|"Oooh, ahh, that's how it always starts. Then there's running....and screaming."|
(OK, yes, that's The Lost World, but I don't care at this point.)
This wasn't even my worst day at the Big House. I've had plenty worse in twenty years of going to games. I was there for Appalachian State 2007. I was there for Northwestern 2008. I was there for Utah 2014. That is to name but three. This hurt, but it's the dirty secret of college football...it's chaotic. It's chaotic and it doesn't have to make a whole lot of sense, because order is the way in which we try to find patterns in the chaos. The problem with patterns are is that we cannot ever necessarily know if they are truly patterns because even as we string them out in to eternity, all of the sudden, there is a blip that you didn't expect and the pattern no longer exists. And the universe would smile at your newfound knowledge, but it doesn't care. It's the universe, and it does what it wants.
99.8%. By now you've probably seen the stat that Michigan's win probability before the snap on the play with 10 seconds left was at 99.8%. Mathematically, that means that if that play were run 500 times, Michigan would have won the game 499 of them. This universe, this quantum reality, it happened. Why? Chaos.
(In retrospect, we really should have put locking mechanisms on all of the vehicles.)
For all of the awfulness of this game, and there were layers upon layers of awfulness, Michigan was in this game due, in no small part, to special teams. It was in this game despite miscues, despite a suboptimal performance on offense, despite officiating which will likely not grade out very highly with Collegiate Officiating Consortium people who grade these things, despite replay reviews which made me lament the invention of the digital video recorder. In spite of all of this, Michigan had a lead late. This is significant progress. Michigan can tell itself that it's Michigan and we don't find or need moral victories, but that isn't what this is about. Michigan had made so much progress so quickly from where it was at the end of 2014 as a team that it was easy to tell yourself that Michigan had this one, no problem. But, in the end, it did not. Whether it was a bad snap, cold fingers, worries about an all out punt block attempt, we'll never probably know for real, but in the end, it happened and Michigan State took its only lead of the game with no time remaining on the clock. Sometimes, when you root for chaos, you bring the house down upon your own head. It's the price you pay for that deep seated desire to see something you've never seen before. Sometimes the universe just says "Next" and points the finger at your team. It doesn't have a schedule or an agenda or a rotation, because it's the universe and the universe doesn't care.
So I want to be mad, I've tried to be mad, but I can't be. Mostly, I feel really bad for Blake O'Neill. He had an 80 yard punt, a thing of beauty, and several other punts which put Michigan in a position to win. Now he becomes to people who don't care about this team, a punchline. But to only be judged by our worst moments is unfair. But, as the universe reminds us, it's never really about fair. Deserving to win does not guarantee victory. Doing everything right leading up to a moment does not assure us that it will continue. All we can do is our best every time and learn from the bad moments. After all, as Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." In the middle of the story, we cannot always see the end. We can speculate, we can estimate, but we are rarely the masters of our own fate. It'll be a long two weeks, but on Halloween night, I foresee Minnesota getting quite a scare.
We fight for better days. My sense is that they will be here sooner rather than later.