Monday, December 30, 2013

Lost in Space

Luna-Lost in Space-1995
(Sorry gang, can't embed, but you can listen along)

You heard it all before
And said your case was tragic
You heard it all before
And now they say it's magic

You need
Time off
For good
And you know there's something else
But you can't give a name
Someone's selling all your heroes

And it seems such a shame

Maybe the worst part about being 7-6 is that one literally cannot know if things will get better or worse next year because both possibilities seem equally probable.  People like to say "Michigan was just three plays away from 9-4" which, OK, sure, (A Gibbons make in the Penn State game, the two point conversion in the Ohio State game, I can accept both of those as they were so late in the game, the quantum realities that exist from that point are limited, especially the Gibbons field goal.)  We were also easily two plays away from being 5-7 (Gibbons misses in the rain in Evanston, Akron connects on the final play of the game).  So 7-6 is probably right and fitting, win some, lose some.

But it really is hard to know what to think for next year, which is probably for the best that we can have some time away from this, some distance before we must contemplate the future, in both short and long terms.  There is talent, I know it because I have seen it and because everyone who seems to know these things better than I do tells me so.  The question is, can there be improvement?  Will there be improvement?  Because I think the athletic department knows there has to be.

The Athletic Department is in a bind.  It is facing the worst home football schedule in Michigan's history, an increasingly disgruntled, or at the very least, discontented fan and alumni base, who feels increasingly hit in the wallet when asked to re-up for season tickets, facing a Michigan Stadium atmosphere that feels less and less like the one that people cherished and more and more like a multi-level marketing...wait, sorry...synergy machine that we're told is the future because the people who get to make these decisions want to create the future, whether or not anyone wants to go along with them for the ride.   By the same token, they want to sell us on the glory of the past, which starts to feel more and more like imperial decline, like remembering the high water mark of the empire and silently (or sometimes more loudly) fretting that the grandest days are behind us (Notre Dame reclaiming the winning percentage mark after ten years in part because they made up SEVEN games on Michigan in the last two years would be a good example of that kind of fear in a more tangible form.)

And by the way, as guilty of this as I am, don't think for a moment that collectively telling ourselves that this is all just 2013's fault isn't a symptom of this fear.  Because the alternative is far darker.

Maybe the greatest gift of growing up is that you can still appreciate things that meant so much to you in your childhood and young adulthood without being consumed by them.  I still care about this program, about this team, about these players, but it no longer drives my mood for a week.  It's the realization not that there are more important things, though there are, but that willingly handing your emotional state to things well outside control is just a really poor decision for one's temperament.  (I would like to thank the Detroit Lions for helping me reach this realization sooner rather than later.)

So, come August, well cheer again, we'll get excited about the players who made significant strides during fall camp, we'll look at the schedule and try to find those nine wins, knowing that we're not going to Indianapolis without some good luck.  We'll say goodbye to our friends from South Bend, because it is ending because of the new world order, and we'll welcome some new "friends" from the East for the same reason, looking at them sideways the way one one might with step-siblings (Yes, there's a Brady Bunch joke there.  Yes, I am declining to make it.)  We'll show up and we'll hope and we'll complain and we'll wonder, going up, or going down?  Because right now, we just don't know.

Farewell Team 134.  Godspeed to you Team 135.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just read this; it's one of your best posts - not because it identifies concretely where the whole M enterprise is going, but the opposite: that it captures the fact/feeling not only that we're all lost trying to figure it out, wondering why it all feels hollowed out. But also that the "wow factor" hoopla approach, combined with squeezing every gross income dollar out of everyone has had some intangible but real impact on the whole thing.