|(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.