Sunday, September 09, 2012


Unleash the Funchess!  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
One of the best books I have ever read is My Favorite Year, an anthology of football (world definition) from some very amazing authors, including Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby.  The authors basically put together an essay on their favorite season for their favorite team.  Hornby, having already taken his readers through his obsession with Arsenal in Fever Pitch, takes the time to walk his readers through his season with Cambridge United 1983-84 while he was at university.  Cambridge United, as Hornby points out was a second division team at the time, so it was not cheating on his beloved Arsenal.

*-By the way, if any of my favorite football bloggers wanted to get together and do their college football version of that, well:

When I was in fourth grade, my mother found for me an Air Force sweatshirt while she was out Christmas shopping with my grandmother.  It was navy but it had a white band through the center that said "Air Force" in script.  While she knew I loved Michigan as much as anything, she also knew I dreamed of being a fighter pilot.  This, of course, was a pipe dream since I was already rocking some serious glasses and like zero hand-eye coordination, but you know, I was ten years old, what did I know?  So I wore that shirt all the time.  I read about all of the greatest planes in American military history and by the time I was in sixth grade, I pretty much knew the entire litany of U.S. air power.  I also came to like Air Force as my other college football team because hey, Air Force has a football team.  (This did once lead me to pick Air Force over Ohio State in the 1990 Liberty Bowl which helped my dad win his bowl pick 'em pool at work because no one else had it.)  So for years, I've always had a notion of wanting Air Force to be successful.

So when I saw Air Force on the schedule for this year for the first time since the Johnson administration, I was excited, but I was also nervous.  Air Force, after all, is a triple option dynamo known for giving good teams fits.  So it's the first home game, coming off a huge loss to Alabama, what would Michigan do?  How would Michigan look?  Something like this:

That is a diagram of the flight path of a KC-135 reduced gravity simulator aircraft, affectionately known as "the Vomit Comet".  It is used by NASA to train astronauts for reduced gravity as well as to test the effect of lower gravity on equipment.  It also informs us of the general track of the Michigan game, low, then high, then low, then high, then low, then high, and finally relief that you have landed safely.

As Stewart Mandel pointed out, Denard accounted for 416 of Michigan's 422 yards yesterday. That's not a long term solution, but it did work for what it needed to do.  Denard found a new toy in Devin "The" Funchess (I'm calling him "the Funchess", because it sounds like some kind of weird European nobility, like the Baronet or the Count.), making him the new Junior Hemingway.  Mistakes were made.  The defense looked maddeningly more like GERG level than Mattison's Marauders, but got it done when it needed to do so.

Did anyone else think that the banner looked like a new one with the more yellow maize?  Oh and happy 50th Anniversary to the Banner.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Air Force looked exactly like I would want to see a group of my nation's future military leaders look like as a football team, disciplined, focused, moving quickly, attacking the enemy's weaknesses, and fighting to the last man.  They gave Michigan all they could handle and earned the respect and admiration of hopefully every Michigan fan.  I had joked earlier in the week that "It's hard playing against Air Force because you can't boo freedom*", but I stand by it.  Air Force, along with Army and Navy, are America's teams.  Every one of those players made the choice to not only become an officer by going the Academy route.  Every one of them has taken on the additional responsibility of being a football player at the Division I level, above and beyond what is asked of them.  It was the same reason that I found it so hard to be angry when Air Force beat Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Hockey Tournament in 2009.  The cadets did an outstanding job and I am proud of their service to our country.

*-The fact that this holds true was made even better by the fact that Air Force's players all had either "SERVICE" or "FREEDOM" on their name plates.

Who loses a shoe, I mean really? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Schedule: The funny thing is though, no matter what, I'd rather have non-conference games like this one than like next week with UMass or next year against Akron.  Even what happened last week was a better kind of option, provided that every Division I team was playing a similar schedule.   I don't know where the cut-off is, because I would hate to lose the Michigan MAC schools while saying the Sun Belt isn't up to par.  But a schedule where Michigan (and all AQ level schools) would be facing let's say a Pac 12 team, an ACC team, a Mountain West team, and a MAC team would go a long way to making college football better.  (Solve the I-AA funding problem by allowing teams to play an exhibition game in August against them for a set fee.)

Credit where credit is due: The student section showed up and they showed up mostly on time.  I was impressed at how quickly between 30 minutes to go and 15 minutes to go the pregame clock the maize filled in.

It gets worse: Special K decided to throw Pitbull's "Back in Time" into the mix.  I was really hoping he had gotten lost on the way back from Kodiak.  I'll let you determine who I mean by that pronoun.

Oosterbaan never had that kind of flow: Love the choice of Jake Ryan for the Oosterbaan #47.  He seemed to play an inspired game yesterday, though I do think Bennie would have caught that ball that Ryan dropped on Air Force's final drive.  Looking forward to seeing who gets the Ron Kramer number.  I hope whomever gets it likes apples.

Is this a Hoke point?  Can I get a ruling? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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