Sunday, November 30, 2014


(Photo: Greg Bartram, USA Today Sports)

It struck me when I was reading another fantastic piece from Ramzy at 11 Warriors, that there is a dirty secret to the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry.  One might argue that we don't care as much as they do.  Michigan fans don't spend this week obsessively blocking out every "O" on campus, don't constantly refer to Ohio State as "That School In Columbus" (Yes, we do the Ohio thing, but it's kind of contrived and probably isn't going to last past this weekend anyway.  We just don't feel it in our hearts)

I almost have begun to wonder in the past decade whether Michigan's interest in the rivalry is, in knowing how much it means to them, being able to beat them and ruin that for them, is what Michigan fans truly get out of this.  Michigan fans don't care less about the rivalry than Ohio State fans do, they just care about it differently.  Michigan fans like winning, period.  Michigan fans want to beat everybody and dread that there will be somewhere along the way in a season where Michigan doesn't win.  Michigan's season is not going to be made by beating Ohio in a way that Ohio's might be.  But it makes me sad to know that there has not been one game since 1999 where Michigan went in to The Game and thought "we should win this." *  Ohio State fans have thought this all too often since the Tressel era began.  If I have a sadness about this rivalry, it is that.

(*-If you want to argue 2011 with me, I'll listen, but even then, the best chance Michigan had to get a win since 2003 (when it was #4 vs #5, which is not a "should"), did not feel like a "should win", but like a "please dear God, let us win."  It's not the same.  And 2004, #7 in the country vs. a 6-5 Buckeye team, still had to go to Columbus.)

The Devin Gardner era ended yesterday not with a whimper, but not with a bang.  It ended with more conclusive proof about the kind of person that Devin Gardner is (see photo above), but also the maddening flaws about what kind of quarterback Devin Gardner, turnover prone, but flashing brilliance here there and everywhere.  There seems to be a desire to make a metaphor of this game as a microcosm of the Hoke era, and perhaps it is.  Unfortunately, like so many times in the Hoke era, we're left with more questions than answers.  If Hoke's era is coming to a close, then the book will be left to be written, but we've written so much of it.  In so many ways, we've known for months what is going to happen, but we're waiting for the actual moment, so we can move on and move forward.

My role with this blog started eight years ago.  Geoff was kind enough to ask me to contribute, and I was thrilled to get a chance to do so.  I've spent the last eight years documenting some staggering highs and some really stupid lows.  But at some point, all of this feels so cliche, that we've been here before, and instead of being filled with hope, we're filled with an impending sense of dread.  A change is gonna come, and they're gonna ask us to go along, and we will, because we've already invested too much.  But there will be others who aren't going to come back, because we've given them no reason to stay.  The zeal is dying, in part because the fuel hasn't been there.

Here's to hope we get it right this time.  We've talked us into so many ridiculous ideas that so many realities are going to seem like consolation prizes, and I hate that.  I hate knowing in my heart that no one in their right mind is going to want to come here, because tradition and history are wonderful, but the expectations that come with it are kind of insane.  There's no reason, on paper, a quality coach shouldn't be able to come in to Michigan and rack up wins, but it's a new millennium, new rules, and an understanding that the old ways aren't going to work anymore.  Let's hope we get it right this time.  Because, like this season, that's all we have left.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blogger Give and Take: Buckeye Battle Cry

So, we were asked to fill in as the Michigan blog for Buckeye Battle Cry's annual "give and take" discussion leading up to The Game.  Since answering questions is pretty much what we do for a living, we said yes.  Our answers to BBC's questions can be found here.  The staff's answers to our questions can be found below.  All questions and answers are reproduced faithfully, editor's notes at the end.

So, be honest, did you ever think without Braxton you could be sitting here coming up to The Game with a chance to be in the Playoff conversation?
After watching the Spring Game I would say NO WAY. JT was pretty good vs Navy which gave us fans hope and then came the ugly loss against VT. Amazing how this young man has turned it around with such poise and command of the offense. With that being said, I was not even think BIG Championship game and possibly a 3 loss season.

Building off that, what has been the most surprising thing about J.T. Barnett this year?

That the kid just finally got tired of people not knowing that his last name is Barrett? Just Kidding.* The most surprising thing to most people has probably been his production since the VaTech game. He has been a model of consistency, with the exception of the PSU game. I think most people expected there to be more of other players Like Marshall this past week, stepping up and being the offensive leaders. More and more each week we have seen what the confidence of surrounding players and staff has done for him. His production as a RS freshman will go down in the history books as one of the best ever by a QB at Ohio State, including better than the Heisman winner they are honoring this weekend.

Michigan averages allowing 302 yards per game this season, which is amazingly good enough for ninth best in the country.  How many football fields worth of yards will Ohio State put up on Michigan beyond their season average?

When it comes to this game, I think you can throw out every statistical category alive to man. 2013 is a perfect example of that very fact. That being said, I think OSU will still put up it's average 500 yards of offense and score 25+ points. This may have been a different answer had Frank Clark not been dismissed from the team.

Two part question: We know that the Buckeyes opponent in the B1GCG comes down to the Gophers or the Badgers.  1). Who is the better matchup for Ohio State? 2). Which one gives you a better resume for the CFB Playoff, (if anyone actually knows the committee's voodoo)?

1) I think the better match-up for Ohio State would be Minnesota. They've already played one another and despite being -1 in turnovers, OSU eked out a road win. David Cobb had a good day against Ohio State, but I think the rest of their offense can be contained, and that OSU will have better ball security next time around. Minny's defense is good, but it can be had. Let's face it; the last three top-shelf RB's that Ohio State has played (Langford 137; Cobb 145; and Coleman 228) haven't created a comfort zone of defending MGIII.

2) I agree with your assumption about the CFB Committee Voodoo, but let's proceed anyway. I think that Wisconsin brings the CFB eye-candy, should Ohio State play them and win. They've been consistently ranked this season and are still probably basking from the "Melvin Gordonization" of Nebraska a couple weeks ago. Wisconsin would be a better take-down for Ohio State to burnish whatever cred they may have with CFB Committee Voodoo.

Would you be so kind as to make the case for Urban Meyer over Jerry Kill as Big Ten Coach of the Year?  Can you make a case for Urban for National Coach of the Year, especially since he has, amazingly, never won one of the many awards of that ilk that are offered annually?

I respect what Jerry Kill has done. He's been fantastic and has the Gophers in a position that is everything they could have asked for, namely they have a shot to head to Indianapolis next weekend. That said, Kill didn't lose the Big Ten MVP (Braxton Miller) on offense roughly 10 days before his opener and didn't lose one of the best athletes in the league and his, arguably, best defensive player in Noah Spence. Having two players of that caliber being out of starting lineups that contain a lot of freshman and sophomores and still being 10-1 (hopefully 11-1, no offense) would be impossible for even some of the best of the very best.

I remember in the preseason one of our local radio hosts saying how this year is the "learning year" for all the young kids and how, hypothetically, it would be amazing to somehow bottle Braxton Miller and use him in 2015 when all the kids are much more grown up. Well, look at them now. Obviously because of the injury they do have Miller back for 2015 but there's a real debate as to if he should or shouldn't be the quarterback next year because of the way they have developed JT Barrett. It's amazing what they've gotten out of guys like Darron Lee and Michael Thomas. Look no further than the offensive line for a shining example of the work they've done in-season.

What I'm saying is, I think it'll be a shame if he doesn't win Big Ten coach of the year no matter how these last two weeks play out. If they fulfill the goal of beating the team up north and wining the Big Ten championship game, thus being 12-1 and likely in the top 4, I don't see how he can not be national coach of the year. I mean no disrespect to Dan Mullen or any other candidates, but, come on let's be real here. Urban Meyer has coached his you know what off this year.

So, this is an awkward question, but, well...Michigan is, more than likely, looking for a new coach very soon.  As you well know, in the past, Michigan has had some success hiring Ohio State assistants to be their head coach.  People I've read and respect suggest that Tom Herman is a great candidate in waiting, though young.  Assuming he would even take the call, from a Michigan side, sell me on why he'd be a great choice for Our School Up North?

Tom Herman has been successful everywhere he has coached and his offenses have set numerous school records.  At Iowa State he built a very potent offence and they aren't exactly known as a football powerhouse.  In his first year at OSU, Herman took an offense that had been one of the worst in the country in in 2011 into the top scoring offense in the Big Ten in 2012.

This year the OSU offense is still one of the top ones in the conference despite losing Braxton Miller and having to go with an untested JT Barret whose success is also a testament to Herman's ability.  Of course, being a good head coach requires much more than good play calling ability and while we can't judge how Herman will do at managing a program, we know that he can manage an offensive staff and he has been a highly successful recruiter.

And don't forget, he is also a member of MENSA.

Who is the most underrated Buckeye of the Urban Meyer era?  What makes him stand out to you where others miss it?

Have to go with “El Guapo” Carlos Hyde. This is kind of an odd answer since he was The Man carrying the ball under Meyer, but Luke Fickell tried to use a 3-headed running back when he was in charge.I understand Boom Herron needed the bulk of the carries during his senior year, but look at how much better the offense was when Urban rode Hyde and didn't split carries with anyone else except for the obligatory change of pace. His value was under rated in my opinion.

I always enjoy asking people this one: What is your favorite memory from The one where Ohio State lost?

Hmmmm…. There haven’t been all that many of them recently, have there? The two I’d have to point to are the 2011 game in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines were one overthrown pass from a freshman quarterback away from another loss to the Buckeyes, but celebrated Hoke’s victory like it was the changing of the guard rather than a win over an undermanned team.  What I remember about that is how short the celebration was… we at tBBC had known for about two weeks that there was a head coaching change coming at Ohio State, and when Urban was announced immediately following The Game, you could just feel all the air coming out of the state up north.

The second might not be popular with Buckeye fans, but in 1969 Bo Schembechler led the Wolverines to one of the greatest upsets in the series, and defeated the team that Woody called his best. It focused the Ohio State fanbase even greater, and began one of the greatest chapters in the most heated rivalry in college sports.

*-(This was totally a screw up on my end.  I have a former student with a very similar name and have made the mistake dozens of times this year, I just forgot to crosscheck.)

We thank BBC for having us along this week and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving, and a less happy Saturday.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lincoln's Second Inaugural, The Scorpion and the Frog

On March 4, 1865, after taking the Presidential oath of office for the second time, Abraham Lincoln addressed the mass of Americans that had gathered for the occasion.  He used just 701 words to lay out a vision of what could be, but to also suggest that America deserved the mess it was in.

Lincoln knew the end of the war was near and knew that the Union was likely to be victorious.  He rejected a victory lap and instead reminded those listening (and those reading in coming days) that everyone had been wrong about the war four years earlier.  Everyone thought it would be an easy victory.  Everyone thought that it would go there way.  No one expected to be in this position four years hence.

Lincoln made heavy allusion to the Bible, wrestling with the question of whether the war was a divine punishment for the sin of slavery and if it is, accepts whatever duration of punishment that Providence seeks to levy upon the American people.

But, he closes with hope.  "With malice toward none, with charity for all," are probably the most famous works of this address and truthfully, Lincoln was more hopeful than history would bear out.  Part of this was that Lincoln would not be there to see the end, given over to the angels by a zealot.  But the spirit of reconciliation persists as the spirit of hope that we can find the better angels of our nature, that we can find our best possible selves and that when new leadership arises, they can be competent and rise to the occasion.  History shows what happens when the wrong man is placed at the reins at a critical juncture.  Sometimes this is because of good intentions and a lack of foresight.  But sometimes, it can work.  Let us hope that the right choice is made.
There really isn't a whole lot to say about yesterday's game, but one thing struck me.  The last 40 seconds, as Maryland realized that the clock had ticked down under 40 and the play clock had not started, Michigan Stadium was silent.  Not the stunned silence of a last minute comeback.  Not the angry silence of an all-time upset.  But the knowing silence of a half-empty venue knowing that this day was as much a funeral as it was a football game.  It would have been eerie, except it was almost expected, as much as something like this can be.

We came to say goodbye to some seniors, and to likely say goodbye to Brady Hoke, in the last weeks of the job he would have walked to Ann Arbor from San Diego to take.  There has to be something to be said for getting your dream job and looking like you actually are going to be able to do something with it, only to see it slip away, like sand through ones fingers.

The modern fable of The Scorpion and the Frog can be briefly summarized as this:
A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. 
For us to expect yesterday to be anything different was to be vested in hope rather than reality.  A Brady Hoke coached team could not simply suddenly morph into a competent, detail oriented unit off an open date just because Brady's job might be on the line.  Because, wouldn't logic serve that if they were capable of it, wouldn't they have done it sooner?  That is the nature of this team, and that is the nature of this staff.  They are amazingly consistent in their inconsistency.  It is the maddening hallmark of the Hoke era, which will draw to a close more than likely after a severe crushing at the hands of the rival Buckeyes for their 12th win in the series this millennium.  A new era will rise in its place, sooner rather than later.  We will be sold hope, because we've oversold tradition and heritage.  We will be told that the new guy's got a plan, and we'll believe it because we want to believe.  We will wait until September to make our judgments, failing to remember that the last time we were here, the first September taught us all the wrong lessons.  We will do that, because it is our nature.

#beatohiostate #hopedieslast

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Eternal Yesterday and England's Dreaming

"The German sociologist Max Weber cited three reasons for citizens to obey their rulers: 'the authority of the eternal yesterday,' or historical prestige; 'the authority of the extraordinary personal gift of grace,' or the ruler's charisma; and 'domination by virtue of legality,' or order and justice."

To put this another way, "the eternal yesterday" means that traditional authorities receive loyalty because they continue and support the preservation of existing values, the status quo.

OK, so we know where I'm going with this.  But first, a detour.

When I was a junior at Michigan, I took History 321, Britain since 1945.  My final paper for that class was a brief history of English Football since 1945.  There is no paper I wish I could go back and rewrite from my college years more than that one, not because I got a bad grade on it, but because I could do so much better with what I have learned in the last 15 years.

What I now understand so much better (and would have understood without the intervening 15 years of history, though those 15 years certainly crystallize it) is that England's National Team is a fight against the one shining moment of triumph, on home soil, for a country that invented the game (just ask them).  A pop culture annus mirabilis of  modern British culture framed against this singular victory left a generation of Britons seeking to recapture the moment, telling their children about the feeling, and hoping to feel it just once more.

In "Three Lions", David Baddiel and Frank Skinner use a comic touch to get at the core of the notion that England is just waiting for that moment again, and maybe with Euro '96, on English soil, those thirty years of hurt would be over.  But the underlying notion is that English fans, since that fateful day in Wembley in 1966, have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it inevitably does, a notion reinforced perpetually by a media driven narrative.  In this version, instead of being comforted by the victory, 1966 haunts England like a specter, the glorious past that recedes ever faster into the shroud of gray that accompanies time.

And yet, through all that, the chorus speaks to unshakeable optimism: "Thirty years of hurt never stopped me dreaming."  It's that essential English optimism, that true belief that the ecstasy of the moment overrides everything else.

There's a fascinating disconnect among Michigan fans of various generations in recent years, and it is best understood by looking at the origin of the word nostalgia.  It comes from the Greek root words nostos "return home" and algos "pain"; essentially nostalgia is "acute homesickness".  We are only nostalgic for the things we miss from a previous time.  We tend to block out all of the bad things, we blast past them, hands over our eyes, focusing only on the good things, and overlooking the bad.  We're nostalgic for those 40 years when 6-6 and 7-5 were "years of infinite pain".  We tend to forget that we start the clock in 1969, when Michigan went 8-3 under Bo, forgetting that Michigan went 8-2 in 1968 under Bump.  The difference, of course is, one of those years ends 50-14 because Woody couldn't go for three against the #4 team in the nation, and one of those years "ends" on 24-12 because of the Upset of the Century by the #12 team in the country over the defending national champions.  (OK, it actually ends in the Arroyo Seco with Bo in the hospital and USC holding Michigan to a field goal in 10-3 Trojans victory.)  But Bo is the savior, but so history gets rewritten by The Victors.

This is not to take away from the joy of the 1969 season, not in the least.  It is to merely point how dangerous it is to choose a starting point and say "This, and ONLY THIS, is what Michigan football is."  Admittedly, it is a good starting point, from 1969 to 1974, Michigan went 58-7-1 over those six years.  No other school in the country did as well during that six year period*.  And yet, no national championship, 2-3-1 against Woody, 56-4-0 against everyone else.  The modern landscape of college football is so utterly different, however, that era might as well be Yost's 55-1-1 from 1901 to 1905 for all of its relevance to today.

(*-Michigan's 96-15-3 clip from 1969-1978 is the longest consecutive run in the early Bo period where Michigan was the best team in the country.  Basically, if you needed a regular season football coach during the Nixon/Ford years, you call Bo.)

So we want Bo, because Bo was larger than life, or as Weber might say, he possessed "the authority of the extraordinary personal gift of grace."  Bo won, a lot.  As Geoff once said to me, the only thing that Michigan fans like more than winning is winning a lot.  It's true.  As much as I believe that Michigan fans ultimately like not losing more than winning, we are in love with winning.  Add to that that Bo represents the values of toughness, grit, hard work, straight shooting that are as Midwestern as rivalry trophies and the term "pop" to describe carbonated beverages.  We know those aviators, we know that headset, we  know that New Era cap, we see that and we know that everything is going to be OK.  We know our collective football in loco parentis is home, if you will.

But Bo himself, or should I say, the collective vision of what Bo was, wouldn't work today.  Bo's sideline fury would lead to day long breakdowns on SportsCenter and discussions of Bo's brand of "leadership".  Bo couldn't "throw kids off the team" like he used to without it becoming a social media firestorm.  Wanting the Bo that lingers in our eternal yesterday is longing for the results and wishing that the world were still such that the process could be the same too, all the while knowing it's not.  This, in turn, creates a psychic tension that cannot be broken because we are not ready to admit that this past is gone, because we worry that our letting that go will diminish the memory.

We long for the authority of our eternal yesterday because the reality of our present does not resemble the glorious past.  We long for Bo because we have memories of him, as fans either remembering the greatest glories under Bo, or growing up with him as our first coach.  We are confronted with a new generation of students for whom Michigan's 1997 National Championship might be as foreign as their 1933 National Championship.  For whom Lloyd is their first coach, for all of the ups and downs of what it means to have Lloyd, the accidental emperor, (our own George VI, if you will) as your first coach completely alters your perceptions of Michigan football and the past.

So, please let me say that Michigan football is in need of a Renaissance, a small Renaissance, but a Renaissance nonetheless.  It needs a new ruler for a new era, one who can bring stability to the land, who can recapture the spirit of 1901, the spirit of 1969, and yes, the spirit of 1997, but in their own particular idiom.  Perhaps it a Prodigal son, not a direct heir, but a branch of the tree.  Perhaps it is new blood, a vision of what Michigan can be again in their own particular style.  But we need this moment because the only way we can truly appreciate the way forward is to appreciate each era on its own merits and in its own contexts.  The past never leaves us, but it cannot block our path.

In this way, it's not unlike the debate over the Legends jerseys.  On the one hand, it's great to honor the people who built Michigan football into what it is today.  On the other hand, today's players should have the same chance to make their numbers their own, write their own legacies.  In the last seven years, we've tried a little bit of both, and the results have been less than spectacular.  But it should not stop us again.  There are no guarantees in life.  But if we choose wisely, if we choose well, and if we can get behind a new vision, if we are patient, understanding, and hopeful, we might just have a chance to succeed.

Let us celebrate the past as a link in a chain towards a brighter tomorrow,  not one sinking toward the seabed and an anchor without purchase, drifting ever closer to the shoals of imperial decline.

"I know that was then, but it could be again."

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Kill the M00N

In 2002, the Detroit Lions, who would end up going 3-13 that year, hosted the Dallas Cowboys, who ended up going 5-11, at Ford Field in a game that ended up Lions 9, Cowboys 7.

That game was scoreless at halftime, and memorable for the fact that Filip Filipovic and John Jett combined for 19 punts between them, the first nine possessions of the game ended in punts before a Dallas fumble in the second quarter ended the streak.  Fox even put up a graphic that said "Coming up next: A Punt."  A veritable fiesta of punts. It was as ugly a football game as I have ever watched.

And then M00N (HT: @mgoshoe) arose over Evanston.  It was a bad M00N rising.

To list the offenses against football competence in this game would be to invite charges of piling on.  It was bad, we know it was bad, and in the end, the final play, with Trevor Siemian slipping on the greasy Ryan Field turf as Frank Clark bore down on him like a Stinger missile.  Michigan knew what was coming and played it perfectly, Northwestern threw scissors and Michigan didn't just bring rock, they brought boulder, only to see Siemian embed the scissors in his thigh of his own volition.  It was the imperfect capper to an imperfect game.

In the end, Michigan won.  Michigan has lost just four times to Northwestern in their last 35 meetings.  I have clear and vivid memories of each of those four losses:
2008: Fandom Endurance III
2000: A-Train Fumble
1996: We just lost to you LAST YEAR!
1995: Luther Van Dammit

The only other team that I have this precise a memory of losses to is Minnesota, and that is mostly Jug related.  If you'd like to make the argument that Michigan should be 0-3 against Northwestern over the last three years, you'd very well be on to something.  And yet, here we are.  Football is a strange game, deserving to win does not assure that you will.  Northwestern did everything they could to give this game to Michigan, and Michigan did everything they could to give the game back to Northwestern.

It was only the Michigan defense that kept this game from going rapidly south.  Jake Ryan and Frank Clark were essentially picked Michigan up time and again.  They assured that this 2014 season is now 2009 as opposed to 2008 with a chance to go to 2010.  It's not the happiest of thoughts, but at this point in the year, given everything this team has been through, let's just enjoy the ride.  Because chaos is swirling everywhere in college football, we're just a part of a giant string of random.

So another week off, another week of sitting on an Open Date with a win, and a winnable game against Maryland, and amazingly, a chance to finish third in the B1G East, where we sort of thought we might be at the start of the year.  We've got two more games, maybe three, so let's enjoy the moments, no matter how terrible they are on paper. #915

Monday, November 03, 2014

Fix the Schedule

When it comes to the Big Ten, the first job for the new athletic director should be going to the committee in charge of drawing up the football schedule and getting everyone to agree to an incredibly simple fix to a problem plaguing two of the East's biggest programs.

Currently, Michigan and Michigan State are both stuck with schedules that have them in alternate years playing two home games against their primary rivals followed by two road games. In 2014, Michigan has road games against both MSU and OSU, and MSU is at home against UM and OSU. Next year the situation is reversed, with Michigan playing MSU and OSU at home, while the Spartans have to go on the road against the Wolverines and Buckeyes.

This is vastly sub-optimal for both teams, from the standpoint of both ticket sales and overall competitive balance. Really, you want each team to play one home game and one road game against each rival. Craig and I were talking about this unfortunate situation yesterday at the Indiana game, and Craig told me he'd happened upon a ridiculously simple solution, and Indiana is the key.

Since Indiana is in the East, both Michigan and Michigan State play them every season. Fortutiously, Indiana played MSU at home and Michigan on the road this year. Therefore, all you have to do is flip the Indiana game from a home game to an away game and flip MSU from an away game to a home game. Everyone still ends up with the same number of home and away games, and the bottleneck is cleared.

Obviously, the time has passed when we can fix the 2014 schedule. And we might as well go through the 2015 schedule as is, since I don't think anyone wants to play at MSU for three consecutive seasons. Where we should fix it is 2016.

Current 2016 Schedule
UM at MSU, at OSU, vs IU
MSU vs UM, vs OSU, at IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU vs MSU, at UM, at OSU

Proposed 2016 Schedule
UM vs MSU, at OSU, at IU
MSU at UM, vs OSU, vs IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU at MSU, vs UM, at OSU

It would mean MSU has to play at Michigan for two consecutive seasons, but that's only fair since Michigan has just done the opposite. Michigan would also have to play two consecutive seasons at Indiana, which is a small price to pay for getting off the cycle we're currently on. Sure, it's messing with a schedule that's a mere two seasons down the road, but it solves one of the more annoying problems in the current scheduling landscape.

(Additional information by Craig: 1:00 PM Monday:

One of the issues I saw was that in the 2016 schedule, swapping Indiana to be an away game would give Michigan a weird stretch of four straight home dates, followed by three straight road dates to close the year, which is suboptimal.  So, I plugged the 2016 schedule into Excel, and in six minutes, I solved it by moving just four games total.

Illinois at Michigan, originally scheduled for 10/22/16, now moves to the team's mutual open date of 9/24/16
Michigan at Iowa, originally scheduled for 11/12/16, now moves to 10/22/16.
Iowa at Wisconsin, originally scheduled for 10/22/16, now moves to 11/12/16
Illinois at Wisconsin, originally schedule for 11/12/16, now moves to 10/22/16.

It's not perfect, because it gives Wisconsin three straight home games, followed by three straight road games, but it does give them a potential breather having opened the season at Michigan, at Michigan State, home to Ohio State, ------, home to Nebraska.  With a couple other moves, you might even be able to make that one work out better too...)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Just like starting over

Love the Drake!
Started from the bottom, now we're here.

OK, now that we have the obvious Drake joke out of the way, let's get on with the column.

It's going to be the common theme of many columns on the Indiana game that things were different, better, new again after Friday's resignation.  That is the power of projecting that which you wish to believe can have that impact on a view of the world.   But it's hard to know for sure.  For one,  I've just regained enough feeling in my fingers to be able to type the column.

Yesterday, Michigan beat Indiana, as it has the last 19 times the teams have played since 1988, and as they have done every time they have played at Michigan Stadium since 1967 (17 times), and 54 times out of the 63 that they have played.  Beating Indiana on the regular is almost a given in the days of Michigan's past, but nothing can or should be taken for granted any more (and probably shouldn't have been in the first place.)

In the grand scheme of things, this game won't mean much, and likely won't be remembered in the annals of Michigan football lore.  But, if I do remember this game, it will likely be "the Drake Johnson game".  That makes me happy for a kid who crossed Main Street from Pioneer to the Big House, for a kid whose mom has been Michigan's cheerleading coach for over three decades, to get not one but two touchdowns, and looking good doing it, I'm happy for him.  Some day in the future, he'll be able to tell people that in the depths of Michigan's despair, he had his number called and he stepped up and provided a spark.  Most players will tell you that they just want to do what they can to help the team, and Drake Johnson, wearing the #20, did just that yesterday.  Good for him.

By recent convention, I'm supposed to note that everything around Michigan football would be better if Michigan's record were better.  I have nothing to add to that, since it seems like it's so patently obvious that it needs further elaboration, but since everyone who has chipped in with an opinion on Michigan football or the Michigan athletic department over the last month has said it, I felt duty bound to include it.

New eras have to start somewhere.  This isn't the beginning of the end of this era, well, we can't know for sure, but, as Churchill said so many years ago,  I am comfortable saying it's the end of the beginning.  A new day will dawn soon enough.  What that day holds for us has yet to be determined.  But with good decision making, clear eyed leadership, and hope for the future once again settling in, we can hope for better days.  It's up to us to fight for them.

Side Notes:
  • It doesn't seem like a Brady thing to do, but Joe Bolden was a game captain this week.  Does this mean that he was trying to say "Sorry, not sorry." back up East Lansing way?
  • Why the Penn State style Blue and White Scarves for the Weekend of Champions?  
  • Maybe it was just Homecoming, but Special K seemed more under wraps this weekend.  Perhaps wishful thinking?
  • Man was it cold.  It's the coldest I've ever been at a Michigan game without also being cold and wet.  I'm calling this one Fandom Endurance II, Cold and Wind Variant.  Still not Northwestern 2008.
  • The Wave got screwed up.  But The Wave happened, so that's progress.