Monday, September 08, 2008

Make It Work

One of the strangest things to me about having a fiancee are the things you learn you kind of like, not just tolerate, that you never would have considered doing before you were a part of a couple. In the time I have been with Jennifer, she has introduced me to a show on Bravo called Project Runway. I never imagined that I would like

a). a reality show
b). a show about fashion
c). something on Bravo

And yet, here I am. I like the show. I can't consider it a favorite, but I like the show, and I think I figured out why, and that reason relates to this season of Michigan football.

The premise is simple: bring in a group of talented and eager people in to a situation where they will get to show off their talent and their vision, even when faced with bizarre or wacky circumstances. They make the decisions, they do the work, and in the middle of it, a mentor comes in, talks them through the incomplete project, encourages them to "Make It Work" and leaves the end result to be judged by a group of experts, trying to survive every week in the hopes of being in the top three so they can showcase their work at the biggest event of the season. There's drama, backbiting, heroes and villains, questions as to a person's thought process, questions of judgment and taste, and frustrating results when you develop a rooting interesting.

Michigan's mantra this season should be Tim Gunn's "Make It Work" Tim isn't going to come in and tell you how to fix the problems with your vision, but he's going to ask you questions about your process and try to see it your way. He might ask you questions which force you to defend your vision, but it's not because he's assigning a value judgment to what he sees, he simply knows what it takes to succeed and wants you to find that in yourself to make this piece the best one possible for you to hopefully remain on the show.

I feel like Coach Rod, right now, is stuck in a strange challenge, where his preferred design aesthetic has no possible way of being showcased because we're using things bought at a grocery store, or recycled car parts of some such. So, instead of going on the confessional camera and complaining about how this isn't fair and how he's not getting a chance to showcase his impeccable taste, he's simply going out there and doing what he can.

The problem, right now, is that what Michigan is sending down the runway looks unfinished, just begging for a Michael Kors smackdown, but one that is truly deserved. We're not finishing our hems, our stitching looks sloppy, and no one would ever want to wear shoulders like that. Last week, we ended up in the Bottom Three, and we received a stern talking to from the judges, but only because they care about our work.

This week was better. The challenge was a little easier, we took the advice we got last week to heart, we saw progress and we were safe. This was not a win, we do not have immunity for next week, we simply were not bad enough to lose, but we didn't deserve to win.

So next week will be another challenge, a different set of circumstances, but as always, Tim's going to tell us to "Make It Work." The question is whether we can.


JeffW said...

Let me are not the first guy to be pulled into that show and like it. I am in that category, and can say the show is fascinating. I like the analogy to our team. That said, is RichRod the right guy? How long do we make excuses for him? Two years? Four years? By then are we relevant any longer? I am worried - not panicked - just worried.

Craig Barker said...

I am afraid I don't have the answer to that. Our best reference point in Michigan history might be what would have played out, potentially, with Gary Moeller if he had not taken care of himself. Though I do not remember it distinctly, fans old enough and tuned in enough to remember it have told me that there was going to start being some heat on him for 8-4, 8-4, 8-4. questions of whether he was just winning with Bo's guys, etc.

I think in my mind I was willing to accept a three year transition, sort of a metaphor for the construction on Michigan Stadium being complete when the team was coming in to shape. It would give Rodriguez two and a half classes of his own guys (I am calling last year's class a split between Coach Carr and Coach Rod.) I hoped that the "fallow" period would not be a "dump gasoline on the field and light a match" 3-9, but maybe a "rotate in some soybeans and replenish the soil" 7-6 or 8-5. I still think it's too early to panic, but concern is understandable.

As for worries about relevance, I think USC and Texas have proved in this decade that winning is the quickest way to get yourself back to being considered "relevant".