Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mystic chords of memory

One of the single biggest themes that Brady Hoke has put forward during his time as Michigan's head coach is the idea that this team, Team 132, is connected to all of the previous Michigan teams that have gone before it and that it is the duty of the players and the coaches to play well in order to honor the memory of all of the men who have worn the winged helmet previously.

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

So what does that have to do with a 58 point rout of a Big Ten opponent?  Well, as we stood there in Section 44 yesterday, pondering a list of random questions that come up in a blow out that goes your way, we pondered if this is what it was like to be a Michigan fan back in the 1970s, because we were trying to remember the biggest Big Ten blowout we had ever seen in our 15 years of going to Michigan games together.  Turns out the correct answer would have been Indiana 2000, also a 58-0 win in early October of that year, but this had more of a feel of a early 1970s Michigan game, where the season was a lot of three score wins with a tough Ohio State game at the end.  Hearing about Michigan going 50-5-1 between 1970 and 1974 (and playing in just one bowl game, thank you very much Big Ten) and seeing those scores historically, you don't ever think you're going to see something like that again.  But maybe there was a flash of that old school moment in a blowout of the Gophers to retain the Little Brown Jug, then again, I'm not sure how Bo would have felt about that double quarterback formation.  Then again, Lloyd definitely approved of that attempted Transcontinental* in the second quarter.  I know somewhere the late great Ron Kramer was smiling at the numbers being on the side of the helmet for the rest of the season.**

*-Side note, apropos of nothing.  How great was it that yesterday was John Navarre's day at Michigan Stadium and that he got a nice little reception from the crowd when he was introduced.  Navarre beat the Gophers in part on the Water Buffalo Stampede, which came about from a Transcontinental (admittedly, not one with two quarterbacks in the game.) so it was fitting that Navarre got a nice moment against the Gophers.

**--My college roommate Dave and I refer to the numbered helmets as "Kramer specials" because we so strongly associate the numbers on the helmets with his era.

Minnesota may prove itself to be the worst team in the conference this season.  Michigan may prove to be more of a paper tiger by the end of the month, but maybe not.  I was all ready to point out how history screws with our perception because we look to the past to find the future, but then CBS Sports' Adam Jacobi totally took care of it for me:
5. Pssst... Michigan might be legitimate. Maybe. As long as Minnesota keeps proving itself to be far more MAC-worthy than BCS conference-caliber, it's going to be useless to read much into a team's performance beating the Gophers -- even the final score is 58-0. And yes, Michigan started 5-0 last year too and that season still ended with Rich Rodriguez fired. That's all true. The problem, though, is that Michigan started 5-0 in 1997 and it just so happened to finish 12-0 and win a national championship, and most teams that start 5-0 don't end up giving up the most points in program history and firing their coach.
2011 is not 2010 and it's not 1997.  It's 2011.  2011 is going to be its own thing.  Michigan can be no worse than 5-3 when the gales of November come early.  But it's more likely to be 6-2 at worst, and 7-1 is possible by the time Homecoming is over.  If it is 8-0, if it has beaten Northwestern at Ryan Field next week, a venue that might have as many Michigan fans as apostrophe Cats faithful in the stands, and it has beaten a Spartan team, wearing their special Pro Combat uniforms and poised to make history, then November becomes something bigger than any of us may have dared dream before.  So let's take this show on the road, let's get back under the lights, and let's see how much the new looks like the old.

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