (though with more ire directed at Robinson; how on earth do you not suspect that Tressel might be calling a screen), but people on MGoBlog corrected me.

2) I don't recall any instance of Miles 'spitting' on Michigan. Maybe you're talking about him not taking a job offer, but I think the accepted version now is that such an offer never came. Even if it did, being teary and conflicted about staying with your SEC champion team instead of coming north to Ann Arbor is hardly the height of disrespect.

Chris Johnson said...

What you did to incur the wrath of the football gods was hire RR. He knifed his alma mater in the back:

That's what you did.

Brian said...

That would make sense...if the "football gods" hadn't been screwing Michigan since about 2004.