|"Well, that could have gone better." (AP Photo/LM Otero)|
Life is all about choices, some we make for ourselves, some that others make and have an impact on us. The Alabama game was a series of choices, after all.
Back in July, Fitzgerald Toussaint made the choice to get behind the wheel of a pick up truck after he had been drinking. Police caught him doing this and he was charged with OWI, later reduced to OWVI. For this choice, he, Michigan's leading rusher from 2011, was suspended for the Alabama game.
Brady Hoke made the choice to suspend Fitzgerald Toussaint for the Alabama game, but he did so at pretty much the last possible moment on Friday. This drew praise from media types (as well as a fair amount of confusion, Hoke was being praised for issuing a fairly standard issue suspension for a player charged with a DUI. I have to agree, but I think it speaks more to our lowered expectations with college football than anything.) Hoke's choice was likely to not give any unnecessary advantage to Alabama and to encourage Toussaint to keep working towards getting back into the good graces. Hoke also understood that this suspension would have consequences, but he still made the choice.
Back in 2010, in what had to seem like a good idea at the time, David Brandon was convinced by the combined powers of Jerry Jones and the ESPN matchup makers that taking Michigan's show on the road to Dallas to open the season against Nick Saban's Alabama team would be tremendous. This was a coach ago and an 14th Alabama national championship ago. But hey, RichRod's first recruiting class would be seniors, right? It would be the talk of the summer, the Michigan brand, which had taken a beating in 2008 and 2009 needed something, anything, to bring it back in to focus. This was an event, a moment, something that was supposed to wow us. Instead, Michigan becomes one of only two B1G teams to lose its 2012 opener. Admittedly, not all opening games are created equal, but because of Mr. Brandon's choice, Michigan is 0-1 to start the year for the first time since 2008.
Al Borges had a choice. He could choose to be aggressive and attack a fierce, but young, Alabama defense, or he could be conservative, hope that Denard could connect on some big plays (which, admittedly, without some drops, might have worked) and not let Denard get hurt. It didn't feel good, but I am not sure that in a game where it didn't look/feel like you had much of a chance after 10 minutes of play if it wasn't the smart choice.
Denard Robinson had a choice. He could let the man who had just picked off his pass (a man who had shoved Roy Roundtree out of bounds, which is apparently perfectly legal as long as the ball is not in the air in a rule with which I was unfamiliar.) head for the end zone, or he could try to make a tackle and potential risk to himself. He threw himself in to the tackle and got dinged up in the shoulder for it. But leaders do not let their man get by them, even when it may not have been the smartest choice.
We have a choice as fans. We can sulk, we can lament, we can shake our fists in anger. But I don't think we will. I think that in a game where few people game us a chance, it went poorly. We don't have to be happy that Michigan isn't at Alabama's level, but we can choose to believe that it may be somewhere down the line. We can choose to enjoy the home opener this weekend, making sure that we are respectful to our friends from the Air Force who have made the choice to defend America's freedom, and we can choose to believe that things will get better from here. We can choose to believe that we would have been happier with a neat little 35-10ish dusting of a MACrifice or FCSer, but I choose to believe that a reality check, from time to time, is not the worst thing in the world. We're not as deep down in the depths as we have been in recent memory, but maybe we're not as high back up the mountain as we thought.