Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Mandate of Heaven

I think it's very hard to see positives in a loss when you're soaking wet.  It's even harder when you misplace your keys for 45 minutes in the Liberty Square parking structure*.  But, at some point, when in the cold and the wet, you realize that the team you love is in a treadmill of despair and ineptitude, and what's worse, you don't see a way out.

The graphic above is a simplified version of the dynastic cycle as understood in ancient China.  When you teach World History, you become very familiar with imperial decline.  Football empires are not that different.  You change a few words in that graphic, and well, it's very clear that it can apply to college football programs as well.

My fear, one that crept in more clearly and crisply yesterday as the fourth quarter dawned and the sky began spitting on the crowd, is that the last seven years, maybe even the last decade, represent the new normal for Michigan football.  One where, instead of being at the top of the Big Ten and a key player in the national conversation, Michigan is a middling team in a dying conference that only can see joy and glory in a sepia toned, grainy film reel.  I don't want to believe that, I want to believe that this is just a couple of blips and that the ship can still be righted, if not this year, maybe very soon.

The problem Michigan faces is three-fold.  One, the entire Big Ten conference slate remains, so you can't just give up on the season, because as anyone in the media room would tell you yesterday, all of the team's goals are still attainable.  Two, Michigan won't fire anyone mid-season because that's not how Michigan rolls.  Three, who in the name of Yost and Schembechler is out there that you can bring in that will make things better and be acceptable to the most finicky, persnickety fan base in college football?  And even if you have a name, do you really trust Jack Donaghy to make that happen?

So we ride out the storm together, no matter how little fun it feels like right now, no matter how much we wish things were different, we ride it out, because all we have right now is to believe is that better days have to be ahead, because to believe that things can't get much worse is to open up ourselves to the punishments that hubris has to offer.

We fight for better days.

(*-The short form, I tried to use my credit card to pay at the gate, it couldn't read the card, so I took the ticket.  When I got back to Liberty Square, soaked as I was, I took my keys and wallet out, set my keys on the top of the pay machine, paid, forgot where I put my keys, had a genuinely nice parking attendant do what he could to help us find them, swore in a way that would have made Malcolm Tucker proud, then, as I was ready to call a cab to take us back to my friend's car at the Plymouth Road park and ride, walked back down to the lobby to find my keys sitting on the top of the machine, go back to the car, and find out that we had to pay extra to leave because our grace period expired.  The lesson, as always, parking sucks.)

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